We’ve come again to the end of another year, and another twelve months of some pretty impressive tech. We saw Apple release the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors. Phison released a new PCIe controller enabling ridiculously fast SSDs like the Corsair MP600 Pro XT, and Intel finally struck back against AMD’s surging Ryzen processors.
But amid all the highlights, 2021 also gave us some sad goodbyes. Some were storied products beloved by many, while others were failed experiments, or items that we barely knew were there.
Here’s our look at The Tech We Lost, 2021 Edition.
When it comes to ruthlessly cutting excess products no company can match Google. There weren’t any big surprises this year, but Google did snuff out a few things. The company dumped text message forwarding for Google Voice, though this one was more the fault of the carriers than Google, as they started blocking messages from being forwarded. The Google Home Max was retired in late 2020 (aka almost 2021), and Plex, a mobile-first bank account experiment with Citibank that was announced but never launched, was killed off in October 2021.
Google Loon, the company’s Internet balloons project that was spun off in 2018, sailed off into the horizon never to return. Google Shopping mobile apps surrendered the field, and Feedburner, Google’s RSS management service, went into maintenance mode with services like email subscriptions and advanced analytics discontinued. You can still use Feedburner for now, but who knows how long that will last?
Android Auto no longer works on newer phones as it’s been replaced by Google Assistant’s Driving Mode. Google Play Movies and TV took a final bow in favor of YouTube, and Google stopped selling Cardboard hardware–to be honest this project was always something of a daydream.
Google FLoC, the company’s most controversial experiment in ages, 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-tracking program.
There were far more Google deaths in 2021 than we could ever summarize here, but if you want to see more things that suffered at the hands of the big G, check out the Killed By Google website.
Office for Android on Chromebooks
In 2021, Microsoft decided that using its Android apps on Chromebooks just wasn’t a good idea anymore. The company has now shunted Chromebook users to Office’s web apps, saying they offer a more laptop-optimized experience than the Android apps.
Alienware Graphics Amplifier
Turning your laptop into a gaming powerhouse is surprisingly easy with an external GPU. Dell was one of the first companies to leap into these DIY gaming set-ups with its eGPU dock, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier—but in 2021, that experiment came to an end. The Verge was the first to spot this when it noticed Dell’s proprietary port that the Graphics Amplifier requires was missing from newer laptops. Now that hooking external GPUs into laptops via Thunderbolt is much more common, this death wasn’t really surprising, but pour one out for a pioneer.
For a brief period, Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to create a stripped-down version of Windows called Windows 10X for dual-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 a potential 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. (That probably explains why the Windows 11 taskbar is such a mess.)
The last Oculus headset that had to be tethered to a PC went away this year. The Oculus Rift S disappeared from the proto-metaverse, leaving behind its untethered cousins who offer a more consistent experience, like the Oculus Quest 2 with its 2K/90Hz displays. The Rift S will continue to be supported for a few more years, so if you already have one you should still get some use out of it before it’s just another paperweight.
LG decided it wasn’t worth playing the mobile game anymore and discontinued its line of Android phones in 2021. LG made a few nice models over the years, but the company felt its time was better spent elsewhere such as the smart home, robotics, AI, and electric vehicle components.
A few other pieces of tech caught our notice heading their way to the graveyard of oblivion in 2021. Logitech gave up on its Harmony Remote, Yahoo Answers died, and the PlayStation Store stopped selling movies and TV shows. Also, Amazon Pantry went stale, moving everything over to Amazon Fresh, and the first two Kindles that relied on Edge networks to get their content lost support.
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.