See Which Colors Dominated Your Instagram Posts In 2018

See which colours dominated your Instagram posts in 2018

Each circle’s size is representative of the frequency of that color, plus how well-liked it was by your followers. As seen from my own profile, blues and browns seem to represent quite a number of my photos last year.

Launched last year by couple Stef Lewandowski and Emily Quinton, the tool requires you to sign in with your Instagram account. Only public accounts work, and you can request a report for the last year or a particular set of dates. Once your report is built, you can emphasize saturated or brighter colors, order colors by time or popularity, or play through these different modes.

A slider allows you to play with sorting the brightness or popularity of certain colors, and you can also share your visualization to Instagram or get a printable version too if that’s your jam. It’s just another way to catch a glimpse of your Instagram game if scrolling through your profile doesn’t quite cut it.

 

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10 Predictions About The Media Industry In the New Year

3-D Movie Viewers. Formally-attired audience sporting 3-D glasses during opening night screening of film Bwana Devil, the 1st full-length color 3-D (aka Natural Vision) motion picture, at Paramount Theater.2018 was a year of massive mergers and acquisitions, with AT&T/Time Warner, Disney/Fox and Comcast/Sky. The #MeToo movement made headlines, and the dominant emotion in boardroom discussions around Hollywood and beyond was fear … lots of fear in the ranks of our tech-infused world of media and entertainment (as well as in the world itself).

So what does the crystal ball predict for 2019?

Here are some of the narratives that will shape the world of entertainment next year and set the stage for the roaring 20s of the media industry.

PREDICTION #1 – Blood continues to spill in the relentless battle amongst premium OTT video giants, as Apple and Disney join the subscription video fray and add to the epic collective assault on Netflix. In the midst of it all, smaller “niche” players either find their singular voices that attract “fandom” and broader monetization, or risk being marginalized and swallowed up by their strategic investors (for a fraction of what they would have commanded a couple years back).

Originals continue to be the primary weapon used in the premium subscription streaming video battlefront, extending media’s new “Golden Age” for creators and further skyrocketing content-related development and production costs (including the price tags for A-list marquee talent). Fierce premium OTT video competitors increasingly use content both offensively and defensively, like Disney withholding its crown jewels from Netflix (Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Princesses, X-Men, Avatar). Netflix feels the heat, as will its investors, as the collective crew of “Netflix-Killers” put increasing pressure on its pure-play business model.

Meanwhile, the newly expanded list of virtual MVPDs (multichannel video program distributors) fix their initial flaws, offer consumers real competitive choice, and hasten consumer cord-cutting even further.  Whereas we started 2016 with 2-3 real, viable mainstream choices in the U.S. for live television, as of 2019, consumers now can access nearly 10 (cable, satellite, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, etc.). And, even in these nationalistic times, let’s not forget about massive international players like Tencent, Alibaba or Baidu’s iQIYI, which went public in the U.S. markets this past year.

Amidst this battle of video giants, several smaller so-called “niche” or segment-focused video players either expeditiously find their uniquely compelling voice and build a fandom-fueled multi-pronged monetizing brand around it, or simply get lost in the noise.

FILE – This June 27, 2015, file photo, shows the Hulu logo on a window at the Milk Studios space in New York. Hulu said Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, that the company is dropping the free TV episodes that it was initially known for as it works on launching a skinny bundle of streaming TV.
PREDICTION #2 – Media-Tech driven M&A continues to rule the day in all segments. On the video side, both traditional media companies and undercapitalized and underperforming privately-held new media companies languish in this beyond-crowded OTT video space and become logical M&A targets.

M&A is a hallmark of the overall digital, multi-platform tech-infused transformation of the media and entertainment business. Just like AT&T closed its acquisition of storied traditional (yet slow-moving) Time Warner ($85 billion), Disney beat back Comcast to acquire Fox’s entertainment assets in 2018 ($71.3 billion), Comcast struck back and acquired Sky ($39 billion), and SiriusXM acquired the remaining 81% of Pandora it didn’t already own ($3.5 billion), expect more massive deals in 2019, together with a number of smaller, yet still significant ones. Viacom/CBS is one likely candidate.

And don’t just look within U.S. borders. No virtual wall exists in our borderless new media world, which means that M&A’s pace will accelerate internationally as well. Remember, the Comcast/Sky deal represents a U.S. behemoth’s ambitions to significantly expand its footprint into multiple European territories. Lots of mega-companies around the globe desperately hope to expand their footprints to places where, up to now, they have never been.

