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The Biggest Software Inventions and Failures of 2020/21

  • by: Alex Fuller
  • On: 9, Dec 2021
3 min read

2020 and 2021 were years where we relied on technology to help us. A global pandemic made the world stand still (and continues to do so), making social media at the heart of societies fractures, allowing us to stay connected. 

With plenty of time spent at home, the years have given rise to excellent software innovations. At the same time, many who failed to adapt to the new landscape found themselves on the wrong side of history. 

VHR’s recruitment specialists look at some of the software highlights and failures of 2020/21. 

Adobe Super Resolution

Downsize a camera image for your smartphone screen? Easy. Try the other way around? Sure, as long as you are happy with a blurry, pixelated image. 

Thanks to Super Resolution, a new feature by Adobe, a new frontier has opened up with digital imagery. Included with Photoshop and Lightroom, the feature uses AI learning to successfully upscale images up to 4x their original size. How it works is that it compares the image it is upscaling against millions of other images in its database. It then uses that raw data to fill in the missing gaps.  

Smartphones have slowly been replacing professional cameras for most use cases. However, when it came to large-resolution images, smartphones were of no use, that is until now.

Subdial

We are familiar with 999 – the go-to when there is an emergency. But, there are plenty of situations where paramedics nor the police are the appropriate choices. Whether it's mental health help, hunger, or domestic violence, Subdial, a free app, offers users quick, direct access to the necessary resources.

Once in the app, users can view several cards, all containing crucial resources and information that could be relevant to their situation. These cards have phone numbers that users can click to immediately call physical locations as well as links to websites and social media. Over 1,000 resources, carefully vetted and verified, are included in the database. 

While these are just the tip of the iceberg, the pandemic and the struggles of the last two years have produced some bright sparks in the tech world. As the world finally reopens and engineers and developers return to their workspaces, they will place better to further these developments.

Cyberpunk 2077

First announced in 2012, Cyberpunk 2077 was easily the most anticipated game of the last decade. Created by the same studio behind the acclaimed Witcher 3, gamers were promised a stunning sci-fi dystopia that would rival any other open-world sandbox. Instead, on launch day, excited gamers were treated to a broken world void of NPCs and full of game-breaking bugs. Excitement quickly turned to disappointment with a record number of refunds requested within hours. The unprecedented requests forced Sony to remove the game from the PlayStation store within a week while offering full refunds to anyone who wanted it.

To their credit, the creators have continued working on fixing the game. Given how No Man’s Sky opened to a similarly poor reception but managed to grow into a cult favourite thanks to the developer’s continued efforts to remedy all issues, there is still hope that Cyberpunk 2077 can follow such a redemption arc too.

The good news to come out of this fiasco is those game developers and studios are much warier in pushing out incomplete work. Additionally, with an increased spotlight on working conditions in the gaming industry, we can expect to see better-planned projects created with employees and consumers in mind. 

Quibi

Big stories and quick bites. That’s what Quibi, a Hollywood streaming service was based on. Looking to disrupt the entertainment industry, the app created small 10-minute videos made for users on the go and was designed to bridge the gap with YouTube and Netflix. It was designed to be a smartphone-only app.

Expectations were high. Quibi was able to raise nearly $2 billion and signed a lot of Hollywood talent onboard. Yet, just six months later, Quibi announced its closure. There were many reasons for it. The unexpected pandemic pushed us all indoors, and users were no longer streaming through their phones – this meant Quibi immediately lost on its key feature. It didn’t help that Quibi was sued by a wealthy foe over copyright infringement. Finally, most of its TV shows were not good. 

However, Quibi has also exposed a significant gap in the market and it remains to be seen if anyone else can come in and successfully occupy that sector with a more refined project.

Take a look at how old technology has influenced new automation.

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