We’re only a couple of weeks into 2016 but we’ve already heard some major announcements and seen some incredible innovations in the tech industry. Here is a brief roundup of some of the most notable happenings in the digital world so far this year.
Oculus Rift on Serious Demand
Acquired by Facebook back in 2014 for $2 billion, the Oculus Rift became available to preorder on 6th January. There has been huge excitement around this product as it is one of the first consumer-targeted virtual reality headsets and is expected to mark the start of huge VR trend in the video gaming industry. Many see VR as something that will revolutionise video gaming through its incredible visual fidelity and its ability to create a much more immersive experience than anything before.
2016 looks to be the beginning of a new era in technology and gaming with a slew of highly anticipated VR devices set to be released this year. You can preorder the Oculus Rift now for $599 (about £410) plus tax and shipping, but you’ll have to wait until its release on March 28th to get your hands on the device.
Apple Drops Headphone Jack for iPhone 7
According to an article by The Fast Company, Apple will be dropping the standard headphone jack in its next model, presumably named the iPhone 7. The article states that the phone will rely on its Lightning cable port for sound via wired headphones or users can opt for wireless headphones.
Without the 3.5mm headphone jack, the iPhone 7 will be much thinner than its predecessors and is very likely to be completely waterproof. Several other rumours have surfaced including the ability to (finally) support wireless charging and free Lightning-connected EarPods to come as a bundle with the phone.
Apple sold extraordinary numbers of its last two models, the iPhone 6 and 6S, and is therefore under great pressure to deliver with its next model. The iPhone 7 is going to have to show improved functionality and include more desirable and impressive features in order to tempt us all to upgrade. However, this may become more difficult as industry analysts believe consumers are expected to buy far fewer new smartphones in 2016.
Facebook Deliberately Breaks Some of its Android Apps
According to a report published by tech journal The Information on 4th January, Facebook conducted secret tests to determine the level of addiction of its Android users by deliberately crashing its Android app for hours at a time.
These tests were reportedly conducted in order for Facebook to determine user resilience to the app’s insufficiency by seeing if users would find another way to access Facebook on their Android device other than through the Google Play store app, for instance through web browsers.
Users couldn’t kick the addiction however, and the report states that “the company wasn’t able to reach the threshold”. Even if the app was broken for hours users kept coming back; that they would rather use the mobile web version than not use Facebook at all.
The reported purpose for this test was to “prepare for the eventuality that it (Facebook) leaves the Google Play app store” or in case of future conflict with Google over competition in advertising and search. In the past, Google have threatened Facebook’s presence on the Play Store due to violations of the app store rules. The report suggests that Facebook is working on its own app store as part of “contingency measures”, but whether this will become a reality is yet to be seen.
Microsoft Drops Support for Internet Explorer, Focuses on Microsoft Edge
Early this month Microsoft announced that from 12th January it is dropping support for all versions of Internet Explorer other than the most recent version, IE 11. The ending of the support has been a long time coming; from the world’s most used browser back in 2008, IE has seen a steady decline in use whilst Chrome and Safari have risen in popularity.
With the release of Windows 10 back in July of 2015, Microsoft also released a brand new web browser, Microsoft Edge, which will eventually replace Internet Explorer all together. Microsoft Edge has been built for the modern web and designed to provide a better web experience, including improved productivity and security.
Twitter Considering Upping the 140 Character Limit to 10,000
Twitter is reportedly upping its 140 character limit in the first quarter of 2016, allowing users to compose much larger tweets than its current limit. The 140 character restriction is one of Twitter’s oldest and most established features and encourages brevity and creativity, but according to multiple sources, Twitter is considering a huge jump to a 10,000 character limit.
Many users have been quick to express their fears that a larger character limit would take away Twitter’s uniqueness and would disrupt their experience if it means scrolling through large amounts of content on their timeline… not to mention the potential spamming issues.
Although many tweeters are strongly against the idea of upping the character limit, CEO and Co-Founder, Jack Dorsey was quick to highlights the benefits. He pointed out that many users on Twitter are taking screenshots of text and tweeting it as an image, and that a higher character limit would allow for a lot more searchable content.
Twitter is currently testing a version in which tweets will appear in the usual 140 character limit but any more content will be hidden and only viewable once a user clicks on some sort of call-to-action button. This was explained by Dorsey when he took to Twitter to defend the plans, appropriately posting his response as an image of text.
LG’s Rollable 18-inch OLED Display
At this year’s CES tradeshow for global consumer electronics and technology in Las Vegas, LG unveiled one of their latest pieces of technology, a rollable 18-inch OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display. OLED emits light on its own, so unlike LED, the display works without a backlight and is therefore much thinner. At only 0.18mm thick, LG’s prototype can be “rolled up like a newspaper”.
Whether this concept has the ability to be developed and turned into a marketable product is still uncertain. LG will need to incorporate wireless power, input capability and other requirements to the display before it can become a fully functioning TV.
Although it’s not completely clear why would want to roll up your TV, it can only be assumed that LG are keeping with the trend to make the devices we use every day lighter and more portable. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty cool and an impressive piece of technology.