Tech we’ll actually miss:
Few Flash games hitting end of life deserve their own entry, but few games have ever seized the public imagination like Zynga’s FarmVille. The company announced that as of December 31, 2020, FarmVille would drift off into the sunset with the rest of the Flash-based world.
FarmVille existed on Facebook, and for a few years the social network felt more like a vehicle for the game than anything else. Between June and October, 2009, 62 million people signed up to play the game, as reported by The New York Times. At the time that was close to one-fifth of Facebook’s global user base. FarmVille was huge, not to mention addicting. It had everything: critics, a Lady Gaga tie-in, business scandals, and one particularly horrific story.
With FarmVille you built a farm by growing virtual crops and livestock. You had freedom to design your farm as you wanted. The more work you put in, the bigger and better your farm grew. You could speed up progress with in-game purchases.
The addictive part was that FarmVille happened in real time, regardless of whether you were tending to your homestead. That led to numerous notifications during the course of the day that your crops were ready to harvest. A FarmViller delayed at their peril, as they risked ruining all their hard work.
It was a gaming obsession that we really haven’t seen since. For anyone who misses the digital home on the range, there’s always FarmVille 3.
2. Google Play Music.
Nearly a decade ago cloud-based music lockers were the big craze from companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google. But when the dust settles there can be only one (or two, or three). Google decided that 2020 was as good a time as any to stop duplicating its music efforts (since it’s so busy churning out new messaging apps), and made December 2020 the final death date for Google Play Music.
It was a months-long demise for the service as Google encouraged its users to transfer to the new hotness: YouTube Music. In August, Google blocked new uploads and downloads through its Music Manager app, and the music store was closed. In September, streaming music from the cloud started shutting down around the globe, and by the end of December all personal music collections were deleted.
The service replacing it, YouTube Music, is free to use and offers a premium membership to get ad-free music and to download music for offline listening.
After 9.5 years and 76 million unit sales, Nintendo finally said goodbye to Nintendo 3DS in 2020. The 3DS handheld gaming device was a revelation when it first came out in 2011, because it provided a glasses-free 3D experience back when the world lost its mind and thought 3D was awesome.
We reviewed the 3DS back then, and said it “may be less a gaming handheld than a totable multimedia center, only one of whose activities happens to be gaming.”
The 3DS was for games, of course, but it also let you connect with friends, take pictures, stream videos from a variety of services, record audio, browse the web, and more. It was a device that continued to hold the fascination of millions for nearly a decade, but its time finally came in September when Nintendo said it would no longer manufacture the 3DS family of systems, as reported by the BBC.
The writing was on the wall in June, 2015, once Microsoft acquired the company behind Wunderlist, the popular to-do list app. Wunderlist has been up for deactivation since 2017 as part of Microsoft’s plans with its own To Do app. It took a while to check this item off the list, but the company finally stopped supporting Wunderlist in May.
1. Adobe Flash Player
In the 90s, Adobe Flash wasn’t just a component you used on the web; it pretty much was the web. Flash was how we played web games, every major entertainment site used Flash, and let’s not forget about all those Flash-powered ads.
Flash was a fantastic tool for its time, but it had security issues and power efficiency problems on laptops, among other drawbacks. So as the modern web developed, Flash’s doom was inevitable.
Flash actually held on far longer than anyone expected, considering Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs fired the first shot at Flash way back in 2010 with his famous open letter. Its decline started officially in 2017 when Adobe said it would kill support for Flash by the end of 2020. Browser makers also started to restrict Flash, and eventually blocked it entirely.
Now the time has come for Flash to fade away. As of December 31, Adobe ends support for Flash. The company will block content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021.
This is good news for the web’s progress. Should you feel a pang of nostalgia, the Internet Archive emulates Flash animations, games, and toys in its software collection, letting you party like it’s 1999.
2. Amazon Echo Look
In the world of the Internet of things companies come up with some wacky ideas. One such was Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Look camera. This was a selfie camera that would offer fashion advice based on what you were wearing. The fashion advice was a mash-up of machine learning and “fashion specialists” that would judge your look based on color, shape, fit, and, of course, shoes.
The Look and its companion app ceased to work on July 24.Amazon hasn’t given up on doling out fashion advice, however, as that feature is now part of the Amazon Shopping app and other Alexa-enabled devices.
3. Windows 7
Versions of the Windows operating systems are so widely used they have several deaths to prepare users for the inevitable. These include the end of retail sales, end of feature support, and the end of security updates.
The latter is the final nail in the coffin, and Windows 7’s end of life hit in January, 2020. PCs rocking Windows 7 can still operate, of course, and like Windows XP fans before them Windows 7 users will likely keep logging time on the old OS regardless of the lack of security updates.
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