To be clear, not all M&A will flow from weakness. Sometimes the numbers offered simply will be too high to reject. But make no mistake. Weakness will abound amidst hyper-competition, and winners will swallow up losers in an environment of accelerating M&A. Many of the so-called niche-focused OTT video services still primarily rely upon ad dollars (especially the younger ones), but remember, Google and Facebook already own about 2/3 of that global digital advertising market. That means that most pure-play OTT video players simply cannot succeed on ad dollars alone. And, for most, other means of monetization will be beyond their reach, as they fail to deliver a sufficiently compelling, differentiated and emotionally connected media experience. So, much like Uproxx did this past year when Warner Music Group acquired it (likely for a song), expect several of the new media players to lose their Indie status.

PREDICTION #3 – The music industry’s streaming-driven turnaround continues and streaming revenues accelerate, but pure-play music services led by Spotify continue to hemorrhage money as losses mount. Meanwhile, the giant “big box” retailers of the day — Apple, Amazon and YouTube (particularly YouTube) — brazenly march on, indifferent to that suffering with their fundamentally different underlying marketing-driven business models. 

Yes, Spotify boasts massive scale. Yet, scale alone does not financial success make. In fact, pure-play growth success leads to higher and higher losses due to sobering industry economics these pure-plays can’t stomach, but the behemoths can due to their multi-pronged business models. These harsh realities mean that investors of many pure-play streaming music services will take a hard look at themselves in 2019 as they contemplate their next strategic next steps. Many will realize that they can’t go it alone. And that leads to more M&A, much like we saw this past year with SiriusXM buying Pandora and LiveXLive buying Slacker. Spotify is not immune here. Unless it successfully expands its business model and drives major new revenue streams, it too could be bought. Facebook anyone?

 

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 03: The Spotify banner hangs from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the morning that the music streaming service begins trading shares at the NYSE on April 3, 2018 in New York City. Trading under the symbol SPOT, the Swedish company’s losses grew to 1.235 billion euros ($1.507 billion) last year, its largest ever.
PREDICTION #4 – Tech-driven media companies thrive and increasingly dominate the entertainment world by using data to their advantage. They use AI, voice and machine learning to dominate further and even more broadly infiltrate our lives and impact our media and entertainment experiences.

Netflix, Amazon and Facebook increasingly mine their deep data about all of our hopes and dreams to maximize “hits” and minimize “misses” as compared to traditional media companies. In many respects, the studios simply can’t compete. Faced with that reality, the quest for data — and the services that provide analysis and inform – takes on new urgency. Further, the Hollywood establishment and creative community still have yet to understand – at least in large numbers — the power of new cost-effective tech-driven ways to test and measure new characters, stories and engagement in order to more smartly and efficiently place their big expensive bets.

Meanwhile, the new tech-driven media giants hope to increase their overall Media 2.0 dominance through the soothing voices of Alexa and Siri (sorry Google, yours is a little less so) and the overall AI/machine learning revolution. “Virtual assistants,” “smart speakers” (or whatever you want to call them) increasingly dominate our home conversations, improve significantly over time, and serve up our favorite content via “intelligent” recommendations (as well as increasingly targeted and smarter incentives, promotions, ads and goods). 71% of us already use voice assistants at least once per day (most frequently for selecting the music we like to hear), so voice most definitely is here to stay.

More exotically, and perhaps somewhat alarmingly, AI also increasingly drives so-called “intelligent” creation. AI already develops movie trailers that some believe approach the impact of their human-generated counterparts. You be the judge — check out the first AI-produced movie trailer, care of IBM’s Watson, for the fittingly AI-themed 2016 motion picture thriller Morgan. And, just imagine how much AI has advanced in just these past two years since then. Can AI screenwriters be far behind?  Gong Yu, founder and CEO of China’s leading streaming platform iQIYI certainly doesn’t think so. In his words, AI “will reshape the entertainment industry over the next 10-15 years, much more so than the Internet did over the past three decades.”  Just chew on that for a bit.

So, AI may become a real threat even to creative pursuits that, up to this point, most in Hollywood believe are untouchable by computers, bots, and robots. Tesla maven and global futurist Elon Musk is downright dystopian and takes things even further, warning that AI may be an ultimate global threat to us all. Musk tweeted in 2017 that “competition for AI superiority at a national level most likely cause of WW3.”   Those were his precise words, so that was either Musk’s particular form of Twitter-speak, or his mind had become a bit hazy during one of his notorious cannabis-fueled interviews!

Amazon is releasing a software development kit that will let developers integrate Alexa into smart screen devices.
PREDICTION #5 – Behemoths Apple, Google and Facebook, together with other tech-driven media giants and deep-pocketed financiers from around the world, increase their already-massive investments in immersive technologies and accelerate mainstream adoption of AR.

