As we look ahead to 2018, we can have fun looking back on the interesting tech that was introduced in 2017. While we quickly can take tech for granted, every so often we should pause and reflect on the advancements that bring new gadgets, apps and other tech into our lives.
These are intriguing tech products and services from 2017 that had the biggest capacity to “wow” us, become game-changers, and affect how we use tech in our daily lives.
Gadgets, Devices and Hardware
Gadgets, devices and other tech hardware are the foundation for tech improvements. 2017 brought many new gadgets, with new capacities to take tech to a higher level.
Amazon’s original Echo created the smart speaker market in 2015 and Amazon again was ahead of the market in 2017 with the Echo Show. This smart speaker is the first to have a screen, making it more useful than previous speakers.
With the Echo Show you can make video calls, see Alexa’s responses to your questions, watch videos and see song lyrics as the music plays. Add your favorite photo to the home screen to make Echo Show a digital picture frame.
See, Echo Show Review – How a Screen Makes Alexa More Useful to learn more about Echo Show.
Apple Watch Series 3
For those who leave their phones behind, the Apple Watch became much less useful. Apple fixed this issue with the Apple Watch Series 3.
This fourth generation Apple Watch (the original Apple Watch was Series 0), has cellular capabilities. With an added cellular connection, the Apple Watch Series 3 can connect to the Internet through cell phone networks. Users can make phone calls, stream music, see and respond to text messages and get GPS mapping information without having a phone nearby.
Note that the cellular connection will be an additional cost to your monthly cell phone bill.
Learn more about the Apple Watch Series 3 at Apple Announces 3 New iPhones and More!
Tesla Model 3
When Tesla first started taking deposits for its Model 3 electric car in March of 2016, some questioned whether the day would ever come that the car would actually be produced.
But in July of 2017, Tesla’s first Model 3 was sold to a lucky buyer who became the first owner of the new model. Check out Tesla Delivers Its First Model 3 — A Game-Changing Electric Car.
Unfortunately, Tesla’s ambitious production schedule hasn’t been met, so fewer people have become Model 3 owners in 2017 than was anticipated. But 2018 should bring many more Tesla Model 3 cars to their owners.
Facebook Colored Backgrounds
In the summer, Facebook made its site more festive by allowing users to add colored backgrounds to their posts. When you create a post on Facebook using either the website or the Facebook app, you can choose from a pallet of colors and backgrounds. The backgrounds change, so be sure to explore to find the one that works best with your message.
Note that these colored backgrounds are only an option for posts with fewer than 130 characters and with text only. If you add photos, videos, and/or links you will lose the colored background option.
This change to Facebook must have been very popular as the article How to Add Color to Your Facebook Posts and Get the Rainbow Flag Reaction was one of the most popular articles at The Wonder of Tech this year. (Note that the Rainbow Flag reaction was only offered temporarily by Facebook.)
Twitter 280 Characters
Twitter, the world’s bulletin board, made a major change this fall when it updated the number of characters in a tweet from 140 to 280. This doubling of the character limit was initially only available to a few, but soon was released to all Twitter users in early November.
Reactions have been mixed, with some people missing the days of brevity, while others have relished the ability to say more in a tweet.
You know what? Yes I’m writing a novel and it’s gonna be my first novel thanks to @twitter for motivating by letting us to write in 280 characters. So let’s begin. There was a nerd boy at a town of Scotland. He never had feelings for any girl. He never even wanted to be with….
— Raiyan 🐌 (@RaiyanSmith) December 27, 2017
Learn more at Twitter Doubles Character Limit to 280 for Tweets.
Social media can be a harsh place, with divisiveness quickly escalating into hostility. Some have stayed away from social media, preferring to avoid the anger and hatred expressed in posts.
#ChooseKind, released in November, has made the world of social media a kinder place. #ChooseKind is a Chrome extension that blocks Twitter and Facebook posts with unkind messages. After installing the extension, you’ll see a #ChooseKind message instead of a hate-filled rant when you visit social media.
Users can choose “Show” to reveal what is being blocked, or “Hide” for any message that should be blocked.
Tech can seem new when software or app updates add additional features. Sometimes these features are exclusive to new devices. Other times, they are free updates that make your existing device seem new.
Apple made the act of logging into a phone as simple as possible with the introduction of Face ID on the iPhone X this fall. That task that we perform multiple times each day no longer requires a passcode be typed, nor even a finger be placed on the phone.
With Face ID, a mere glance at your phone is all you need to log in.
Face ID also works to identify you for multiple apps, Apple Pay and purchases on your phone. This new tech saves time and hassle and quickly spoils its users.
Multi-Room Music Echo
If you have more than one Echo device, you can now link them to play sound throughout your house with Multi-Room Music. This free update to Echo means that you can create groups to play tunes in different rooms of your house.
The syncing works well so you don’t hear any echoing (no pun intended) or lag between the Echo speakers. Only some music services work with Multi-Room Music, but this update makes Echo speakers more useful.
