Year end release

HTC ends the year with two new smartphones.

The first is the Desire 10 Pro at RM1,699. Design is priority as it has high-contrast metallic gold contour surrounding its matte finish.

The 5.5-inch full HD device has octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 20-megapixel rear camera and fingerprint sensor at the back.

Then, there is an affordable version called One A9s which is priced at RM1,159. The dual-finish metal body device has a 720p 5-inch screen while being powered by an octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

Both devices will be available after Christmas.


Real-time audio

Real-time audio

FACEBOOK has been pushing and updating its Live video feature throughout the year.

Just this month, the latest feature, Live 360, supports footage shot with 360-degree cameras. Before the year end, Live Audio will be available for selected groups of publishers. There are also plans to open this to everyone next year.

Being purely sound, it adds live podcasts to the mix and useful for people in areas with bad connections.

This allows for diversity and offers users alternative ways to consume media. Facebook also sees this as a tool for semi-professional usage such as book readings and interviews.


Relevant tweets

BACK in February, Twitter announced a move to allow users to see the best content instead of chronological tweets in their timelines.

Starting this month, its search results will also be arranged this way as the company hopes to improve the search experience in its service.

This is to counter its previous search results that may have users see endless quotes and retweets instead of the original tweet. To detect what is relevant, the learning model is ultimately what you and everyone else click on Twitter.

In its new format, the search results look to favour brands and official accounts. This means users’ tweets will be pushed further down the page. It remains to be seen whether it works, but the company says it will be making further improvements.


Year of VR

The year will be remembered for the beginning of the virtual reality (VR) age, thanks to the arrival of Oculus Rift in March, HTC Vive in April and PlayStation VR in October. As of now, the technology is popular for gaming and development. While it has immense potential, the headsets are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Do note that this is just the first chapter as it is still getting its bearings and establishing an ecosystem.


Fake news rules

News has always been shared on social media, but 2016 — particularly the US presidential election — highlighted the dangers of fake news. From May onwards, viral lies spread on Facebook and were reinforced by Google searches. Worse still, users themselves are to be blamed as they don’t fact-check. This mistake turned into a giant hole that is incredibly hard to plug.


Vine bites the dust

There are a few giants when it comes to the social media world such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Another top contender was short-form video sharing service Vine. Founded in 2012, the app shot to fame with its offering of six-second videos, leading to its acquisition by Twitter. In October, the service shut down permanently as its influential users are gone and audience reach suffered over the years.


Backward intelligence

In March, Microsoft tried to push forward artificial intelligence (AI) by introducing it bot called Tay to the world via Twitter. Through conversations with real people, Tay was supposed to learn and improve itself. Sadly, this backfired as the Internet is like the wild west. In less than 24 hours, it turned into an evil Hitler-loving, racist and sexist robot. Soon, Tay was taken down.


Live stream dominates

Facebook Live came out in April and it didn’t take long for it to find success. Besides producing new viral hits like the Chewbacca mom, it is a powerful tool for real-time reporting. Further, the ability for viewers to participate via comments and Reactions made it interactive and unfiltered. Instagram follow suit this month and it will start to roll out to more people in the coming months.


Explosive results

For many years, Samsung is always just one step behind Apple but recently, it gained momentum thanks to its curved screen. Even the Galaxy Note 7 was poised to leave its rival behind. Yet, misfortune happened as a brief period after its launch in October, the device literally explodes. Replacement was sent but there were problems too forcing Samsung to discontinue the Note 7 entirely.


Goodbye headphone jack

Some were for it, but many were against Apple’s decision to remove the standard headphone jack from its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in September. This is to introduce a wireless world but it created a path for dongles that are very easy to lose. Whether this is the future or some futile effort, Apple has taken the first step. The effects could be felt if competitors follow the move.

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