AR’s gold rush means continued growth in the related wearables market and consumer adoption of AR-driven eyewear. Investors of all stripes also continue to throw boatloads of cash into the overall immersive space to fuel the development of experiences (including real-world live entertainment and storytelling, not only games) to feed these new platforms. Expect significant investment in content. The immersive market opportunity is still so nascent, yet its ultimate promise is so great, that the money working to capture it in 2019 and beyond will seem endless. And, when so much money chases a market, that market becomes our consumer reality.

The onset of 5G wireless networks will only hasten the growth of extended reality (XR) in all its forms. Speaking of 5G …

Attendees look at 5G mobile phones at the Qualcomm stand during China Mobile Global Partner Conference 2018 at Poly World Trade Center Exhibition Hall on December 6, 2018 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA – DECEMBER 06: Attendees look at 5G mobile phones at the Qualcomm stand during China Mobile Global Partner Conference 2018 at Poly World Trade Center Exhibition Hall on December 6, 2018 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China. The three-day conference opened on Thursday, with the theme of 5G network.
PREDICTION #6 – 5G Networks launch, reveal their early media and tech promise and possibilities, and begin to transform our media and entertainment experiences (as well as the overall ecosystem that supports them). 

5G networks are critical for media experiences that require low latency, including AR, VR, and eSports. For AR, 5G reduces the size of consumer headsets, because processing is now done on the network itself rather than on the device. That makes wearables increasingly user-friendly and fuels further innovation and adoption. 5G also accelerates more high-quality video consumption on our mobile phones, thereby pushing purveyors of premium OTT video like Netflix to increasingly focus on mobile-first content experiences.

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s and Meg Whitman’s new mobile-driven Netflix-like premium video service Quibi (formerly NewTV) certainly saw this train coming and jumped on first.

PREDICTION #7 – The oft-overlooked, yet potentially game-changing, live entertainment and event plank increasingly finds itself in multi-platform Media 2.0 strategies, deepening overall brand engagement and monetization possibilities. Expect more significant “offline”-related experiments, initiatives and M&A by both traditional and new tech-driven media companies.

Call this the “Amazon Effect,” as players across the Media 2.0 ecosystem stop scratching their heads about Amazon’s direct-to-theater film releases, brick and mortar retail expansion, and Whole Foods superstore operations – and, instead, increasingly study, respect and emulate them. Netflix certainly did in 2018. After trashing Amazon one year earlier for releasing its features first in theaters, Netflix announced it would begin to do the same.

Amazon understands what most still haven’t even considered – that direct, non-virtual offline consumer engagement may be the most impactful plank of them all, driving online engagement into the real world (and then back again) to create a virtual cycle of daily brand engagement and consumer monetization every step of the way. Even traditional media company Viacom now shows signs of understanding these online/offline brand synergies. It bought both youth-focused video industry conference VidCon and music festival SnowGlobe in 2018.

So, while MoviePass may go the way of the Dodo bird in 2019, movie theaters themselves will not die. They simply will be re-imagined. We humans, after all, are social creatures. We like to get out, and we won’t be satisfied binging on Netflix alone. Movie theater subscription services most definitely are here to stay, and Amazon will offer one soon for Prime members. After all, in a fun fact that may surprise you, more museums populate the planet – significantly more – than McDonald’s. See, there is hope!

ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 23: General view of panelists at the 7th Annual VidCon at Anaheim Convention Center on June 22, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
PREDICTION #8 – The #MeToo Movement continues to transform the face (and faces) of both old and new media. And, new faces will invest new industry dollars in new (and frequently very different) content choices, bringing us new (and frequently different) stories and transforming our media and entertainment experiences.

Revelations aren’t over. Abuse was simply far too pervasive. Old players are gone. New, frequently younger, tech-driven media savvy faces get a seat at the decision-making table. They change the game of “what” and “how” we experience content.

Ultimately, #MeToo both cleanses the overall new media industry and fills our plates with very different media and entertainment choices.

PREDICTION #9 – Fake news, fraud and breaches of privacy continue unabated and accelerate, as does marketing concern for “brand safety.”  These seemingly unstoppable negative forces continue to place downward pressure on ad-dependent open platforms. 

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of hacking wars, the likes of which we’ve never seen. This “good versus evil” reality is here to stay, and players across the tech-driven media and entertainment ecosystem either significantly increase their investments in counter-measures and related PR, or risk the wrath of consumers and the overall ad market (much like Facebook did this past year).

