Gone But Not Forgotten (Yet): The Tech That Died in 2022 – PCMag

From Amazon Glow and CNN+ to Google Stadia and Lego Mindstorms, let's take a look back at the products and services that took a bow this year.
I started out covering tech policy in Washington, D.C. for The National Journal’s Technology Daily, where my beat included state-level tech news and all the congressional hearings and FCC meetings I could handle. After a move to New York City, I covered Wall Street trading tech at Incisive Media before switching gears to consumer tech and PCMag. I now lead PCMag’s news coverage and manage our how-to content.
This year saw the usual introduction of next-gen smartphones, laptops, operating systems, and smart home devices, with a few unique offerings thrown in there, too. But for all the innovative tech that made headlines or passed through our labs in 2022, there were just as many products and services that powered down for good.
It’s time for our annual look at the tech that died this year. Some services have been around for ages and we are just now saying farewell to the last vestiges of a once-great brand. Others went belly up in less than a month. Read on to see what the major companies—Amazon, Meta, and Google—kicked to the curb in 2022, as well as a month-by-month rundown of other products that ended up in the tech graveyard.
After helping decimate mom-and-pop bookstores (as well as retail behemoths like Borders), Amazon entered the space itself, opening the first Amazon Books—a physical representation of its online store—in Seattle in 2015. It then branched out with themed pop-up shops, 4-star product stores, Go cashierless convenience stores, and Whole Foods supermarkets. But while Whole Foods and Go stores live on, Amazon announced in March that it would shut down brick-and-mortar retail stores and pop-up shops—68 US and UK stores in total.
Amazon raised eyebrows this summer with its $3.9 billion acquisition of US primary care clinic provider One Medical. Last month, it also tipped plans for Amazon Clinic, a message-based portal for treatment of things like eczema, hair loss, migraines, sinusitis, and UTIs. But it also gave up on other healthcare-related endeavors, like Amazon Care. The virtual and in-home health service launched as an internal health-care offering for company employees before expanding to partners like Silicon Labs, Precor, Amazon-owned Whole Foods, and Hilton. But “customers did not see the value in the service,” Amazon said in August. This month, it also dropped support(Opens in a new window) for Alexa HIPAA-compliant programs.
Amazon Glow: Emerging from Amazon’s Grand Challenge moonshot laboratory, this combination video screen and projector allowed for virtual chats while reading, drawing, and playing games with far-flung friends and family. But lackluster sales means an early demise for the pricey Glow device (not to be confused with the still-available Echo Glow).
Amazon Ambassador Program: The “FC Ambassador” program paid warehouse employees to tweet positive messages about working conditions at the company’s fulfillment centers. But they fell flat amid reports of poor working conditions for drivers and warehouse workers, as well as union-busting tactics from Amazon. The company quietly pulled the plug on the ambassador program in January.
Amazon Drive: Amazon Drive, formerly Amazon Cloud Drive, launched in 2011 to provide cloud storage, file backup, file sharing, and photo printing. However, the focus is now shifting to Amazon Photos. The Amazon Drive apps have been removed from the iOS and Android app stores, and support for uploading files on the Amazon Drive website ends on Jan. 31 ahead of a full shutdown on Dec. 31, 2023.
Wickr Me: The free encrypted messaging app will stop accepting new user registrations on Dec. 31 and will cease operations a year later. The platform, which offers secure end-to-end encrypted messaging, was acquired by Amazon Web Services in June 2021, but going forward, Amazon will focus on its non-consumer paid platforms AWS Wickr and Wickr Enterprise.
Amazon Cloud Cam: As Amazon turns its attention toward newer acquisitions like Ring and Blink, it’s dispensing with the five-year-old Cloud Cam.
Sold by Amazon Program: This was marketed by Amazon as a way to help sellers move their products, but Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said it violated antitrust laws. “Amazon unreasonably restrained competition in order to maximize its own profits off third-party sales, [which] constituted unlawful price-fixing,” he announced(Opens in a new window) in January. The company was hit with a $2.25 million fine and subsequently shut down the “Sold by Amazon” program.
Fabric.com: Amazon acquired Fabric.com in 2008 to bolster its craft and hobby materials sales, but it informed employees of the shutdown in October.
Selz: Similarly, Amazon shut down Selz(Opens in a new window), an e-commerce platform it acquired in 2021.
After months of rumors (and denials from the search giant), Google finally announced in September that it planned to shut down its Stadia game-streaming service. Stadia, which launched in November 2019, failed to resonate with consumers, Google said. In PCMag’s review, we found that Stadia offered a high-quality gaming experience on the phone and PC, but lagged on TV, while the launch library and pricing structure were disappointing. For now, existing players have access to their library and play data until Jan. 18, 2023, and Google is issuing refunds for hardware and game and add-on content purchases.
Google has been prepping for the demise of Google Hangouts since 2018, and this year it finally forced everyone to make the transition to Google Chat. If you’re not a prolific user of Google’s chat apps, you may not have noticed, as the company automatically transferred old Hangouts conversations to the Chat app, which is now the default chat experience inside Gmail. But Google loves nothing more than phasing out products and swapping in alternatives with seemingly identical functionality and a new name; remember the puzzling Google Meet and Google Meet (original) transition this summer?
