2016 is a year that will go down in history. From Brexit to Trump, Leicester City’s Premier League triumph and the first commercial delivery by drone there has been plenty to talk about.
It’s also been a big year for tech innovation from virtual reality, drones, home-bots and hybrid cars all dominating headlines. There have also been some consumer tech fails, from exploding smartphones and hoverboards, to the spread of fake news on social media.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest tech stories of 2016 and what we can expect next year.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was put in the spotlight this year by Google following the introduction of Home, a smart speaker in response to Amazon’s Echo. Google also launched Allo, a messaging service that leverages AI and Pixel, a smartphone that heavily relies on a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants, have come a long way but there is room for improvement after they all failed at obvious tasks. For example, Amazon’s Alexa initially couldn’t say who was playing in the Super Bowl (even though she was featured in a Super Bowl commercial), Google Assistant couldn’t book a dinner table or order take-away food, and Siri let us down at giving map directions.
Virtual reality (VR) has come a long way but it’s not cracked the mainstream market as many predicted. HTC, Facebook’s Oculus, Sony PlayStation and Google have all released devices, mainly focused around gaming, but the price tag remains high and the gaming focus limits the audience. VR still has huge potential and will continue to progress in 2017.
The US presidential campaign brought fake news on social media firmly in to the spotlight. Facebook, Twitter and Google all faced criticism for letting fake news proliferate on their platforms, potentially influencing Americans to cast their votes based on misinformation. The New York Times estimated that one fake news story was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and over 350,000 times on Facebook. In fact, fake news outperformed real news in the last three months of the campaign. Google and Facebook have both said that they will implement measures to slow the spread of false stories.
So what news interested internet users in the UK this year? Google has revealed that ‘Euro 2016’ was the top trending term of the year. This was followed by the game Pokemon Go (also the top global search term), the late singer David Bowie and US President-elect Donald Trump in its rankings. The death of pop legend Prince also received more searches by UK users than either Brexit or EU referendum.
Technology has come a long way this year and it is incredible to see what is now available to us. One thing we can be certain of for next year is that there is always something new on the horizon and it is fast-paced, ever-changing, innovative and exciting industry to be a part of.