Twitter cleaned 70 million fake and automated accounts in a two month span last year (and 1 million more daily), Instagram conceded that over 50% of engagements on its posts tagged as #sponsored are fake, Spotify similarly conceded prevalent ad fraud and decreased its total reported content hours streamed by hundreds of millions of hours, and competing music service Tidal faced accusations that it had falsified tens of millions of streams. Just a few examples of how pervasive fraud and audience manipulation has become in our Media 2.0 world. These fake accounts create, in the words of Variety“a shadow army of followers that has comparatively little monetary effect. But perform the same manipulation with music streams, and it constitutes fraud.” 

PREDICTION #10 – Blockchain technology and crypto-currency-fueled investment and experimentation, already over-hyped and under-performing, continues apace. Yet, once again, there will be little to show for it in the world of media and entertainment. At least for now.

Early blockchain leaders continue to be irrationally overvalued, which is always the case with any nascent market. But, on a happier note, the voice of blockchain technology – heard thus far mostly in investment circles with promises of “instant millions” (or even billions) – becomes increasingly heard for its more positive potential for the world of media and entertainment. Blockchain technology conceptually holds revolutionary industry-transforming new offensive and defensive power. On the offensive front, blockchain enables new ways to monetize content via micropayments and direct creator-to-consumer distribution sans today’s leading middlemen. These possibilities begin to reveal themselves in 2019. On the defensive front, blockchain promises to eradicate piracy, but that happens in years, not this coming year.

The bottom line

2019 certainly will push 2018’s Media 2.0 boundaries noticeably further, driven by these and other industry meta-forces. But, these changes will be barely noticeable compared to the seismic shifts to follow in the next ten years.

I close with Paramount futurist Ted Schilowitz’s perspective on all of this. In our conversation, Ted points to two phenomena — the first of which he calls “the known unknown,” and the second he calls “the ten-year curve.”  “The known unknown” refers to what he calls the “scary” fact that we all know that massive tech-driven change is coming, but we don’t know the “twists and turns that get us there.”  Meanwhile, “the ten-year curve” refers to “big dynamic change waves” that follow ten-year cycles. In Ted’s view, we just recently finished the YouTube and iPhone 10-year cycles, and now essentially everyone around the globe participates in those dual phenomena.

So, what’s “the next big thing?”  Ted calls it the “the evolution of the screen” – so-called “visual computing” via new forms of eyewear (wearables) that replace our smartphones. Think Minority Report-like data and content interaction, and you get the general idea. “Surprisingly little has changed with human/screen interaction in the past 30 years,” Ted points out. He reminds me that while user interfaces have become more sophisticated, actual screen interaction is not massively different — comparing interaction on Mac screens 30 years ago and on iPhones today.

That is all changing right now — as you sit, read and soak in Ted’s thoughts either in print or more likely on your own v.2019 screen. According to Ted, we are only about 3.5 years into this 10-year visual computing cycle. “In 2013-2014, we saw the first idea of commercializing a track-able screen, a spatial screen. That is a massive change. We will fundamentally change how we use our screens. I see a very distinct future where these things will emerge from their cocoon and replace the iPhone, laptop, etc. You will notice an evolution of 30 minutes per day, then one hour, then two hours, etc.” 

Think that overstates things a bit?  Well, Ted cautions you this way. “It’s the exact same paradigm shift we saw with mobile phones decades ago. Just imagine back then that you would – decades later (i.e. today) — carry a device with you almost every waking moment of your waking life. Even Bill Gates would have said that is ridiculous.”

Yet, here we are. Today. In that “unimaginable” world. That’s how fast it goes.

Ted is adamant about this inevitable “evolution of the screen” reality, and he is convincing. “I know the next evolution is coming. All of these experiments today are on their way to something really, really significant. 2019 will be very subtle in this revolution. Still for the early adopter, because none of these head-mounted immersive devices today will replace our smartphones. But the constant and continuous evolution of this tech is happening.

 

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So You Just Got A New 4K TV. Now, What To Watch? Here Are Some Suggestions

The Samsung 75-inch QLED 4K Smart TV, suggested price of $4,999.99, supports 4K and HDR with its HDR EliteMax picture technology.The Samsung 75-inch QLED 4K Smart TV, suggested price of $4,999.99, supports 4K and HDR with its HDR EliteMax picture technology.

