As the calendar turns towards 2017 (We’re ready for ya 2017!), we look back on the year that was in 2016. While 2016 will probably be remembered for Trump, Brexit, Stranger Things, Prince and Bowie (there was also an Olympics in there as well), for us it was the innovations in the mobile world that were most talked about around our offices.
1)Pokémon Go Sets the World Ablaze
Pokémania ran amuck in 2016 with the return of everyone’s favourite Japanese Pocket Monsters. Even with a multitude of bugs, missing features, and staggered international releases, Pokémon Go, powered its way to the most first-week downloads in Apple App store history–and hit a ridiculous 50 million downloads in just 19 days.
While there may have been some detractors who turned their nose at the game, there is no denying that the game helped bring Augmented Reality to consumers en masse. Across the globe, wannabe Ash Ketchums took to the streets, phone in hand, to try and be the best–like noone ever was. The craze has understandably died down, but with a suite of new features and capabilities, Pokémon Go looks like it will be around for a while. Even if the app’s installs and daily active users begins to dwindle, it has created a whole new generation of Pokemasters looking to satiate their Pokéfever with cards, games and collectables–meaning big business for The Pokémon Company.
2)Snap Inc’s Group Feature is a Real “Spectacle”
Everyone’s favourite ephemeral ghost made a big splash in 2016 by releasing “Spectacles” a pseduo, yet fashion forward (depends on whom you ask), update of Google Glass. Released in early November, via yellow “Snapbot” vending machines placed across the US, these video integrated sunglasses allow their wearers the opportunity to upload what they see directly to Snapchat (in 10 second increments). Just as Pokémon Go brought AR helped make people more comfortable with AR, Spectacles hopes to make people more comfortable with a wearable camera that is “always on” (which is what caused the downfall of Google Glass).
However, this may have been Snap Inc’s biggest move in terms of fanfare for 2016, but in terms of impact, the ability to chat and snap in groups reigns supreme. Since the beginning of Snapchat, users have been asking for the ability to place their contacts in groups (of up to 16 people), and the time has finally come. What this means for Snap, is that users now have a greater reason to stay in the app, rather than to leave it and head to another chat based app (WhatsApp, Facebook Messgenger, iMessage, etc.) to talk to groups. With this change, they hope to increase the average daily time spent in app, increasing the amount of money they can charge advertisers.
3)The Increase of Fake News Stories on Facebook and Twitter
Amidst the US election this year, one of the major news stories to arise was ironically the prevalence of fake news stories intended to misinform those who read it. Nowhere was this more noticeable–or unnoticeable–than on Facebook and Twitter. Like-it-or-not, social media is where the majority of people obtain their news from, making us susceptible to the spreading of falsified and fictional news stories through sharing. While news outlets hold themselves to a higher standard, the “unfiltered” nature of social media makes them ripe for sabotage.
Feeling the backlash from the public on the topic, Facebook has recently come out with it’s plan to combat the proliferation of false news stories. The social network giant will use its software to search for fake news, and make it easier for users to report their own, and will use a consortium of journalists to verify the flagged articles. These articles will then get a disputed banner, and will prompt users who want to share it that they are sure they want to share it. Will this work? We aren’t sure. But if it does, you can always head over to The Onion for all your fake news needs.