Survival

20 tech headlines we wish we could have written in 2015

A lot can change in the tech world over the course of a single year. The past 12 months have brought with them all kinds of new devices, services, scandals, breakthroughs and failures. As a section, the tech team has written a total of 2,134 stories (including this one), that tell the tale of the past 365 days. But as always, there’s a few things that didn’t pan out the way we had hoped.

Each of usthat’s Selena, AJ, Jam, and me, Mike, in case you were wonderingdecided to put together a handful of headlines that we wish had happened in 2015. Running the gamut from heartfelt to obnoxious, these headlines are simply too good to be true.

Selena Larson

Twitter hires Black woman as head of diversity and inclusion

Twitter’s diversity missteps were widely documented this year, and the company’s failings largely came to a head when Leslie Miley, the onlyBlackengineer in a leadership position at Twitter resigned amid a round of layoffs, citing a number of issues regardingdiversity within the company. Twitter recently had an opportunity to change the perception of a company clueless at improving culture, but they hiredawhite man as the newvice president of diversity and inclusion,whichignited a storm ofthoughtful criticism.

After Change.org backlash, Obama says “They’re actually not hoverboards.”

Photo via Soar Boards/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“Hoverboards,” which are really just Segways without the sticks, arehaving a moment. But they do not hover, and look nothing like the boards Marty McFly used tosoarinto our hearts inBack To The Future.There is a vocal contingent of people on the Internet (myself included) who would like to see everyone stop calling these things hoverboards when they are clearly not. It’s time for the president to weigh in.

Apple launches new 4-inch iPhone

My tiny hands are sick of grippingthis gigantic iPhone 6s. I long for the days my iPhone 5 fit comfortably in my pocket and clutch and I could text with just one hand.

Tinder automatically swipes left when it knowsaperson’s not a goodfitfor you

Screengrab via James Befurt/YouTube

Imagine Tinderreachinga level of intelligencewhereit knows immediately when a person isn’t good match, simply based on conversation style, the amount of boat selfies,andthat they’re friends with your ex-partner on Facebook. This wouldsave everyone a lot of thumb activity.

Bear Grylls survives a month in the woods only consuming Soylent

It would be Man vs. Weird Food Substance if this story ever happened. Though hype around Soylent died down this year, I’d still like to see if it’s possible for a person to survive on it in the woods. Especially if that said person was famed adventurer turning questionable crowdfunded Silicon Valley smoothies into fuel for reality television.

AJ Dellinger

Facebook disables On This Day memories after Zuckerberg sees embarrassing college pictures

No one likes it when Facebook resurfaces memories for them, especially when those memories are ones that were safely compartmentalized in the “things to forget” drawer of the brain. Mark Zuckerberg, company CEO and model Facebook dad, might finally address the complaints of his billion users served unwanted moments daily if only he experienced their pain. When his own social network forces him to look atpicturesof himself in college, wasted, shirtless, and cuddling with a teddy bear, maybe he’ll finally let people live in the now.

Uber finally lets drivers unionize

Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III

There’s all kinds of messiness surrounding Uber and the on-demand economy that has spawned from it, the merits of which are up for debate. What has become pretty clear, though, is that the drivers are getting hosed. Rates are coming down in most markets, and they weren’t that high to begin with. Let the drivers organize so they can negotiate for a fair wage, make sure they are insured, and put them through a background check. It’s the least Uber can do, considering its real plan is to make all those drivers obsolete in like 5 years with autonomous vehicles.

Social sites have really been fronts to out racists this whole time

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit. These sites might all appear like ways to connect with people, but it was really all an elaborate plot to bring racists out from the darkness and into the light. The mission was undoubtedly a success. There’s just one question left: how do we make them go away? Turns out it was a pretty ill-conceived plot for one that came from an all-powerful secret society. Now we just have a bunch of chatty racists sending friend requests and posting selfies in front of the Confederate flag.

Elon Musk nukes Mars

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Just do it already, you madman. Who’s going to stop you, the space police?

San Francisco passes an ordinance banning hyperbole, Silicon Valley startups forced to be honest

Do you really think your keyboard app that lets people send GIFs is going to “disrupt communication?” No, no you don’t. If you do, you shouldn’t. Odds are good that you aren’t working on the next big thing. That’s fine! Most people aren’t. It’s totally cool to just make a nice thing that some people might like. Just don’t pretend like it’s a world-altering event that everyone should stop and take notice of. Also, do you know most people call disrupting communication? Interrupting. And it’s rude.

