The tech that died in 2021
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  • 25/08/2022
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The tech that died in 2021

We've come again to the end of another year, and another twelvemonths of some pretty impressive tech. We saw Apple release the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors. Phison released anew PCIe controller enabling ridiculously fast SSDs like the Corsair MP600 Pro XT, and Intel finally struck back against AMD's surgingRyzen processors.

But amid all the highlights, 2021 also gave us some sadgoodbyes. Some were storied products beloved by many, while otherswere failed experiments, or items that we barely knew werethere.

Here's our look at The Tech We Lost, 2021 Edition.

Google's graveyard

A Google Project Loonballoon undergoing testing at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory inFlorida in an undated video from the company.

Google

When it comes to ruthlessly cutting excess products no companycan match Google. There weren't any big surprises this year, butGoogle did snuff out a few things. The company dumped text message forwarding for GoogleVoice, though this one was more the fault of the carriers thanGoogle, as they started blocking messages from being forwarded. TheGoogle Home Max was retired in late 2020 (aka almost 2021), andPlex, a mobile-first bank account experiment with Citibank that wasannounced but never launched, was killed off in October 2021.

Google Loon, the company's Internet balloons projectthat was spun off in 2018, sailed off into the horizon never toreturn. Google Shopping mobile apps surrendered the field, andFeedburner, Google's RSS management service, went into maintenancemode with services like email subscriptions and advanced analyticsdiscontinued. You can still use Feedburner for now, but who knowshow long that will last?

Android Auto no longer works on newer phones as it's beenreplaced by Google Assistant's Driving Mode. Google Play Movies andTV took a final bow in favor of YouTube, and Google stopped sellingCardboard hardware–to be honest this project was always somethingof a daydream.

Google FLoC, the company's most controversial experiment inages, also had a short-lived life. While not officially dead,Google FLoC as it was originally conceived won't be coming back.Instead, as a result of public feedback, Google plans to redesign the non-tracking user-trackingprogram.

There were far more Google deaths in 2021 than we could eversummarize here, but if you want to see more things that suffered atthe hands of the big G, check out the Killed By Googlewebsite.

Office for Android onChromebooks

In 2021, Microsoft decided that using its Android apps onChromebooks just wasn't a good idea anymore. The company has nowshunted Chromebook users to Office's web apps, saying they offer amore laptop-optimized experience than the Android apps.

The tech that died in 2021

Alienware GraphicsAmplifier

Michael Brown/IDG

Turning your laptop into a gaming powerhouse is surprisinglyeasy with an external GPU. Dell was one of the first companies toleap into these DIY gaming set-ups with its eGPU dock, theAlienware Graphics Amplifier—but in 2021, that experiment came toan end. The Verge was the first to spot this when itnoticed Dell's proprietary port that the Graphics Amplifierrequires was missing from newer laptops. Now that hooking externalGPUs into laptops via Thunderbolt is much more common, this deathwasn't really surprising, but pour one out for a pioneer.

Windows 10X'd

For a brief period, Microsoft thought it would be a good idea tocreate a stripped-down version of Windows called Windows 10X fordual-screen devices (namely the Surface Neo, a double-display folding tablet).Then 10X was moved to an OS for single-screen devices and seen as apotential replacement for Windows 10 in S Mode. But no more.Windows 10X lost its individuality and was assimilated back into the Windows collective,seemingly serving as a foundation for Windows 11's design. (Thatprobably explains why the Windows 11 taskbar is such a mess.)

Persicope consigned tothe depths

Not to be left out of the death party, Twitter killed one of itsproducts in 2021. Periscope shut down in March 2021. Acquired by Twitter in 2015 in response to theupstart Meerkat, Periscope was an app that let you stream your lifelive on Twitter. Despite popular early adoption it's beenpretty much invisible for years, with Twitter Live being thecompany's preferred option. In 2021, Twitter Live's dominance wasmade official and Periscope faded into oblivion.

Oculus Rift S

Hayden Dingman/IDG

The last Oculus headset that had to be tethered to a PC wentaway this year. The Oculus Rift S disappeared from theproto-metaverse, leaving behind its untethered cousins who offer amore consistent experience, like the Oculus Quest 2 with its 2K/90Hz displays. TheRift S will continue to be supported for a few more years, so ifyou already have one you should still get some use out of it beforeit's just another paperweight.

Optane Desktop SSDs

Intel said goodbye in 2021 to its ridiculously fast Optane drives that usestandard PCIe ports. It's a bit of a loss for PC enthusiasts, butwith second-generation PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD blowing ourminds it's not the hugest loss in the world.

Minecraft Earth

Microsoft

It was a beautiful idea: Bring Minecraft into the real world, similar to those early demos of Hololens, butwith your phone instead of a headset. The idea never really caughton thanks in no small part to the pandemic preventing people movingabout the world, and so Minecraft Earth headed for the sunset in2021.

LG abandons Android

LG decided it wasn't worth playing the mobile game anymore anddiscontinued its line of Android phones in2021. LG made a few nice models over the years, but the companyfelt its time was better spent elsewhere such as the smart home,robotics, AI, and electric vehicle components.

Pruning Apple

Apple said in March that it would give up on the full-sizedApple HomePod for its smart home ambitions, focusing on the moreaffordable HomePod Mini instead. The company also bid adieu to the iMac Pro that same month, andmany expected an M1-based all-in-one computer to take its place.While we've seen a 24-inch M1 iMac there hasn't been anythinghigher powered yet, though rumor has it an M1 iMac Pro will make an appearancein 2022.

Grab bag of doom

Logitech

A few other pieces of tech caught our notice heading their wayto the graveyard of oblivion in 2021. Logitech gave up on its Harmony Remote, YahooAnswers died, and the PlayStation Store stopped selling moviesand TV shows. Also, Amazon Pantry went stale, moving everythingover to Amazon Fresh, and the first two Kindles that relied on Edge networksto get their content lost support.

Dates with destiny

A few companies also offered previews of items that will be castinto the great unknown in the coming years. Microsoft said Windows 10 will go off to live on a very nice farmin 2025. Verizon and ATT are set to give up on 3G networksin 2022, and 2022 will also be the end for Internet Explorer, a web browserthat has been both a blessing and a curse to the World WideWeb.

Pour one out for all our deceased gadgets and services that leftus in 2021. And here's to 2022, when no doubt we'll say a biggoodbye to more of the tech we loved.

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