The term “cord cutters” is a badge of honor to those who’ve ditched traditional cable for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus (and maybe even HBO Go, which may become a standalone service in the near future). But cord cutting isn’t exclusive to television.
Everywhere we look, technology is losing the wires, and our lives are more convenient because of it. Do you even remember what it’s like to play a video game with a controller that physically connects to the console? Gamepads lost the wires as early as 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360, and now wireless controllers are the standard.
Going wireless just keeps getting easier, and this could be the year we forget what it’s like to use any sort of cable at all.
Apple Pay is a proprietary near-field communication (NFC) technology that enables iPhone uses to pay for goods (both in-stores and online) using nothing more than their phone and a thumbprint. To purchase an item in a store that uses NFC, users just put their phone up the the reader (usually attached to the credit card swiper) and use their finger or thumbprint to verify the purchase.
Apple isn’t the first to introduce NFC payments; Google Wallet has been around on Android phones since 2011, but Apple has a way of getting all the big players on board. Nearly every major bank, credit card and retailer is committing to the future of Apple Pay. There are some stubborn stragglers at the back of the herd. CVS and Rite Aid are disabling NFC in their stores in favor of their own wireless payment system in the future.
Elsewhere in Apple land, users of both Macs and iPhones have a new convenient toy at their disposal. Continuity gives you the ability to send SMS messages and take phone calls from your Mac, a feature that was limited to iPhone-to-iPhone in the past. Now you can text an Android or Windows phone completely from the keyboard.
Continuity uses a combination of Wi-Fi and your Apple ID to make it work seamlessly. Macs and iPhones connected to the same wireless network can share phone calls with an effortless transition, and SMS and MMS function only needs a matching iCloud account (same as Apple ID) to work without a hitch. It’s just one more step toward a product ecosystem that functions as a single entity.
Micro Streaming Devices
So when cable users finally cut the cord, what do they use to stream the above-mentioned services? There are plenty of choices on the market: AppleTV, Roku and even gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 are popular choices for streaming content. But even they need cords and cables to function. Like everything else, it was time to cut out the middle man.
Google Chromecast is a (very) small device that plugs into an HDMI port on the television and streams content wirelessly over your home’s Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t need a power cable to turn on; it doesn’t need a cable at all. In fact, it doesn’t even need a remote either. Chromecast uses a smartphone to control everything on screen: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, anything. And it’s so functional and successful, Amazon already announced their own competitor in the game of micro streaming devices.