- From revelations about Amazon’s warehouses to people buying “flamethrowers” from Elon Musk’s Boring Company, it’s been quite a year in tech.
- To look back on the past 12 months, we’ve compiled the most-read tech stories on Business Insider.
- Here are our 17 most popular stories of the year.
As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the year in tech.
The past 12 months have brought hilarity in all forms, like Rep. Steve King confusing which company makes the iPhone, and people lighting stuff on fire with Elon Musk’s Not-A-Flamethrower.
But the year has also brought new revelations, like how late Apple CEO Steve Jobs treated his daughter, Lisa, and the conditions inside Amazon’s warehouses.
As a way to look back on 2018, we’ve compiled the 17 most-read tech stories of the year on Business Insider.
Here they are:
17. “We used Google Flights and Kayak to see which is best for booking travel — here’s the verdict” by Avery Hartmans
We compared two of the major flight booking services, Kayak and Google Flights, to see which one was better.
The services have a lot of features in common, the main one being that they both aggregate flights from major airlines and both take you off their sites to actually book your trip. But we were curious which had more standout features – and, of course, which could find cheaper flights.
16. “This 26-year-old makes $US500,000 every month playing ‘Fortnite’ in his bedroom — here’s how he does it” by Kaylee Fagan
We profiled Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the 26-year-old Twitch streamer who plays the popular game “Fortnite” with Drake and professional athletes and reportedly makes half a million dollars every month from his bedroom.
15. “People are already torching things they shouldn’t with Elon Musk’s flamethrowers” by Isobel Asher Hamilton
Elon Musk’s Boring Company got its $US500 “Not-A-Flamethrower” into the hands of consumers for the first time in June.
More than 1,000 people got hold of the devices at a Boring Company headquarters pickup party, where they torched marshmallows.
Soon after, some people torched things at home and shared the images on social media.
14. “6 reasons you should buy the iPhone 8 over the new iPhone XS” by Avery Hartmans
Apple unveiled brand-new iPhones in September, but it simultaneously discounted some of its older devices: after introducing the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, Apple dropped the price of phones like the iPhone 8.
Even though it’s a year-old device, its design and specs are still competitive with Apple’s new flagship phone – and there are several reasons to choose it over the newer devices.
13. “How this woman went from a Pizza Hut employee to a founder of a $US4 billion startup” by Julie Bort
Nichole Mustard isn’t your classic Silicon Valley tech founder. She didn’t teach herself to code as a kid. She didn’t attend Stanford. She didn’t intern at a tech giant.
After college, she was a trainee manager at Pizza Hut, living hand-to-mouth in a cheap Los Angeles apartment with a roommate, she told Business Insider.
Today, she is one of the three founders who built Credit Karma, a consumer credit-score company, into a startup worth $US4 billion, according to the deal-tracking site PitchBook.
12. “There’s a good working theory about why Apple discontinued the iPhone X, the best phone it’s ever made, only a year after announcing it” by Shona Ghosh
When Apple released the iPhone X last year, it was widely considered the best smartphone the company had ever made, marking a major step forward with features like Face ID and a high-end camera to rival the Huawei P20 Pro and the Google Pixel 2.
But one year later, Apple discontinued the phone that marked the iPhone’s 10th anniversary and heralded a change in how it names its devices.
So why bother discontinuing the iPhone X, its most significant phone upgrade in years?
One compelling theory is its price.
11. “The memoir by Steve Jobs’ daughter makes clear he was a truly rotten person whose bad behaviour was repeatedly enabled by those around him” — opinion piece by Troy Wolverton
It has been well-established that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs often acted like a jerk.
There have been plenty of accounts over the years that have detailed his cruelty, rudeness, and miserliness to workers, business partners, and even family and friends.
Still, the stories that have come out so far from “Small Fry” – the autobiography from his daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, that came out earlier this year – are shocking. Jobs comes across not just as someone who could be self-centered and mean but as someone who was a truly terrible human being.
10. “If you own an iPhone 6 or later that isn’t holding its charge, now is the time to get your battery replaced” by Dave Smith
Last December, Apple acknowledged something that iPhone owners had suspected for some time: It had been quietly “throttling,” or lowering, the performance of older iPhones.
It said the goal was to preserve battery life on those older phones and prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly, but customers felt as if Apple communicated this message too late, as many had come to believe that iPhones purposefully got slower to compel people to upgrade to newer models.
After a good deal of consumer outrage, Apple addressed iPhone battery and performance in an open letter to customers later that month. In the letter, Apple stated that if you own an iPhone 6, an iPhone 6s, an iPhone 7, or any other phones made after that and are experiencing battery issues – maybe it’s draining faster than it used to – head to an Apple Store before December 31.
