Few weeks to the end of a wonderful 2016, we are grateful for all that HAS happened and all that is still going to happen.. Today we bring you the biggest tech stories of 2016 culled from MASHABLE:
1. The headphone jack
Apple’s annual iPhone launch always hits the mobile world like a shiny glass meteor, but the new iPhone 7 had an aftershock that will be felt for years: the removal of the headphone jack.
Despite being a near-universal standard used in devices worldwide, the eminently functional 3.5mm jack couldn’t survive Apple’s determination to shape the future — one where audio is wireless. In the present, however, cords still rule, and Apple’s big move has given us all dongles to lose, essentially mainstreaming inconvenience. (It’s also forcing grown adults to say the word “dongle.”)
2. Fake news infects Facebook
The spread of fake news emerged as a serious problem during and after the election, as skilled trolls learned they could make gobs of cash by writing up whatever conspiracies would be shared by those parts of the American public that had lost faith in the mainstream media.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed it wasn’t a problem.
3. The explosive Samsung Galaxy Note7
After years of living in Apple’s shadow as second best, Samsung was poised to race past the iPhone with the Galaxy Note7.
The Note7 had everything going for it — a beautiful curved glass design, a high-res screen, a huge battery, the best cameras, water resistance, a memory-card slot, a headphone jack, etc. — until disaster struck.
Shortly after launching to critical acclaim, Note7’s started inexplicably exploding, and Samsung issued a global recall. Replacements with “safe” batteries were supposed to fix things, but they, too, started catching fire and eventually forced Samsung to discontinue the phone entirely.
It’s no laughing matter when devices, especially those as personal as smartphones, put users at risk. Samsung’s unfortunate nightmare, however, is a lesson every phone maker will hopefully remember: safety should the No. 1 priority, not features. —Raymond Wong
4. Self-driving cars rev their engines
This was the year development of driverless cars shifted into high gear. Tesla pledged to include an enhanced, completely self-driving Autopilot in all models, and Uber was the first ride-sharing company to put driverless cars on the road, starting in Pittsburgh.
Traditional auto manufacturers got in on the action, too. Audi showed off how advanced its driverless tech was, and GM partnered up with Lyft — moves that might put Detroit into pole position in the self-driving race.
But it wasn’t all easy riding: Apple made some noise early with its rumored “Project Titan,” but reportedly ran out of gas by the year’s end. Google’s autonomous program had its first (extremely minor) accident, and a tragic crash killed the driver of a Tesla, reportedly in Autopilot mode.
2016 was a year of major progress, but a world where self-driving vehicles take over the streets is still a little bit further down the road. —Brett Williams
5. Snapchat sets the bar for digital cool
Evan Spiegel showed the world Snapchat was a force to be reckoned with in 2016.
As the company made some of its biggest advances — photo saving (!!!) in Memories, a rebrand (hello, Snap), hardware launch and (rumored) IPO — Facebook, naturally, panicked. The social network doubled and tripled down on its efforts to push Snapchat aside, cramming filters, animations and disappearing messages into all corners of its apps.
The fact that most of these efforts have been met with little more than a yawn and an eye roll (Instagram Stories perhaps being an exception) says less about Facebook and more about the sheer dominance of Snapchat, which has cemented its place as the hippest social app around.
6. Hacking gets even worse
Large-scale hacks have unfortunately become relatively common in recent years, but 2016 managed to make them even more worrisome.
Various organizations (including WikiLeaks) were able to “weaponize” email breaches of political candidates with deliberate, precise leaks timed to maximize media coverage.
7. The rise of Facebook Live
Facebook’s push into live video streaming was inevitable. Though a little late to the party, Facebook Live has quickly proven to be a hit, not just for serendipitous viral content (hi Chewbacca lady), but as a powerful tool for real-time reporting, capturing everything from sports to insurgencies as they unfold.
Compared to traditional live broadcasts, Facebook Live provides a more authentic look through a person’s eyes, completely unfiltered and unedited, and allows viewers from anywhere in the world to tune in and engage with comments and reactions in a more direct way.
Meerkat (RIP) and Periscope proved live video could work (and work at scale), and with its “lives,” Facebook took things to a new level. —RW
8. Uber’s quiet domination
In 2016, Uber became more than a ride-sharing company.
The $60 billion company made its self-driving cars a reality in Pittsburgh and unveiled a plan to control on-demand air travel, too. The Silicon Valley giant raised an unprecedented $3.5 billion in one funding round on its continued quest for world domination.
9. Apple versus the FBI
Arguably the most impactful thing Apple did this year wasn’t a product launch — it was drawing a line in the sand when it comes to iPhone privacy.
When the FBI publicly sued Apple to hack an iPhone owned by a former terrorist, Tim Cook’s refusal was swift and clear, declaring any attempt to do so would be akin to opening a “Pandora’s box” — the first step towards a future where digital security is illusory.
In the end, the FBI backed down — it apparently found another method for cracking the iPhone in question — but not before the debate had CEOs, law enforcement, privacy advocates and even presidential candidates taking sides.
While this specific case has faded away, the debate over digital privacy and “warrant-proof” data still rages today. —PP
10. No one wants to buy Twitter
Thanks to President-elect Donald Trump, it seemed like Twitter had perhaps never been so important as during the 2016 election. And yet Twitter as a company had a tumultuous year.
Two-time CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey has only added 10 million active users to the platform since he returned in Oct. 2015, advertisers are becoming more and more disinterested, and top executives, including COO Adam Bain, have left.
While acquisition rumors are commonplace for Twitter, it seemed like it would become a reality with Disney, Google and Salesforce apparently circling. No dice, and that may in part be because of the trolling and harassment that continues to plague the site.