Strangely enough, I was out of the country for all of the Pope’s recent visit to Ireland. Before you ask, it wasn’t in part a protest to match my attempts to leave the church through GDPR. No, I was simply on holidays and happened to be flying out moments before he hit the tarmac in Dublin. It was interesting to see people from around the world make the trip to see Il Papa and got me thinking about making a pilgrimage myself. So I’m going to tech paradise and spending a few days in Berlin at IFA 2018. Here’s what you need to know about IFA 2018.
What Does IFA Stand For?
Well, first of all – mega bonus points if you already knew the answer to this one because I think it would even baffle native German speakers which I absolutely am not despite my years of learning. IFA stands for Internationale Funkausstellung which translates to International Radio Exhibition but is also commonly referred to as the Berlin Radio Show. Today, IFA houses the latest from all lines of technology and hosts over a quarter of a million visitors. Not bragging, but my pilgrimage will be bigger than Il Papa’s too.
What to Expect from IFA 2018
Don’t let the radio bit fool you but also don’t dismiss it. There are some radios on show along with the latest in audio, both personal and home. However, on top of that, you also have every other kind of tech imaginable from televisions to drones. Because I’ll actually be trying to work out where everything is, I’ve made a kind of IFA 2018 plan. Here’s what I’m most looking forward to.
I’m not quite so sure if Huawei will have a handset launch at IFA but we’re ever so close to the launch of the Mate 20; their answer to Samsung’s Note series. Whatever Huawei has to release to the world, I’ll be front and centre waiting to hear about it on Friday at their scheduled press conference. Given the Chinese manufacturer has just been crowned the second biggest smartphone company in the world, ahead of Apple, I’m really excited to see what they have up their sleeve. Huawei has been mega aggressive in recent months with the P20 Pro arguably being the best smartphone to hit the market in years.
Watch. This. Space.
You can expect Sony to launch the XZ3 and XZ3 Compact at their 30 August press conference at IFA. The XZ2 was a fairly impressive smartphone even if Sony did sidestep some of the highlights from their range to date – yes I’m still going on about the fingerprint sensor placement.
The XZ3 will physically look just like the XZ2, keeping with Sony’s six-month launch tradition, but the software is still anyone’s guess.
Sony also loves a nice big telly launch so I’ll be checking out what they have to offer in that space too. You can also expect some neat audio launches from them too and I’ll be reviewing some of their existing audio offerings very soon. Lots of Google Assistant activated stuff in there too.
Mach Mal, Google.
There’s a massive sign outside Messe Berlin with the words “Mach Mal, Google”. There’s a hugh bubblegum game machine where people can win Google Home devices. And around every corner of IFA 2018 is a Google Assistant-powered device. Seriously, they are putting it into everything!
Considering at this event I’ll likely be seeing the Siri-powered Apple Home and plenty of Amazon Alexa-powered speakers, including the latest range from Bose, few smart assistants are capturing the imagination quite like Google. Then again, smart assistants do still have this feeling that they’ll just never be completely mainstream but I’m rooting for the underdog here. I hope the hardware can help people see the future is voice controlled.
Alas, one of those brands you’ll probably not see on our shores for another few years. LG tends to rock IFA every year and this year should be no different. Chances are we’ll see two new smartphones launching at the Berlin event along with at least one new Wear OS wearable. Just a shame that anything I see in Germany will unlikely see Ireland for a long time.
Samsung doesn’t have anything else left to launch this year after the Note 9 launch last month. Samsung is, instead, going to be all about the TVs. I won’t lie, TVs aren’t really my bag. They’re grand like, but at the same time, they’re all a bit normal, right? Well, Samsung will be blowing that idea out of the water when they launch an 8K monster in Berlin.
Now, the funny thing about getting excited for an 8K TV is that the vast majority of homes have yet to adopt 4K TVs. I won’t be getting to excited about the TV side of IFA if I’m being totally honest, unless I see something really special for the everyday consumer.
Samsung may provide some more insight into the most underwhelming smart assistant of them all; Bixby. I recently gave up my beloved Note8 for the Huawei P20 Pro and I’ll admit that was tough. I love the Note8 and it’s now the second best phone I’ve ever owned or, in fact, used. However, it had Bixby, quite simply the worst smart assistant on the market. Yes, worse than Cortana. Samsung is bringing out a smart home speaker which will rival the Google Homepod for “most unpopular” status.
There’s going to be plenty more to enjoy at IFA 2018. I’m looking forward to some of the more edge-case tech manufacturers and what they have to offer. With Asian brands like Huawei growing in Ireland and Xiaomi finally popping their head in the door too, I’m interested to see what ZTE has to offer.
Audio is something I’ve spent a lot of time studying recently and I’m going to be writing up some earphone, headphone and wireless bud reviews in the coming weeks. Natrually, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the very latest audio experiences at IFA too, but I’ve got to be humble for a moment.
It’s my first year at IFA Berlin and as such, I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve been forewarned of bread maker black holes and to wear comfy shoes, but beyond that I’ve no idea what to expect. There’ll be a rake of tech on show, likely more than I can take in in a few short days. But I’ve been to big conferences and trade shows in the past so I also know that whatever about predicting what’s going to be on show, it’s all about letting the event show me the future.
Come Monday, I hope to be much wiser about the world of smartphones, TVs, drones, smart assistants and, unfortunately, bread makers. Be sure to follow Goosed.ie and myself on Twitter for the latest craic.