6 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2016

The tech world maintained its forward march of progress in 2016, producing some very useful and impressive new products and services (like the Google Pixel). But not everything the industry produced was a success. Some of the products represented steps backwards thanks to frustrating design flaws. Others caught fire or caused intestinal issues. Not all was well in the tech world during 2016. Here are some of the biggest tech disappointments of the year.

1. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle

Galaxy Note 7 side view

The problems with the Galaxy Note 7 caused major concerns | Samsung.com

One of the biggest tech stories of 2016 revolved around the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a major phone from one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Reviews indicated it was an excellent phone. The problem, it became clear once it hit the market, was that the Note 7’s battery was prone to combusting or even exploding.

This was not good, seeing as we keep phones in our pockets, in our bags, in our houses — generally in places we don’t want to go up in flames. Once it was clear this was a widespread problem, Samsung issued a voluntary recall and sent customers replacement phones that contained batteries from a different manufacturer.

Unfortunately, these batteries, too, were unstable, and people’s replacement phones began catching fire. At this point, not even a month after the phone’s debut, Samsung discontinued the Note 7 worldwide and issued a blanket recall. Not everyone who purchased a Note 7 got the memo, so Samsung announced it would send out a software update to make all Note 7 devices inoperable.

2. iPhone 7 nixing the headphone jack

A new Apple iPhone 7 is seen during a launch event

Many were not expecting the iPhone to do away with the headphone jack so soon | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 in September, not many people extolled the new features Apple added to it, like water resistance, dual cameras, and stereo speakers. Instead, most commentators were hung up on one feature it didn’t have: a headphone jack.

The 3.5mm audio port has been in use for nearly 50 years, and now it’s nowhere to be found on the latest iPhone. According to Apple, wireless headphones are the way of the future, so why should precious centimeters be wasted on a dedicated jack? Instead, iPhone owners can plug wired earbuds into the phone’s Lightning port.

The drawback is that you can’t charge your phone and listen through headphones at the same time. For that reason and others, many people still consider a headphone jack the most convenient way to listen to music. That you can charge your phone at the same time is an added bonus.

3. Fake news

Apple Iphone 6 screen with social media applications

The spread of fake news became a real issue in 2016 | iStock.com/HStocks

It turns out you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Particularly during the election, and particularly on Facebook, the spread of fake news was a problem in 2016. A number of fake news websites popped up to spread lies and hoaxes. These sites had names that sounded like legitimate newspapers and looked real enough. The information they reported was anything but legit.

This wouldn’t be a problem for discerning news hounds, but it turns out not everyone can tell the difference. Some of these stories spread fast on Facebook, racking up hundreds of thousands of views and comments.

In response, both Google and Facebook blocked fake news sites from using their advertising platforms. Facebook also added a way to tag news stories as being fake. Even so, it’s unclear if those actions will be enough to put an end to fake news.

4. 2016 MacBook Pros aren’t “pro” enough for some

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar from above

Many were unimpressed with the new Macbook Pro | Apple

Apple refreshed its lineup of MacBook Pros in 2016 and even introduced a flashy new interface called the Touch Bar. But for a small but vocal segment of customers, these MacBook Pros aren’t powerful enough. That’s because the maximum amount of RAM you can put in them is 16GB. It’s not a problem for most users, but the people who need that kind of horsepower were quite vocal about the new MacBook Pros.

Smelling blood in the water, Microsoft whipped up a program that let customers get extra cash back if they traded in a MacBook or iPad for a Surface. Microsoft even sniped at Apple in a press release, saying “the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro — especially among professionals — is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface.” Ouch.

5. Vine closing up shop

If you’re an avid consumer of online videos, you probably know Vine is shutting down. Twitter, which acquired Vine shortly before the service launched, announced the unfortunate news in October. Vine let users upload six-second videos that would play in a loop until you closed out of them. Six seconds might not sound very long, but many people exercised extreme creativity, often to hilarious results. The site helped make a number of internet stars and produced plenty of viral videos. Rest in peace, Vine. You will be missed.

6. Soylent Food Bars cause intestinal issues

A woman eating a Soylent Food Bar

The Soylent Food Bar caused intestinal distress for some | Soylent

One of the stranger companies to emerge from Silicon Valley is Soylent, the maker of “food” and “drinks” that are nutritionally designed to replace your meals — the better to work more obsessively. While the company started off selling only a pasty, beige liquid concoction, in 2016 it expanded into the food bar category. That’s literally what the bar is called: the Soylent Food Bar.

Unfortunately for anyone who bought a box of Food Bars, the product ended up wreaking havoc on some customers’ digestive tract. The company recalled the bars, discovered the problematic ingredient, and promised replacements would be sent in 2017.