Top 6 Tech Moments of 2016: Pokemon, Samsung and Piccadilly Circus

December 10, 2016 3 minute read

The top 6 tech moments of 2016

From the end of Apple’s quiescence on its MacBook series to the commercialisation of virtual reality and even exploding smartphones, it’s definitely been an eventful year for the technology industry. Even on a wider level, 2016 has brought many unprecedented moments that span the cultural, social and political landscape; whether you’ve been pleased with, or disappointed with, the narrative of this year to date, nobody can argue that it hasn’t been eventful. Here at Proporta, though, we’ve been focussing on the all-things tech instead; from our staff who visited CES, MWC and IFA, to our product team who love experimenting with the latest drones, 3D printers and other trending gadgets, we’ve racked our brains to come up with the six tech moments that surprised us the most this year.

1. Pokemon GO

After its initial launch in the US and the Oceanics, Pokemon Go was launched on iOS in the UK on July 14th this year with Niantic, the company behind the popular augmented reality game, experiencing millions of App Store downloads on that day alone. The game proved to be so popular that, after it’s release in 26 countries in Europe just a couple of days later, the platform crashed; even after Niantic resolved the 48-hour blackout, the servers were intermittent for weeks.

Although this list isn’t ordered, Pokemon Go probably tops our list of the top 10 tech moments of 2016 for making augmented reality so much more accessible. For those who haven’t played the game (seriously, where have you been?), the app is a location-based augmented reality mobile game which allows you to travel between the real and virtual world of Pokemon, artificially placing your favourite, lovable characters in to real time. Built on Niantic’s gaming platform and using real locations (from Ingress) to map out the game’s surroundings, players can explore cities and towns anywhere on the planet to become a true Pokemon master.

Pokemon Go on iPhone

Pokemon Go blends the real and virtual worlds of Pokemon | Photo credit: Shutterstock / Elite Daily

2. Faux-Bokeh: iPhone 7 Plus

Apple unveiled its hotly-anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 on September 7th, with the two new iterations of its flagship smartphone boasting some impressive technical features. Although the removal of its headphones jack, along with its expensive AirPods wireless headphones, is arguably its biggest talking point, it’s the dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus which impressed us most. Producing a faux-Bokeh effect, the double camera set-up allows wider-aperture, shallower depth-of-field photos with features like background blurring for better images. Technically-speaking, the camera features two lenses: one 28mm wide-angle 12 mgp lens and one 56mm telephoto lens.

iPhone 7 Plus Cameras

The iPhone 7 Plus sports an exciting new dual camera set-up | Photo credit: Apple

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 goes Icarus

Samsung brought out two fantastic smartphones this year, with its Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Unfortunately for the mobile manufacturing giant, they also brought out one smartphone which tried to pack too much into its premium shell: the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone hit the news earlier this year after it emerged that one of the devices had literally caught fire; 35 reports later and Samsung finally issued a complete recall of all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. After replacement handsets were also deemed to be faulty, Samsung had to make the smartphone totally obsolete and released a public statement that urged owners to shut down their phones entirely.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fire

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 had to be totally recalled this year after the handsets began exploding | Photo credit: ExtremeTech

4. Instant Emoji Touch Bar

Apple made headlines again when it unveiled a new MacBook after an 18-month quiescence. Although the device boasts a whole repertoire of functional features, it’s the Emoji-enabled Touch Bar that made us weak at the knees. The MacBook Pro now boasts a full OLED touch panel above the standard keyboard, which marks the end of the “F” command function keys at the top of the keyboard. Now with a panel of touch-sensitive ‘virtual keys’, you’re offered dynamic shortcuts to functions such as volume control, brightness and screen management. But, as well as offering a simple way to control system settings, the Touch Bar keys also change depending on what you’re using your laptop for. The customisable Touch Bar will bring up a search bar when you’re browsing the web with Safari, and it also offers predictive text and Siri as on the iPhone. Dubbed as the “instant Emoji Touch Bar”, it’s also capable of suggesting and inserting emojis without having to leave the keyboard (just as you might’ve noticed on your iPhone, if you’re currently using iOS 10).

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Apple unveiled their MacBook Pro with an OLED-panel Touch Bar

5. Piccadilly Circus black-out

This week, we learnt that the world-renowned six-screen advertising board which makes up Piccadilly Circus’s impressive centrepiece will be redeveloped in 2017, with the billboards being switched off totally for the longest period of time since World War Two. A revamp of the attraction will see the famous advertising lights shut down for at least nine months from January. The BBC reported that it will be the first time the iconic lights go out since 1949, with the exception of power-cuts. Plans are in place to turn the impressive LCD set-up turned into one curved mega screen, with the advertising rights being sold for upwards of £30 million a year, as opposed to a current total value of £24 million a year.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus’s central london attraction sees 70 million visitors a year | Photo credit: Visit London

6. Google’s AI defeats human GO opponent

In a battle which displayed the unimaginable capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) bots, Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo program beat South Korea’s champion Lee Se-dol at the Chinese game GO. The BBC noted that “a computer has previously beaten the world chess champion, but the Chinese game Go is seen as significantly more complex”. Lee Se-dol has won 18 world championships since he turned professional at 12 years old. He said the AlphaGo’s strategy was exceptional and that it played an excellent, unconventional move which displays its sheer level of human intuition. With £1,000,000 worth of prize money, AlphaGo’s now the richest robot around.

Google DeepMind AlphaGo AI Bot

Google’s AI bot beats Go champion 4-1 in an historic victory | Photo credit: Business Insider

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