THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY, including us here at INQ, will no doubt be happy to see back of 2018. We've had the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica hoo-hah, Microsoft's borked-beyond-belief October Update to Windows 10 and the first tech casualties of the dreaded B-word, which we refuse to mention because it's ruddy Christmas.
It's not been all bad, though. 5G is starting to become an actual real thing, we're starting to see artificial intelligence implemented in some really cool ways, and, er, Wikipedia vandals convincing Siri that Donald Trump is literally a penis.
We've rounded up INQ's highlights and lowlights of 2018 below.
Editor, Carly Page
I haven't upgraded my smartphone this year, which as somebody who regularly switches from handset to handset, is a sign that the market has become somewhat stagnant. Worse, though, it's become boring, and that's because everyone is doing the same ruddy thing.
Following the launch of the iPhone X last year, Android OEMs were quick to mock the handset's controversial "notch". Now, much the surprise of precisely no-one, almost all of the big-name Android flagships, from the Huawei Mate 20 Pro to the Google Pixel 3 XL - have adopted the same visually-offensive screen cutout. What's more, while Apple utilises the notch to house its Face ID tech, few others are utilising it the cutout at all, instead plonking a view-obstructing void on their smartphones for, as far as we can tell, no reason whatsoever.
I have high hopes for next year, though. I'm off to CES in January, and while it's been a long time since I've seen something "new" at the trainer-destroying Las Vegas tech show, I'm optimistic that I'll be able to get my grubby mitts on a smartphone that isn't a black rectangle with a ruddy wedge lopped out of the top.
Little-known display maker Royole will be there, showing off its FlexPai device. Shown off earlier this year, earning the company the "first" badge, the device boasts a bendy design; when folded out into tablet form, the FlexPai offers a tablet-sized 7.8in display, which shrinks to just 4in when bent.
Samsung, too, could be planning to showcase the long-hyped Galaxy Flex, a similarly-flexible device that features a tablet-sized screen that can be folded in half to reveal its external 'cover' display, a more conventional smartphone-sized screen.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not in the market for a flexible smartphone; they look pretty clunky and, to be honest, I can't really see any practical use for them. But, the new category - along with the incoming army of 5G-enabled smartphones - excites me. It's something "new", finally, and might make the brain-bustingly-awful CES hangovers easier to deal with.
Associate editor, Chris Merriman
2018 has felt like a party that we've arrived at too early and have been roped into helping get set up. There's lots of amazing things around the corner, but they're either not ready, or the infrastructure to make them work isn't.
Of course 5G will help, but as 4G is still spottier than a teenager who has taken a bath in a kebab shop, then I'd be quite happy just to see that working properly first.
As for what I've loved this year, as much as I'll probably get called a shill (it's not true, they can't afford me) this has been Huawei's year for consumers - the Matebook X Pro, P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro have all proved to be ahead of the curve that I'm really excited about what they come up with next.
Conversely, the whole business with Huawei's possible links to the Chinese government has been a serious low point, and the worst thing is that we can't be really sure who is telling the truth. Personally, I haven't got much to hide, so I'll plough on regardless.
I won't be doing that with Facebook, however. What has depressed me more than anything this year has been not only that we didn't see all this coming, but the fact that after an initial outcry, things have just gone back to a stage of silent indignation - they really do have us by the short and curlies and I hate it.
On the positive side, the BBC's embracing of AI culminating in a Made by AI show has been really exciting and served to put the whole thing in perspective. Perhaps one day there'll be a threat to mankind. Right now, it's just funny.
It's inescapable that the worst thing this year has been Windows 10. I have no major beef with it as an operating system. It does what it does pretty well most of the time. But how a company that size can release an update like October's, and get so much wrong, cause so many bugs to the point where I had to write about new ones every day for nearly a fortnight. Not cool guys.
I suppose I should end on a high, so my other big loves this year have been Sky Q, which keeps getting consistently better as time goes on (though I wish there was more smart home compatibility) and Google Assistant, which has blossomed in a relatively short space of time, to the point that all my Alexa devices are now in a cupboard. At night I can hear the screams.
Contributing editor, Roland Moore-Colyer
It's been a year of incremental upgrades in the gadget world; the iPhone XS, Samsung's Galaxy S9, the Surface Pro 6, all excellent, but mostly rather dull.
So finding highlights can be a little tricky. However, I was very impressed with the OnePlus 6, which was absolutely lovely in terms of design, performance, and slick software. And then OnePlus did it all again with the 6T, which shrunk down the notch and added an under-display fingerprint scanner.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro also impressed in terms of design and sheer hardware capabilities. And the fourth-gen Apple Watch is pretty decent with its fancy EKG sensor.
As for other stuff, Santa Monica's God of War for the PlayStation 4 was pretty amazing and showed how much smart developers can get out of hardware that's five years old.
Nvidia impressed me its GeForce RTX 2000-series graphics cards, which tout capabilities like ray-tracing and deep learning smarts. But that's where things start to slump a bit. The price of Nvidia's new GPUs is eye-watering if you want to get a card with the very best of the Turing architecture.
AMD offers cheaper graphics cards that are pretty capable, including the recently released Radeon RX 590, but I was disappointed that Team Red didn't reveal anything about its Navi GPU architecture and the potential to challenge Nvidia in the graphics world. Still, AMD did redeem itself by showing off it's Zen 2 processor architecture which will bring 7nm processors to the market next year.
That'll be a pain for Intel, which once again failed to introduce 10-nanometre processors to the market. Instead, it kicked out eighth-gen Coffee Lake CPUs, which while decent don't really push the boundaries of chip architecture.
And throughout the year there have been murmurs of interesting tech to come, like new games consoles and foldable phones, but nothing really concrete that we could get our mitts on was shown off.
All in all, 2018 was a bit of a 'shrug' year for me when it came to tech. But 2019 looks to be a more exciting year; hell, we're actually set to get 5G, who knew.
Contributing editor, Alan Martin
As somebody who reviews a lot of hardware, it's always a good sign when I actively want to pay money for something. For me that occurred recently when I paid £779 for the brand-new Surface Laptop 2, putting my old MacBook Pro in the tech retirement home, where it can mutter about how all the younger Macs have touchbars and TouchID nowadays.
The Surface Laptop 2 has neither, of course. Neither does it have very many ports, and it's still labouring away with a single USB Type-A port like we're literally in the dark ages but otherwise I have no complaints at all. The screen is lovely, typing is a dream and I don't think I'll ever get over the novelty of bending my Surface Arc mouse in half to switch in on. Perhaps more importantly, it won't matter if I repeat ‘The Election 2017 Rum And Coke Incident' again in a future snap vote. Unlike my old MacBook Pro, this is a keyboard that'll survive even the most startled spit take.
By contrast, my worst tech of 2018 is something I wouldn't wish on the wrist of my worst enemy. Back in the summer, I reviewed a wearable with the incredible claim that it could tell you how many calories you'd eaten with no barcode scanning or guilty searches for quadruple cheeseburger on MyFitnessPal.
To be honest, I was quite amazed that it kind of worked at all, but it just wasn't that useful in the end. Not only was there a delay in data coming through (it measures digestion, which takes a while), but it was horribly uncomfortable and made me look like I was a prisoner on day release tagged at the wrist. Most damningly of all, it couldn't track calories taken in through alcohol, which was very much the last strawpedo. I've never been so happy to have something come off my wrist. µ
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