2016 was a year that briskly ambled past, and with it came the most infuriating, perplexing, and occasionally delightful incidents in the arena of technology.
So as we dust the previous year's tinctures off our shoulders to ring in the new year, it helps to look back on what went right, wrong, and what surprised all of us in the wave that was 2016.
Biggest Mobile Game Releases - Super Mario Run And Pokémon GO
In early July, Pokémon GO finally arrived on iOS and Android, after uproarious anticipation. The game was, at least initially, a resounding commercial success, until its many shortcomings poisoned its ballooning popularity and steady cash-ins at its own coffers. But despite its strained history, Pokémon GO has increasingly attempted to reinvigorate its dwindled sheen with piecemeal updates and bonuses. It remains to be seen how long it survives.
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile releases this year, marking Nintendo's first official mobile gaming entry after the lackluster Miitomo. In just four days, 40 million people had already downloaded the game, cementing a massively successful mobile debut for Mario, and more especially, Nintendo, who has previously stated that it wouldn't explore the mobile gaming space.
A nearly unanimous sentiment upon witnessing the Wii U is that it's a Wii accessory. But in fact, it is not. The Wii U was billed as the successor to the Wii, but Nintendo failed to clearly communicate that. A perplexing marketing message, coupled with measly third-party support is what makes a failed gaming console, and we sure do hope that the Switch, Nintendo's next attempt to win consumers, won't enter the same fate.
The Switch, unveiled late October, is a hybrid gaming console that can seamlessly "switch" between docked and undocked modes. Many rumors have attempted to shed light on the system's internals, and those will soon be either quashed or confirmed once Nintendo officially discusses the finer points in detail come Jan. 12, 2017.
Apple vs. FBI
This year, the FBI became miffed at Apple after the company rebuffed its intrusive privacy encroachments, by virtue of requesting to unlock a murderer's iPhone. The device in question was password-protected, and the FBI refrained from attempting to gain access lest it auto-deletes stored data.
The FBI demanded for a bypass, but Apple was apprehensive of the action's implication to user privacy. A huge fracas soon followed, but soon died down when an undisclosed third party found a way to access the locked phone.
The Fiery Galaxy Note 7
Where does one even begin with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7? The whole strained affair was the perfect mantle and source material for Oscar-worthy films; but no — this one really happened. As early as August, battery faults linked to the device started to pop up in many online forums and publications, and what had been regarded as isolated cases of device explosions turned out to be a widespread colossal battery flaw, leading Samsung to recall and eventually cancel production of the Note 7.
The whole situation had afforded Samsung a trove of articles, post-analyses, and pessimistic thinkpieces, and now, all eyes keenly rest on the Galaxy S8, its forthcoming flagship, hoping it won't suffer the same tragic sequence of events the Note 7 had gone through.
iPhone 7 And iPhone 7 Plus
Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus this past September, having stripped the headphone jack from the device entirely. Detractors flocked to demerit Apple, billing the move — which Apple calls the "courage to move on" — as anti-innovative and absurd. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, however, live on, with the iPhone 7 even becoming the best-selling smartphone in the United States in Q3 2016.
With the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unveiling also came the AirPods, Apple's first wireless earbuds that can perform a number of nifty things, such as automatically pause the music when it pops off the user's ear, and even respond to certain commands via Siri. The pair of buds connect automatically to Apple devices, and although it looks somewhat silly when worn, it does complement the iPhone 7's lack of a headphone jack.
Xbox One S And PlayStation 4 Pro
Microsoft and Sony both released refreshed versions of their flagship consoles this year, with the 4K video-capable Xbox One S from the former, and the 4K gaming-capable PlayStation 4 Pro from the latter. But what people are really waiting for is Microsoft's Project Scorpio, the true successor to Xbox One scheduled for a late 2017 release.
MacBook Pro With Touch Bar
A month after unveiling the new iPhone lineup, Apple also unveiled the new MacBook Pro models, with a new input method called the Touch Bar, an OLED strip that replaces the keyboard's function keys. The new models were neutrally received, with critics praising the beefed-up internals, while lamenting the lack of ports and a gimmicky-at-best Touch Bar. Its problematic battery performance issues have recently caused it to lose Consumer Reports' recommendation, the first time to happen in the history of MacBooks.
Hacks And Data Breaches
2016 was also a year filled with malicious hacks and data breaches, with big names such as Yahoo, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and more having been embroiled in a taglock of messy privacy woes.
Yahoo Data Breach
In September, Yahoo disclosed that data tied to at least 500 million accounts had been breached, in what may be one of the largest security breaches in history. The breach, which had occurred as far back as 2014, was the handiwork of a "state-sponsored actor."
LinkedIn was hacked back in 2012, but the magnitude of that breach was only realized this year when the number of records stolen shot up to 117 million accounts. The alleged hacker, however, was eventually caught in the Czech Republic.
The popular Yahoo-owned social blogging platform announced in May that it had suffered a security breach, but was apprehensive of sharing more beyond that. Investigative journalists were more than glad to probe into the matter however, and they've found out that more than 65 million accounts were dumped in the database. Not a good year for Yahoo, certainly.
Virtual reality also made huge headway this year, led by high-profile companies making their own official jump into the technology by virtue of proprietary VR headsets. In March, Facebook-owned Oculus officially released the Rift, and in April HTC and Valve's spawn, the Vive, was also released, spurring between them a fine coterie of titles that took gaming to a whole new level.
Sony also launched the PlayStation VR in September, going hand-in-hand with some titles already available for the PS4. Google, not to be left out, also introduced Daydream, its second VR platform after Cardboard.
Kotaku says that 2016 isn't the year of VR, but the year of the "start of VR." 2017 should make for a promising year for the nascent technology.
Bonus: Facebook's Fake News Allegations
Facebook had to endure vehement criticism this year, chief of which was targeted at its platform, whose failure to detect and properly sandblast fake news, had been — according to several op-eds — a contributing element to President-elect Donald Trump's victory.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the early allegations, but was quick to implement changes in order to improve the social network, calling Facebook a non-traditional tech and media company along the way.
What, for you, was the biggest tech news this year? Tell us in the comments!