I always enjoy the year-end recaps of what I supposed caught, and more likely missed, in a year: the sad passings, the great films, the worst political blunders, the novel innovations, and such. But as I look to 2014, what I've realized in the past twelve hours is how much I've become accustomed to speaking with my electronics this year.
Of course we've had Siri for two years, but she always seemed like a novelty. Perhaps because I just wasn't ready to ask a phone to do things I felt I should be able to do quickly, like set a timer. Then again, as I've come to learn, holding a button and saying "set timer for 30 minutes" is much faster than navigating to the right app and punching in those details.
But Siri was only the start. I've had a Moto X for a little under a month and I find myself often shouting for it across the room. Trust me, yelling "ok Google now, what's the weather?" without having to press a button is very useful when you're half awake and stumbling around an apartment to get ready.
And even then, the Moto X was just my first foray into touchless control. We quite literally set up our XBOX One twelve hours ago. Instead of getting any sleep, we spent hours talking to it, while learning new commands, wrecking cars, watching TV, and surfing the internet. And I must say, the ability to simple ask the TV to turn to a channel (even while playing a game!) is just awesome. Screw super amazing graphics (which are stunning), you're telling me I can tell the TV to watch BBC America instead of having to remember and punch in whatever channel number it is?? SIGN ME UP!
Of course, eventually it hits you that your devices are always listening, and with the XBOX, always watching. And there's the rub: how to balance privacy with innovation. I've not found a good answer yet. Trusting in the good judgment of companies seems difficult, especially given what we've learned with this year's NSA leaks, though I will commend companies like Google and Twitter for releasing transparency reports.
So, perhaps that's what 2014 holds in store. More fun, more control. And of course, more gadgets.
Signing off. Hello 2014, goodbye 2013.