The worst of technology in 2022

Google Stadia

Stadia did not last long. But it happened sometimes during its short life amazing. during Cyberpunk 2077 Google’s cloud gaming platform was one of the best places to run a scalable game with minimal issues. When many couldn’t afford the latest PlayStation or Xbox, Stadia was a way to play games with visual fidelity beyond the PS4 and Xbox One — as long as your internet connection could handle it.

The problem (and there are several reasons for this) was that Stadia didn’t have enough games to stay relevant. Exclusives were rare and there weren’t as many games as in the competition. Many of Stadia’s titles were more expensive than other online game stores, even when they were on sale. When the company shut down its internal development studios last year, it wasn’t a good sign.

Then, in late July 2022, a rumor surfaced that Stadia would shut down by the end of the summer. It was never justified, but it was enough to send loyal Stadia players (and their communities on places like Reddit) into freefall. Maybe it’s because Google has a reputation for killing its darlings. (RIP Google Hangouts, Play Music, Cardboard, Reader, and others). Or because it’s completely believable?

Google denied this. Well, two months. The company later announced that it was shutting down the service, saying that Stadia “didn’t gain traction with the users we expected.” Which was… true. But it worked incredibly well. Google’s game streaming technology probably didn’t end there. Earlier this year, AT&T offered several games, including Control, to customers via Google’s Immersive Stream for Games – aka Stadia, but not. Capcom used Stadia technology to offer a web-based Resident Evil: The Village The demo was released in June, and Bungie was reportedly using it for testing Fate 2 changes and improvements with the staff before introducing them to the players.

Google is basically doing the right thing and paying for game and hardware purchases. But that didn’t include Stadia Pro subs — perhaps what its most passionate supporters use. Users will be able to play their game library until January 18, 2023. Then the Stadia servers go down forever. — Matt Smith, Head of UK Bureau.

Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images

Period tracking apps and digital privacy

The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. There was widespread panic after the Wade draft decision was leaked. In disbelief, disbelief and anger, people began to question whether the means they used to monitor or prevent pregnancy would be used against them. Chief among the concerns was the reliability of period and period tracking applications. Were they collecting data that could be used to identify people who had terminated pregnancies? Will they hand this information over to anyone who seeks it?

The Dobbs decision had a ripple effect as we went from scrutinizing the privacy policies of all periodic tracking apps to realizing that every user’s overall digital privacy rests on a weak foundation. Lia Holland, director of campaigns and communications at Fight for the Future, told Engadget in June that period tracking apps are “the canary in the data privacy coal mine.”

We’ve also learned that the tracking tools used by platforms like Facebook for personalized ads can also be used for insidious reasons. For example, anti-abortion groups have begun tracking people seeking abortion services using Facebook’s advertising tools, despite Meta’s rules against it. These groups may also share data with third-party anti-abortion marketing companies to target “abortion-minded” people with ads. Although Google announced its intention to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2023, this year it had to postpone it until 2024 as the company continued to test a possible replacement that would protect consumer privacy and allow marketers to serve targeted ads.

In early 2022, Google announced that it was testing a different tracking approach called the Topics API instead of the FLoC method it had originally prioritized. In February, after years of testing, Google’s proposal was accepted by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. However, despite rolling out previews of its privacy sandbox on Chrome in March and Android in April, Google still had to delay disabling third-party cookies in its browser for another year.

Overall, the outlook for our digital privacy may be bleak, but there may be hope for improvement. With all the scrutiny this year, many popular period-tracking apps have taken a clear stance and launched privacy-focused modes or made it clear that they will collect user data. The FTC also warned companies and data brokers against misuse of health and location data and said it is “committed to using all of its legal authorities” to protect consumer privacy. — Cherlynn Low, Associate Editor

Lifestyle photo of Peloton Row


Peloton and home fitness technology (everyone’s back at the gym)

We’ve all stayed home long enough, and in 2022 we’ve all let the dogs (and ourselves) out. When we all ventured outside, we stopped using the equipment we bought at home to get us through the dark days. Every time we came home and saw the expensive console or the outrageous stationary bike we no longer use, we were reminded of sadder times or unfulfilled goals.

So while companies like Peloton and Bowflex saw huge increases in sales during the lockdown, they saw numbers stagnate or drop sharply in 2022. After making a big effort to manufacture its own equipment, this year the company struck a deal to stop making its own products and start selling its machines on Amazon. It was the first time Peloton had sold its products on a platform other than its own, indicating that the company needed help moving units.

Since then, it has partnered with sporting goods retailer Dicks to sell Bike, Tread and Guide in 100 brick-and-mortar stores across the US. It also launched a rental program to let people buy Bikes for a monthly fee, and CEO Barry McCarthy said he’s considering opening up exercise content to competing bikes and treadmills.

These efforts to reach a wider audience make sense. Peloton posted a net loss of $757.1 million in the first three months of the year on revenue of $964 million. The company has sought drastic cost cuts, including laying off about 2,800 corporate employees, or 20 percent of its total workforce. It laid off an additional 570, 784 and 500 workers in July, August and October, halving its workforce for the year. It also lowered the prices of existing models in an effort to lower the entry barrier and attract more new customers.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Peloton. The company introduced a new rowing machine and a connected camera this year, and it looks like it’s targeting more markets around the world. CL

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X all-electric SUV is on display at the 2021 LA Auto Show on November 17, 2021 in Los Angeles, California, United States.  REUTERS/Mike Blake

Mike Blake / Reuters

Toyota’s EV failure

Everything about the Toyota bZ4X is disappointing. Long after the company established itself as a hybrid leader and Tesla paved the way for true electric cars, it was too late. By almost every review, it’s a bit ugly and surprisingly boring compared to other EVs. Oh, and it totally had to be remembered because the crazy tires could fly. Instead of being a market leader in terms of safety and reliability, the bZ4X did something Toyota had never done before. Even the name didn’t make sense!

Although Toyota has resumed production of the bZ4X, it’s clear that the company missed a huge opportunity with its first mass-market EV. (There once was a RAV4 EV.) And it’s doubly disappointing after learning that the company is lobbying to slow the EV transition. It’s the classic innovator’s dilemma – after pioneering with hybrids, why rock the boat any further? Toyota is reportedly trying to restart its sluggish EV plans, and given its sheer size, it could overtake other EV companies in the next decade.

But the image of the company has been damaged. It used to be a car manufacturer that put its customers first, actually cared about the environment. But it turns out that even good people can be complacent. DH

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