2015 was another year with crazy twist and turns for not only myself but also for technology. History was made when the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality, and T-Mobile shaped the mobile market with its uncarrier incentives. Google announced and released Android Marshmallow, but we know only 3% of Android phones will ever see that operating system. The year in hindsight was filled with news at every corner, but we never missed a beat and everyone got a chance to see history unfold in real-time on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. The year 2015 will always be remembered, but for what? We’ll look back and see Microsoft final version of Windows: Windows 10. The FCC ruling in favor of net neutrality. The raise, and hopefully the fall, of hoverboards and boasted boards. The growth and ultimate regulation of drones or any unmanned aircraft for hobbies. Lastly everyone will remember the growth of Twitter, the struggle to find a CEO, and their launch of Twitter Moments.
Windows 10 was a response to the failure of Windows 8, but also a restructuring of Microsoft. The company realized computers aren’t all going to have touch screens, and users absolutely hate when you change something after 10 years. The release of the final version of Windows is the start of a unification within Microsoft. The company understands to survive and thrive, they need an operating system that spans across laptops, tablets, phones, and gaming consoles. It’s also where Microsoft understood that third-party manufactures aren’t the way to make the best hardware, but in fact they’d need to start making their own hardware more often. They refined the Surface Pro, launched their Surface book, and started producing phones with the Lumia brand. All in all Microsoft has started something that’s going to take years to fully see through, but after 2015 we can finally say Microsoft is cool again. If you say other wise just look at them buying Minecraft and showing off the Hololens. That’s some cool shit!
The FCC might not consider cool, but they made a landmark decision that a majority, if not all the internet wanted. They voted in favor of net neutrality. Simply this means the internets staying the safe and innovating place it’s been. The vote protects the internet from becoming a place where fast lanes became the norm and ISP had all the control. Now fast lanes and hundred of other consumer hurting ideas won’t be legal. A startup has same internet access that Netflix or Google could get, and that means a startup still has all the chances even if they’re bootstrapped and running off fumes. While many experts expected Comcast, Verizon or even Time Warner cable to challenge this ruling in court. It’s gone fairly unchallenged, and beside the fan fare before and right after the announcement, the ruling hasn’t changed much. YouTube still has terrible comment sections, Facebook still has friends over sharing, and Netflix still works the same. The ruling meant to keep everything the same, and hopefully let startups one day become the next Facebook or Twitter or Reddit.
The next tech moment isn’t one single product but a whole product category: Hoverboards. The hoverboard doesn’t hover, but is a Segway device with two wheels where you balance and sway back or forward to move. They’ve become a household name in the course of a few short months. The technology isn’t new, in fact it’s been around for a few years, but the technology come down in price to where almost any could buy the hoverboard. Hundreds of manufactures from China and aboard produce the boards and sell them on sites like Amazon. Though being able to get a $300 maybe $400 hoverboard is cool but comes with safety concerns. They’ve reported boards over heating and catching fire. Amazon finally realized these devices were a risk from these knock of company’s and took them off their site. The board, while hyped about, isn’t really the moment. It’s just how quickly YouTubers, Viner’s, and mainstream celebrities bought these boards. In little as a month everyone was riding one, and putting themselves at risk for broken arms and burns from the board catching fire. The board caught the attention of social media and managed to become a hit so quickly everyone was asking just how these boards became so mainstream. Thanks in part to social media and celebrities riding the board. It just goes to show how a trend can explode quickly and become a health risk as quickly. Sadly CES has banned hoverboards from the show floor, but we’ll surely see these boards around the convention center.
Drones had a perfect moment in 2015. Part of the mainstream attention was from news organization covering news when a drone entered restricted airspace or a hobbyist flew too close to an airport. Another reason in all the attention towards drones is the FAA announced new rules on registering your drone with the government. The program is to help pilots understand where they’re allowed to fly, what to do if something happens and to prevent pilots from using their devices in illegal ways. The drones have also come down in price. They were starting out at $900 or more, but now they’re down to $400 or $500 for a drone that you could mount a GoPro on. It’s given DJI an opportunity to grow quickly and other companies have all entered the space. Some are competing with drones that follow you to take selfies or have such smart autopilot they could fly themselves. And let’s not forget about Amazon’s plans to use drones for delivering packages to customers houses. Drones have so much potential to do good and be used for commercial purposes. 2016 will only let the drone mature even more and hopefully the government will understand that not everyone who wants one is going to fly them into spaces they’re not allowed, ie airports.
Lastly Twitter. There’s a lot happening with a company struggling to meet wall street’s demands on growth, and still trying to stay true to its core ideals. Co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the helm as CEO after former CEO was ousted mid year. The news wasn’t Jack really returning but that he’s the CEO of another publicly traded company. Jack didn’t promise Square, the other company he’s the CEO of, would take time away. Since Jack took the chair a little over a month ago: he’s changed the conversation with developers, changed favorites (stars) to hearts, and introduced Moments. Jack spoke to developers to help grow ties with the community after Twitter made moves to cut off access and prevent developers from developing cool apps with the firehose. Than the company changed favorites to stars in a surprising and unwelcome move. The change meant to help users understand hearting, or liking, a tweet instead of the ambiguous fav. Twitter claims the users have used the heart button more than users were using the favorite. Lastly Twitter introduced Moments which are stories arranged with tweets from the beginning to end. They read more like books and less like the traditional Twitter timeline. Reports around Moments claim that it’s not performing as well as Twitter would like, and many long time users haven’t even used it. Twitter has gone as far as switching the notifications and Moments tab to hopefully get users to accidentally click the tab and interact with the stories.
2015 was a great year for tech, even though everyone says we’re in a tech bubble. 2016 will surely build on these tech moments, and 2016 will be a high year for drones, Twitter, the internet, and the FCC. Watch out for our predictions for 2016 article, and tell us in the comments below what tech moment you remember the most!