It’s December and that means that it’s time for Adi’s Year in Tech News. This is my annual roundup of some of the year’s biggest tech news stories.
In the summer of this year Google decided to throw their foot into the photo backup/sharing space, and boy they impressed. Google did this with Google Photos. In short this app/service allows you to backup and share unlimited high quality photos and videos for free. Most important of all, you could copy and paste a link to a selected group of photos to your favourite app and share them with anyone you wanted to and they don’t need to have a Google/Gmail account to view them.
Google also announced a new version of Android called Marshmallow. I have to give credit to whoever comes up with these versions of Android. Anyway, it brought some features including battery saving, security features that take permissions away from apps or fingerprint security(e.g. using your fingerprint to authenticate yourself into apps) and improved Google Now integration.
Speaking of Android, Google also announced two new smartphones, the Nexus 5X and the 6P. The Nexus 5X is a smartphone made by LG with Google’s pure Android with no pre-installed apps with a 5.2″ 1080p HD screen. The Nexus 6P is a similar story but it’s made by Huawei and has a slightly larger 5.7″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) screen. In both cases they come with Android Marshmallow straight out of the box.
Additionally Google also released Android Pay which is their answer to Apple Pay. The idea is that you can store your credit cards on your phone and then use your phone to pay for things at the supermarket. However, Android pay has not seen much of a take up this year.
Microsoft came out with Windows 10, the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system. It was announced as a free upgrade for anyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. One of the big things that got a lot of people to upgrade to it was the start menu. There were also some good power user features such as the improved Windows snapping. Clearly people were tempted as 110 million devices were upgraded to Windows 10. With that said I have talked to a lot of people who’ve had issues after upgrading to Windows 10 and they’ve had to go back to Windows 8 or Windows 7.
Microsoft had a mini-controversy with OneDrive (their online storage service). They promised to give people unlimited storage but then never followed through with that promise. They gave people 10TB of storage if they had an Office 365 subscription and then decided to downgrade that to 1TB of storage because people were “abusing” the service. To make matters worse they downgraded the storage for free users from 15GB down to 5GB (that’s a 66% reduction).
Microsoft came out and then apologised for this mistake and made up for it. They did so by giving people a link to sign in with their Microsoft/Hotmail/outlook.com account and then they will be upgraded back to 15GB of storage.
Apple’s also had quite an interesting year as far as their tech goes. We’ve seen the release of the iPad Pro that had a 12.9″ screen. I saw this tablet for myself earlier this year and I have to say that compared to the iPad Air it’s a huge screen for a tablet. It seems to be aimed at creative professionals. Interesting enough Apple also released a super expensive stylus (called the Pencil) as well as a Keyboard case that plugs right into the iPad.
We also saw the release of the iPhone 6S and it’s bigger brother, the iPhone 6S +. Both brought a few features to the table. To begin with 3D touch allowed you to bring actions such as quickly calling someone from the home screen or quickly have a look at photos. In both cases the cameras could should ultra high definition video(AKA 4K video) and they could shoot live photos (basically a couple of seconds of video that can be shown by long pressing on the photo).
Last but not least, we’ve seen a new version of the Apple TV box. This time round, the new Apple TV has Siri so you can command the Apple TV with your voice (e.g. “find action movies with Tom Cruise in them”). Additionally there are now apps that you can download from the App Store on the Apple TV.
On the software front, we also had the release of iOS 9. It brought some innovations such as split view, where the idea is you can have two apps open on the same screen, side by side at the same time. With slideover, you can choose which app of the two takes up most of the screen.
2015 was also a big year for gaming. Fallout 4 was one of the most popular games this year. In the RPG by Bethesda (the makers of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) you are in a distant future where you are the only survivor of a nuclear attack. The actions that you take will determine the final outcome. With that said you will most likely bump into a companion in the form of a dog called Dogmeat. There has also been some other interesting goings on in the Fighting game community. For example We’ve seen multiple betas for Street Fighter V this year. On top of that this is the first time in the history of Street Fighter that we’ve had access to the beta well before the game comes out. My take on this is that it allows Capcom to make sure that the game’s online experience is as smooth as possible when the game comes out in February 2016.
Additionally, Killer Instinct was previously an XBox One exclusive but now the third season of the game is going to come out on both PC and XBox One.This is also the first time in the history of Killer Instinct that the game has made it’s way to the PC.
There was also the release of Rocket League, a game which is basically Soccer (AKA football) but with cars. I have seen a lot of footage of this game and it’s a lot of fun.
2015 was also a big year for Samsung with the release of the Galaxy S6 Edge + with it’s curved screen and the Galaxy Note 5. We also saw the release of the Galaxy S6. Samsung also announced their own payment system similar to Android Pay called Samsung Pay. At the time of publishing this article Samsung Pay is only available in Korea and the USA. Here in the UK Samsung Pay is yet to go live.
2015 was also a big year for security news. Lenovo had a huge controversy earlier this year with their laptops and some software called Superfish which was pre-installed onto some of their consumer laptops. The software basically put adverts onto websites including banks and websites for online stores as well. A lot of security experts were quick to point out that this software also opened up some major and alarming security holes. Since then, Lenovo has been pre-installing less software onto their laptops and you can get rid of the Superfish software by way of a simple Windows update.
Google had a flaw in their Android operating system on smartphones called Stagefright. The idea is that a smartphone could be infected by simply sending a malicious multimedia message/MMS(a message that has audio, video or pictures in it). As a workaround people could simply disable MMS in their phone’s settings.
A new website certificate authority called let’s encrypt was announced. The idea of this new certificate authority was to enable website owners to get SSL encryption on their websites for free. At the time of writing this article there is a public, open beta where anyone running a website can try out the service for themselves.
here in the UK there was a big security breach of an internet service provider known as TalkTalk. Their database was hacked into and as a result nearly 157,000 customers were affected. What kind of data was stolen? The bank account and sort code numbers of nearly 16,000 customers as well as the credit/debit card details of 28,000 customers.
There has been a potentially disruptive entrant into the smartphone game called Wileyfox. This new company started up in the middle of the year and announced two new handsets called the Swift and the Storm. In both cases, the phones come with two micro-sim card slots and run Cyanogen OS on there.
On a more personal note, I decided to discontinue my podcast, MHF Tech. This is because I did not have the time to produce the show. Since then, my former co-host and I have received many comments from people and one of the questions we get asked the most is “Will you bring MHF Tech back?”. To be honest with you, the answer is not in the forseeable future. With that said if circumstances change then I might consider bringing it back if there’s demand for it.
You can still listen to the episodes on the website until June 2016. However, if you want to continue listening to the episodes then stay tuned for some updates on that front.
And that’s your look at some of the tech news stories for 2015. What were your tech news stories of 2015? Let me know in the comments!