Why 2016 Sucked for Techies
Culture

Why 2016 Sucked for Techies

4 pieces of tech we mourned the loss of this year

Depending on who you ask, 2016 kind of sucked. Some high profile deaths like David Bowie, Alan Rickman – even Prince, for goodness sake – have left us pretty bummed out. It’s against this calamitous backdrop that I introduce 4 tech products that also left us, perhaps too early?

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

In August, Samsung released the mother of all phablets, the Galaxy Note 7. With excellent specs, a dreamy blue color variant and an improved S Pen, it looked like the hottest phone on the market, until it literally became the hottest, most explodey phone on the market!

Users started reporting that their phones were exploding. Samsung introduced a global recall, at great expense, and hurried out a ‘safe’ replacement.

You know where this is going… They failed to tackle the whole ‘exploding’ part. So, more phones burned up, and faster than you could say “wait, I’m sure we had a billion dollars more than this,” the Note 7 was banned on flights and finally discontinued permanently. Some people (not Samsung) saw the funny side and even made a GTA V mod where they replaced bombs with Note 7s (there are some extremely violent demos on YouTube if you’re interested).

Samsung were not amused by this GTA mod

Samsung was not amused by this GTA mod

The debacle was actually a real shame. Aside from the fact that these phones were explosives waiting to detonate without warning—possibly right next to you as you slept in bed—the Note 7 was an excellent phone, with a design to rival Apple’s best efforts. It was the kind of contender in the market that pushes others to innovate. It was a smoking phone. It blew the others out of the water. RIP Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Note: Things got even worse for Samsung in November after a number of their washing machines started exploding too. That’s right: yet another device you won’t be able to take on an airplane. Fantastic.

Vine

Twitter’s six-second, looped, video clip service was one of the ultimate creative constraints. Vine became the source of many strange, useless and hilarious videos, often made funnier by their short looping. In October this year, Twitter stopped allowing new Vines to be uploaded to the service.

It’s such frustrating irony that a six-second Vine would probably prove the perfect medium through which to express the sorrow at Vine’s demise.

Here are some fun memories, best enjoyed with sound:

The Headphone Jack

In a divisive move, Apple released the new iPhone 7s in September, sans headphone jack. Apple’s Phil Schiller sounded more than a little like a Silicon Valley character when he attributed the axing of the jack to having “[the] courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us.”

Apple has a history of getting rid of technologies it deems out of date, and to their credit, the company often makes the right call, helping to push the market forward (anyone still using a floppy disk or optical drive in their machine?). Only time will tell on this one, but the pricey and delayed Airpods haven’t helped many people warm up to the idea, yet.

Function Keys

Drunk on courage, the Apple team then went on to banish the function keys on most of the new MacBook Pros to the annuls of history. Now, the new Touch Bar provides an OLED touch screen to offer contextual touch keys.

The MacBook Pro touch bar

The MacBook Pro touch bar

This isn’t a deal-breaker for most people, but some people may find themselves lamenting over the lack of a physical Esc key (here’s a decent tip for getting around that) and the reassuring clickety-clack of the function keys. However, designers (and potentially coders, when support for the bar catches up) might find the contextual touch keys a real time-saver when flicking between tools or performing repeated tasks.

I’ve played with this, and it’s actually a really practical hardware revision. Still in its infancy, it needs more active third-party support, but it already has the Apple stock apps covered. Plus, third party developers are starting to jump on board. This useful post rounds up currently supported apps!

Sure, the Touch Bar presents another piece of software that could crash, but, that also means it’s another piece of software that can be hacked:

This post introduces 4 tech products that left us in 2016, and perhaps just a little too early for us to handle.

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