Top 10 tech news stories of 2017
The year is about to end. A new one is coming but we’d like to look back at the year that was. Here are the top 10 tech news and stories we find interesting and intriguing and that we feel have helped shaped the tech industry this year:
1) Apple unveils iPhone X
Аlong with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the world watched Apple unveil the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) in September, a smartphone ten years in the making.
During the announcement, CEO Tim Cook described the device as “a product that will set the path for technology for the next decade.”
It has a 5.8-inch super retina display and Face ID facial recognition technology, which can be used to unlock the phone and for Apple Pay. Concerns have cropped up about how secure Face ID is, but Apple has said it’s significantly more secure than its previous technology, TouchID.
The iPhone X started shipping on Nov. 3 and customer demand has been high, despite its starting price of $999.
Apple has also worked to significantly increase its inventory for the product. When it became available, customers who didn’t pre-order the device were told their devices would ship between 5 and 6 weeks. A recent check on Apple’s website showed the ship time had been cut significantly.
2) Equifax hack
When security breaches happen, you typically just have to change your passwords or cancel your credit cards. But this year’s hacking of Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, was unprecedented.
Hackers exploited a weak point in website software to gain access to sensitive information like Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers for as many as 145 million Americans. What’s worse is that nobody opted in to Equifax — if you have any credit, you are probably part of the breach and vulnerable to identity theft.
The fallout will probably cause headaches for years. The best defense tactic is a hassle: You should freeze your credit with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because an identity thief could use your personal information to apply for credit at a lender or company that checks files with only one of the agencies. What’s more, freezing your credit may require a small fee, and the same fees may apply to unfreezing it whenever you want to apply for new credit.
Equifax’s top executives resigned after the scandal, but the company has yet to disclose what it will do to prevent another breach.
3) Russian interference, Facebook and fake news
After 2016 ended with questions over Russia’s ability to influence social media and flood it with misinformation, 2017 opened with a major judgment on the issue.
The US intelligence community ruled in January that Russia had used cyber attacks and fake news to influence the US presidential election.
The social networks responded by promising to do more to combat the spread of misinformation on their platforms.
Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s work but said more must be done while Twitter banned Russian news sites RT and Sputnik – named in the US report – from using advertising on the social site.
In the UK, Twitter, Facebook and Google have come in for fierce criticism from MPs over its efforts, with a Commons select committee inquiry into fake news accusing the firms of doing “no work” in response to requests for information on Russian influence on British politics.
Expect 2018 to begin with more harsh questions and scrutiny on the social networking giants.
4) Make or Break for Elon
Few entrepreneurs this year have captured the public spirit like Elon Musk. Tesla’s leader navigated a $2.6 billion merger with solar provider SolarCity in November, making it a top stock-market pick for 2017 by Baird Equity Research. That is incredible given Musk’s boundless ambition, and Tesla’s product range, which gets more sci-fi by the year.
At the forefront of a make-or-break year for the firm, however, will be its relatively long-established auto wing. Tesla Motors will release its mid-range Model 3 car late 2017 to coincide with a boom in battery production predicted to push the marque towards the mainstream. The first lithium-ion batteries from Tesla’s own Gigafactory in Nevada should also roll off the production line. Musk will hold an investor’s Q&A at the plant next month.
That should be good news for the environment–as will Tesla Solar’s aforementioned hookup. And all this doesn’t even mention Musk’s other ventures, including space rockets and Hyperloop, the cutting-edge platform with which Tesla hopes to transform transport.
5) Bitcoin and the great cryptocurrency boom
Bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency that many believe is an alternative to the U.S. dollar, exploded in 2017.
The cost of one bitcoin, which can be used to purchase an increasing number of goods and services, was less than $1,000 at the start of the year. By late November, it had surpassed $10,000 for a single bitcoin.
Other cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin cash (which split from bitcoin) and Ethereum, all significantly increased in worth, leading many to believe the market had become a bubble reminiscent of the “tulip mania” of the 1600s during the Dutch Golden Age.
6) Uber troubles
A year to forget for the car-hailing service. In February, former engineer Susan Fowler published a blog alleging sexism at the company.
Chief executive Travis Kalanick was also caught on video in a furious row with a driver over journey fares.
Kalanick would then take a leave of absence before resigning in June – one of a series of executives to leave during the year.
The company then saw Transport for London deny it a new licence to operate in the city in September, a decision put down to safety and Uber’s alleged attitude towards reporting of crime.
That decision is currently being appealed and Uber was then further criticised after admitting it had suffered a data breach in 2016, paying the hackers a so-called “bug bounty” to delete the data.
7) WannaCry attacks
In May, the WannaCry ransomware attacked hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe, in nearly every country, as hackers demanded payment in bitcoin. It is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack in human history. Hackers took down Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and a host of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide.
A “kill switch” in the software was discovered by researcher Marcus Hutchins, thus limiting the damage. Despite his efforts, Hutchins was arrested in the U.S. for allegedly creating another malware, known as Kronos.
The WannaCry attacks were likely the work of the North Korean government, cybersecurity firm Symantec said. The NSA and other agencies, including Microsoft, have also attributed WannaCry to North Korea, but its government subsequently denied the attacks.
9) Amazon’s Empire Building
Amazon bought Whole Foods, it dominates voice shopping with Echo and now it’s frightening the health industry by considering a move into drug sales. And by the way, cities are falling over themselves to woo the company’s second headquarters: 238 in the United States and Canada put in bids to host what Amazon says will bring 50,000 jobs to the lucky winner. The keystone of Amazon is still online retail, an arena it continued to rule in 2017. An estimated 42% of U.S. online sales were through Amazon this year, according to Slice Intelligence, an e-marketing analysis firm. That’s a big number, even if e-commerce still accounts for just 9.1% of overall retail sales in the United States. Amazon is also a leader by a less visible but vitally important measure: cloud storage. It has 52% of the market, with Microsoft at 21% and Google at 18%, according to a survey by LogicMonitor.
9) Nintendo Switch
Before the March launch of the Switch, Nintendo was seen as something of an also-ran in the gaming world.
Once mighty, and still home to much-loved franchises, but unable to truly battle PlayStation and Xbox.
However, as 2017 ends, Nintendo is looking back on one of its best-ever years.
The Switch, and its combination of home console and mobile gaming, has captured the public’s imagination and its two flagship games are both cited as among the best in their respective franchise histories.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey both wowed the critics while third-party ports such as Doom and Rocket League has proved just how agile the Switch can be.
Nintendo has stolen the gaming crown in 2017 and anticipation will be high in 2018 to see if they can continue the momentum.
10) Smart speakers
The Echo and Google Home have taken the world by storm, and Apple is racing to catch up with the HomePod. Meanwhile, not content to be in one room of your house, Amazon has released additional in-home smart devices that purport to do everything from give you style tips to replace your alarm clock.
And while there has been some pushback to home-integrated smart devices, 2017 essentially primed the smart speaker to take over your entire home. That’s a trend that isn’t about to change.
The information in this digest is received from the following sources:
New York Times