4K TVs are a hit beyond the U.S., too. Worldwide sales of 4K TVs in 2018 are expected to hit 100 million, increasing to 230 million the number of 4K TVs in homes, according to research firm Digital Tech Consulting. Consumers have taken to 4K UHD TVs, first introduced in the U.S. in 2012, in part because prices have fallen. The average 4K TV now costs less than $900, down from more than $4,000 five years ago, DTC says. Lower prices are just one selling point. Bigger screens with sharper images and richer colors are benefits, too. 4K UHD TVs have four times as many pixels as HDTVs. Those additional pixels make bigger displays look better without degradation of the imagery.

Most 4K TVs can also handle High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, produced so that newer TVs can display more intense brights and darks, as well as more detail in shadows. An additional image upgrade that usually accompanies HDR is a wider color palette producing more precise and rich colors. You will pay a bit more for a 4K TV with HDR, but if you expect to spend a lot of time with your TV, that slightly higher expense will be worth it. (You can still get a 55-inch 4K TV with HDR for less than $500.)

Now, what to watch? Luckily there are several ways to get 4K video on your 4K TV.

• Blu-ray Disc players. The major electronics makers such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony all have brought to market 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc players that play special 4K UHD Blu-ray Discs, as well as regular Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs. Player prices start at about $100.

Many experts consider 4K Blu-rays as the best medium for showcasing your 4K TV because of the disc-based medium’s quality. Several hundred 4K UHD discs are available to order on Amazon and BestBuy.com, with the latest releases including “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and “Venom.” Prices start about $20 and most also come with a standard Blu-ray Disc and a digital download code.

• Pay-TV providers. There are no regular 4K broadcasts from major networks just yet. But among major providers, Comcast made Winter Olympics events and World Cup matches available in 4K in 2018 as the events played out and those can still be viewed on demand. X1 customers can also stream Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video in 4K, too, from their cable box.

Satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network – both of which also delivered Winter Olympics and World Cup action in 4K, offer pay-per-view movies in 4K, and each has at least one dedicated channel for other 4K content including live sports. DirecTV has two, one for ongoing 4K programming and another for live sports including regular NBA games and English Premier League soccer. Dish’s Hopper 3 HD DVR also has built-in Netflix 4K streaming.

• Streaming services. Netflix and Amazon have been among the leaders in 4K content, with Netflix making “House of Cards” and some other programs available in 4K in 2014. Now, Netflix has more than 100 original series and 100 original films and specials in 4K, DTC says. You will need a Netflix Premium subscription, which cost $13.99 monthly. Netflix also recommends broadband download speeds of 25 Megabits per second for streaming 4K video.

Netflix 4K Ultra HD channel

Amazon Prime Video has 70 original series and films in 4K and a library of almost 150,000 licensed movies and TV series, DTC says. Some of those are included in Amazon’s library of TV shows and movies as part of the $119 annual Amazon Prime membership as well as free shipping of purchases and other benefits. Others can be rented or purchased.

If you have a smart TV, apps such as Netflix and Amazon – and YouTube, which has a lot of 4K content – may be pre-installed. Your display may also have built-in WiFi if so it’s ready to stream 4K.

Either way, you can connect a net streaming player such as a Roku or Amazon Fire TV device, Apple TV, Google Chromecast or NVIDIA Shield that supports 4K video as a way to get apps with 4K videos. Video game consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One and PlayStation 4 also support 4K streaming apps.

Several other lesser-known video apps can offer additional 4K options. The streaming service Vudu, which is owned by Walmart, has many 4K movies for rent, as well as thousands of HD movies free to watch with advertisements, too. Fandango Now and UltraFlix are also preinstalled on many new TVs or available as an app. Fandango Now has an extensive library of 4K movies to buy or rent, while UltraFlix has many 4K movies, concerts, and documentaries for rent.

Live broadband-delivered subscription service fuboTV (starts at $44.99) also broadcasts live 4K sports events including college football and English Premier League soccer – the service provided World Cup matches and Major League Baseball games earlier this year.

Using Apple TV, you can watch 4K movies rented or purchased from Apple iTunes; Apple will soon have more than 400,000 4K movies available, DTC says. 4K movies cost the same to rent or buy as a high-def version; a rental of recent release “The Meg” costs $2.99.

Google Play has a full slate of 4K movies to rent or purchase. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” currently costs $7.99 to watch in 4K, while an HD version is $4.99.

There’s much more 4K streaming content than even a year ago, said Tom Campbell, chief technologist for L.A.-area retailer Video & Audio Center, which sold the first 4K TV in the U.S. in 2012. “It looks phenomenal, and there’s more to come,” he said.

Expect to see more live events offered in 4K, too, says DTC’s founder and chief analyst Myra Moore. “In 2018 we saw the Winter Olympics, World Cup, and MLB playoff games,” she said. “We’ll see more of this in 2019 as streaming services can’t deliver on the promise of high-quality live programming – especially sports.”

