In no particular order, the following are my top technology hits and misses for 2016.
Mobile was hot in 2016 led by the exploding Samsung Note 7. The iPhone 7 offered incremental improvements and Google double-downed on smartphones with their new premium Pixel smartphones. My most used apps include Messages, Snapchat, Pokemon Go, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Super Mario Run, YouTube, Netflix and Waze. From a business perspective, my favorite apps of 2016 included IBM Connections, Box, Microsoft Office 365, Trello, WebEx and Jabber.
Tablet sales continue to decline and I was disappointed by the iPad Pro as it has too many compromises. While the new Apple MacBook introduced incremental improvements, Windows laptops and tablets continue to drive innovation.
Smart assistants made headlines in 2016 with the introduction of the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The Amazon Echo gets my award for the best gadget of 2016. It’s a no brainer at $49.95 ($39.95 on sale) if you’re an Amazon Prime customer.
Wearables from Garmin, Fitbit, Microsoft and Apple continued to improve in 2016. I upgraded to the new Series 2 Apple Watch as part of Apple Watch corporate wellness program offered through my employer, IBM since it encourages fitness and I’m rewarded with gift cards based on the number of steps.
The new Apple product that most impressed me the most in 2016 was the AirPod wireless headphones. Pairing bluetooth headphones is much more complicated than it needs to be, battery life is poor and dropouts are annoying. Apple has addressed all three of these problems. I hope Apple licenses the W1 chip technology to other manufacturers and we see dozens of new devices in 2017.
Both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) gained interest in 2016 but products remain niche and expensive, 2017 is poised to be a breakout year as the technology goes mainstream,
Security breaches continued to grow in 2016. While getting hacked is inevitable, the most important thing is how companies respond to hacks in terms of speed, communication and remediation. I continue to be a big fan of password wallets and a long time user of Dashlane which makes it easy to create and manage complex passwords – reducing risk. Competitor LastPass made headlines for adding cloud syncing to its free service.
Operating systems including macOS Sierra, Windows 10, iOS 10 and Android N delivered modest, incremental improvements. My favorite new feature was the macOS/iOS 10 Universal Clipboard which allows copy and paste across devices.
TV made gains in 2016 with more affordable OLED screens, High Dynamic Range (HDR) more 4K content and more “cut the cable cord” streaming options. My purchase of a flat LG OLED TV was my favorite technology purchase of 2016.
The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off on Thursday January 5 in Las Vegas and is sure to include lots of new technology.