2017 Tech in Memoriam: Pour One Out for AIM, Vine, GChat, and the Rest
Written by Wired/ Courtesy of
All good things come to an end. This year, we watched as some of our favorite gadgets found a new home in a casket filled with the technology of yesteryear. Fill up a glass and get ready to pour one out for the tech casualties of 2017.
On December 15, AOL Instant Messenger posted its final away message. Its days of being the hip way to stay in touch with all your school friends are long gone, but AIM is where an entire generation forged their online identities. Now, all those embarrassing screen names are six feet under along with the rest of the old web.
iPod Nano and Shuffle
Apple finally gave its flagship music player the boot this year by killing off the iPods Nano and Shuffle. Sure, you’ve streaming all your tunes with Spotify or Apple Music by now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t miss the iPod. It sparked the modern landscape for music, and it’s where many of us build the playlists that defined our youth.
Before the lauded Pivot to Video, there was Vine. It had dogs jammin’ out on the cowbell, raps about Liam Neeson, siblings ruining vape tricks, and mystifying tricks of trash cans turning into whiteboard drawings. Twitter gave it the axe late last year, but kept it on life support until January. With its departure goes another experimental platform where people could be just a little weirder with their creations. Damn, Daniel.
It probably didn’t come as a shock when Microsoft dropped Paint from its list of supported features, but it’ll be missed. Paint was the birthplace of poorly drawn memes, and even if its tools weren’t the most robust, or even that good, it made for some great laughs.
The 140 Character Limit
As if tweets weren’t already bad enough, this year Twitter decided one of the network’s biggest issues wasn’t harassment or rogue employees, it was that tweets simply weren’t long enough. So, while threats of nuclear war and hate speech ran rampant, Twitter’s Big Improvement to the platform this year was doubling its character limit to 280. At least now we can post more Smash Mouth lyrics, right?
While Twitter futzed around with its algorithms and gave us longer tweets, its distant open source cousin, App.net, closed its doors. It promised to be an ad-free microblogging platform, a model that proved unsuccessful in the long run. While it never hit the mainstream, it’s another reminder that it isn’t altruism, but a constantly changing set of unsolicited features features that wins in the social game.
The internet hate mob got a little less ludicrous this year when Twitter axed the notorious Profile Egg for accounts that never uploaded a profile picture. In its wake hatched a new mask of anonymity: a plain ol’ profile of an ambiguous human body. It didn’t cut back on harassment, but it’s easier to be mad at a human than it is an egg.
It’s hard to keep up with all of Google’s messaging apps: Allo, Google+, Hangouts, Duo. (Does anyone use this stuff?) Chat was one of the originals. Now, it’s been replaced by Hangouts, which will eventually be replaced by the next bonkers messaging app Google dishes out.
The mp3 sparked a change in the way we listened to music. It let us toss our favorite songs onto iPods and its knockoffs, but most of us probably snagged our tunes from Limewire. If you were lucky, you might have even been bamboozled into downloading a spoof of Bill Clinton telling you to hit up a sketchy website. The mp3’s license ran out this year, and its creators are pushing the AAC format to take its place — but AAC player just doesn’t have the same ring to it, huh?
There’s long been promises of mobile computing merging with desktop computing. Microsoft’s Continuum promised to turn one device, like a phone, into all your devices with a simple dock and a few peripherals. Chromebooks can now run Android apps so you’ve got all the software you need wherever you’re at. Meanwhile, Remix OS was a fork of Android that could be installed on any PC to bring all your favorite apps to the big screen. It worked great, but it was never going to make it to the big leagues.
Windows Movie Maker
Not every video needs Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X to make its way to YouTube or your family’s big screen. From 2012 to its demise this year, Windows Movie Maker gave aspiring creatives and proud parents the ability to make barebones videos or vacation slideshows in a pinch, and it ways totally free! The name wasn’t flashy enough for today’s hip gadget lovers, so Microsoft gave it the boot and replaced it with Story Remix, which does most of the same things with a fresh coat of paint.
College students across the net wept as Yik Yak, the anonymous social networking app where confessions flowed throughout campuses, was shut down. Throughout its life, youths used it to confess everything from stealing their roommate’s Cheetos to showing up to class drunk.
If you had a question in the early days of the web, you probably went to About.com for the answers. It had how-to’s and explainers aplenty, but unfortunately it didn’t know much about how to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of today’s internet.
Microsoft’s motion-tracking hardware’s final gesture to the world was a wave goodbye. The Kinect wasn’t the game-changing peripheral Microsoft wanted it to be, and for many gamers it simply wasn’t worth the cost.
Nintendo made waves this year with the Switch, one of our favorite gadgets of 2017. But to make a killer console, the company had to kill some of its darlings. MiiVerse, Nintendo’s oddly charming social network where fans shared their best (and worst) drawings, became the victim and closed its doors in November.
Club Penguin was a social network where kids could masquerade as penguins clad in wizard gear or an apple costume. (Don’t ask us to explain.) Mostly, though, it was known for the memes it sparked when trolls started trying to get banned for kicks. Disney shut down the network earlier this year—the ultimate ban.
Netflix’s Star Rating system
Your favorite shows probably felt a little less love this year when Netflix nixed its five-star rating system for a simpler, less informative thumbs up/down metric. The new system coincides with a percentage match that’ll tell you how sure Netflix is that you’ll like a given show or movie, but unfortunately there’s no way to give Netflix’s decisions a thumbs down if you’re not a fan.
Microsoft Groove Music
The music streaming business is rough. Microsoft killed its Spotify-competitor earlier this year after failing to compete with the streaming giants, giving it the same fate as the Microsoft Zune.
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