 

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These Are The 10 Most Important Tech News Stories Of 2018

In the same year, Apple became the richest company to ever exist, it also forecasted poor iPhone sales for the first time in years and fell victim to a number of disconcerting controversies. It even quickly lost its top spot to Microsoft shortly after its record-breaking announcement. That’s just the kind of year it’s been for Apple.

9. A 7-year-old becomes the highest-earning YouTuber

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP4SKI9I4w4?feature=oembed]

It’s been a rocky year for YouTube super-celebrities like PewDiePie and Logan Paul. All the while, the relationship between YouTube and some of its big stars as a whole has been strained further due to changing policies.

Amid the controversy, news broke that a 7-year-old named Ryan had become a millionaire — the current highest-earning YouTuber. The kid runs a delightful YouTube channel called “Ryan ToysReview,” where he’s racked up over 17 million subscribers. Now that’s something we can all get behind.

8. The rise and fall of MoviePass

moviepass giveaway check in

As much as we all love going to the movies, nothing spelled out the uncertain future for theater chains quite like the rise and fall of MoviePass. The subscription model once called “the Netflix of movie theaters” was supposed to give brick-and-mortar cinema a fresh breath of air. Millennials eagerly signed up, pushing the company past 1 million subscribers heading into the beginning of 2018. All seemed well.

From there, controversy after controversy sent MoviePass spiraling into chaos, eventually culminating in a fraud investigation regarding misled investors. On top of that, the roller-coaster ride of changing policies and pricing has been an ongoing cause for disillusionment and frustration. The entire concept may have been too good to be true all along.

7. The year of the Bitcoin roller coaster

what is bitcoin mining

Bitcoin had a similar rise-and-fall story in 2018. Heading into 2018, the cryptocurrency was at the height of its boom, pushing the price of Bitcoin up well over $10,000. The world wasn’t sure what to do or how to react.

But no matter how many crypto enthusiasts and startups repeated the promise, Bitcoin’s value never made it back over $10,000. Today, it hovers just below $4,000, fairly close to where it was in the fall of 2017. The downward trend hasn’t stopped though, and the future of crypto feels as uncertain as ever. If there’s one thing we’ve been left behind with, it’s blockchain, the revolutionary public ledger system Bitcoin is based on.

6. Elon Musk sent a car into space

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M?feature=oembed]

The eccentric billionaire didn’t have the greatest year in terms of publicity. Scandal after scandal has mired the once world-saving persona of Elon Musk. But before he abused Twitter to the point of being removed as chairman of Tesla by the Securities and Exchange Commission, he did something that captivated the world.

So, yes. Musk really did send a Tesla Roadster into space, aboard the huge Falcon Heavy rocket. It’s still out there, floating through space beyond the orbit of our planet. It was a sublime moment in the chaos of news, politics, and technology — a moment to stop and celebrate the fact that humanity did something cool just because we could.

5. Net neutrality was officially repealed

net neutrality ajit pai header

Net neutrality regulations haven’t been around for all that long, first introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. But just as quick as they appeared, so they were also quickly removed. The ruling was made in late December 2017 under the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and officially went into effect in June 2018.

While we haven’t seen any major violations of net neutrality so far (at least none out of the ordinary), multiple states have already introduced their own protections to keep net neutrality enforced. But as it’s been with General Data Protection Regulation, drawing corresponding geographical lines on the internet is complicated, which could mean this fight isn’t quite over. Even with federal regulations pulled back, the future of the carrier-controlled web and content discrimination in 2018 still feels open-ended — and that’s a good thing.

4. Fortnite became a cultural phenomenon

fortnite ninja espn the magazine cover

What can be said about Fortnite that hasn’t already been said? The free-to-play, battle royale hit may have launched in late 2017, but it was throughout out 2018 that it became a cultural phenomenon, far surpassing the game world. Now that it’s available on every platform imaginable (including iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch), it feels unstoppable, bringing in a reported $3 billion in cash this year.

With homegrown celebrities like Ninja gracing the cover of ESPN and outside entities like Drake popping in to play, it’s safe to say a game has never succeeded in the way Fortnite has.

3. The Spectre/Meltdown processor vulnerabilities affect nearly every computer in use

Spectre Meltdown

Intel’s 2018 has been tumultuous, but it all started with the discovery of a security vulnerability found in just about every processor currently in use. The problem was Intel’s alone to bare. AMD and Arm were equally affected, meaning it was a vulnerability that was nearly inescapable.