Google OnHub routers: Introduced in 2016, OnHub routers made it easy to bring dual-band 802.11ac networking to your home. But Google has since switched(Opens in a new window) its focus to mesh networking devices, so after Jan. 11, OnHub routers will still provide a Wi-Fi signal but won’t be manageable from the Google Home app.
YouTube Go app: Aimed at emerging markets, YouTube Go allowed people to preview videos before consuming the data needed to watch them in full. But after Google made improvements to its main app—boosting performance for entry-level devices and those running on slower networks—Go became redundant
Street View app: Speaking of redundant, Google will shut down the standalone Street View app early next year since the functionality is available in the Google Maps app, too.
Google Duplex on the Web: A web-based offshoot of the mobile-based product that uses AI to make phone calls for you, Google Duplex on the Web used the same tech to do things like buying movie tickets. Turns out people can buy their own movie tickets.
Android Auto for phone screens(Opens in a new window) and the dashboard view on Google Assistant Driving Mode(Opens in a new window); functionality on the latter switched over to Google Maps.
Google Currents(Opens in a new window), the enterprise-focused version of Google+, will shut down as Google moves people over to Spaces(Opens in a new window).
Waze Carpool: With more people working from home due to COVID-19, fewer people needed this carpooling service from Google-owned Waze, and the company started to wind down(Opens in a new window) the 6-year-old service in September.
As Meta moved deeper into the metaverse this year, its real-world hardware products took a backseat, including the Portal smart displays. Introduced in 2018, Facebook’s devices were already playing catch-up with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home (now Nest) devices. They never quite went the distance, though, in part because few people trusted Facebook to peek into their lives through internet-connected devices equipped with cameras and microphones. In June, reports emerged of Meta ditching the consumer versions of Portal. But by November, amid massive layoffs at Meta, the company said it would abandon Portal entirely, in addition to plans for two unreleased smartwatch projects.
Facebook has long courted publishers, with mixed results. In 2015, as more and more people were reading news on their phones, it rolled out Instant Articles with select publications. The product displayed articles inside the Facebook mobile app, for a reading experience up to 10 times faster than clicking out to a publisher’s website. (Google followed suit a few months later with AMP.) But as Meta told Axios(Opens in a new window) in October, “less than 3% of what people around the world see in Facebook’s Feed are posts with links to news articles, [so] it doesn’t make sense to over invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences.” Instant Articles will officially say goodbye in April 2023.
Facebook Bulletin: The company’s answer to Substack will go into read-only mode(Opens in a new window) in January before shutting down completely in March 2023.
Facebook Sparked: The speed-dating app allowed two people to meet on a four-minute video date. After an experiment with audio-only chats, it closed up shop(Opens in a new window) in January.
Facebook Tuned: Another couple-focused effort, Tuned offered “a private space where you and your significant other can just be yourselves.” Released in April 2020, however, few couples needed any more alone time than they got during the pandemic.
Facebook Diem: The cryptocurrency project, previously known as Libra, failed to take off because federal regulators refused to play ball, according to the Diem Association, a nonprofit that Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta helped found in 2019. 
Facebook Campus: Facebook Campus was a dedicated section of the mobile app that let undergrads create a profile showcasing their major, minor, classes, hometown, and larks. Ultimately, however, Facebook said(Opens in a new window) students were connecting more on Groups than via Campus.
Facebook Neighborhoods: Meta’s answer to NextDoor was also rather redundant since people just congregated in Groups. It closed in October after two years.
Facebook Live Shopping: The feature allowed business owners to showcase and sell products in live videos, answering questions and getting feedback in real time. With the rise of TikTok, though, Meta axed shoppable live streams and encouraged merchants to experiment with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook Gaming app: Meta’s effort to compete with Twitch and YouTube ended in August(Opens in a new window), with Facebook folding much of the features into its main app.
Facebook Connectivity: This global internet-connectivity effort dates back to 2013, but fell victim(Opens in a new window) to this year’s layoffs at Meta.
Standalone Boomerang, Hyperlapse Apps: Meta shut down the time-lapse and looping video platforms “to better focus our efforts on the main app.”
Standalone IGTV app: As Instagram looks to compete more with TikTok, it has turned its attention(Opens in a new window) to Reels, which now feature prominently in the Instagram app.
BlackBerry OS devices: BlackBerry had been on the decline for more than a decade when the company’s mobile operating system powered down in January.
Popcorn Time: In 2015, we saw the arrival of an app with an intriguing premise: Netflix for pirated movies. Popcorn Time was obviously a legal minefield, but it wasn’t a lawsuit that ultimately took it down. It seems people just lost interest, TorrentFreak reports(Opens in a new window).
Xbox 360 Halo Game Servers: 343 Industries turned off the game servers for seven Halo games on the Xbox 360 on Jan. 13.
