Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The best and worst of technology in 2017



As the 2017 year comes to an end, I wanted to summarize what I thought was the best and worst in mobile technology this year.  This was the year of the edge to edge screen from almost every phone manufacturer and honestly, they all look pretty good with the Samsung S8 being the best looking in my opinion.  You can get your edge to edge fix on a $500 OnePlus 5T all the way up to a $1150 iPhone X.

2017 also brought in a wave of TV streaming services to market with Sling, PSVue, Hulu, Youtube TV, DirecTV Now, and FuboTV allowing cord cutters to access network TV and sports with DVR on mobile devices and set top boxes.

Set top boxes also became a major thing in the mobile technology world over the past year.  Go back 5 years and the only devices available were Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.  Now in 2017, even the smallest streaming sticks are less than $50 and support 4k if you have a compatible TV.  Roku is probably the best overall with over 1,000 channels and 4K support, Apple TV is the most polished with 4k, but also the most expensive.  Amazon Fire sticks can run almost any Android app so if you have a streaming service where you get free movies, it’ll probably work on a Fire stick.

Lots of great technologies came to market in 2017, but none of the ones I mentioned made my list of best or worst.  Want to find out what did? Read on…

Best  
Android Auto / Apple Car Play 

Without a question the #1 mobile technology for me this past year has been Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  I recently traveled across the country two times over the last 15 months and Android Auto has been crucial getting around. 

I don’t have any experience with Apple CarPlay so all of my opinions are based on Android Auto, but both apps work basically the same.

Android Auto is an app installed on your Android phone that brings a media/navigation interface to your phone, or your in-car dash.  If your vehicle supports it, plug your phone into your car’s USB port, pair with Bluetooth, and the Android Auto homescreen should show up on your dash.  From within the app, you can access navigation, phone calls, homescreen with Google Now cards, and a media player.

The navigation section can use either Google Maps with traffic, or Waze which gives alert for traffic incidents, and will re-route your trip around traffic to give you the quickest route possible.

The phone screen will give you access to make and receive calls, favorites, and recent calls.  This will work with the steering wheel buttons to pick up/hang up phone calls, and make calls via voice by saying “Ok Google, call Mom, on mobile.”

The media player uses Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, PocketCast and probably many more.  It doesn’t if matter you enjoy podcasts like me, or streaming music, the media player will suit your needs.

Over 400 car manufacturers support Android Auto so chances are your next car will support it.  If your car doesn’t support it, Android Auto will work just by using the app on your phone.  You can mount your phone in your car, then use the same Android Auto interface on your phone.  Pair your car with Bluetooth, and you’ll have all the same features as the in dash screen use.

I used Android Auto almost every day for over a year and have not missed a navigation system in any car I’ve owned for a while.  As a matter of fact, I chose to forego getting a navigation in my last two car purchases specifically because I could save $3,000-$4,000 on the cost of the car by skipping that option.

Worst 
Hacks 

If you’ve paid attention to the news over the last year, chances are you’ve heard about a few companies getting hacked.  2017 was the year where everyone big and small got hacked and leaked user data onto the internet. 

The biggest hack of the year was Equifax in which 143 million users had their information stolen to include names, date of birth, social security numbers, and addresses.  Yes, almost every single adult in the United States had their information taken and are at risk of having their credit ruined by hackers.  The worst part of this, is the fact that users don’t opt into any services with Equifax.  If you’re an adult and have established a line of credit, from a credit card, auto loan, student loan, mortgage Equifax has your data on file and it’s probably compromised.

Yahoo wasn’t hacked in 2017, but Yahoo did finally disclose that all of their user data was gathered when they were hacked in 2013 and 2014.  When originally reported in 2016, Yahoo disclosed that about 500 million of their users had their data stolen in two previous hacks, but in 2017, Yahoo finally admitted that it wasn’t just 500 million, but rather over 3 billion users who had their data stolen.  In this hack basic account information like real name, date of birth, security questions, and passwords were all acquired by the hackers.  This isn’t as bad as the Equifax hack, but if you use the same security questions across multiple sites, the Yahoo hack would compromise the integrity of your other account even of you have a different password on those sites.  People tend to stick with same security questions across multiple sites because it’s easier to remember a maiden name, name of first pet, etc than more complex questions.  I can remember my first pet’s name was Sparky a lot easier than the name of my 3rd grade gym teacher for example.

Other notable hacks in 2017 are:

Uber had driver’s license and other personal information stolen from 57 million drivers and passengers and then paid the hackers to destroy the information before finally admitting it happened.

Apple’s newest MacOS software High Sierra was released late in September that wasn’t hacked, but had a major security flaw that needed to be patched.  It was found that any Mac Computer running the latest High Sierra update had an unknown Root account that could be accessed without a password. Log in as Root with no password and you were granted admin privileges to the computer.  The quick fix was to change the password to this Root account, but that also caused problems.  Apple officially released a security update in the beginning of December to fix the issue.

So, there it is, the best and worst in technology for 2017 in a nutshell.  Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ended the need to purchase a separate navigation system, and save you a few thousand on your next car purchase.  No data is safe for the foreseeable future.  You can have the most complex password in the world, but chances are it's not you that's going to get hacked.  Why should a hacker try to crack your password when they can hack the company that holds the data of millions? ¯\_()_/¯ 



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