The problem extends beyond just the mere existence of the vulnerability. Because of the way these companies responded, the larger question of how the tech industry is held accountable for potentially earth-shattering security issues was brought to the forefront of public thought. Given the amount of data breaches and leaks we get each year, we need all the accountability we can get.

2. NASA’s InSight Lander makes it to Mars

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGD_YF64Nwk?feature=oembed]

Nothing brings us together quite like space travel. It’s what President John F. Kennedy knew in 1969, and it feels even more true today.

The robotic lander began its journey in May 2018 and clamped its metallic feet down on the rocky surface of Mars in November. Watching the NASA InSight Lander complete its mission to Mars provided the escapism we all needed. Something about blasting beyond Earth’s orbit allows us to forfeit our own divisions and anxieties among each other. Even for just a short moment, the world stopped its spinning and let us all take a deep breath of inspiration. Thanks, space!

1. Cambridge Analytica forced us to rethink social media, privacy, data, elections, and the future of the internet

Zuckerberg Testimony Congress

Large-scale data scandals are nothing new, especially for Facebook. But the Cambridge Analytica case, in particular, started an important, far-reaching conversation about the future of the internet that none could have seen coming.

To put it simply, an organization called Cambridge Analytica, which has too many international political ties to even attempt to name, created a fake personality quiz on Facebook. Using the information gathered, the organization hijacked the platform to harvest data points for up to 87 million profiles. Using this data, the organization then instructed political campaigns all around the world, most notably with the 2017 U.S. presidential election and the U.K. Brexit campaigns. All of a sudden, social media wasn’t just cat pictures.

More importantly, the scandal opened a new dialogue around social media that expanded to issues of freedom of speech, censorship, news, journalism, and even the nature of democracy in the age of the internet.

The immediate effects have been clear: More attention to third-party applications, login credentials, and data access. The larger issues of social media, privacy, and what we want the future of the internet to be, have only begun to be discussed. Five years from now, the internet might look pretty different — and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal just may have been one of the more significant turning points in that change.

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Google Is Primed To Go Big At CES Again

Last year was the search giant’s first official appearance in years at the massive tech show. With round two, Google looks to make an even bigger splash.

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Last year at CES, Google set up a three-story Wonka factory of smart home devices. In a massive booth near the Las Vegas Convention Center, the search giant showed off how its Google Assistant could work with everything from washing machines to miniature train sets. There was a giant, voice-controlled gumball machine full of giveaway devices. A big, blue slide spiraled to the ground.

Elsewhere at the conference, white-suited Google workers greeted people in booths across the show floor, and the company plastered the words “Hey Google” — one of the trigger phrases for the Google Assistant — over the Las Vegas Monorail.

The message was clear: After years of laying low at the world’s largest tech show, Google had finally arrived at CES. The company is primed to go even bigger at this year’s show, which starts next week.

Before last year’s CES, the company had happily stayed on the sidelines and let its manufacturing partners, including Samsung and LG, grab all the attention. Now Google is using the trade show to trumpet its software and hardware, complete with an official stage.

That’s because CES has become an important staging ground for the tech giant as it pushes devices to consumers that compete against the likes of Amazon, Apple and Samsung. In the next three years, Google’s hardware division — which includes its Google Home smart speakers, Nest thermostats and Chromecast streaming devices — could hit $20 billion in revenue, RBC Capital Markets said last month.

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Google has staked its future outside of its iconic search homepage. CEO Sundar Pichai has repeatedly said the company is going all out on artificial intelligence — specifically the Google Assistant, a digital helper akin to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. Because the market is still so young, Google is hoping it can attract people to its platforms before they get locked into Amazon’s popular Alexa ecosystem.

“This is the Wild West,” said Brian Solis, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “Google has to move aggressively and swiftly.”

Google still has a lot of catching up to do. Amazon’s Echo devices still dominate the world of smart speakers, with 73 percent of the market. Google’s Home devices come in second with 24 percent, according to a report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, though the research firm notes Google is “making strides.”

It’s why CES is so important, providing the ideal venue for drumming up enthusiasm for its voice assistant. Last year, Google used CES to unveil four new Assistant-enabled video devices made by Sony, Samsung-owned JBL, LG and Lenovo. This year, Google is also expected to showcase devices made by third-party partners that have the Assistant built in.

And here’s another bit of evidence that Google wants to make an even bigger splash at CES this year: The company’s presence at CES this year will be triple the size it was last year, a Google spokesman said. A glance at a map provided by the Consumer Technology Association, which oversees CES, shows Google’s booth this year dwarfs the one from last year.