9. “All Apple employees now get standing desks — and Tim Cook has said he believes ‘sitting is the new cancer'” by Kif Leswing
Back in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed one new detail about the work environment at Apple’s headquarters: Everyone gets a standing desk.
“We have given all of our employees, 100%, standing desks. If you can stand for a while, then sit, and so on and so forth, it’s much better for your lifestyle,” Cook said in a recent interview with The Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein published earlier this year.
Cook has previously cited doctors who say “sitting is the new cancer.”
8. “‘You’re getting nothing’: Steve Jobs’ daughter wrote a heartbreaking memoir about their often brutal relationship” by Shona Ghosh
Earlier this year, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of the longtime Apple CEO Steve Jobs, published her memoir, “Small Fry” – and it contained heartbreaking details about her difficult relationship with her father.
This was the first time Brennan-Jobs has written in depth about her father, who initially denied paternity and refused to pay child-support payments to her mother, Chrisann Brennan. Jobs died in 2011 at 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer.
Shortly before the book’s release, Vanity Fair published an excerpt in its September issue.
7. “Microsoft has a problem with Xbox that it can’t buy its way out of” by Ben Gilbert
Microsoft’s Xbox group is in a weird place.
It has sold an estimated 30 to 50 million Xbox One consoles, putting Microsoft in a distant second place in the console race behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 with more than 75 million. And Nintendo’s Switch console? It’s a runaway success.
So what’s Microsoft going to do? That’s the big question.
6. “Apple quietly killed off 4 older versions of the iPhone — including the last versions that had a headphone jack” by Troy Wolverton
Soon after announcing the new iPhone XR and XS models at its press event in September, Apple showed off its current lineup of iPhones.
Notably missing: the iPhone X, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and the iPhone SE. Those four models are also no longer available through Apple’s website.
For fans of wired headphones, that spells bad news: the 6S line and the SE were the last iPhone models that had a headphone jack.
5. “Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed that it crashed” by Julie Bort
Minutes after Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced her decision to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a site raising money for Collins’ eventual opponent in her 2020 re-election bid crashed.
Collins was one of the undecided votes in the judge’s controversial nomination. In an effort to convince Collins that there would be consequences if she voted to support him, a group of people from Maine launched a crowdfunding campaign on a site called Crowdpac.
The campaign asked people to pledge money to back the person who will challenge Collins in 2020 if she voted to confirm Kavanaugh. If she didn’t vote for Kavanaugh, the pledges would be void.
The site was soon so overwhelmed with people rushing to donate to the campaign that it was pushed offline.
4. “Undercover author finds Amazon warehouse workers in UK ‘peed in bottles’ over fears of being punished for taking a break” by Shona Ghosh
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may be the world’s richest person, with a net worth of about $US112 billion, but at least some of those working on his warehouse floors are apparently so desperate to keep their jobs that they don’t even take time to use a restroom.
The author James Bloodworth went undercover at an Amazon warehouse in Staffordshire, UK, for a book on low wages in Britain. He found that the warehouse’s fulfillment workers, who run around Amazon’s massive warehouses gathering products for delivery, had a “toilet bottle” system in place because the bathrooms were too sparse to get to quickly.
3. “‘Siri, I’m getting pulled over’: A new shortcut for iPhones can automatically record the police” by Kif Leswing
There’s a big new feature for iPhone experts this year: It’s an app called Shortcuts, and with a little bit of logic and know-how, you can stitch together several apps and create a script that can be activated by pressing a button or using Siri.
Some early uses are predictable, like saving Instagram photos, sharing the song you’re listening to, or creating a morning routine that activates your lights and plays a song.
2. “People are donating money to Kylie Jenner to help her become the world’s youngest billionaire” by Zoë Bernard
When Forbes reported this year that Kylie Jenner, the 20-year-old cosmetic mogul from the Kardashian/Jenner family, was just $US100 million shy of becoming the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, fans of the reality-TV star banded together.
On Twitter, multiple people joked that they intended to help raise the additional $US100 million that would make Jenner the world’s youngest billionaire.
Soon after, the joke was realised: A GoFundMe campaign was created in Jenner’s honour by Josh Ostrovsky, an Instagram celebrity who goes by the nickname “The Fat Jew.”
1. “Democrats erupt into laughter after Google CEO has to explain to Rep. Steve King that the ‘iPhone is made by a different company'” by Nick Bastone
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) why his 7-year-old granddaughter saw a photo of the congressman with inappropriate language while playing a game on her iPhone.
Pichai answered, “Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”
According to Business Insider’s Joe Perticone, who attended the hearing, the Democratic staff table erupted in laughter at Pichai’s reply.
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