50 Moments That Defined Tech This Decade

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung have played a vital role in shaping various consumer-focussed technologies in the past decade.

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50 Moments That Defined Tech This Decade

Tech world has transformed a lot in the last ten years

Highlights
  • Apple iPad revolutionised the market of tablets
  • TikTok outshined Instagram with over 1.5 billion downloads
  • Jio disrupted the Indian telecom sector with affordable tariffs

Discoveries and innovations aren't new in the world of technology. But in the past decade -- particularly between 2010 and 2019, we've seen an enormous number of technological reforms that have changed the way we live today. Developments such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) have emerged from merely being some laboratory projects and become an active part of our daily lives. Similarly, smartphones that were initially termed as a mobile devices designed for entrepreneurs and aristocrats reached the hands of the masses.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung played a vital role in shaping various consumer-focussed technologies in the recent past. Also, contenders such as Amazon and Facebook actively participated in the evolution by bringing their new offerings. Governments additionally started showing significant interest in technology developments and built new programmes and laws to support a healthy competition among all the stakeholders.

Here, we are listing a total of 50 events in the technology world that changed our life over the past decade (in chronological order). So let's get started.

1. Google Nexus series debuted (2010)

It was a just over a year after Google brought Android, the search giant in January 2010 decided to launch the Nexus brand to offer standardised Android hardware to the market. The Google Nexus family initially had smartphones, but it gradually added tablets and a couple of media devices. The brand was aimed to help the Mountain View, California-based company bring flagship Android products that were considered as the reference design for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It also enabled Google to provide a vanilla experience to consumers -- without any bloatware or proprietary customisations. Nevertheless, Google in 2016 discontinued the Nexus series and shifted its focus towards Pixel devices.

2. 3D TVs entered mass market (2010)

To offer depth perception to viewers, 3D televisions aka 3D TVs forayed into the market. Just a few people know that the world's first stereoscopic 3D television was demonstrated back in 10 August 1928. But it was CES 2010 in Las Vegas when we saw a range of 3D TVs for mass consumers. Major TV manufacturers started focussing on adding 3D options to their ranges. Similarly, customers started demanding for 3D TVs. The TV market, however, faced a significant drop in the sales of 3D models recently.

3. Google Search said goodbye to China (2010)

After facing a tough fight with Chinese authorities, Google in January 2010 finally decided to give up its search service in the country. The company explicitly announced that it wouldn't censor searches in China. To avoid any further issues with China, it also started redirecting all its search queries from Google.cn to Google.com.hk in Hong Kong. The company, however, in the recent past attempted to make a comeback to mainland China. It even moved its headquarters from Tsinghua Science Park to Rongke Information Center and hosted the Google Developer Day China alongside releasing developer-focussed websites in the country in December 2016. Some reports even indicated that the search giant is working on a project called the Dragonfly to launch a censored version of its search engine in the Chinese market.

4. Microsoft Azure released for enterprises (2010)

Initially in the works with codename "Project Red Dog", Microsoft Azure released as the cloud computing service by the Redmond giant in February 2010. The service was initially known as Windows Azure, though it was renamed as Microsoft Azure in March 2014. Microsoft Azure was designed to take on Amazon Web Services (launched in March 2006) and Google Cloud Platform (launched in April 2008). It offers software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to enterprise customers alongside providing a platform rich of AI resources and supporting various programming languages.

5. Apple iPad makes its debut (2010)

Having tasted success with iPhone, Steve Jobs-led Apple team in April 2010 decided to go beyond smartphones and brought the iPad. The first-generation iPad emerged as a remarkable step in the tablet computing world as it offered a large-enough, 9.7-inch display with multi-touch support -- sans a stylus. Apple also customised its iOS and encouraged developers to build new experiences for its iPad. All this helped bring tablets to the mainstream and provided the Cupertino company another avenue to generate revenues and grow bigger in the market.

6. Xiaomi came to its existence (2010)

In April 2010, Chinese entrepreneur Lei Jun founded Xiaomi that emerged as China's largest smartphone company in 2014. The company, shortly after its initial growth in its home market, entered India and other South Asian markets and became a household name. It also made the competition tougher for Apple and Samsung that were once enjoying garnering profits from various smartphone markets. Apart from affordable smartphones, Xiaomi also brought its smart home devices, wearables, and a range of lifestyle products such as bags, clothes, and shoes. It has also invested in various startups to expand its portfolio of products and made an army of influencers that it calls Mi Fans.

