From Freedom 251 to Note 7 and No Man's Sky - The Biggest Disappointments of 2016

 
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From Freedom 251 to Note 7 and No Man's Sky - The Biggest Disappointments of 2016

Highlights

  • The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 promised a lot, but fizzled out
  • The exploding Note 7 will not be forgotten in a hurry
  • No Man's Sky was the biggest disappointment in gaming this year

If you were to start listing the most disappointing things that happened in 2016, we'd be here till the end of 2017. The Universe has seemed extra cold and dark this year, with the deaths of icons and legends, the end of venerable institutions, and unfathomable changes in the world order.

Seen in that light, tech had a pretty good year. Facebook still hasn't acquired nukes - that we know of - and Apple is still only mildly disappointing people with humdrum updates to devices, and we are glad Google hasn't yet unleashed the murderbots it undoubtedly has.

That being said, there were definitely more than a few dark spots on the tech timeline, particularly if you happen to be living in India. Here's a look at all the things we're glad to put behind us.

1) Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosions
Few people will forget the explosive disaster that was the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. From Samsung's most valuable brand to the butt of all jokes, the Note 7 disaster is one that shows no signs of cooling - much like the phone itself.

Samsung

2) Freedom 251, and the fizzle after
The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 promised to be a competent budget smartphone, at an unbelievable price, made possible through "economies of scale". This raised a lot of questions right from the start, and down the line, the company ended up announcing the delivery of just 5,000 phones, against the planned 2.5 million units.

It has faced inquiries by police and tax officials, and the first was recently summoned to court over a bounced-cheque case.

3) No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky was probably the most-hyped game coming into this new console generation, which was particularly unusual considering that it was the work of a small indie team. So we probably shouldn't have been surprised when the final product was a long way from what the game initially promised to be.

Yet we, along with most of the gaming world, were taken aback by just how little there was to do in the game, and how limited the procedural generation really was in terms of creating unique experiences.

no mans sky review

4) Apple and the 3.5mm jack
The 3.5mm audio jack has been a standard for decades, and although Apple might have had its reasons for removing the jack, it's a decision that left a lot of people very unhappy.

Removing that jack is a bad move, no matter who does it, but Apple has enough volumes by itself to set the trend for the rest of the industry. For people who've built up large collections of audio gear, this was a really terrible move.

5) GoPro's Karma recall
Last year, GoPro was one of the coolest brands around, with its action cameras fast becoming ubiquitous. GoPro's camera was the device of choice to mount on a number of drones as well, for aerial photography.

However, drone brands started getting into cameras, and GoPro launched its drone. Despite delays and production issues, the resulting drone looked very exciting, but then they started to power down during use, and the company had to recall 2,500 of the Karma drones.

gopro

6) Vine's end
Vine was one of those hugely loved services that nonetheless largely flew under the radar. Perhaps that's why it wasn't surprising to learn this year that Twitter decided to discontinue Vine. Later, there were reports that Twitter was also considering a sale of Vine, and meanwhile, Giphy unveiled a tool to archive your clips in GIF form.

Although Vine might not have been hugely used, it was influential, and helped create a number of memes. Now, Twitter has backtracked a little, but it's still a sad end for the service.

7) Pebble's sale
Another exciting young brand that's come to a close this year is Pebble. The original smartwatch, Pebble has consistently made great devices in a very challenging category.

At the same time, it also unveiled the Pebble Core, an intriguing gadget that added even more smarts, including the Alexa virtual assistant. And then the brand got sold to Fitbit and upcoming hardware was canceled. At least Fitbit will keep Pebble services alive, for a year.

8) Reliance Jio launch
The Reliance Jio launch has been a classic case of over-promise and under-deliver. In the test period before the launch, when SIM cards were available to a select few, Jio was delivering pretty great speeds, with no data limits, and all for free, but it was just not prepared to deal with the huge numbers of people who got a SIM after the public launch.

jio

Jio offered free calls for life, along with free data for the first three months, and of course, people formed long queues to get a SIM. Predictably enough, speeds dropped, until Jio was actually the slowest 4G network in India according to some tests. On top of that, calls were not getting through, and black market SIMs started to float around. All in all, the launch was a really rough ride, and although things are getting better now, it's still got plenty of room to improve.

9) Uber's up-front fares
Uber's gone through a lot this year. It's had to back out of China, and it's completely re-imagined how the app works. Earlier this year, it also decided to roll-out 'upfront fares', to replace ride estimates. The idea was that users would be able to quickly see what the big would be, instead of just seeing a surge number.

Of course, this is just another way of hiding the surge being charged, so that you don't know whether you're getting a horrible deal or not. In Delhi, Uber was asked to suspend surge, but the company just swept it under the carpet. It's a pretty crappy move, but there is still a trick you can use to check the multiplier.

Uber

10) Suicide Squad
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a terrible movie, but it wasn't really a disappointment. Movies in general were kind of dull this year - particularly Captain America: Civil War - but the one film we all held out a lot of hope for was Suicide Squad. And then we watched the movie. It's one of the worst movies we've seen this year, and that includes Batman v Superman!

Overall, TV has been a lot more appealing than movies this year, but Suicide Squad was where we hit rock bottom.

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