The Geek Girl 2013 Countdown: The Top 5 Technology Stories Of The Year
Congratulations folks, you survived 2013! It's the eve of a brand new year, and what a year it's been. From Facebook flops to website malfunctions to shiny new gadgets and even national security, there has been a lot going on in the tech world this year. And with today being the last day of 2013, there's no better time to take a look back at some of the stories that really got people talking. So, in no particular order, here are my picks for Top 5 technology stories in 2013.
1.) NSA Snooping Revealed
Undoubtedly, the biggest story in both the tech world and the political world is the leaked documents from the National Security Adminitration, courtesy of whistle blower Edward Snowden. Back in early June, documents were leaked revealing that the NSA had reportedly been tracking numerous online correspondences, including Facebook posts, E-mail, and even cell phone calls in a massive data-gathering operation called PRISM. Needless to say, this revelation caused a huge uproar and ignited a whole new wave of paranoia over "Big Brother" watching us that even Orson Wells would be scared.
And over 6 months later, we still have no real answers. The government continues to deny all reports, and Snowden has since fled the country. But one thing that hasn't gone away is the fear of invasion of privacy and the concerns over how much the government really knows about us. This story is far from over, and the ramifications of both the NSA and Snowden's actions will certainly continue well into the new year.
2.) Healthcare.gov Falls Flat
The disaster-riddled rollout of Obamacare was another of the biggest stories of 2013. From millions of individual plans being cancelled to businesses being forced to cut back full-time and part-time hours, the plan has had an adverse effect on the entire country. And to no one's surprise, the website rollout was also nothing short of a disaster.
After almost 2 months of being on and offline, firing and hiring of staff, and scrambling around like madmen, the administration now says that the website is running "smoothly." The site can now reportedly support 50,000 simultaneous users and 800,000 single visits a day, though the actual number of people who visited the site after the re-launch was far, far lower than that. But the saddest part about the whole ordeal is that by the time the 2014 midterm elections roll around, everyone will have forgotten all about the issues with the website.
3.) Apple's New iPhones & iOS
Another year, another slew of new releases for Apple. It was another banner year for the technology giant, boasting new tablets, new laptops and not just one, but two new iPhones. The iPhone 5s was the clear favorite, with a more powerful processor, an improved camera, and new security features that the iPhone had been severely lacking. The iPhone 5c, on the other hand, was essentially the same iPhone 5 Apple fans already know and love with more colors and a cheaper price tag.
Speaking of iPhones, another major reveal from Apple was the sleek new operating system for the iPhone: iOS 7. This new interface was a complete overhaul from the previous iPhone, and introduced a slew of new features, such as AirDrop and a convenient new Control Center. All in all, it was a pretty good year for Apple, despite it being more of the same. Maybe in 2014 they'll actually come out with something innovative again instead of re-releasing the same products over and over again.
4.) Microsoft vs. Sony Console War
The next generation of consoles is officially here, thanks to Microsft and Sony Microsoft made some major missteps in its initial announcement of the XBox One, saying troubling things such as the console's Kinect camera will always be on and that the system will require a constant Internet connection. Microsoft has since recanted much of these unpopular measures, but the damage has already been done. Sony, on the other hand, capitalized on Microsoft's missteps and made a big splash at this year's Electronics Entertainment Expo with it's Playstation 4. And to top if all off, both consoles released just within a week of each other, much to the delight of gamers everywhere.
I've already shared my thoughts on this console war, and my opinion hasn't changed. Both systems are fine systems, and both of them have some solid games on them, but right now, I really can't recommend either system, at least until more games become available.
5.) Facebook Phone Dismal Failure
Remember Facebook Home? Don't worry, neither does anyone else. One of the oddest tech stories and one of the biggest flops of 2013, was Facebook Home, the social media giant's attempt to break into the mobile market. Home was a interface/collection of apps that put Facebook front and center on your Android phone, literately. The system would essentially hijack your home and lock screen to make it all about Facebook and would require users to go through several layers of settings to get to their actual phone. Facebook even has its own flagship phone, the HTC First, with home already built in.
But needless to say, both Home and the phone were a flop. In fact, the phone was such an abysmal failure that the phone's price plummeted from $99 to just $1 in just under a month. To me, this was completely unnecessary. Facebook is already one of the most popular apps on smartphones today, if not the most popular app overall, so why they thought this was even a good idea is beyond me.