2017 Tech in Memoriam: Pour One Out for AIM, Vine, GChat, as well as the Rest

All good stuff arrive at a finish. In 2010, we viewed as a few of well known gadgets found a new house in a casket filled up with the technology of yesteryear. Fill a cup and obtain willing to pour one out for the tech casualties of 2017.


On December 15, AOL Instant Messenger posted its final away message. Its times of being the hip method to remain in touch along with your college buddies are over, but AIM is where an entire generation forged their on the web identities. Now, all those embarrassing display names are six foot under combined with the rest of the old web.

iPod Nano and Shuffle

Apple finally offered its flagship music player the boot this season by killing off the iPods Nano and Shuffle. Certain, you’ve streaming your entire tunes with Spotify or Apple musical right now, but that does not suggest we won’t skip the iPod. It sparked the present day landscape for music, therefore’s in which most of us develop the playlists that defined our youth.


Prior to the lauded Pivot to Video, there was clearly Vine. It had dogs jammin’ from the cowbell, raps about Liam Neeson, siblings ruining vape tricks, and mystifying tricks of trash cans turning out to be whiteboard drawings. Twitter provided it the axe late a year ago, but kept it on life help until January. Along with its departure goes another experimental platform where individuals could possibly be somewhat weirder with their creations. Damn, Daniel.


MS Paint

It probably didn’t come being a shock when Microsoft dropped Paint from the set of supported features, but it’ll be missed. Paint ended up being the birthplace of poorly drawn memes, and also if its tools weren’t the most robust, and on occasion even that good, it made for some very nice laughs.

The 140 Character Limit

Like tweets weren’t already bad sufficient, in 2010 Twitter decided among the network’s biggest problems wasn’t harassment or rogue workers, it was that tweets just weren’t long sufficient. So, while threats of nuclear war and hate speech ran rampant, Twitter’s Big enhancement on platform this year ended up being doubling its character limit to 280. At least now we are able to upload more Smash Mouth lyrics, right?


While Twitter futzed around along with its algorithms and provided us longer tweets, its remote available source cousin, App.net, shut its doorways. It promised to be an ad-free microblogging platform, a model that proved unsuccessful in the end. While it never ever hit the conventional, it is another reminder that it’sn’t altruism, but a constantly changing group of unsolicited features features that victories within the social game.

Twitter Egg

Online hate mob got somewhat less ludicrous this present year whenever Twitter axed the notorious Profile Egg for accounts that never uploaded a profile image. In its wake hatched a fresh mask of privacy: a plain ol’ profile of an ambiguous human anatomy. It didn’t cut back on harassment, nonetheless it’s better to be mad at a individual than it is an egg.


It’s difficult to maintain each of Google’s messaging apps: Allo, Google+, Hangouts, Duo. (Does anybody utilize this material?) Talk ended up being among the originals. Now, it is been changed by Hangouts, that’ll eventually be changed by another bonkers messaging app Google dishes out.

The MP3

The mp3 sparked a change in the way we listened to music. It why don’t we throw our favorite tracks onto iPods and its own knockoffs, but the majority people most likely snagged our tunes from Limewire. If perhaps you were happy, you might have also been bamboozled into downloading a spoof of Bill Clinton suggesting to hit up a sketchy web site. The mp3’s permit went out this present year, and its creators are pressing the AAC format to just take its place — but AAC player just doesn’t have a similar band to it, huh?


Remix OS

There’s long been claims of mobile computing merging with desktop computing. Microsoft’s Continuum promised to turn one device, such as a phone, into all your products having simple dock and some peripherals. Chromebooks can now run Android apps so that you’ve got all of the software you need anywhere you are at. Meanwhile, Remix OS had been a fork of Android os that may be installed on any PC to bring all of your favorite apps on big screen. It worked great, nonetheless it ended up being never ever going to ensure it is on big leagues.

Windows Movie Maker

Its not all movie requires Adobe Premiere or Final Cut professional X to produce its way to YouTube or your loved ones’s giant screen. From 2012 to its demise this present year, Windows film Maker gave aspiring creatives and proud parents the capacity to make barebones videos or holiday slideshows in a pinch, therefore ways totally free! The title had beenn’t fancy sufficient for today’s hip gadget enthusiasts, so Microsoft gave it the boot and replaced it with Story Remix, which does a lot of the exact same things with a fresh layer of paint.

Yik Yak

College students across the net wept as Yik Yak, the anonymous social network app in which confessions flowed throughout campuses, ended up being shut down. Throughout its life, young ones tried it to confess sets from stealing their roommate’s Cheetos to showing up to class drunk.


In the event that you had a question in the early days regarding the internet, you almost certainly went to About.com for the answers. It had how-to’s and explainers aplenty, but unfortuitously it didn’t know a great deal on how to match the ever-changing landscape of today’s internet.


