The Last Decade's Biggest Tech Breakthroughs
The 2010s began amid a global financial crisis, but as the world recovered the technology sector changed the course of history. From the advent of the tablet to smart home devices, here are some of the most newsworthy technological innovations of the past decade.
2010 The new PC era by Apple
After nearly a decade denying that Apple was working on a tablet computer, Steve Jobs strode on stage in January and announced the iPad. It reinvented a product category, introducing a user-friendly touchscreen interface and software made from scratch. From gaming to watching video content, the tablet PC was at its core designed to be multifunctional, serving as a bridge between smartphones and laptops.
2011 Temporary social media
The advent of Snapchat in 2011 marked the beginning of a revolutionary business model, with users able to share content and control the visibility timeframe, after which the audio visual would disappear forever. The app offered a solution to permanent data storage issues faced by other social networks, while offering a novel concept. This was also the year that IBM Watson defeated human intellect, when the computer system thrashed Ken Jennings at Jeopardy.
2012 Redesigning history
In a dramatic departure from Windows 7, Microsoft rolled out the most radical design of Windows since 1995. The overhaul of Windows 8 was the biggest technology news of the year. Users bid farewell to the original “Start” button and welcomed an additional touchscreen interface with a more integrated experience available to run across tablets, traditional computers and hybrid machines. Instagram also made its debut on Android, two years after launching on iOS. Facebook then acquired the social network for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.
2013 A year of firsts
Despite the initial announcement being made in 2012, prototypes of Google Glass became available in early 2013. The first smart glasses were developed as a ubiquitous computer. Users could make natural language voice commands through the eyeglasses. The internet-supported gadget was priced at around $1,500. But the year's biggest newsmaker in the technology space was former CIA contractor, Edward Snowden. In what was the biggest surveillance scandal at the time, Snowden was behind a confidential data leak from the U.S. National Security Agency.
2014 Innovation hits processes
Apple entered the mobile payments sector, with Apple Pay allowing customers to make payments with the touch of a finger via Touch ID in stores and within apps. Meanwhile, Elon Musk was exploring the future of transportation. The entrepreneur and billionaire's electric-car company, Tesla, began rolling out vehicles equipped with sensors in 2014. Customers could buy the optional “technology package” for $4,250.
The wearables explosion
Although wearable technology devices like the Nike+ released nearly a decade ago in 2006, Apple still made some noise when it launched its first wearable device, the Apple Watch. The popular fitness-tracking gadget aimed to increase users' daily activity. From telling the time to answering phone calls, the smart device also offered another way to check notifications. The International Data Corporation estimated that the use of wearable devices increased by 173% increase in 2015.
2016 Newsworthy farewells
Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, complete with waterproof hardware to long-lasting battery. However, disaster struck when the product began mysteriously exploding, forcing the company to issue a global recall. Despite new batteries claiming to fix the problem, more things caught fire and Samsung ultimately discontinued the phone entirely. Meanwhile, Apple decided to remove the headphone jack in its new iPhone 7. 2016 also bid farewell to short-form video hosting platform, Vine, which was largely attributed to a decline in consumers and cultural capital.
2017 Humanizing technology
After nearly three years of intensive development and optimization, Jibo Inc. officially launched Jibo to the public in 2017. The world's first social robot for the home, Jibo uses advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU) along with speech and facial recognition to forge relationships with his family. The DJI Spark was also launched, which could take drone selfies. With FaceAware, Spark lifts off from the palm of a hand using facial recognition.
2018 The digital hearable is here
Google's $159 Pixel Buds were launched, connecting wirelessly with smartphones, and Google Assistant can translate 40 spoken languages nearly in real time, or at least fast enough to hold a conversation. It is worth noting that the earbuds are best suited for short exchanges and advances are still required before users can expect to have a “normal” conversation.
2019 Building for the future
In June, Oculus announced that it sold $5 million worth of content for the Oculus Quest in just two weeks. It marks the brand's first all-in-one gaming system for virtual reality, promising to transport users into an alternate dimension. In the world of robots, Boston Dynamics is allowing its first major robot, Spot, outside the lab. The nimble robot can go where wheeled robots cannot, while carrying goods with endurance far beyond aerial drones. If the bot takes off, it could offer huge safety advances in the construction industry.