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From foldable smartphones to electric two-wheelers, these were the tech newsmakers of 2019

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From foldable smartphones to electric two-wheelers, these were the tech newsmakers of 2019

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Here is a quick roundup of some of the topics that became the talk of the town

From foldable smartphones to electric two-wheelers, these were the tech newsmakers of 2019
2019 has been an eventful year for the tech industry from a variety of perspectives. Not only did we see innovations on the product side but there were big announcements made by brands on the technology and services side. Here is a quick roundup of some of the topics that became the talk of the town:
  • Foldable Smartphones – As a concept, foldable smartphones have been around for a few years. However, Samsung changed that concept into reality this year with it’s the Galaxy Fold announcement and subsequent launch. This was the first-time consumers got their hands on a smartphone with a flexible display that could fold open/close as per requirements. Along with Samsung, Huawei and Motorola also announced their foldable smartphones this year. Sure, there were a few hiccups in the initial stage in terms of quality and durability but as a first attempt, these foldable phones were the hot topic of discussion.
    • Huawei US Ban – This was the big news that impacted multiple tech companies on a global scale. In May this year, the US government added Huawei to the US Department of Commerce’s Entity list which means that Huawei was blacklisted for trade with US companies. This led to several other brands such as Google and ARM to break-off ties with Huawei putting the users of Huawei devices in a tussle about the brand and its products. In the same month, the US government issued a 90-day temporary license to Huawei for its existing products. In August, the temporary license for Huawei was extended by another 90 days. By November, the Trump administration announced that US companies can do business with Huawei after taking proper license which was followed by another 90-day extension of the temporary trade license. In between all this, Huawei announced its smartphone OS which would be available from next year in its smartphone but till then most of its new devices will come without Google services. The ongoing matter is expected to be one of the big things for 2020, once the decision is finalized by the US government.
    • WhatsApp Spyware – WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messaging apps and has always been vocal on its security and encryption. So, it came as a big surprise when the news came out about WhatsApp of select journalists, lawyers and human right activist in India being infected with spyware for surveillance. The Spyware named Pegasus was used to hack around 121 people in India giving the hackers access to every information on the user’s smartphone. This was a big breach of privacy for users and while WhatsApp announced that it has informed the government about the vulnerability, it still awoke our WhatsApp loving nation to take data privacy seriously.
    • Electric Two-wheelers – This was one of the segments that saw a big boom in 2019. From electric scooters to electric bikes, we saw several brands come into India promoting these products that are a cleaner mode of transport and are being adopted by consumers rapidly. Some of the interesting launches include the Ather AI-enabled electric scooter, Revolt AI-powered electric bike, Hero Electric Dash and the Ultraviolette F77 electric sports bike. There are several launches set for 2020 as well with other major players expected to join the category.
    • Rise of the OTT Platforms – The number of OTT streaming service players grew in 2019 giving consumers a wider choice including options from Apple and Disney. However, what made big news was the aggressive pricing that the players brought for markets like India. Netflix offered a mobile platform only plan to attract customers while Apple launched its service at one of the cheapest prices for the Indian audience. Hotstar tied up with Disney to offer its content and that too without increasing the prices of its service. This clearly showed how much of an important market India has become for the global players.
    • Instagram switching off likes – Towards the middle of the year, Instagram announced that it plans to start hiding likes on posts. The idea behind this is to have the creators focus on the content instead of how many likes a post received. Considering the growth of Instagram as an influencer platform, the news of likes being hidden was not taken well by a lot of influencers and criticized heavily. Currently, Instagram is testing the feature across countries for feedback and in 2020, it would roll this out globally. The rollout of the feature will be a big problem for Indian influencers who do paid sponsored posts claiming a certain number of likes will be received on their posts.
    • Mastodon instead of Twitter – A lot of Twitter users got upset with Twitter’s policies on censoring content, restricting accounts and the way the platform handled trolls in 2019. What this resulted in was the lookout for an alternative platform that did not suffer from these issues and this is where Mastodon came into the picture. Mastodon which is a relatively small social media platform, suddenly saw a spike of users from India towards November when a lot of angry Indian Twitter users decided to leave Twitter. While the number of users that opted for Mastodon wasn’t significant, it did create a lot of buzz in the media.
    • PUBG Ban – PUBG is a multi-player shooter mobile game which gained unbelievable popularity in India. However, the game came under the scanner of the Indian government for being violent, distracting students and affecting the mental health of the players, especially children. On receiving complaints from citizens and authorities, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission announced that the game will be banned in certain states and anyone playing it in public space will be arrested. The game developers issued a statement saying they will ensure a healthy gaming experience and thereafter added measures to limit the gameplay time as a counter against gaming addiction. This was the first time a mobile game was banned in India.
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