Microsoft’s motion-tracking hardware’s final motion to your world was a revolution goodbye. The Kinect had beenn’t the game-changing peripheral Microsoft desired that it is, and for numerous gamers it just ended up beingn’t well worth the price.



Nintendo made waves this year with all the Switch, certainly one of the most popular gadgets of 2017. But to make a killer console, the business had to kill a few of its darlings. MiiVerse, Nintendo’s oddly charming social network in which fans shared their finest (and worst) drawings, became the target and closed its doors in November.

Club Penguin

Club Penguin had been a myspace and facebook where children could masquerade as penguins clad in wizard gear or an apple costume. (do not ask united states to spell out.) Mostly, however, it had been known the memes it sparked when trolls began trying to get banned for kicks. Disney turn off the network early in the day this year—the ultimate ban.

Netflix’s Celebrity Rating system

Your favorite shows most likely felt somewhat less love this year when Netflix nixed its five-star score system for a simpler, less informative thumbs up/down metric. The brand new system coincides having percentage match that’ll tell you exactly how certain Netflix usually you’ll such as for instance a offered show or movie, but unfortuitously there’s no chance to provide Netflix’s choices a thumbs down if you’re not a fan.

Microsoft Groove Music

The songs streaming company is rough. Microsoft killed its Spotify-competitor previously this present year after failing woefully to take on the streaming giants, providing it similar fate as the Microsoft Zune.

Prezi’s Augmented Reality Presentation Software Wants to Kill Boring PowerPoints

When Peter Arvai founded Prezi in 2009, he didn’t set out to topple PowerPoint. He just wanted to see better presentations. With the right tools, he figured, he could help people create visual aids that felt more engaging. Arvai was sick of sitting through slide decks containing walls of text and bullet-pointed lists, listening to the speaker ramble on while the audience squinted at the words on the screen.

So he, along with co-founders Péter Halácsy and Adam Somlai-Fischer, set out to build something that looked more like a digital poster board. You could pepper it with images and animations, then zoom in and out to focus on specific things at specific moments during a talk. The tool, which they named Prezi, uses what Arvai calls “a spatial metaphor” rather than simple paginated slides.

Prezi wants to bring audiences inside of a presentation using augmented reality.

That was eight years ago. The company has since grown to over 300 employees, split between Budapest and San Francisco, and its software product now counts 85 million users and holds a repository of over 325 million public presentations; pitch decks, lectures, and student projects. Last year, the company launched Prezi Business, a suite of tools designed for companies and teams; individuals can still use the basic Prezi tools for free, or pay for more premium features for a monthly subscription.

As high as Prezi has climbed, Microsoft PowerPoint is still the market leader. It has hundreds of millions of users—most of them creating the same boring slideshows Arvai has vowed to make extinct. So in order to take that next step and become the top name in presentation software, Prezi needs to evolve. How could Arvai and his team create tools to make presentations even more immersive, more exciting? The answer: bring audiences inside of the presentation using augmented reality.


Quite a Show

Arvai and his team have been watching the augmented reality takeover. It’s played out at Snapchat and Facebook, at Google and Apple. Companies are using AR to design cars, sell furniture, make little digital sharks swim around your breakfast table. What if Prezi could apply that same technology to make better presentations?

The company had the tech to do it. The Prezi Business software was built on a completely new set of software tools called Prezi Next. “This technology stack is something we’ve developed that works across mobile phones, browsers, installed on your computer—and it allows us to do things like AR,” says Arvai. The question would be what exactly those AR presentations might look like.

In a demo in Prezi’s San Francisco’s office, Arvai pulled up an early version of Prezi’s AR application. The software looks more or less like the regular Prezi presentation builder: It’s a blank canvas where you can place visual assets, drag them around, add commands to zoom in or out. Arvai added a string of dangling lightbulbs and some bunny ears. Then he turned on his webcam, and the visuals appeared next to his face.

In a traditional presentation, Arvai says, you might be standing in a room with a screen behind you displaying all of your visual aids. But what if you’re presenting your pitch deck in a web conference, or a Zoom Room? Remote presentations lose all of the benefits of good visual design and practiced body language. “Either you have the video but you don’t have visuals, or you see visuals but you don’t see who’s talking,” Arvai says.


In Arvai’s demo, the light bulbs dancde beside him on screen. He could also call up a graph or chart, or make the visuals swoop in and out at the touch of a button. It all looked sort of like he was talking in front of a green screen; the tool isn’t harnessing revolutionary technology or transporting the speaker to distant worlds. But Arvai says that’s the whole point. He doesn’t want to create software that distracts audiences from the person presenting. He doesn’t want you delivering a talk with Snapchat’s puppy filter on your face.

“We’re thinking about, OK, how can we actually enable human connections with the use of this technology, and enable people to be better understood?” Arvai says.