7. Google Maps Navigation made commuting uncomplicated (2010)

To offer voice-based turn-by-turn navigation guidance, Google launched Maps Navigation as a standalone app. It was launched in beta in the US in October 2009, however it expanded to global markets by entering the UK in April 2010. The Mountain View company later integrated the Google Maps Navigation service within the Google Maps app. It enabled mobile users to navigate on-the-go, without requiring a dedicated navigator. Google also uplifted the experience by adding offline guidance and navigation support for various places in the recent past.

8. Uber kicked off app-based ride-hailing service (2010)

StumbleUpon co-founder Garrett Camp and entrepreneur Travis Kalanick launched Uber's ride-hailing service in May 2010 -- following the establishment of the company in March 2009. The company started its journey in San Francisco, California, though it rapidly went beyond the US and entered Paris in December 2011. Uber essentially revolutionised the way taxi services worked in the past. It also faced criticism for disrupting the market for traditional players and unfair treatment of drivers. The growth of Uber also brought some safety concerns for riders.

9. iPhone 4 arrived as a great piece of design and tech (2010)

Although Apple unveiled the first-generation iPhone back in 2007 that radically shifted the market of smartphones, it, in June 2010, brought the iPhone 4 as the fourth-generation iPhone that introduced many changes in the iPhone family and emerged as a reference model for future smartphones. The iPhone 4 had an all-new design that involved a stainless steel frame and glass covering at both front and back sides. It was also the first iPhone to bring FaceTime video calling and also the first in its family to include a front camera for selfies. The iPhone was launched with iOS 4 and upgraded until iOS 7.1.2. The popular “antennagate” issue also surfaced in the iPhone 4, though Apple tried to fix it by offering bumpers. In short, it won't be wrong if we call the iPhone 4 the early inspiration for modern smartphones.

10. Netflix turned global (2010)

Netflix, the company that started its journey with a business around DVD sales and rental by mail, shifted its strategy in 2007 by introducing online streaming. The company's streaming model was initially limited to the US. However, it expanded its media streaming business and entered Canada as the first market outside the US in 2010. Netflix also reached over 130 countries in one go including India in January 2016. Moreover, it is currently counted amongst the leading media streaming and online production companies globally.

11. Microsoft Kinect unveiled to expand motion sensing (2010)

In November 2010, Microsoft unveiled the Kinect as its motion sensing input device. It initially arrived for Xbox 360 but later expanded to Windows PCs and Xbox One game console. The Kinect was one of early technology developments that brought motion sensing experiences to regular consumers. Sony, in 2009, launched its PlayStation Move that introduced motion gaming to PlayStation gamers. But, unlike the Kinect that doesn't require any additional hardware to enable motion sensing, Sony's development worked through dedicated game controllers. Having said that, Microsoft discontinued the Kinect device for consumers in October 2017, though it exists for developers.

12. 4K emerged as a new video resolution (2011)

After HD and full-HD resolutions, 4K aka Ultra HD or simply called UHD emerged as a new video resolution for the masses. YouTube started supporting 4K uploads in 2010, while theatres started projecting 4K movies in 2011. Japan's Sharp, also in 2013, launched the LC-70UD1U as the world's first TV with THX 4K certification. The prices of 4K TVs have been dropped drastically in the recent years. Furthermore, a report by Strategy Analytics projects that more than half of US households are expected to have 4K TVs by 2020.

13. VR got expanded in real world (2011)

Virtual reality or VR was a new technology in early 2010s. But with the launch of the first prototype of Oculus Rift in early 2011, the tech world strongly embraced VR and started building ways to offer stimulated experiences. Google, in June 2014, brought the ultra-low-cost Google Cardboard that not just dropped the prices of VR headsets and brought its experience to mass consumers but also strongly encouraged developers to start building new VR apps. In 2016, the Android maker additionally released Daydream as a platform dedicated for VR developments. Facebook also, in March 2014, announced the acquisition of Oculus to expand its presence in VR space.

