Dear Santa: My Tech Wish List


I'm hoping Santa and his elves drop the following gifts down my chimney this holiday season:

Cloudy applications: Unfortunately, too many applications still require a manual sync over WiFi or serious digital gymnastics in order to make data flow across all my devices, including my laptop, iPad and iPhone. Although personal clouds are supplanting personal devices as the center of our data world, a big candy cane would be to have my data and work state everywhere: Think Evernote, Salesforce and Dropbox.

A real digital wallet: We seem to be stuck in neutral when it comes to a fully functional digital wallet. It's great to load my boarding passes and tickets into various apps, including Passbook on my iPhone, but that's only half the solution. I want all my tickets, reward cards and membership cards in a single e-space—and I want to be able to pay from the app. Thank you Starbucks for at least showing me that my dream is possible.

Websites that work: Granted, there are a dizzying number of devices, form factors and browsers to accommodate these days. But, incredibly, too many major businesses don't fully support Chrome or Firefox, and some haven't built out a mobile site. The result? Pages don't load, videos don't play and shopping carts don't work right. North Pole news flash: The Web went public nearly two decades ago. You might want to track this development.

The ability to change channels: Even when browsers and devices display pages correctly, a big fat problem remains: a lack of integration across digital devices—and sometimes between the physical and digital worlds. The problem is most obvious in businesses selling highly customizable items. Try configuring a new car using multiple devices: Start on an iPad and finish on a PC. Or try loading a paper coupon into your smartphone for use at a retailer. Can you say f-r-u-s-t-a-t-i-o-n?

Connected devices: The Internet of things is happening. Nike Fuelbands, Internet-enabled thermostats, and smartphone-controlled locks and lights are a good start. But so many more things—from microwave ovens with hieroglyphic controls to spectacularly inefficient sprinkler systems—are prime candidates. Health care is particularly ready for connected devices, including monitors that track heart rate and blood pressure.

A disappearing paper trail: It's mind-boggling that so many retailers, health care providers, auto repair facilities and others continue to churn out reams of receipts, work orders and invoices—most of which are promptly lost or tossed. Even more remarkable is the fact that most retailers have mastered the art of carpet-bombing consumers with promotional emails and text messages, but can't email the information that's really important.

Please tell us what technology gifts are on your wish list.