Great Techspectations: What Cool Tech to Expect in 2014

PHOTO: The Pebble Smartwatch. Pebble
The Pebble smartwatch is one of the first of many smartwatches.

intro: As we approach 2014 we still have no glasses that allow us to see into the future. But when it comes to the year ahead, we might not need precognition technology to see some of the emerging trends.

A lot of next year's technology has its roots in 2013. This year we've already seen dozens of wearable gadgets released and Internet-connected appliances, such as the Nest Protect and the iKettle. Expect a lot more in the year to come. Here are five of the big tech trends we expect to really catch on next year.

quicklist: 1 category: title: Watch Out for the Smartwatches url:

text: No, Samsung's Galaxy Gear hasn't been a hit, but it was the first big name smartwatch to jump into the pool. With rumors that Microsoft, Apple and Google have all been working on their own watches to work with their respective smartphones, we're bound to see some of that hard work in the next year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has been gearing up for mass production of its watch.

Apple, on the other hand, is a wild card. The company has hired a number of fashion executives in recent months, including former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve, who joined the Cupertino tech company this year to work on "special projects," one of which is the rumored iWatch. (Apple registered a trademark on the term "iWatch" in July.) In addition to the bigger companies, others are likely to join the fray..

It's all going to be worth watching.

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quicklist: 2 category: title: Honey, I Blew Up the Smartphone url:

text: In the last year, 5-inch Android and Windows phones have become increasingly popular, but expect there to be even more big-screened phones next year, and perhaps even an option from Apple. There has been strong speculation that Apple is working on a 4.7-inch phone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has avoided addressing the rumors while also leaving the door open for the company to pursue a bigger-screened phone. When asked in June about the possibility, he said it's something that the company hasn't done so far, but "that doesn't shut off the future."

Beyond that, phone screens are bound to get even larger than 5 inches. Samsung, HTC and Nokia have all released phones with 6-inch screens in the last year. The age of phablets -- the phone tablet -- is upon us.

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quicklist: 3 category: title: Google Glass Goes Global url:

text: Google gave us a small taste of what Google Glass would be like in 2013 when it released the Explorer edition of the connected glasses to a small group of testers. In 2013, however, expect the number of people wearing the glasses with the small screen to grow.

Google has said that in early 2014 it will begin to sell the glasses to the public. There are still big questions about the rules around wearing them -- can you drive with them? Can you wear them in public bathrooms? There are also big questions about the product details -- what will they cost? Will the battery life be improved? We'll be looking to Google for answers to those in the coming year.

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quicklist: 4 category: title: Internet of Many More Things url:

text: The year 2013 saw the release of connected smoke detectors, kettles, forks and more. In 2014 you can expect to hear much more about what many call "The Internet of Things."

Yes, that means more and more of the objects and devices you use every day will become connected to the Internet and make them all controllable with your smartphone or tablet. Just this month, Qualcomm, LG, the Linux Foundation and other companies teamed up to create a common language to get many devices to talk to each other. Expect more companies to start talking about how their phones and other devices will work with some of these connected objects.

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quicklist: 5 category: title: Smarter and More Social TVs url:

text: It won't happen entirely in 2014, but the television is finally going to get a reboot. Microsoft has already kicked off the revolution with its Xbox One, which makes it easier to control your cable box with voice commands and a streamlined interface that combines cable with Internet streaming services.

Google has also begun to tackle the television space, though for the second or third time (who's counting?). The company released the Chromecast this year to easily bring the Web to the bigger screen, but is also said to be working on a new set-top box for the new year.

Then there is Apple. The company has long been rumored to be working on its own stand-alone television set. There is no real timeframe on when it might release that product, but Apple CEO Tim Cook did say this year that improving television is an area of "intense interest" for the company. In addition to that, Twitter is expected to roll out more TV integration products.

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