Jam Kotenko

Facebook finally figured out how to fix its busted news feed algorithm, among other things

Amid the social networks numerous updates to its mobile app is a change a lot of irked Facebook users can get behind. Apart from fixing the feature that causes old posts to jump to the top of your Facebook news feed just because someone recently commented on it, a new tweak to the algorithm finally lets you curate the stories you immediately can see. Included in the recent update is a way to permanently hide posts from contacts you dont necessarily want to unfriend but would prefer never to hear from again, through a keyword function that automatically filters posts that contain offending terms determined by the user.

An optional feature is also includedwhen activated, Facebook automatically unfriends contacts you have not communicated with in over a year and sends a notice to both you and your estranged pal alerting you of the deletion, should one of you decide to reconnect.

Amazon Prime now includes one-hour delivery via drone

Screengrab via amazon/YouTube

Drones are cool. And two-day shipping is sometimes not fast enough.

Posting spoilers declared a punishable online crime

The Federal Bureau of Investigations Cyber Crime division has released a statement identifying a new key priority in its quest to make the Internet an overall safer place. A new task force has reportedly been assembled to investigateand potentially arrestusers who post spoilers to TV shows and movies without ample warning. A statute of limitations has also been officially determinedthe movie or TV show has to be at least six months past its final day of airing before users can freely talk about it on various online platforms, provided that they include a sufficient spoiler warning prior to discussion.

Other than paying a spoiler fine, potential sanctions vary and can range from temporary ban on selected Internet websites to unannounced retaliatory spoiler posts sent directly to the user in question about shows and films he or she had plans to watch.

A roundup of battery-efficient mobile apps you can use

Photo via pahudson/Flickr (CC BY-2.0)

Sick of killing your phone battery with background app activity you cant freaking turn off? Heres a list of useful alternatives you can download and install to take the place of various popular social media apps, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, among others. These are basically the same exact apps, but are armed with a safe mode function that lets you disable all the bullshit you dont really need as a normal user without affecting the way the app works. Unfortunately, this would require companies to actually care about your device battery life, which they definitely don’t.

10 simple ways to make Google Chrome suck less

Theresgotto be a way to make our relationship work seamlessly, Chrome. Youre still my favorite browser, even though you inexplicably conk out on me at the most inopportune moments. Help me help you. (Because I dont really want to switch to Firefox or Safari or*shudder*Internet Explorer.)

Mike Wehner

BlackBerry launches smartwatch that makes everyone want smartwatches

If Apple couldn’t do it with the Apple Watch, it’s hard to imagine a world where any company launches a smartwatch that is universally adored. Still, if there’s one company that could use a break these days it’s BlackBerry. The once-king of mobile communications has fallen on hard times and despite launching the shockingly fantastic Classic late last year, it’s done little to reverse the company’s fortunes. Imagine if BlackBerry came out of nowhere and dominated an open category like smartwatches, and try not to laugh.

Nintendo embraces the App Store, launches official emulators for all retro consoles

Illustration by Max Fleishman

When Nintendo announced it would finally start developing content for the App Store, every retro game junkie had big dreams. Those lofty wishes were dashed when the company revealed its first app would be a seemingly pointless social non-game.

Taylor Swift pulls all content from digital, demands fans buy vinyl records

Taylor Swift’s awkward dance with Spotify, Apple Music, and other digital music sources has been dizzying to watch over the past year. You still can’t get her songs on Spotify or any other streaming service, and it’s a total pain to integrate the purchased songs into a streaming playlist. If inconvenience is the goal, she should really go all out and just embrace vinyl exclusively.

Volkswagen offers to buy back all the vehicles it lied about

Photo via Taylor Hatmaker

What Volkswagen did this year was pretty shady. If you haven’t kept up, here’s a quick refresher: The company lied about fuel efficiency numbers and gave many of its vehicles the ability to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are. There’s probably plenty of green-minded buyers who would have loved to see the company own its mistakes in a more concrete fashion.

World unanimously decides to skip 2016 and go straight to 2017

Listen, as much as we all loved 2015, it’s pretty clear that 2016 is going to pale in comparison. If we all just band together and decide to skip it we’ll all be a whole lot better off. We’ll all get to see the iPhone 7s and even the next Star Wars movie a whole lot sooner if we decided to make this happen.

Photo via Am+Mo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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