14. Twitch introduced as video game streaming platform (2011)

Internet entrepreneurs Justin Kan and Emmett Shear launched Twitch as a video game live streaming platform to enable gamers to live stream their gameplays. The platform, which debuted in June 2011, attracted Amazon in August 2014 that closed its acquisition at $970 million (roughly Rs. 6,907 crores). It also made way for Microsoft to bring its Mixer and Google to launch YouTube Gaming as competitive platforms for video game live streaming. Twitch is currently counted among the leading live streaming video services.

15. Steve Jobs left the world (2011)

Steve Jobs, the iconic face of the tech world who co-founded Apple along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in April 1976, died in October 2011. Jobs was suffering from pancreatic cancer since October 2013 and on October 5, 2011, he had respiratory arrest. The iconic entrepreneur had resigned as Apple's CEO in August 2011 and said, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

16. Siri launched to bring virtual assistance to the masses (2011)

In October 2011, Apple unveiled iOS 11 along with Siri integration. Siri, which is a spin-off from a project developed by SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center, emerged as the world's first modern digital virtual assistant. It not only provided voice assistance but also created space that was later leveraged by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. One may question the accuracy of voice recognition through Siri, but it is indeed the first successful assistant that enabled us to speak to our phones and wearables while on-the-move. Apple also expanded its reach by enabling Siri support through HomePod, AirPods, and Mac computers.

17. iCloud made integrated cloud computing available to mass consumers (2011)

Apple brought iCloud in October 2011 as its in-house cloud storage offering for mobile and desktop users. iCloud replaced Apple's existing MobileMe service and provided cloud computing to consumers using iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Windows devices. It was one of the first cloud-based platforms designed for the masses. Also, with the adoption of iCloud, Apple-rival Google got the idea to bring a similar experience through Google Drive that was launched in April 2012. Both iCloud and Google Drive have undoubtedly made our lives easier as we can store our important documents, photos, and videos on the cloud storage and sync them across devices.

18. NASA Curiosity launched to search for life on Mars (2011)

In November 2011, NASA launched Curiosity under its Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. The car-sized rover was designed to investigate the Martian climate and geology and understand whether there are favourable conditions for microbial life inside the crater Gale on Mars. It is considered as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover that is aimed to carry scientific instruments to get deeper into the Red Planet. Moreover, the Curiosity rover is still operational and is helping astronomers find new Martian facts.

19. Android emerged as the leading platform for mobile devices (2011)

In the early 2010s, Apple and Microsoft were amongst the leading smartphone operating system makers. But Google brought its Android operating system in 2008 that made the competition difficult for the two early players. Android initially didn't receive much success, though in late 2011, it started attracting new consumers. According to IDC, by the third quarter of 2012, smartphone shipments based on the Linux kernel-powered platform captured a massive, 75 percent share of the global smartphone market -- dethroning Apple's iOS. Google, in the recent years, also expanded Android to smart TVs, game consoles, and wearables through various derivatives. The latest version of Android, which is Android 10, includes features such as a system-wide dark mode and full-screen gesture system.

20. Google Play entered the world of digital distribution (2012)

In March 2012, Google rebranded its Android Market as Google Play. That was the first step by the Android maker to broaden its presence in the world of digital services. The Google Play portfolio included the official app store for Android devices as well as Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music. The company also gradually expanded geographical support of each of Google Play services to counter the likes of Apple's iTunes and Microsoft Store. Furthermore, the app store available under the Google Play branding leads the world of mobile app stores with over 3.5 million apps published as of 2017.

21. Facebook bought Instagram (2012)

Originally launched in 2010, Instagram emerged as a popular photo-sharing platform with one million registered users reported in the first two months. This growth attracted Facebook that agreed to acquire the platform at $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,124 crores) in April 2012. The deal with the social networking giant expanded the reach of Instagram and helped it include features such as Stories and comment liking that made it a strong competitor against Snapchat. However, Facebook's ownership also brought data safety concerns as the company led by Mark Zuckerberg is infamous for putting user data at stake to generate revenues from advertisers.

