Apple Vs FBI
The year started with a standoff when Apple challenged over 11 orders issued by US district courts requesting software that would allow the FBI to unlock an iPhone 5C. The phone belonged to one of the terrorist who committed the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 people and injured another 22. Apple challenged the orders citing privacy concerns and fear of setting a precedent. The rest of the tech world publically backed Apple. Eventually the FBI used a 3rd party to gain access to the phone avoiding legal hearings.
2016 New Phones
The three major tech companies in the US phone market made headlines this year. Samsung released its Note 7 which critics were hailing as the best phone ever… until they started to spontaneously combust. Samsung issued a massive recall giving customers a replacement phone which ultimately proved to be unsafe as well. Eventually cell phone carriers pushed updates that prevent the phones from charging.
Apple’s new iPhone is fully water proof with enhanced front and back cameras. The iPhone 7 Plus features a second back lens allowing for depth of field photos that rival low end DSLR cameras. However not everybody was thrilled about the disappearance of the headphone jack. Apple announced their new headphones would connect via the lighting cable port or users could opt to go wireless with AirPods.
Google, the leader in smart phone software (Android), announced their first smart phone, the Google Pixel. Despite positive reviews across the board, the hardware has yet to gain mass popularity.
(photo courtesy of AP)
Social media was in the news all year long. Vine was purchased by Twitter, however nobody is sure why since they essentially killed the service after buying it. Facebook introduced live streaming which wasn’t the instant trend they hoped it would be, but is slowly growing in popularity over the course of the year.
Twitter played a major role in all of the candidates’ campaigns, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump leading their respective parties in retweets. So did fake news. Facebook came under fire for allowing fake news articles to trend on their site. The company has teamed up with legitimate news organizations to help identify fictitious articles.
Amazon Echo Powered By Alexa
“Alexa” became a house hold name this year as the virtual assistant integrated with more and more smart home devices. Not only can Amazon Echo control DIY devices, but it integrates with Lutron and Control 4 as well. By the end of 2016 Alexa was no longer the only game in town with Google Home entering the market.
This summer, Pokémon Go proved that the world wanted augmented reality games. The widely popular app was played by approximately 21 million users across the globe overloading servers. While the game got people out and about and created a sense of unity among players it also led to trespassing, distracted drivers, and criminals using the Pokémon lures to lure unsuspecting victims. The fad quickly faded out toward the end of the summer.
We had heard about virtual reality headsets for years and in 2016 they finally hit the market. However, there is a big price variation with the Samsung Gear VR starting at $97.98, the Play Station VR coming in at $399, Oculus Rift at $599.99, and HTC Vive topping out the list at $799.
The race is on to see who can create the best self-driving car. Industry leaders such as Tesla, Google, and Uber already have working prototypes in the field. Tesla announced that cars with a full autopilot feature will be available in 2017.
Amazon Go is a test store in Settle Washington that is upgrading the grocery shopping experience. Customers tap their phones at the terminal, releasing the product while digitally adding it to their electronic tab. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out if there will be an Amazon Go coming to New York.