Instant Language Translation of Pixel Buds
Google introduced Pixel Buds in the fall, that work with its Pixel 2 phone. The killer feature of the Pixel Buds is their ability to instantly translate between languages.
With the Pixel Buds, you can speak to someone in one language through Google Assistant and they can hear the translation into another language in real time. They can respond to you in their language and you can hear the translation in your language.
The demonstration of the instant language translation feature of Pixel Buds was impressive at the Google event in the fall. See, Google Announces New Phones, Laptop, Speakers, and Much More.
Unfortunately, the language translation feature of Pixel Buds has not worked well in real life, according to many reviews. Check out CNN Money Review: Google Pixel Buds falls short of promise.
As Pixel Buds are the first version of the Google Assistant instant language translation feature, the translations will likely improve over time. Also expect this feature to come to other devices so Google Assistant could instantly translate from phones and perhaps Google Home.
One of the greatest accomplishments of tech is when it is used to help those with challenges. This year two apps stood out at achieving new ways to help people see and hear.
Earlier this year, Microsoft released the Seeing AI app. This ground-breaking app helps people who have impaired vision identify objects, people, and more.
Point your phone at an object and the app will describe it. The app can read bar codes and tell what is in a package, including the nutritional information for food. It can identify currency and colors and read documents aloud. The app can recognize people and tell you its best guess what their emotions are.
Find out more about Seeing AI at Microsoft’s New App Tells Visually Impaired People What’s in Front of Them.
Tunity is an app that is handy for anyone who enjoys TV, whether or not their hearing is impaired. The Tunity app lets you stream the sound of live TV shows through your phone and into Bluetooth headphones.
Using the Tunity app you can listen to live TV shows in noisy places such as bars and restaurants. You can also listen when you need to keep quiet, such as when a loved one is sleeping nearby.
New in 2017 is an update to the Tunity app that connects it to hearing aids so those who are hearing impaired can use the app to listen to TV shows.
Find out more at: Tunity: Listen to Any TV – Even If It’s Muted.
Tech can also help you enjoy life more. Use tech to save time and enjoy life a bit more!
If you’re a fan of going to movies in the theater, 2017 made this event much less expensive. MoviePass is a new subscription service that lets you watch a movie each day of the month for $9.95 per month.
With MoviePass you could go to 30 movies each month and pay only $9.95. Even if you only saw one movie per month, MoviePass still could be a great deal.
MoviePass existed earlier, but in August the service reduced the price to $9.95 per month. At the lower price site quickly became overwhelmed with new subscribers. Hopefully the service is a bit calmer now. Or maybe not…
It took Netflix more than 3 years to reach a million subscribers. Hulu did in 10 months. MoviePass did it in 4. https://t.co/pJsSzvuMvn
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 28, 2017
Learn more about MoviePass at MoviePass – Watch a Movie Every Day for $10 a Month.
If you’ve ever headed to a restaurant hungry, only to arrive and be told your wait is two hours, you’ll appreciate the Nowait app. This app lets you know the approximate wait at local restaurants so you can head to ones where the wait is short.
Open the app and let it find your location. Then look for restaurants that invite you to “Come On In,” meaning there is no wait to get a table.
Learn more at Nowait: Never Wait Around for a Restaurant Table Again.
When you want to stream a movie or TV show, but aren’t sure where to find it, Reelgood is your solution. This app and website can help you learn whether a video is available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, iTunes or 300 other streaming services.
Reelgood replaces the much-missed “Can I Stream It?” app and makes streaming videos easier.
Learn more at Reelgood – Your Answer to “Can I Stream It?”
While 2016 saw the phenomenon of Pokémon Go, 2017 also had game crazes. At least two games became exceptionally popular in 2017.
This online game app continues to grow, now having over 700,000 players in recent games. HQ Trivia pays real prize money to winning contestants, even though the app is free to download and the games are free to play.
The minimum prize money, split between the winning contestants, is now $2000. On Christmas Eve the jackpot was raised to $12,000 and two winners took home the prize of $6000 each.
The Android app was due on Christmas but now has been delayed. The app is expected to be released for Android users on January 1, 2018.
The Paperclip Game was an Internet craze that exploded from a single tweet. A game developer named Frank Lantz created the Paperclip Game to teach the world about the effects of artificial intelligence. He announced the game in a tweet with a link to the game.
People instantly became hooked, trying to produce as many paperclips as possible per second as they became consumed with the game. If you don’t think manufacturing paperclips is fun, well you’ve never played the Paperclip Game.
— Laurent Drion (@LaurentDrion) December 26, 2017
Find out more and give the Paperclip Game a try at: The Paperclip Game — Do You Dare to Play?
Which of these tech innovations do you think was the most important in 2017? Have you tried any of these tech products and services in 2017? What other new tech do you think was important in 2017.
*2017 image (edited) courtesy of darkmoon1968 via Pixabay and Creative Commons