From the iPhone 7/7 Plus, to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift – a lot of mighty impressive new gadgets hit the markets in 2016. Among users worldwide, the love for technologically advanced gadgets have soared to unprecedented levels already. According to a recent Cisco report, the average person is expected to own as many as 5 gadgets (with some form of internet connectivity), by the next year. In the United Kingdom alone, each person uses 9-10 tech gadgets, with the cumulative gadget-count over there being well in excess of 600 million. 2017 promises to be an equally exciting year for gadget-lovers across the globe, and over here, we turn our attentions to some cool new tech products expected (and widely anticipated) to launch over the next 12 months or so:
A new Google Pixel phone
Smarter home automation tools
2016 was widely believed to be the year when the concept of ‘smart homes’ really took off. Fair to say, the growth has not been as per expectations – with only a small percentage of users worldwide actually trying out the available home automation solutions. The next year should witness the launch of a wide array of cutting-edge smart home tools (eShower, anyone?). The growing popularity of integrated home automation platforms like openHAB, together with the new tools, should push up the total number of global users significantly.
An update to the Surface Pro series
Since the launch of the 1st-gen Surface Pro detachable tablet in 2013, Microsoft has released new versions of it every year – barring 2016. Expect that to be set right in 2017, when the company should release a new Surface Pro model, with a slew of powerful features and capabilities. The Surface Studio PC will be officially launched in December this year, and we will probably have another version of the tablet in the markets before 2017 runs out.
Internet to become more mainstream than ever
If you thought that the ‘global internet population’ is already at an all-time high, well…think again! Taking 2012 as a base year, the total number of internet users across the world will have grown by 3.7 million+, with new connections becoming available on close to 20 million devices. The quality of web service is constantly increasing too. Between the 2012-2017 period, average broadband speeds should show almost a four-fold increase. The total IP traffic from 1984 to 2012 was around 1.2 zettabytes. In 2017 alone, the IP traffic is expected to be close to 1.5 zettabytes. The Web is spreading!
New virtual reality headsets
2016 has mostly been a ‘year of learning’, as far as the domains of virtual reality and augmented reality are concerned. The next year should see a spurt in VR-adoption figures. Vendors like Asus, Dell and Lenovo are all set to launch new, powerful Windows 10 virtual headsets, which would be: a) easily pluggable to PCs, and b) at a starting price of $299, quite a bit cheaper than most other existing headsets (for instance, the starting price of Oculus Rift is $599).
This year’s iPhone 7/7 Plus have witnessed robust early sales – but they haven’t quite matched up the early adoption figures of 2014’s iPhone 6/6 Plus. General users as well as professional software/mobile app developers also feel that the iPhone 7 is rather ‘too similar’ to last year’s iPhone 6S. With 2017 being the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple will be really upping its game for the iPhone 8 (due for the usual September release). The sharp LED (organic) display, the removal of the home button and the all-glass body have already made news – and the Cupertino company is also working on including special augmented reality features for applications. There might just be variants of iPhone 8 with new screen sizes as well.
Artificial intelligence to arrive in a big way
The number and types of services and web/mobile applications with artificial intelligence is all set to explode in 2017 and beyond. By 2019, there will be more than 112 million AI-powered consumer gadgets available in the United States alone. Enterprise-focused AI solutions will also grow in a big way. What’s more, practically every aspect of Internet of Things (IoT) will be backed up by AI.
With all due respect to Android Wear devices, Apple Watch still has a stranglehold on the domain of wearable technology. Expect Google to try and make a dent in it, by launching its very own smartwatch, sometime in 2017. There will be software updates for Android Wear as well. The Google Watches will have circular displays and should bolster the interest levels in wearable tech products even further.
Growth in M2M communication
Compared to 2012, the total number of M2M communication nodes in the world will grow by nearly 192%, by the end of 2017 (2.8 billion vs 960 million). The volume of M2M IP traffic will also show a whopping 20-times increase. Over the last 5-6 years, the number of M2M connections have also tripled. 2017 will be a really big year, as far as machine learning and M2M communicability are concerned.