Stepping it up

Google took several steps to up its hardware game last year.

In February, Google brought the smart home device maker Nest back under its purview, after it had spent two years as a semi-independent unit under Google’s parent company Alphabet. That allowed Google to integrate the maker of smart thermostats, smoke detectors and security cameras into its overall product line.

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The company has also been steadily expanding its line of Google Home products. In October, Google released the Home Hub — a smart display that can show people recipes or videos. They’re similar to the smart displays the company showed off last CES with vendors like Lenovo and Sony, except with Google-branded hardware this time. Also that month, Google unveiled the latest version of its flagship phone, the Pixel 3. CNET called it “the best Android phone of 2018.”

It wasn’t always that way. Previously, Google’s biggest hardware projects included flops like the Nexus Q streaming device and the controversial Google Glass eyewear. But in 2016, Google hired Rick Osterloh, a former Motorola executive, to lead a new division that took all of Google’s disparate hardware projects and created a cohesive line of products. Now the suite of products includes everything from virtual-reality headsets to Wi-Fi routers.

For Google, the push at CES isn’t just about getting more people to use the Google Assistant, said Avi Greengart, an analyst at GlobalData. It’s part of a larger plan in trying to make Google services and devices central to every aspect of people’s lives, from driving to work in the morning to preparing dinner at home.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive vision,” he said. “They’re not there yet. But no one is.”

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[Exclusive] Nokia 9 PureView Penta-camera Phone Revealed In Full Glory In First-Ever Promo Video

The Nokia 9 PureView will sport a 5.99″ PureDisplay with 2K resolution and run on a Snapdragon 845 SoC under the hood.

Screenshot taken from Nokia 9 PureView [MySmartPrice Exclusive]'s YouTube video

Nokia fans all over the world are eagerly waiting for HMD Global to release its next flagship smartphone, the Nokia 9 PureView. A recent report suggested the smartphone could be formally unveiled in January 2019, a few days before the Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona. Ahead of its official unveiling next month, we have obtained a promotional video that not only shows off the upcoming flagship smartphone in all its glory but also reveals some of its key features. The Nokia 9 PureView render shared online by leakster @Evleaks earlier today appears to have been captured from the same video.

Nokia 9 PureView to Feature 5 Camera Design With ZEISS Optics

As you can see in the promotional video below, the upcoming Nokia flagship smartphone will not be significantly different from the current Nokia 8 Sirocco in terms of design. We can also see that the smartphone has a glass back and a solid metal frame in the middle.

Thanks to the glass back, Nokia 9 PureView will offer Qi wireless charging support. The smartphone appears to feature an 18:9 aspect ratio display with relatively thick top and bottom bezels compared to most recent Android flagship smartphones. The smartphone’s PureDisplay display panel will measure 5.99-inches diagonally with 2K resolution and HDR10 compliance. While the smartphone will not have razor-thin bezels, it will sport an In-display fingerprint sensor, a feature that we have not seen on any Nokia-branded smartphone so far.

Under the hood, Nokia 9 PureView will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, clubbed with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Even though the promo video does not actually confirm it, we are fairly certain the smartphone will include a microSD card slot for further expansion.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGZY-JA-vw0?feature=oembed]

Moving on to the back of the handset, we can clearly see that the Nokia 9 PureView will have a total of five rear-facing cameras with ZEISS optics. According to the promotional video, users will be able to capture photos with all the five sensors simultaneously.

Low-light performance is another area where the Nokia 9 PureView is expected to impress. HMD Global is claiming that the Penta-lens camera setup on its upcoming flagship can capture up to 10 times more light when compared to a regular smartphone camera sensor. Users will even be able to adjust the depth-of-field after a shot has been taken within Google Photos.

Unsurprisingly, the Nokia 9 PureView will be an Android One smartphone and will run on the Android 9 Pie operating system at launch. Being a part of the Android One program means the smartphone is guaranteed to receive OS upgrades for up to two years. Along with OS upgrades, Android One smartphones also receive regular security updates from the manufacturer.

Nokia 9 PureView Tipped to Launch Next Month

If the folks over at Nokia Anew are to be believed, the Nokia 9 PureView will be officially unveiled by the end of January 2019. If their info is indeed accurate, this means HMD Global Oy does not want to wait until the Mobile World Congress to unveil its next flagship. MWC 2019 kicks off on February 25th this year so the Nokia 9 PureView could be launched roughly a month before the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry.

In case the smartphone does go official next month, it may go on sale in most markets before the first wave of 2019 flagship Android smartphones is launched.

 

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