Arvai cites studies that show audiences get distracted by flashy visuals or too many animations. So with AR, the Prezi team didn’t want to make anything too showy. Instead, they built something that looks more or less a Prezi overlayed onto the presenter. The graphics are sometimes cartoonish, the imagery sometimes cheesy. But the pairing of the speaker and the AR visuals is somehow still powerful. Instead of standing in front of a visual aid, it’s as if the presentation plays out around, above, and in front of the speaker.

Sharp Vision

As of right now, Arvai and his team are still trying to decide what exactly their AR software should do. The company debuted an early version in a recent TED Talk, where neurologist Robert Sapolsky used Prezi’s tools to give a talk about the biology behind the best and worst of human behavior. At one point in Sapolsky’s talk, he calls up an image of a man holding a hand gun, his finger on the trigger. It’s pointed right at Sapolsky. The effect is weirdly chilling, and somehow more lifelike in augmented reality. It makes that part of his talk hard to forget.

That, Arvai says, is the potential of what software like this could do. But the product isn’t ready for a public launch yet. Prezi has enlisted a select group of influencers to try out the AR tools and offer feedback before the company releases a beta version. He expects to have a better developed sense of the product in the coming months.

Arvai knows his role in the augmented reality future is a modest one, but he also believes deeply in the power of storytelling and communication tools. He showed me a couple of presentations people have made on Prezi, detailing new projects in engineering and medicine. One presentation, created by a journalist, uses visual aids to explain the conflict in Syria. Just imagine, Arvai says, if you could explain that with the aid of AR.

“We won’t put a woman on Mars, we won’t cure cancer, and we won’t make peace in Syria,” he says. “But when we do our jobs correctly, we contribute to all of this.”

What’s going on With All That Fabric on your own devices?

Earlier this present year, whenever Microsoft showed down its new Surface professional laptop, one part of the device endured away. The sleek tablet-PC hybrid had been made, predictably, out of aluminum and glass, but its keyboard was covered in a soft-suede like material. Alcantara, particularly, similar material used in cars and designer handbags.

“Everyone we showed had exactly the same response: Whoa, that’s cool,” states Ralf Groene, mind of commercial design for Microsoft products. “And then some people got concerned. They said, you cannot put textile on laptop computers; no-one sets fabric on laptops.”

Generally, that’s been true. But recently, textiles have begun creeping into electronic devices really genuine method. Early in the day this month, Google revealed off a line of items, some of of also covered in knitted material. Wrapped across the Google Home Mini and Max actually soft polyester-nylon material that the company developed from scratch. “Someone described these items as friendly,” states Isabelle Olsson, Google Home’s head of industrial design. “I took that as being a match, because that’s what we had been choosing.”


About ten years ago that wasn’t plenty the truth. Apple had just introduced its first Macbook professional, a boxy laptop computer milled from anodized aluminum. Dell was offering a cumbersome, synthetic laptops. During the time, businesses were invested in presenting their goods as futuristic, maybe not friendly. That’s changed with all the sluggish creep that technology has changed to almost every facet of our life.

Today, companies like Google and Microsoft are more worried about making people feel at ease around their technology, which instantly could possibly be found on a bedside table plus in your kitchen. The domestication of technology has generated its softening. “If you appear back, technology has typically been boxy, black synthetic, and razor-sharp corners. It’s been majorly in regards to the function,” Olsson says. “For us, looks and fitting to the home can be area of the function.”

Microsoft first started considering soft materials back 2010 with regards to had been experimenting with a brand new kind address for its Surface tablet that hinged without technical components. “We additionally desired something which felt far more individual than plastic or steel,” Groene states. They began taking care of a fresh material that coated a woven substructure with polyurethane for outcome which was fabric-like underneath and plastic-y on the outside.

A couple years later on, Microsoft partnered utilizing the producers of Alcantara, a high-end microfiber found in luxury cars, to produce a new formula associated with fabric that wouldn’t extend, bubble, or shrink in different temperatures. It must be dirt resistant also, so they coated the Alcantara having a layer of polyurethane a thousandth of millimeters thick, which implied it wicked down spills without changing the feel.

“In a naive fashion, we thought, ‘Let’s make this kind address away from textile and let us get and do it,’” he claims. “What we didn’t really realize initially had been so it actually required a large amount of research to the product itself.”

Both Google and Microsoft view textile as being a core material in its commercial design palette, which means in the foreseeable future you’ll likely see even more gadgets being soft to touch. The trend isn’t just about following aesthetic whims; it is about making technology relatable. “It’s certainly not driven by any fashion,” claims Groene. “It comes from the deeper genuinely believe that you want to humanize technology.”

