This is the last in our eight-part series called “2016’s Top Tech 10s.”
It is the last day of 2016 and the eve of 2017. The leap year has gone by surprisingly fast, but not before it gave us a lot to talk about. These 366 days have seen the much-criticised Brexit, the stunning Rio Olympics, Donald Trump’s much-tweeted election as the US President, and a number of celebrities – from Alan Rickman to Debbie Reynolds – pass on. A year full of both the bitter and the sweet, 2016 also had a lot of newsmakers in the tech world. So, before 2017 makes its grand entry, for our final ‘2016’s Top Tech 10s’ edition, we quickly review 10 of 2016’s top tech moments – because 366 days means a lot of exciting tech news!
Although the year didn’t see the launch of a bendable smartphone, the tech was still displayed at big events. For instance, Lenovo gave us an exciting glimpse of a bendable phone at its Tech World 2016 conference in June – a phone that doubles as a wearable when bent. The concept of bendy phones is so big, tech majors like Xiaomi, Apple and Samsung have already begun work on their own bendable devices. We’re sure to see these smartphones in late 2017 or early 2018.
Tesla’s Solar-Powered Island
Tesla isn’t a company that boasts small achievements. Whether it’s self-driving cars or energy, Tesla goes big. It’s latest playing field is solar-based tech. And the company really went big. The result – a solar-powered island! After its purchase of SolarCity, Tesla announced an entire island run on solar energy. Ta’u, the island that will be the world’s first solar-powered site, is already seeing the installation of batteries and a micro-grid of Tesla’s solar panels. The company also recently unveiled solar roof tiles!
The Apple-FBI Feud
If we’re looking at the biggest tech moments of the year, of course Apple’s is one of them. The company clashed with the FBI after the latter sued the company to hack an iPhone owned by a former terrorist. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to do so, drawing a line in the sand, guarding the iPhone’s privacy. Though the FBI finally backed down and still found a way to crack the iPhone, the feud sparked a lot of talk over digital/mobile security.
There is no other way to say this except that Pokémon Go was the most talked about tech subject in the past 366 days. Making everyone aware of what augmented reality has to offer, the game created an unmatched frenzy globally. The app forced users to get off their couches and take to the streets, looking for creatures with superpowers. Pokémon Go got an insane number of downloads, and also became a ubiquitous newsmaker for its ability to get people to be active again.
Google Ditches the Nexus Line for True Flagships
Despite having countless fans for its line of Nexus smartphones, Google took a major step in 2016 – it launched its own true flagships. The new Google Pixel and its cousin, the Pixel XL are as functional as they are beautiful. Rightly described as having a “feeling of completeness in knowing you’re holding a phone that has been built by the same guys from start to finish,” the Pixel deservingly grabbed the limelight from the iPhone this year, given its incredible camera and clever Pixel Launcher.
2016 was the biggest year yet for drones. The flying machines were used to deliver mail, blood and packages, and to inspect projects conducted by the Indian Railways. Even before researchers could announce this month that it is now safe to supply blood via drones, the machines were used for the same in Rwanda, in October. However, even before all this, the Indian Railways used drones to monitor projects back in April. Now, even France’s national mail service is delivering its mail via drone technology.
Apple’s Removal of the Headphone Jack
In a most surprising move, when Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPhone 7 this year, it also unveiled the fact that the handset had no headphone jack. Aiming to be the first smartphone sans the universal jack, the device made the news like few other tech subjects in 2016. Trying to make audio as wireless as possible, the iPhone 7 however, has forced users to either use a dongle or a wireless, Bluetooth headset. The company has even introduced AirPods to replace the audio jack.
With social media platforms being dominated by images and videos, the arrival of the wave-making editing app, Prisma, came with a glorious welcome. Initially only allowing you to edit your photos into works of art, the app later also announced the ability to edit your videos in a similar fashion. Giving a boost to people’s love for posting fashionably edited images, Prisma unsurprisingly racked over a million users in less than a week since the day it launched. Few technological trends were as popular in 2016.
If there were any company that dominated telecom news this year, it was Reliance Jio. Though already in the news before September, the company started to really make headlines after CEO Mukesh Ambani announced a 90-day, everything-free-for-everyone plan with its new Jio 4G SIM cards. However, rivals like Airtel got into the mix when Jio announced just this month, that in 2017, users can avail a modified version of the plan. With the biggest 4G offers and feuds, Jio was a major 2016 tech moment by itself.
Microsoft’s Surface Event
Just like every year before it, 2016 too, saw some incredible tech- and gadget-unveiling events. However, none compared to Microsoft’s Surface Event. From unveiling the gorgeous Surface Studio to showing off its unbelievable Surface Dial, the event was a perfect marriage of stunning design and superb technology. The company also introduced its new convertible laptop/tablet Surface Book i7 – the “ultimate laptop.” An artist’s and gadget junkie’s dream event, it even gave us insight into the new Paint 3D and the Windows 10 Creators Update.