While CES 2012 has come and gone the technology shown off will have a lasting impact throughout the year ahead. As usual, Apple did not have an official presence, but also as usual iPhone and iPad accessory makers we boundless. This year, however, we began to see a real move away from the tradition protective cases, charging cables, and other, terribly boring accessories. When we geeks were the main market, all we wanted was the basics. Now that the mainstream is the main market, the basics are table stakes. They want to see what's next, what's special, what's different. From the fun and frivolous speakers, copters, cabinets, and drones to full on automotive integration, to the oncoming wave of eHealth accessories, the iPhone and iPad are becoming the de facto interface for the future.
Amid Androids aplenty and a couple gorgeous new Windows Phones, it was still the iPhone and iPad that lead the way in consumer electronic accessories. For the iPhone a large part of that is uniformity. Case makers could cut one mold and use it for years on succeeding generations of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, potentially selling millions of each one. With Android they have to cut a new one every few weeks as each new device comes onto the market, none lasting long or having anywhere near the individual unit sales. (One enterprising manufacturer resorted to developing a rubber-band mount they could use to attach the same peripheral to a wide variety of Android devices.)
For the iPad, even in the face of quad-core competition, it appears there's still no tablet market. Just like Tablet PC never gained traction, the mainstream market right now seems to prefer something simple and intuitive like the iPad over the more desktop-like, even more powerful and functional alternatives. iPad 3 will no doubt raise Apple's spec stakes, but also no doubt keep the device as accessible as ever, and that's something no other tablet vendor with the exception of Amazon is competing against yet. Microsoft is coming, though, and if Windows Phone is any indication, they might just give Apple a run for their money soon in elegance and design. Who'd a thunk it?
And that's just CES from the mobile perspective, from one section of one hall devoted to iOS. The show entire spilled through three halls and into adjacent hotels and contained more technology than any human -- or even team of humans -- could possibly see in a week.
Still, from the show floor and from back at home, the staff here at iMore checked out as much as we possibly could, and we've chosen our favorites to round up -- our best of CES 2012.
Leanna Lofte: Lamborghini... no, wait, Olloclip
The olloclip lens accessory for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S was my favorite thing at CES. This little accessory attaches to the corner of your iPhone, over the camera, and converts the lens to a fisheye, wide angle, or macro lens. Rene and I used the olloclip while filming interviews on the showroom floor so that we could have a wider field of view while standing close and I was impressed with the results. I'm really looking forward to spending more time with the olloclip and seeing what kind of photos I can get with it.
Jared DiPane: Octa WhaleTail and Vacuum Dock
With tons and tons of things being announced and showcased at CES this year, one of my favorite things was the Octa WhaleTail and Vacuum Dock. Sure it may not be something that is used everyday but it was pretty awesome that they studied the comfort of an object in the hand and molded around that. With tablets increasing in popularity and models always changing it is convenient to have something that is universal and can work on more gadgets than one. Check out the post for more details and you may wan to snag one for yourself.
Chris Oldroyd: iCade
My favorite thing from CES 2012 has to be the new iCade accessories. The hand held iCade mobile looks awesome and if iCade can garner more app developer support, these things could and should be the future for iPhone and iPad gaming!
Ally Kazmucha: Waterproofing technology
The announcement that really impressed me this year at CES was circuitry level waterproofing. Considering I run a repair business, I see a lot of customers come through with liquid damaged devices. It's also my least favorite type of repair to diagnose. Most of the time several components have to be replaced and it's really just a guess and check scenario. Not to mention cleaning corrosion off logic boards is not my idea of a fun Friday night.
After all that work, there's still no guarantee the device will even be salvageable. While it won't solve all types of liquid damage, it could save a lot of devices that come into contact with high or neutral pH fluids. But let's face it - if you drop your phone in your morning glass of orange juice, this still won't save it.
George Lim: Parrot A.R. Drone 2.0
The Parrot A.R. Drone has always been one of my favourite iOS accessories. The fact that they were able to make it better by adding a 720p camera and by improving the stability and control, makes it even more awesome. Just. Wow.
Chris Parsons: 7-inch ASUS Transformer Prime
For a long time now, I've been feeling that tablets are all over priced. If ASUS is going to push out a premium Tegra 3 tablet for $250 that's a big move and if they are successful with it -- it could lead the pack for everyone else which ultimately, is great for consumers. Even if you're not an Android fan, the prospect of a $250 iPad from Apple should be enticing...
Georgia: Samsung Smart Window
Wake up. Yawn. Peak outside. Stretch. Lightly brush the window. And it turns into a video game machine! Well, maybe not, at least not yet, but what Samsung showed off to Ashley at the show is on of those bits of Star Trek tech that I just can't wait to have in my home. Throw Siri on it and I'm good.
Rene: Automotive integration
Georgia totally stole mine. Luckily I anticipated this transgression and made sure I had a backup in place. Actually, more than one -- an entire trend. Last year at CES when car companies showed off their mobile integration they were hesitant. They didn't want to scare off consumers with automatous, automated, automobiles. This year they went for it. From Ford to Toyota to Mercedes to Cadillac to... you get the idea. All of our cars have computers for brains and more and more of those computers interface with the iPhone. I can't wait until the day comes when I walk in and the car pulls my profile right from my iPhone, adjusts all the settings, and gets me where I'm going. And I bet the wait won't be too long now.