22. Bitcoin Foundation established to promote Bitcoin (2012)

Although some versions of digital currencies existed for quite some time, Bitcoin emerged as the most popular digital currency in early 2010s. As some illegal transactions took place in the initial years, the Bitcoin Foundation was established in September 2012. The non-profit organisation was aimed to restore the reputation of Bitcoin and promote its development and uptake. However, in July 2015, broad member Olivier Janssens showed his concern about the near-term insolvency of the organisation.

23. Docker brought containerisation to the software world (2013)

In March 2013, IT expert Solomon Hykes brought Docker as a modern platform to deliver software in packages -- commonly called containers. This brought containerisation for software packages and help provide the flexibility to run applications in various locations, such as on-premises or in a cloud. Companies such as Red Hat, Microsoft, and IBM partnered with Docker to use the software designed to host containers called Docker Engine. Microsoft earlier this year also announced that it is set to bring a Docker for Windows to provide Docker's portability through Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

24. Google Hangouts released to make video chatting easier for mobile users (2013)

Google, in 2013, launched Hangouts as its solution for video chatting. Originally available as a feature of Google+, Hangouts became a standalone product in May 2013. It helped enable video conferences for enterprise as well as provided a native communication tool for mobile users. Prior to Google Hangouts, the Mountain View company offered separate messaging solutions such as Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangouts as a feature within Google+. The Hangouts app is available preloaded on Android devices, while desktop users are provided with its Web access. Having said that, Google has lately started moving away from Hangouts and giving focus to its Messages and Duo apps. It also recently announced the shutdown of its consumer version in June 2020.

25. Google Cast enabled seamless casting of media content (2013)

In July 2013, Google Cast debuted as the proprietary protocol to enable casting of media content from mobile devices and Chrome. The protocol was first provided on Google's first-generation Chromecast player. However, it's currently available across a range of smart TVs, speakers, and set-top boxes to give an easy option to cast audio, video, and photographs from compatible mobile devices and personal computers. The Google Cast technology also offers the convenience of mirroring content from Google Chrome window running on a personal computer. Further, the presence of the cast button makes it quite convenient for mobile users to stream videos on a large screen directly from the YouTube or Netflix app available on their smartphones.

26. Slack emerged as a communication platform for organisations (2013)

Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield established Slack Technologies in August 2013 by partnering with Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov. The startup brought Slack as a cloud-based communication tool for organisations. It offered Internet Relay Chat (IRC) like features such as channels, private groups, and direct messaging support. There are also integrations with various third-party services and platforms such as Google Drive, Trello, and Dropbox among others. Microsoft, in March 2017, brought Teams as its answer to Slack -- months after attempting to acquire Slack Technologies. As of November, Teams has 20 million daily active users -- significantly more than 12 million daily active users on Slack reported in October.

27. 64-bit apps became a new normal for mobile devices (2013)

In September 2013, Apple released iOS 7 that brought support for 64-bit apps. The iOS debut took place alongside the iPhone 5s that included ARMv8-A Apple A7 SoC to support 64-bit computing. Google followed Apple's move and brought Android 5.0 Lollipop in November 2014 with support for 64-bit architectures. Apple in 2017 also released iOS 11 that completely discarded 32-bit apps and brought support only for 64-bit apps. Google also announced its plans to shift Android ecosystem entire to 64-bit structure by 2021. With the growth of 64-bit support, our systems have become capable of storing and processing more data -- ultimately delivering enhanced performance results.

28. Facebook acquired WhatsApp to grow its presence (2014)

Facebook, in February 2014, announced the acquisition of WhatsApp for whopping $19.3 billion (roughly Rs. 1,37,400 crores). The deal was aimed to expand Facebook's product portfolio and bolster the growth of the instant messaging app that was launched back in January 2009. Soon after its acquisition, WhatsApp became the most popular messaging platform globally with over 600 million users. It also added features such as end-to-end encryption, payments, and Facebook's branding in the recent past. The app has over 1.5 billion users across the globe with more than 400 million users in India.

29. Apple HomeKit released to boost smart-home device market (2014)

In September 2014, Apple unveiled the HomeKit as its software framework to help device manufacturers and developers build new smart home experiences. The HomeKit was released alongside iOS 8 and macOS Mojave and was designed for devices based on Apple's MFi Program. It initially required Internet of Things (IoT) devices to have an encryption co-process, though Apple changed that requirement by adding support for software authentication. Amazon followed Apple and brought Alexa Skills Kit along with a Smart Home Skill API. Google also, in April 2017, brought a software development kit (SDK) to let third-party developers build new hardware with Google Assistant support. All this expanded the market of smart-home devices. Companies such as Xiaomi and Philips also brought new smart devices with HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Alexa support to broaden IoT space.

