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December 25, 2016

From the Editor’s Desk: So ho ho ho long, 2016

by John_A


It came to my attention late this week that I would be writing the final Editor’s Desk column of the year.

Come next Sunday we’ll be kicking off 2017. I’ll be on a plane headed toward Las Vegas to get a jump start on CES (which doesn’t officially start until January 4) and another year of covering Android, Google and everything even tangentially related. Alex had a nice Editor’s Desk column looking at the trends going forward in 2017, but today I’m still thinking retrospectively about the year that was.

Daniel, Jerry and I had a nice little end-of-year podcast this week in which we looked back at the biggest storylines of 2016, and obviously had plenty to talk about. The Galaxy Note 7 saga, Pokémon Go being a massive hit, the impending death of smartwatches, Google becoming a hardware company and many other storylines.

The Note 7 is no longer headline news, but people haven’t forgotten what happened.

I’m honestly still trying to wrap my head around the whole Note 7 situation, and though it’s nearly put to bed at this point we know it’ll all come back to the front of our minds when we start to near the Galaxy S8 launch. Samsung finally weathered the storm and is just about done getting every Note 7 back to Korea, but the questions about how it’s handling safety will (rightfully) be brought back up the next time Samsung tries to sell a flagship phone. And the “Note” brand has to be well and truly dead, right? I don’t see how it isn’t.

I have no doubt that Samsung will be able to “turn things around” so to speak — if not by Galaxy S7 standards then at least by general industry standards — and make the Galaxy S8 a hit.

This was easily the most exciting year in Google products.

As Samsung tries to work out that situation, Google is having a hardware renaissance of sorts. The most important part of this new hardware initiative — which of course kicked off with the “Made by Google” marketing — is that it’s a centralized effort that reaches into all other parts of Google’s business. This is no longer the Chromecast team or the Nexus team or the OnHub team … it’s “Google Hardware” and that spans across software platforms, strategies and business segments. It’s a massive undertaking, but this is how you have cohesive hardware that works together and makes sense to the end consumer.

This is easily the most exciting time in the short history of Google products, ranging from software to services and now its own hardware. Just think what the landscape will look like this time next year when the group has had even more time to tie things together.

A few more thoughts to close out the year:

  • I’m still wearing my Gear S3 Frontier, but I have to say my actual usage of it is decreasing. I’m still checking notifications as they come in, and rejecting unwanted calls, but that’s about it. At least the watch faces are nice.
  • My Pixel XL Places Live Case has started to settle down just a little. The button works sometimes, and doesn’t activate accidentally anymore. Still mostly a crapshoot, though.
  • And yes that means I’m using the Pixel XL still. For as much as I love the Pixel’s smaller size, the XL’s extra battery is a huge deal.
  • I now have a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (terrible name), and am therefore completely living the #donglelife.
  • So far dealing with these adapters is entirely worth it for the plain fact that USB-C is amazing. Using one charger and cable for multiple devices is great for travel.
  • You may have seen that I’ve tried out some of my new dongles on the PIxel C — and hey, they work well!

Happy holidays to everyone, and hope this long weekend is an opportunity for you to relax and spend some time with friends and family. See everyone next year.


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