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CNET Top 5
Tech trends of 2012Putting the products aside, here are the top trends in tech that defined 2012.
In most of these videos I stand up here and reel off 5 products that are great for some reason or another. But this week, weÃ¯Â¿Â½re going to step back and look at the big picture. Products come and go, but if you really want to know whatÃ¯Â¿Â½s going on in the tech world, itÃ¯Â¿Â½s all about spotting the trends. So here you go, hereÃ¯Â¿Â½s a look back at what I personally think were big the tech trends that defined 2012. Starting off at #5: Virtual assistants. Siri made itÃ¯Â¿Â½s debut on the iPhone in October of 2011, but 2012 was the year when all the competitors struck back. Google Now, Samsung S Voice, Vlingo, Robin. WeÃ¯Â¿Â½re actually having conversations with our gadgets now, and itÃ¯Â¿Â½s kinda freaking me out that this doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t really freak me out anymore. At #4: convertible laptops, and hybrid tablets. With the rollout of Windows 8, weÃ¯Â¿Â½re seeing a whole new crop of laptops that flip around into tablets, and tablets with snap-on keyboards. I canÃ¯Â¿Â½t tell if this is really the evolution of the laptop or just an awkward identity crisis, but the idea of a laptop without a touch screen is starting to feel a little old school. Coming in at #3: 4G. Now, 4G has been with us for awhile, but 2012 was the year it really went mainstream. You almost couldnÃ¯Â¿Â½t buy a smartphone phone in 2012 that wasnÃ¯Â¿Â½t 4G compatible, especially after the iPhone got on board. 4G is finally becoming the norm, and weÃ¯Â¿Â½ve got a nice little window here before everyone starts talking about 5G. At #2: Phablets! More than a phone, less than a tablet, and a the best indicator of an inferiority complex since the invention of truck nuts. Samsung introduced the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in February and then a 5.5-inch Note II in October. We laughed at first, but this is a thing now. Your smartphone can be as big as your face, and people will just think youÃ¯Â¿Â½re cutting edge. \ Now before we get to number #1, IÃ¯Â¿Â½d like to point out a trend that everyone predicted would dominate 2012, but didnÃ¯Â¿Â½t: the Cloud. Everything was supposed to be sucked up into the cloud like some kind of tech rapture this year, but nothing much changed. To be fair, an invisible cloud of data is a hard thing to notice. Maybe weÃ¯Â¿Â½re in the cloud right now. Is this the cloud? And finally, the #1 tech trend of 2012 was: 7-inch tablets! Now this one was pretty easy to spot from 2011 when the Amazon Kindle Fire became an instant holiday hit. Then Google hit back with the Nexus 7, Amazon came back with four Kindle Fires, Barnes & Noble stepped up their Nook, and then of course, the iPad Mini. Not only did the 7-inch tablet blossom in 2012, but thereÃ¯Â¿Â½s good reason to believe that this might be the dominant tablet size from here on out. So there you go, the five tech trends that I personally think did the most to shape 2012. But thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s just scratching the surface. Take a look at the CNET 100 for an exhaustive list of the yearÃ¯Â¿Â½s most important developments in tech. ItÃ¯Â¿Â½s a collaboration from all of CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s Editors. And for more Top 5s like this head over to Top5.CNET.com. You can also follow me over on Twitter.