Ian’s favourite things of 2017

iPhone X

2017 was a spectacular year for mobile in Canada. Smartphones were hot again, with the main features being an almost bezel-less display and facial recognition. The wearable market was a distant memory for Google’s Android Wear, while Fitbit tried to stay relevant in Apple’s new-found dominance.

Another significant jump in interest this year was found in the home with various smart speakers and assistants such as Google Home, Home Mini and Amazon’s Echo with Alexa.

Carriers were all playing nice until December with the big 10GB $60 per month promos. Finally, media shifted again with additional streaming options from Amazon Music, and a deeper collection of content from Netflix, CraveTV and Amazon Prime Video.

Overall, 2017 was a good time. Here are my favourite things of the year:

Chill Telecom

Chill Telecom shutting down

A 2016 idea from Kitchener-based Roujeh Ramadan had Canadians interested in a possible new entrant in the space called Chill Telecom. The potential upstart promised national coverage and low wireless rates.

Chill claimed to bring the “the solution for millions of people who worry about their wireless bill, overcharges and limits” and offered eager Canadians the opportunity to sign up early on its $35 CAD and $45 per month plans, featuring unlimited talk, text, and data.

Chill offered up the option to pre-register and back the company with an early adopter rate, which the company claimed to receive 19,515 funders. In total, this amounted to $292,355.

Unfortunately, Chill could not get off the ground and was put on ice. However, Ramadan did not run off with the money but gave a refund to all his backers and terminated operations on March 30th, 2017.

Freedom Bear

May this mascot rest in peace.

The winds of change were strong when Shaw bought Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion in 2016. Most notably, was the name change to Freedom Mobile, which was revealed to be a ‘fresh start’ and not wanting to pay franchise fees ‘to own our own brand.’

Along with the new brand direction came a fuzzy bear called Freddy.

Freddy the Freedom Bear was plastered everywhere, including its website, radio, TV and print advertising. Freddy had a high-pitched voice, lived with his girlfriend and play the guitar.

Earlier this month, Freedom announced that Freddy’s time representing the company was over. “Freddy the Freedom bear was a character created to support these messages and to support our LTE network rollout through a creative, fun and eye-catching campaign that was designed to run for a fixed period of time,” said a statement to MobileSyrup.

Shaw-owned Freedom now uses bright colour and big text to promote its offerings.

Tim Hortons’ app

Tim Hortons

 

As a Tim Hortons expert, the dream of paying for the greatest beverage on Earth from my mobile phone was frustrating. Sure, I could pay with Apple Pay or Android Pay, or even be frustrated using that CIBC NFC thing. However, the greatest place on earth’s mobile app was a disaster until this year.

Now, with the heavens opened, Tim Hortons revamped its app and allowed for mobile order and pay. All I do is open the app, tap on steeped tea five times, press confirm location and pay.

I can now simply walk in and skip the morning lineup. I don’t even mind getting those nasty looks from people waiting in the lineup because I look and feel like a champ leaving within 1-minute. The Tim Hortons baristas even know my name now.

Dreams to come true.

10GB data plans

Rogers

Not since the 2010 entry of Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile have we seen such rabid desire for data promos from the Big Three and their flanker brands.

Freedom Mobile launched its ‘Big Gig’ data plans in November. To compete, Rogers, Bell, Telus, Koodo, Virgin and Fido all unveiled its 10GB $60/month offering mid-December and Canadians went bonkers. From coast-to-coast, Canadians hopped onto the plan and went on their merry way. However, frustration kicked in as some customers complained about long customer service wait times and busy signals.

Seems like Canadians really love having low monthly rates bundled with large amounts of data.

Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin

Bitcoin, yo! Crypto, bro!

I’m a ‘Cryptocurrency Enthusiast.’ This means I have no expertise in the space, nor knowledge or understanding, but really enjoy seeing the numbers sharply increase or massively decrease. Full disclosure: I have invested real currency in this unseen digital currency.

I find cryptocurrency — specifically for me Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum — fascinating. There is a lot of chatter regarding its authenticity and validity. I don’t fully understand how crypto currency works, but I do know that people are actually using it to pay for things and stuff. It’s decentralized and there is somewhat no middleman getting in the way — it’s also apparently secure.

Unlike how the traditional stock market opens and closes, there is no off time for those investing in cryptocurrency.

It’s always on, every day.

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