While comparatively ancient systems like the Super Nintendo still work fine today, more modern consoles rely on online functionality and could be significantly hobbled when support for those services is ended. However, these tend to be supported for a bit longer than phones.
Sony originally planned to start closing online services for its PlayStation 3, a 15-year-old device, last year until an online outcry staid its hand. Microsoft has not announced closures for the similarly aged Xbox 360 at all, meaning both these machines can still download and update games, and connect with your friends.
However, very few actual games make it to 10 years with their services intact; many online games for these systems will no longer work. Microsoft’s own Halo games have been an exception on Xbox 360, but those are due to close down this month. While the likes of Halo will continue to be supported through remakes on newer systems, the real victims of these shutdowns will be more obscure games that are rendered entirely unpurchaseable or unable to be played as servers close.
Nintendo is currently dismantling payment services globally for its decade-old 3DS and Wii U systems, so a full shutdown of online services can’t be far away.
Computers and smart devices
This is the year that Microsoft will finally put its foot down and completely end support for its classic Internet Explorer, so it’s long past time to switch to a new browser if you’re still using it. The company has been trying to push users over to its new Edge browser for years, and has faced some resistance, but says it will be all over for Explorer by June.
This is the last year of extended support for Windows 8.1 as well, so any PC unable to upgrade to Windows 10 will be left unsupported and vulnerable. Over on the Mac side, Apple supports new versions of MacOS for three years, meaning support for 10.15 Catalina will end this year. Macs from before 2013 can’t upgrade past Catalina, so will be left behind.
Wearable devices might not seem like something that should be heading for the sunset, as you might only use them to count steps or measure your heart rate, but they do eventually lose support and may stop working as you upgrade your phone. Fitbit has already cut off its 2016 and older devices, so you’d expect to see the 2017 Flex 2, Alta HR and Ionic go next. The Apple Watch Series 3 is currently supported but will likely be dropped this year or next. And if you’re using a less common brand, there’s always the chance it could go the way of the BlackBerry if the company is acquired, goes out of business or changes focus, as happened with the cult Pebble watch.
And finally the death of 3G will be felt in the smart devices space, too, as many low-powered and passively connected “internet of things” products use the network for connectivity, and there are plenty of uncertain grey areas. For example, cellular Apple Watches up to Series 5 support some 4G bands but not the most common ones used by Australian telcos, so could be heavily impacted when 3G goes away.
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