New iPad Pro
The ambitious iPad Pro tablets (both 2015’s 12.9” model and this year’s 9.7” model) pack in a lot of powerful features – but they have not been really effective in reviving the flagging sales of Apple tablet. In a bid to breathe a fresh lease of life to the iPad lineup, Apple will launch a 10.5” iPad Pro 2 in 2017. A Bloomberg report has also suggested that there will be improvements in the Apple Pencil as well.
Samsung, the arch-rivals of Apple, stumbled on an absolute howler in the form of the Galaxy Note 7. The company will be desperate to make up for some of the lost ground, with next year’s Galaxy S8 (although the prospect of a Galaxy Note 8 remains far off). The built-in mobile digital assistant in S8 will be powered by Viv, and it should add an additional efficiency layer to the phone. Samsung needs a successful flagship, after the Note 7 debacle.
New Fitbit gadgets
You wear the Fitbit activity trackers on your wrist – and that’s the end of the story, right? Well, 2017 can hold a surprise for you in this regard, since Fitbit has already promised a line-up of gadgets with new form factors. It will be interesting to see what changes Fitbit actually incorporates in its products next year.
Accelerated digital transformation for businesses
The importance of digital transformation for enterprises, for getting the most out of new technologies as well as making daily workflows more efficient, will emerge in a big way over the next few years. There will be a noticeable increase in the adoption of these methods in 2017 – and by 2019, the total investments (on a global scale) on digital transformation drives will touch $2.3 trillion. Cloud-based services for businesses will also become more commonplace, and adoption of big data tools will soar.
Google Andromeda OS
As per early reports from Android Police, Google is likely to launch a new laptop in 2017 – running on the breakthrough Andromeda operating system. The new OS will be available for tablets as well. According to industry experts and software/app-makers, the Andromeda OS will be a torch-bearer for the future of Google Chromebooks. A new Google laptop with brand-new OS – what’s there to not like about it?
New Mac computer
The chances for Apple releasing a new iMac model in 2017 are remote – but the company might just spring a surprise. There have been reports that the Cupertino tech giant is planning to add the USB-C port to Mac computers, and a new model may arrive in the fall of 2017. Of course, the macOS 10.13 update will also be coming next year.
More apps. Many more apps
By June 2016, the total number of apps in Google Play Store had shot up to 2.2 million. Apple App Store also has well in excess of 2 million applications. These numbers will swell further over the next few quarters. According to estimates, the total number of app downloads will be more than 268.7 billion in 2017 (a 16% rise over this year’s figure). Downloads of both free apps as well as paid apps will go up – to 254 billion and 14.7 billion respectively. App developers will also be launching many new applications for new-age gadgets like smartwatches and smart TVs.
This has been in the news for long, and there is a strong probability of Samsung actually launching it sometime in 2017. The fact that a patent has already been registered by Samsung adds further credence to this rumour. While not much is known about the precise features and capabilities of the device yet, it will have a bendable display – the first-of-its-kind on a smartphone.
Surface Book 2
The Surface Book, launched in October 2015, was the very first laptop from Microsoft. Contrary to initial predictions, it has become fairly successful as well (even with its rather high price tag). There is every chance that Microsoft will try to build on this success with a new, more-powerful Surface Book 2 next year. It won’t be a rival of Apple’s Macbook anytime soon, but Microsoft does have something to work on here.
Improved network services
A key factor behind the expected surge in internet traffic is the higher broadband speed level that users are going to get. By the end of 2017, 84% of all broadband connections will have at least 5Mbps speed, 56% will offer 10 Mbps, and around 3% connections will be 100 Mbps. The web-browsing/video downloading experience will be better than ever.
January 2017 cannot come quickly enough for video game lovers in general, and Nintendo fans in particular. That’s when all the details about Nintendo Switch – an all-new gaming console with portability as a major feature (it also works on TV sets) – will become publicly available. The console itself will arrive at the markets in March.
There is an outside chance of driverless cars becoming commercially available in 2017 as well, although the much-hyped Apple Car won’t be ready till a couple of years later. Internet of Things (IoT) will grow more advanced, there will be advances in the field of ‘smart cars’ and ‘smart homes’ – and the API economy will continue to grow stronger. Many other new flagship smartphones, from different vendors, will also be released. 2017 will be yet another great year for tech-enthusiasts the world over, and it remains to be seen how many of the products listed here actually make it to the market.
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