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The best and weirdest mobile tech stories of 2014

It’s been a year of serious highs and lows for mobile tech, but to start with, here’s our pick of the best, weirdest and happiest stories of 2014, from smart cock rings to apps that the Royal Fetus might enjoy. Check back tomorrow for some of the cringiest, most horrible mobile tech moments of the year…

4G becomes widespread and cheap(ish)

When 4G was first introduced, it wasn’t just discriminatingly expensive, but also finding any LTE signal was tougher than tracking down an edible sausage roll at Iceland. Thankfully 2014 saw 4G become much more widespread, and now three quarters of the UK can enjoy next-gen nippy mobile data speeds.

And whether you’re on a rolling monthly deal with Three, making use of GiffGaff’s libertarian ethos or subscribing to a good old fashioned contract, you can choose a range of operators for your 4G bundles. Not to mention with all that competition, comes reduced prices. Now you can pick up a PAYG pack for just a quid a week, and don’t worry on the hardware front either, as there are plenty of decent 4G handsets for £100 or less. Bargainous!

Charging your phone will (eventually) become less irritating

We all love our smartphones, but we’re all equally as put out when they die on their arse half way through the day. However, 2014 saw several intriguing battery tech innovations emerge, which will make battery saver modes a thing of the bleak past.

Engineer Shawn West launched an attention-grabbing Kickstarter to fund his rechargeable battery which can be fully juiced in just 30 seconds, tech that would make life much easier when you realise your phone’s almost dead as you’re about to bugger off. And even if that might not emerge for a while, there’s always Qnovo’s potentially ground-breaking new system which can deliver 6 hours of battery life from a 15 minute charge.

We even saw tech which could charge our handset using background noise, with the help of nanogenerators no less, so you can power your phone with just a quick screaming fit. And we’re excited over Nokia’s special power trousers which can give your device a boost while you’re strutting around. Now that’s a wearable we can get behind (or into…harumph).

Read next: How smartphone battery life will soon be measured in weeks, not hours

Barkbuddy: like Tinder for dogs

One of the quirkier stories to cross our path in 2014 concerned Barkbuddy, a new app which lets you search for nearby mutts in need of adoption, using an interface similar to dating app Tinder. You simply add your location, search for a specific breed and get cracking, swiping left for no or right for yes.

Giving a dog a second chance is one of most deserving causes we can think of and we’re all for new and inventive ways to make it happen. So well done, Bark&Co. you’re definitely going to be on Santa’s good list this festive season.

Cortana finally arrives in Blighty

Let’s be honest, we’ve been waiting to have our own version of Cortana ever since first playing Halo back in 2001. So when we heard the character was being tailored for use as a digital PA, to rival Apple’s Siri, we were excited enough to do a happy little jig.

And then Nokia dropped the bombshell that she’d be America-only to begin with.

Image Copyright Bhupinder Nayyar (https://www.flickr.com/photos/125207874@N04)

In October, we Brits finally got to see what the tech had to offer, after the Windows Phone 8.1 update for developers dropped. With a new ‘British’ accent and some extra local smarts, the intelligent software assistant made an immediate impact, receiving some pretty flattering praise for her trouble, and the tech became standard issue in September, debuting alongside the Microsoft Lumia 735.

We love her more than ever now that she can speak Klingon and even make important life decisions for us. Hooray, no more need for free thought!

Bondara began beta testing its SexFit wearable

It’s all well and good using fitness bands to measure your steps and heart rate, but what about the info that really matters? Stuff like how long you’re lasting in the sack and how many thrusts per-minute you can rack up?

Well, Bondara stepped up and began searching for beta testers for its SexFit smart cockring a few weeks ago, ahead of its launch in early 2015. The SexFit aims to give competitive shaggers a leg-up (pun definitely intended) when it comes to improving their bedroom performance by pairing with their smartphones via Bluetooth and feeding-back all the stats they probably don’t need. And obviously, SexFit owners can then share their private data with the world – just make sure your mum doesn’t follow you first.

In similarly kinky news, Durex also delved into techy innovation with its new TV ad, which allow you to use your smartphone as a second screen…

Another royal baby

Yes folks, back in September the news was awash with giddy reports that the Duke of Cambridge had successfully tubbed his delightful wife for a second time. We decided to mark the illustrious occasion by going over some of the best apps for those soon-to-become mums and dads, including our firm favourite, Pimp My Ultrasound.

China begins offering ‘cellphone lanes’ for busy ignoramuses

The middle-kingdom leads the way in a fair few areas, including population count, manufacturing, consumption of weird and wondering animal parts…and now pavement etiquette. Chonqing in Southern China became one of the world’s first cities to begin marking out special cellphone lanes, to allow busy, impolite people to bustle along whilst using their phones without smashing other people in the face with their elbows. Score one for the idiots.

Android One goes on sale in India

Google’s Android One initiative, which was introduced with the goal of working with manufacturers to bring affordable smartphones to developing countries, began selling its first devices in India back in September.

The devices, which are made by Indian firms Micromax, Karbonn and Spice, impressively cost less than $70 a pop. It’s estimated that only one in ten people in India had access to a smartphone before the devices launched, so we’re looking forward to seeing how those stats change in 2015.

Google Glass thief accidentally live streams his day

One story which we particularly enjoyed was the tale of the crafty tea-leaf who allegedly approached a tourist sporting Google’s Glass and asked to take a look, before running off with the thing. Unbeknownst to the ne’er do well, its owner had been using LiveLens to stream everything to his phone, so we can all enjoy a rather strange video of someone drinking beer alone in their flat before going to a rave…

Best of the year rewarded at the Recombu Awards

Last but by no means least, a little bit of hearty back-slapping.

The annual Recombu Awards took place at the Playboy Club in London in 2014 and a thoroughly grand time was had by all, as Team Recombu, led by Editor-In-Chief Rory Reid, presented champagne and trophies to the deserving winners. For mobile, the grand winner was LG, winning Best Phone of 2014 for the masterful LG G3. Can LG make it a brace in 2015? It’ll have hot competition from some very serious rivals

Come back tomorrow for our run-down of the very worst and most cringe-worthy stories of 2014! And feel free to suggest your own best stories of the year in our comments below.

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