30. Make in India programme launched for local manufacturing of tech (2014)

On September 25, 2014, the Government of India kicked off the Make in India programme covering 25 distinct sectors. The programme aimed to enhance foreign direct investment (FDI) across various sectors in the country. It has so far attracted various tech companies to establish their local facilities in India. Similarly, entities such as Foxconn and Wistron have opened their factories in the country to start manufacturing products of companies such as Apple and Xiaomi locally. The programme, however, is so far majorly enabling manufacturers to assemble their offerings through domestic facilities, while they're yet to completely manufacture technology products in the country.

31. Hoverboard reached the streets globally (2014)

Self-balancing scooters or what normally called hoverboards were initially just a part of the popular culture. But in October 2014, American inventor Greg Henderson demonstrated the first prototype of a hoverboard working on a magnetic levitation principle. Businessman Shane Chen also filed a patent for a device in February 2013 that matches what we currently see as a commercially available hoverboard. In 2015, several manufacturers started making hoverboards based on the early patent in China. Companies such as Razor, Segway, and Swagtron are amongst the popular hoverboard makers across the global markets.

32. Amazon Echo arrived to make voice-controlled smart speakers a reality (2014)

Amazon, in November 2014, unveiled the first-generation Echo with Alexa integration. This was perhaps the first voice-controlled smart speaker designed for the masses. The Echo was designed to enable music playback through media streaming services as well as make to-do lists and set alarms. The arrival of the Amazon Echo speaker created a ripple effect for the market of smart-home devices. Also, its success somehow encouraged Google to bring Google Home speakers that recently rebranded as Google Nest devices. Apple also ventured into the market of smart speakers with its Siri-powered HomePod.

33. Self-driving vehicles left the development stage and started hitting roads (2014)

Although the concept of self-driving or autonomous vehicle existed in the automobile market since at least the 1980s. But in the 2010s, we saw a massive extension of self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles. SAE International published a classification system in 2014 based on six distinct levels -- ranging from fully manual to fully automated systems. Google's Waymo also started testing driverless cars without a safety driver in the driver position in 2017. Tesla, the company led by entrepreneur Elon Musk, also brought several advancements to its self-driving systems. Traditional automobile players such as General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen also started promoting their developments towards autonomous vehicles in the recent past.

34. Apple Watch revolutionised market of smartwatches (2015)

In April 2015, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch as its smartwatch. The Apple Watch retained the company's trend of launching not the world's first but world's most appealing hardware. It entered the race quite some time after Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony SmartWatch 2, and Pebble attempted to influence consumers to start wearing smartwatches. However, Apple's offering somehow succeeded over the competition and emerged as the best-selling wearable device soon after its debut in 2015. According to a report by Canalys, the Apple Watch managed to hit 4.2 million shipments in the second quarter of 2015, surpassing the smartwatches sold by Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Samsung.

35. Windows 10 released as latest operating system by Microsoft (2015)

Microsoft released Windows 10 in July 2015 as the successor to its Windows 8.1. The new operating system was aimed to enhance computing experience by delivering a range of optimisations. Windows 10 also brought support for universal apps that are based on Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to enable compatibility across devices such as PCs, tablets, and game consoles. Further, the new Windows platform was designed to deliver an optimised experience on touchscreen devices and support 2-in-1 PCs natively. It also included Microsoft Edge desktop browser and support for fingerprint and face recognition through integrated Windows Hello. The latest release in Windows 10 family is the version 1909 (10.0.18363.535) that was released earlier this month.

36. Facebook enabled live video streaming for everyone (2015)

With a view to counter Meerkat and Twitter's Periscope, Facebook in August 2015 launched its proprietary live video streaming feature that was initially limited to people using the Mentions app. The company, however, in January 2016 expanded its live video streaming support to all users through the feature called Facebook Live. It enabled a large number of Internet users to live stream events using their mobile devices. Some criticism of live streams also surfaced in the mid-2010s as people live streamed crimes through Facebook Live and Periscope.