Uber’s Apple Watch app: The app lacked the same bells and whistles of its smartphone sibling, like access to uberPOOL, fare splitting, ETA sharing, and driver communication, which likely led to its demise.
Original Wyze cam: Wyze ended(Opens in a new window) support for this affordable 1080p camera earlier this year, five years after its debut. It should still work, but you won’t get security updates, so consider upgrading to the Wyze Cam V3.
Mozilla’s Firefox reality browser: Firefox Reality was an open-source web browser designed for AR and VR devices that debuted in 2018 for Oculus, Google Daydream, and HTC Vive devices. But as VR headsets improved, “the Firefox Reality Browser project needed new investment, updates and nurturing” that Mozilla opted not to provide.
Nvidia-Arm deal: Amid “significant regulatory challenges,”  Nvidia officially abandoned its deal to acquire Arm from SoftBank.
Nintendo eShop purchases for the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family: “This is part of the natural lifecycle for any product line as it becomes less used by consumers over time,” Nintendo said.
GM Marketplace app:(Opens in a new window) This app(Opens in a new window) let people order food, find the closest gas station, or make dinner reservations from the infotainment screen on their GM car. But not many people used it, probably because you can do all that from your phone.
Myki password manager: Myki’s technology and team were acquired by JumpCloud, a cloud directory platform for businesses, meaning Myki users had to move their passwords and other credentials off the platform.
Twitch desktop app: “We believe the best experience for our users is on Twitch.tv and we want to focus our energy on building new features for you there,” Twitch said in an email to users letting them know the desktop app would shut down on April 30.
Plex Podcasts and Web Shows: Plex dipped its toes into podcasts and web shows in 2018, but it’s a crowded space, and Plex axed them(Opens in a new window) as “part of our ongoing effort to make sure we’re spending our time and energy in ways that best serve our awesome user community.”
Spotify Greenroom creator fund: As tech companies scrambled to compete with Clubhouse, Spotify launched Greenroom (later rebranded as Spotify Live) and a creators fund to encourage participation. Less than a year later, that fund was gone, with Spotify saying(Opens in a new window) it would shift to other initiatives for creators.
CNN+: This one didn’t even make it a month, and you can blame the Warner Bros. Discovery merger. 
Xbox services on Windows Phone: This probably only applied to an extremely niche group of people, but for the few still playing Xbox games on a Windows Phone in 2022, the fun came to an end(Opens in a new window) in May.
Spotify Stations: Spotify decided to pull the plug on its internet radio app, which debuted in 2019, though people can still listen to their stations in the primary app.
Spotify Car Thing: This was designed to offer a streamlined, personalized in-car listening experience for Spotify Premium subscribers. The phone-like device could be mounted inside a car, and featured a large dial to help you flip through songs. But according to our review, the device didn’t offer any major benefits over simply using the Spotify app on your smartphone. Spotify halted production in July.
Intel Optane memory: “While we believe Optane is a superb technology, it has become impractical to deliver products at the necessary scale as a single-source supplier of Optane technology,” Intel announced(Opens in a new window) in July.
Uber Rewards: Uber Rewards offered “points” in exchange for booking a ride or placing an order through Uber Eats, but Uber shut it down on Nov. 1, and encouraged people to consider Uber One instead.
Snap Pixy drone: Small enough to fit in one hand or even a pocket, the Pixy followed you around in the air while it snapped photos or videos, which were wirelessly sent to your phone. Not enough people wanted to pay $229 for it, though.
Playdots: Take-Two acquired Playdots in 2020, but plans to shut down(Opens in a new window) the studio and cut 65 jobs by January. Playdots game Two Dots will still be available for now, though.
Argo AI: Main backers Ford and VW were expected to absorb the employees and technology from autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI. The move appeared to be fueled by Argo’s inability to attract new investors and Ford’s “strategic decision” to shift resources from robotaxi tech into advanced driver assistance systems. 
Lego Mindstorms: The programmable robots made of Lego have been around since 1998, but will no longer be sold after the end of 2022.
Twitter Ticketed Spaces: Last year, Twitter started allowing a select few to charge for access to their Spaces audio chats, but by this fall, it paused(Opens in a new window) the program to focus on the core Spaces experience.
The Leap second: This one isn’t actually going away until 2035, but scientists and government representatives last month agreed to retire the practice of adding leap seconds to make up for the difference between exact atomic time and Earth’s slower rotation.
Amazon textbook rentals, magazine and newspaper subscriptions: Amazon will wind down its print textbook rental program over the next semester, Publisher’s Weekly reports(Opens in a new window). For magazines and newspapers, meanwhile, Amazon users will need Kindle Unlimited, which costs $9.99 per month, a move some publishers say(Opens in a new window) is “devastating.” 
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I started out covering tech policy in Washington, D.C. for The National Journal’s Technology Daily, where my beat included state-level tech news and all the congressional hearings and FCC meetings I could handle. After a move to New York City, I covered Wall Street trading tech at Incisive Media before switching gears to consumer tech and PCMag. I now lead PCMag’s news coverage and manage our how-to content.
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