Let’s face it; 2016 seemed like a subpar year with celebrity deaths and polarizing politics. The tech industry was mired in scandal with Theranos and Magic Leap, wearables had a bright future until everything came crashing down with Pebble, and Apple removed the headphone jack. On the bright side, Google released the Pixel, Apple released a new MacBook Pro, and Snap(chat) introduced Spectacles.
We’re looking forward to 2017 which brings a new CES, SXSW, and hundreds of other new product launches. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on Spectacles, seeing how the Pixel fares against the iPhone, and whether VR continues to stay a trend through 2017.
We’re going to cover the top trends and products through 2016.
Snapchat, now known as Snap Inc, pushed into hardware with Spectacles. The pair of glasses has built in camera that shares a wide-angle image or video to Snapchat. Not to mention the way their marketing and selling the devices – you’re only able to buy the sunglasses through one of their vending machines which only appear for select hours in select cities or towns.
Hardware is an odd move for a company with an app and advertising business, but they’re working towards an IPO. They’re also being scrapped for parts by Facebook/Instagram – stopping or limiting some of their growth.
The Headphone Jack
RIP the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple had the courage to remove the headphone jack from their latest iPhone generation. The headphone jack has lived on for decades, and the removal means a lot of working towards a new standard. Now the standard looks like BlueTooth or USB-C, but Apple is still rejecting the idea of leaving their own standard, Lightning, behind for a standard everyone else has started adopting. Hey, maybe on the iPhone 8 Apple will opt to use USB-C – they’re already using the standard on their Mac’s.
VR is here to stay, one way or another. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have taken off, and sparked a range of new VR-focused gaming and movie studios. The Gear VR now has competition from Google Daydream, but we’ll see how long it takes for Daydream to catch up to Samsung’s offerings.
The year has been a series of announcements focus on VR – new Nvidia GPU’s, new 3D audio headphones, and improved 4K resolution screens. 2017 will push the boundaries of VR, and we might see new hardware from HTC.
Pixel phone by Google
The Pixel phone by Google may have one of the longest and most ridiculous names, but signals a shift at Google. They’re looking towards a future where they directly control their hardware, software, and support. They’ve tried to do it with the Nexus phones, but they’ve also played a third party role. Now they’re controlling everything from support to design, and if you use Project Fi you’ll be all Google-Fied.
The phone doesn’t appease all long time Android and Nexus fans, but it does appeal to many normal consumers. Their is Google Assistant, a great camera, and unlimited storage included all on the phone. 2017 Google will have to compete heavily with the iPhone to try and win this arms race.
Google Home/Amazon Echo
Google Assitant and Amazon Alexa are the two powerhouses when it comes to AI. While Google’s Assistant is fairly new to the market, they’ve had decades of data collection from everyone using Google Search and Gmail. Amazon’s Alexa was a one-off hit that came from the failed Fire phone, and now it’s one of their biggest money makers. Amazon’s built a developer community with dozens of smart home devices being supported, and Google’s just started the process.
Google has to catch up to Amazon, but they’re still going to keep competing with features. I bought a Google Home, but I am still planning on grabbing a Echo if it keeps adding more useful features than Google.
2016 was a glimpse into the future where everything is voice controlled, we wear glasses with cameras on them, we escape our sad world in VR, and we use wireless headphones that we have to remember to charge.
2017 is bright, and we’ll see what will happen throughout the year at CES in a few days!