Hello and welcome to Adi’s Year in Tech News. At the end of the year, this is a feature where I take you through some of the news stories that happened in the year. This has been a tradition of sorts that has been on this site for many years. This year is no exception. We’ve got a lot to get through, so let’s get started.
Let’s take a look at the world of smartphones. Of course, Apple made a bit of a splash with the iPhone XR, the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XS. The iPhone XR is a lower-spec iPhone X that sports an LCD screen. The iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XS are the other two that complete Apple’s lineup of iPhones. This also means that Apple no longer sells an iPhone that has a headphone jack. As such, if you want to use your own headphones, you will need to buy Apple’s dongle which lets you plug a pair of headphones with the standard 3.5mm connector into an iPhone.
On the Android front, Samsung launched the Galaxy S9. Unlike most of the other flagship phones released this year, it has a headphone jack. Google came out with the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL in the second half of the year. On top of that, Samsung had a developer conference of their own, where they showed off an amazing foldable smartphone. Again it’s a proof of concept, so I don’t expect to see it any time soon.
We also saw Apple stepping up their smartwatch game as well. This year they released a new version of their smartwatch dubbed the Apple Watch Series 4. One of the headline features was the ability to detect when you take a fall. When you do, a notification will pop up on the watch giving you the ability to call your emergency contacts and alert the emergency services. After 60 seconds of being immobile, it will then send a message to your emergency contacts.
Let’s talk about tablets for a moment. Apple released a new version of it’s iPad Pro. Strangely, Apple removed the headphone jack from it (like they did with the iPhone 7). The other big surprise was that the iPad Pro used USB-C and got rid of the home button. It’s strange that they would remove the headphone jack from something where there is space for it.
Samsung also showed their hand in the tablet space as well. They came out in the middle of the year with the Galaxy Tab S4. It’s a tablet running Android. It sports USB-C for charging up the device. However, it came with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus. Unlike the iPad Pro, it has a headphone jack.
Let’s move onto one of my favourite topics and that is gaming. We’ve seen some awesome games coming out in 2018 and some games getting a reboot. Spyro is a series of games that originally came out on PlayStation way back in the 1990s. However, after many years the series has seen a remake and it’s called Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Of course, Burnout Paradise also got a re-release. Sony’s Santa Monica Studios also came through with a mammoth of a release this year. Of course, I am talking about God of War (some fans call it “Dad of Boy”). It’s an action game with an amazing story to boot. It even received Game of The Year at The Game Awards.
Speaking of The Game Awards, Red Dead Redemption 2 also was also released this year and it received a few awards as well (such as the best narrative and best score/music).
Another big release in terms of games is Detroit: Become Human. It’s an action game that has multiple endings, and every action that you take can change the ending that you get.
Nintendo released some big games in the latter part of this year. We had Super Smash Bros. Ultimate released for the Nintendo Switch earlier this month. 2018 also saw the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online service. This has been a free trial up to this point, but now you will have to pay for it. This offers online multiplayer in games that support it, the ability to play NES games and the ability to back up game saves online (to name but a few features). Nintendo Switch Online costs £17.99 for the full year. Alternatively, you can pay £3.49 for a month or £6.99 for 3 months.
In 2018, Nintendo teamed up with Ubisoft for Starlink: Battle for Atlas. This was a space shooter that was released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. What did the partnership between Nintendo and Ubisoft mean? It meant that the Nintendo Switch version of the game allowed gamers to play as Fox Mccloud or another member of the Star Fox team.
On the note of classic games, Sony also came out with a miniature-sized games console called the PlayStation classic. This console came packed with a selection of 20 games from the original Sony PlayStation. Whilst there are a few gems on there (such as Tekken 3 and Final Fantasy 7), the rest of the selection left a lot to be desired. There could have been a lot of really decent games on there. For example, they could have included games like Crash Bandicoot or Tomb Raider. Those are two examples of classic Sony PlayStation games.
From gaming, we move onto security.
Facebook was in the news over the way it shared data with apps on its social network. Cambridge Analytica had an app on Facebook that basically got access to users’ data through a Facebook app. Following this, Facebook took steps to improve their social network.
2018 was the year that a new standard of Wi-Fi security was introduced. I am of course talking about WPA3. This was introduced as a way to fix a major security hole found in WPA 2. However, it will be a while before we see routers with the new WPA3 standard built in. This means that if you want to use WPA3 in your home, you will have to go out and buy a router that supports WPA3. If your router was provided to you by your internet provider, see if they will give you one.
Some of you might know Marriott for their hotels. However, they suffered from a large data breach. An attacker managed to access a database containing information on up to 500 million guests that stayed in their hotels. Some of the data included names, phone numbers, email addresses, house addresses and date of birth to name a few things.
There has also been a story or two that sits on the border between cryptocurrency and security. Coincheck is an exchange where you can buy Bitcoin (one of the many digital currencies out there), NEM (an alternative currency to bitcoin) and many others and they are based in Japan. You can also convert your bitcoin into Japanese Yen. However, the bitcoin exchange confirmed that they were hacked and 58 billion Japanese yen(£377 million) worth of NEM was stolen.
Microsoft has also been in the news a lot this year. As we know, Windows 10 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for Desktop, laptop and tablet computers. There have been a lot of updates released for this operating system. However, there was one where the rollout was not smooth. The 1809 update was packed with useful features like dark mode for file explorer, a better way to increase font size, an improved version of the Snipping Tool to name a few things. However, when it released there were some deal-breaking bugs, so Microsoft had to stop the rollout of the update to fix them. Of course, they fixed the bugs and then released the update again.
Apple also made a splash in the desktop/laptop operating system space with the release of Mac OS Mojave. Like Windows 10, dark mode is coming to MacOS in a more prominent way. On your desktop, you might have a lot of files. As such you can organise your documents and other files into stacks. If you owned a desktop or laptop computer from Apple, then you might have taken a screenshot at some point. However, the ability to take screenshots using the tools built into MacOS has been improved so you will be able to annotate your screenshots. The screen recording functionality has also been improved to allow you to capture a portion of the screen if you want to do that.
Graphics cards (AKA graphics processing units) have an important job in any computing device (e.g. desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone). It’s their job to process the images we see on our screens. In 2018, Nvidia released the all-new RTX 20 series of their GeForce graphics cards. Of course, the real headliner of this line of products was the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti which is the most powerful consumer graphics card that Nvidia makes (at least at the time of publishing this article).
Flickr is one of the largest platforms for sharing photos with people. However, earlier this year, the photo-sharing service (which was owned by Yahoo) announced that they were being bought by a photography site called SmugMug.
2018 was also the year that we saw two well-known instant messaging services being discontinued. Yahoo and AOL have both discontinued AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. If you used the internet at any point between the late 1990s and the early 2000s then there’s a good chance you used either of them. I like to think of them as a precursor to the likes of Skype and Whatsapp.
Speaking of ways to communicate, Whatsapp also made the news in 2018 in a big way. In a recent update that came out this year, you can now do a group video call with up to four people.
Oculus is one of the companies that has made VR a thing again for the first time since the 1990s. In 2018 Oculus announced a new VR headset called the Oculus Quest. This is supposed to be their wireless, all-in-one headset which does not require a PC to use it. The Oculus Quest is set to be released in the Spring of 2019 and will have 64GB of storage. It will also come with the Oculus Touch controllers.
Were there any stories that I should have included in this roundup? Let me know in the comments.
There are lots of different places to get your news from. I would like to thank you to you for making Adi’s Tech Site your place for all things tech. It really means a lot to have you coming here to read my content. I would also like to wish you all a happy new year.
What were your favourite tech news stories from 2018?