37. Google AMP Project debuted as ‘user-first format for Web content' (2015)

In October 2015, Google launched the AMP Project to deliver enhanced search results on mobile devices. The project brought an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) framework that allows Google to deliver cached version of webpages in mobile search results. It was launched in partnership with news publishers and technology companies such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and WordPress under the Digital News Initiative (DNI). However, Microsoft in 2016 also announced support for AMP in its Bing apps. Google claims that AMP pages served in its search engine load in less than one second and use ten times less data than the equivalent non-AMP pages. In 2019, the company also brought the new AMP Email section of the AMP framework to support allowing AMP components for email senders. The new move all in all helped Google retain its leadership in the world of Web search and forced webmasters to follow the given guidance to continue receiving traffic from mobile users.

38. Alphabet emerged as a parent company for Google (2015)

The year 2015 was historical for Google as alongside AMP, the company in October got restructured and received Alphabet as a new parent company. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin served the executive roles in Alphabet up until recently. However, earlier this month, the CEO role was given to Sundar Pichai, the India-born executive who already leads Google. That move by Page and Brin officially separated them from Google, though both will continue to be an important part of Alphabet's board. In addition to Google, Alphabet includes businesses such as X Development, Calico, Nest, Verily, and Fiber among others.

39. Microsoft HoloLens launched to bring MR experiences (2015)

Microsoft in 2015 unveiled HoloLens as its headset to support mixed reality (MR) technology. The device was based on Windows Mixed Reality platform, backed by Windows 10. The first-generation HoloLens Development Edition was launched in March 2016. Microsoft also announced global expansion of its headset in October and made it available in markets such as Australia, Ireland, France, and the UK for pre-orders. In December 2017, Florida-based startup Magic Leap also unveiled the Magic Leap One as its answer to the first version of the HoloLens headset. Microsoft, however, upgraded the experience by unveiling the HoloLens 2 in February this year with various hardware-level optimisations and a price tag of $3,500 (roughly Rs. 2,49,500).

40. Jio kicked off its operations to disrupt Indian telecom sector (2015)

Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), soft launched its operations in India on December 2015. The telco initially started its network in a beta testing phase for partners and employees, though it became publicly available in September 2016. Shortly after its debut, Jio disrupted the telecom sector in India by offering ultra-affordable data access to customers. In September 2019, the telco expanded its presence by launching its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service called Jio Fiber. It also announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to build data centres across India based on Azure cloud technologies.

41. Drones become mass market product with DJI launching its first model (2015)

Before the 2010s, drones were majorly used in defence and available as giant unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). But with the growth of wireless technologies and various enhancements in the market of batteries, a drone market emerged specifically for civilians. Several Chinese companies brought their small-sized drones to the market in the early 2010s. Shenzhen-based DJI also entered the race by launching its first model called the DJI S800 in 2015. The company enabled aerial photography through its drones that have been used globally. DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are amongst the latest portable drones. Also, the Chinese entity recently announced its plans to build drones in California to address security concerns by the US government.

42. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) democratised digital payments in India (2016)

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in April 2016 launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as a real-time payment clearance system. The interface was aimed to offer seamless inter-bank transactions and is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It is widely accepted by merchants and supported by a range of mobile apps in the country. Consumers once registered with a UPI ID just need to scan a QR code to make the transaction. As of November, UPI transactions grew six percent and reached the milestone of 1.22 billion. Google Pay and Paytm are amongst the key private platforms to give boost to UPI transactions in a short span of three years.

43. TikTok brought video addiction to global markets  (2017)

TikTok, the popular video sharing app that initially launched in China in September 2016, made its debut in global markets in September 2017. Owned by ByteDance, the app offered features such as lip-syncing and looping video playback to users at the initial stage. It is already amongst the most downloaded apps across the globe. According to Sensor Tower, the TikTok app even outshined Facebook-owned Instagram with over 1.5 billion downloads. It faced public reproval over objectionable content. Its parent company also recently started looking to set up a global headquarters outside China to assuage US regulators and lawmakers over their growing data concerns.