Candylab’s brand new Wooden Cars Swing Into the Prohibition Era

Five years back, Vlad Dragusin began making wooden vehicles into the nights and on weekends. During the time, he was an designer on design studio Gensler, as well as the automobiles were only a hobby—a solution to escape the real world hurdles inherent in designing structures. “With architecture, it gets to the point whereby you’re investing that much time on other activities,” he claims extending his arms wide, “and that much time on design.”

The automobiles, having said that, had been pure design. Dragusin, who now produces them full-time for their company Candylab Toys, possessed a soft spot for the boxy muscle mass cars of 1960s and ‘70s with their clean, blunt lines and bold colors. “See just how easy they’re?” he says pointing up to a wood car modeled after a Pontiac Firebird. “They’re just easy wood obstructs.”

Dragusin and his group spent 1st four years of Candylab making variations of the muscle cars by having an Airstream or tow truck tossed in. After which they hit a wall surface. “We knew we had been planning to do something different period-wise,” he states. “We developed [the muscle tissue cars] as much as we’re able to before it gets repeated.”

The company’s new type of automobiles, called The Outlaws, is modeled after prohibition-era hot rods which have been souped up and redesigned for modern day. The automobiles, which vaguely echo Rat Rod vehicle tradition, are curvier than Candylab early in the day designs, with an elongated human body that tapers in front and tires that jut away. It’s speedy form is harder to engineer versus typical muscle car, Dragusin explains.

Typically, a hot rod silhouette could be produced from an injection molded synthetic. But Candylab’s new line is made by shaving the wood for a router table to obtain a exact, compound bend. “It’s like sculpting,” Dragusin claims. “You can simply subtract with timber.”

By restricting it self to a solitary product the human body, Candylab loses some of the information found on other toy cars. In place of accessories, Candylab’s cars are defined by their overall shape. “For vehicles, silhouette is truly effective,” says Kaeo Helder, a designer at Candylab. Working together with Dragusin, Helder talks about a model of an actual vehicle and peels right back as much detail possible until they arrive at the essence of this form. More often than not, this leaves all of them with a simple silhouette that echoes the initial.

Inside brand new line, the automobiles aside from the tow vehicle use the same fundamental body shape. It’s a way to optimize production and provide the line a cohesive identity. Cleverly, the group distinguishes the cars by flipping their wood figures upside down, going the cab toward the front or straight back of the car, or painting on extra details like taillights. “Essentially we are doing exactly the same thing they [Rat Rod makers] did,” claims Helder. “You chop it up, combine it, and to discover what are the results.”

Candylab’s New Wooden Cars Swing Into the Prohibition Era

Five years ago, Vlad Dragusin began making wooden cars in the evenings and on weekends. At the time, he was an architect at the design studio Gensler, and the cars were just a hobby—a way to escape the real world obstacles inherent in designing buildings. “With architecture, it gets to the point where you’re spending this much time on other things,” he says stretching his arms wide, “and this much time on design.”

The cars, on the other hand, were pure design. Dragusin, who now creates them full-time for his company Candylab Toys, had a soft spot for the boxy muscle cars of the 1960s and ‘70s with their clean, blunt lines and bold colors. “See how simple these are?” he says pointing to a wooden car modeled after a Pontiac Firebird. “They’re just simple wooden blocks.”

Dragusin and his team spent the first four years of Candylab making variations of those muscle cars with an Airstream or tow truck thrown in. And then they hit a wall. “We knew we were going to do something different period-wise,” he says. “We developed [the muscle cars] as much as we could before it gets repetitive.”

The company’s new line of cars, called The Outlaws, is modeled after prohibition-era hot rods that have been souped up and redesigned for modern day. The automobiles, which vaguely echo Rat Rod car culture, are curvier than Candylab earlier designs, with an elongated body that tapers at the front and wheels that jut out. It’s speedy shape is harder to engineer than the typical muscle car, Dragusin explains.

Typically, a hot rod silhouette would be made from an injection molded plastic. But Candylab’s new line is made by shaving the wood on a router table to get a precise, compound curve. “It’s like sculpting,” Dragusin says. “You can only subtract with wood.”

By limiting itself to a single material for the body, Candylab loses some of the detail found on other toy cars. Instead of accessories, Candylab’s cars are defined by their overall shape. “For cars, silhouette is really powerful,” says Kaeo Helder, a designer at Candylab. Working with Dragusin, Helder looks at a model of a real car and then peels back as much detail as possible until they get to the essence of the form. Most of the time, this leaves them with a simple silhouette that echoes the original.

In the new line, all of the cars except for the tow truck use the same basic body shape. It’s a way to optimize manufacturing and give the line a cohesive identity. Cleverly, the team distinguishes the cars by flipping their wooden bodies upside down, moving the cab toward the front or back of the car, or painting on additional details like taillights. “Essentially we’re doing the exact same thing they [Rat Rod makers] did,” says Helder. “You chop it up, combine it, and and see what happens.”