It’s hard to summarize the last ten years in tech. We’ve had new phones, data leaks, foldable tech, VR, and a whole slew of things that have been keeping us busy. Technology never stands still for long, and if the last ten years are anything to go by, then we’re certainly in for a whirlwind ride for the next decade.
Here at TechRadar HQ we’ve had our own share of fun tech to ponder over, so we’ve narrowed down our favorite picks over the years. From the groundbreaking Oculus Rift to the world’s obsession with selfie sticks, here are our picks for the best tech and trends of the past decade.
2010 - Apple iPad
When the iPad came onto the scene, everyone scoffed at it. Why on earth would we need this massive tablet thing, and who would even buy one? Turns out, everyone. With an ever-increasing app ecosystem and the simple, easy to use interface of iOS, Apple’s iPad truly ushered in the tablet era. Sure, there were plenty of tablet PCs before the iPad, but none of them brought the simplicity and sleekness the way the iPad did.
2011 – iPhone 4S
The original iPhone was truly something we weren’t prepared for, but it did have its fair share of issues as a first-generation product. Apple’s iPhone 4 improved a lot on this, but it was the iPhone 4S that we think really made people clamor for one of these phones. Along with a better processor and camera, the iPhone 4S also introduced the world to Siri, Apple’s digital voice assistant. Pretty soon people were barking commands at their phone, and Apple knew they had a winner on their hands.
2012 – Oculus Rift
Few things were as exciting in the tech scene as the proper introduction of VR with the Oculus Rift. The Rift’s founders wanted to make a more effective VR solution than what was currently on the market, and also make it more accessible to gamers. It launched a hugely successful Kickstarter in 2012, debuting the first version of the Rift, and then continuing to improve upon the headset as the years went by. Eventually the company would be snatched up by Facebook in 2014 for a whopping $2 billion.
Honorable mention: Tesla Model S
Few would anticipate the magic of an all-electric vehicle, but when Tesla finally revealed the Model S to the world, consumers were completely floored. Here was an energy-efficient car that looked good on the roads, and was easy to just get into and drive away? Consumers were more than happy to part with their hard-earned cash for the Model S, and this was in days well before autonomous driving was even being discussed at Tesla. It showed that there truly was a market for electric vehicles, and Tesla was more than happy to lead the pack.
2013 – PlayStation 4
Sony made huge waves with the PlayStation 3, and it was just a matter of time before they moved on to the next big thing. The PlayStation 4 was an incredible feat of engineering, featuring a faster processor, incredible graphical capabilities, larger storage space, and much tighter online gameplay and features. Developers applauded Sony for listening to their requests as well as those of the fans, ultimately delivering a console that would define a new generation of gamers.
2014 – Amazon Echo
Apple may have introduced the world to Siri, but it was Amazon that put a digital assistant right in our homes. The company’s Echo speaker brought Alexa into our lives, and from there the floodgates opened. Whether it was answering questions, ordering groceries, or playing music, Alexa was more than happy to comply. While people did think it a little creepy to have a device in your home that was always listening, most threw caution to the wind and snatched up Amazon’s little helper at breakneck speed.
Honorable mention: selfie stick
Ah yes, the selfie stick. That unwieldy thing that people were more than happy to wave about in public or even accidentally hit you with when trying to capture the perfect photo. They were all the buzz in 2014, and their popularity (and somewhat inconvenience to others) led to them being banned at various concert venues, museums, and historic sites. While their use has perhaps declined over the years, the selfie stick is a true testament to how far people will go to get a decent photo of themselves.
2015 – Hoverboards
Just hear us out on this one – these annoying (and dangerous) two-wheel contraptions surged to insane heights of popularity in 2015, and everyone from kids to adults were clamoring to climb aboard one of these things. Unfortunately, their popularity meant that the market was flooded with cheap imitations, which lead to some serious accidents, exploding batteries, airline bans, and a whole slew of problems. Thankfully the craze was soon over, so now actually spotting someone in the wild riding one of these death machines is a true sight to behold.
2016 – Apple Airpods
2016 was the year that Apple finally bid goodbye to the earphone jack and ushered in the era of the AirPods. These wireless earbuds would eventually be in people’s ears 24/7, even (we guess) when people weren’t listening to anything. It also caused a wave of similar products to hit the market, but Apple’s vast fanbase were more than happy to pocket these earbuds in lieu of a decent headphone jack on their iPhones.
Honorable mention: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
When the Note 7 was revealed, the world was excited for it. Here was a classy phone that had plenty of screen space and a stylus for quick notes and sketches. It seemed like the perfect continuation for the company’s Note series – until it got into the hands of consumers. Battery issues continued to plague the Note 7 after launch, resulting in a not so-friendly reception after all. The company did work hard to try and rectify the various issues before finally pulling the plug and offering refunds to affected customers. RIP.
2017 - Nintendo Switch
While a majority of the world’ population are content with poring over games on their smartphones, the rest of us that craved a decent portable gaming experience were finally rewarded when Nintendo announced the Nintendo Switch. This portable gaming console could be carried around anywhere, and shipped with two controllers that could be used in tandem or separated to allow for two players to play. Furthermore, the Switch could also be operated as a home console connected to a TV, making it a massive hit with Nintendo fans and gamers, and quietly drawing attention from the poorly-received WiiU.
Honorable mention: Bose QuietComfort 35
Noise-cancelling is something that’s almost always expected from headphones in this day and age, but back when Bose introduced the QuietComfort 35 to the world, it wasn’t as commonplace with other headsets nor any good. But Bose seemed to have nailed noise-cancelling on the QuietComfort 35, making it a serious addition to any traveller’s arsenal or really for anyone who just wanted some peace and quiet. To date, they’re still one of our most recommended headphones, and should you get a chance to spend a few minutes with them, you’ll quickly see why.
2018 – Apple Watch 4
The Apple Watch launched way back in 2014, and while it was certainly a new product worth talking about, it had a number of issues that perhaps slowed down its potential to win over audiences. The fact that it required a paired iPhone for location services, had limited storage, and had a slightly higher than average price tag meant that few people wanted to jump onto the Apple Watch bandwagon. But when Apple released the Apple Watch 4, things changed. It featured a faster processor, twice the storage, a better heart sensor, fall detection, and a slew of other improvements, thus making it a must-have smartwatch for iPhone users.
2019 – Samsung Galaxy Fold
While there have been a few companies working on foldable displays and associated tech, Samsung was the first to actually put out a foldable phone into the market before anyone else. Yes, it did run into some issues with the display during its first rollout to reviewers, but the company was quick to bring the phone back in for more testing and improvements before finally releasing it for purchase to the public. While its whopping price tag might not be the easiest to digest, the Galaxy Fold still remains one of the most unique pieces of tech we’ve seen this year, and is bound to be the first of many similar foldable devices for the future.