Top 11 tech stories of 2011
The top 11 technology stories of 2011 from Newsday.com.
11. No iPhone 5; instead, iPhone 4S, Siri, iOS 5
In October, Apple held the "Let's talk iPhone" event where bloggers and journalists speculated that a completely redesigned iPhone 5 would be unveiled. Instead, Apple refreshed the iPhone with an iPhone 4S, launched iOS 5 and the iCloud service. Physically, the phone is exactly the same as the iPhone 4, with only minor improvements to its processor and camera.
The true showcase of the event was the introduction of Siri, a voice-navigation program built into the OS that lets users control applications via voice commands.
Read more: Apple releases iPhone 4S
Netflix, which once seemed unbreakable, had a tumultuous year. The company mishandled a subscription price hike and confused consumers with plans to split up the company's DVD-by-mail and subscription businesses. As a result, the company lost 800,000 subscribers between July when the announcement was made and October.
Read more: Humbled Netflix CEO still thinking, talking big.
8. Popularity of 4G
4G mobile speeds has quickly become the standard for top and mid tier smartphones. 4G networks can be up to 10 times faster than 3G, letting users browse the web, download songs and stream movies on their smartphone almost as fast as someone with a DSL or cable connection. U.S. wireless companies like AT&T are also promising to build out their 4G networks to help bring broadband access to those rural areas that currently lack wired high-speed Internet.
Earlier this year, President Obama outlined a plan to bring 4G technology to 98% of American households by 2016.
Verizon Wireless senior technician Jim Harper works at a switching center in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2010. The company and other major cellular providers have spent billions to build 4G networks.
Photos: Top 4G phones
6. Internet privacy
Facebook dealt with a backlash from users and the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) on the social network's mishandling of people's private information. The FCC accused Facebook of "unfair and deceptive" practices. The FTC said that the social network made public information that users had deemed to be private on their Facebook pages. The order also went on to say that in some cases Facebook allowed advertisers to see personal information when a Facebook user clicked on an advertisement on their Facebook page. But the company has maintained that it does not share user's personal data.
Carrier IQ is also under fire with Sprint and AT&T. The Carrier IQ software is pre-installed within those carriers' smartphones record and transmit what people type and the numbers they dial. Read the full story: Stealthy cellphone software stirs outcry
5. Net neutrality
The United States Senate rejected a bill to repeal the Net Neutrality rules set by the FCC in 2005. With bandwidth-heavy media streaming services such as Netflix, and Hulu going mainstream, some Internet service providers were looking to legally filter and throttle the flow of traffic.
The rules that were upheld by the Senate bar ISPs from favoring or discriminating against Internet content and services. They require broadband providers to allow subscribers access to all legal online content and they prohibit carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing services.
Read the full story: Senate rejects GOP bid to overturn internet rules.
4. Hackers / Hacktivism
This year saw the spread of hacktivism -- the use of computer hacking to promote or protest social and economic issues. Anonymous, the most high-profile hacktivist group, is believed to have launched attacks against entities such as security firm HBGary, Citigroup, BestBuy, Capital One, Epsilon, Bank of America, NATO, CIA and other government websites. It also launched attacks against child-porn sites.
Hacktivist also knocked out Sony's PlayStation network for millions of users for two months, compromising the personal data of some 70 million subscribers. It cost Sony $170 million. The attacks were in part retaliation against Sony for suing George Hotz, a hacker who published documents and files on how to hack the PlayStation 3.
Also of note in 2011 is the hacking of U.S. Air Force unmanned drones and the hacking of an Illinois water facility.
3. WikiLeaks, Julian Assange
WikiLeaks, a website that publishes classified information became the focus of a global debate over its role in the release of thousands of confidential messages about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, the online publication will most likely shut down at the end of this year. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union, have refused to allow donations to WikiLeaks to flow through their systems, Assange said, blocking “95 percent” of the website's revenue and leaving it to operate on its cash reserves for the past 10 months.
Assange has also been embroiled in personal legal battles. He was arrested in connection with the rape and molestations of two Swedish women.
Pictured: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as he speaks about the United States and human rights during a press conference at the Geneva press club in Geneva, Switzerland. (Nov. 4, 2010)
1. Steve Jobs dies
Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and former chief executive, died Oct. 5 at 56. He marketed ever-sleeker gadgets that transformed everyday technology, from the personal computer to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Jobs had been battling pancreatic cancer.
Read the full Story: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies at 56.