44. Windows Phone departed the smartphone market -- finally  (2017)

In October 2017, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president of experiences and devices division, revealed that the company would no longer develop new features or hardware for Windows Phone platform. That was an anticipated end for Windows Phone, the platform that was once counted among the popular mobile operating systems. The Redmond company did transform the experience from Windows Phone to Windows 10 Mobile in 2015. Nonetheless, it failed to influence developers and outshine the success of Android. Microsoft recently ended support for Windows 10 Mobile and encouraged its users to migrate to iOS or Android devices.

45. Facial recognition debuted on smartphones  (2017)

Apple unveiled the iPhone X as its tenth-generation iPhone model in November 2017. Though there were many new features in the iPhone X, its Face ID support that was based on TrueDepth Camera system made it a remarkable device in the history of smartphones. The proprietary technology ditched fingerprint recognition in the iPhone family and provided a reference model to other smartphone makers to bring similar facial recognition to their devices. Companies such as Google and Xiaomi took references from Face ID to facial recognition on their recent smartphones. Other players are likely to make similar moves in the coming future.

46. Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach shook the tech world (2018)

In March 2018, Facebook announced the suspension of data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica's access to its platform. The social networking giant claimed that it had taken the move after learning that it failed to delete user data captured inappropriately by the Britain-based company during Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The data harvesting was first reported by The Guardian journalist Harry Davies in December 2015. However, Facebook didn't provide any clarity on the earlier reporting. The data scandal embroiled a controversy over Facebook's access to share user data with third parties -- without requiring any consent of its users.

47. GDPR to ensure protection and privacy of citizens' data (2018)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect as a regulation in EU law on May 25, 2018. It is applicable to individual citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) and is aimed to bring data protection and new privacy standards. Many technology companies that operate in EU and EEA regions updated their data policies to adopt the new privacy standards. The US state of California in June 2018 also passed the California Consumer Privacy Act that grants similar transparency and controlling rights for individuals in California. Earlier this month, the Indian government also tabled the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 that is also aimed to provide protection of personal data and proposes the setting up of a Data Protection Authority of India. It is, however, facing criticism for not defining the scope of the legal move and granting the centre the power to exempt any agencies from the bill.

48. Microsoft xCloud debuted to offer cloud gaming to the mainstream (2018)

Microsoft, in October 2018, unveiled Project xCloud as its cloud gaming platform. Originally teased at E3 2018, the new platform was demonstrated in March 2019 and reached the first preview version in November. The company is set to use its Azure cloud computing centres hosted in 140 countries to provide gaming to the masses. It works with phones and can enable controls through Xbox or PlayStation's DualShock controller. Google also transformed its Project Stream in March this year and announced Stadia as its offering to take on xCloud.

49. Samsung Galaxy Fold debuted as the first major foldable smartphone (2019)

Samsung in February this year unveiled the Galaxy Fold with a flexible display that can transform the phone into a tablet. There is a hinge that helps folding the Samsung Galaxy Fold into half. Samsung has also provided its custom UI on top of Android 9 Pie to bring new experiences to the users. It's not wrong if we say the Samsung Galaxy Fold is the world's first foldable smartphone available to global consumers as Huawei did launch its Mate X to compete against the Galaxy Fold but is yet to bring it to the worldwide markets. Months ahead of the Galaxy Fold debut, Chinese startup Royole in November last year showcased the Royole Flexpai that it claims as the world's first foldable phone, but it's currently limited to China. That being said, the Galaxy Fold faced criticism initially for its fragile design that Samsung had claimed to have fixed to some extent.

50. ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2 to study lunar geology (2019)

In July this year, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the anticipated Chandrayaan-2 mission with an aim to study the variations in lunar surface composition and examine the distribution of lunar water. The second lunar exploration mission by the space agency was launched through a GSLV Mark III vehicle and included an orbiter, Vikram lander, and Pragyan rover. Although the spacecraft reached the moon's orbit on August 20, the lander deviated from its planned trajectory and had lost communication. NASA released images of the impact site where the crash of the lunar lander purportedly took place before approaching the moon's surface. Moreover, ISRO claimed that its own orbiter located the crashed lander on the lunar surface, though it's yet to provide further details.

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Jagmeet Singh Tech journalist by profession, tech explorer by passion. Budding philomath. More
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