2016 brought us some pretty forgettable things in tech, such as an exploding phone; exploding “hoverboards”; the inquisitive-turned-sinister chatbot known as Tay; and Facebook letting your friends know of your untimely death that never happened.  But 2016 also saw some pretty cool things in tech, like the continued growth of connected home devices, the re-birth of VR, and the emergence of an awesome new smartphone.

Now, it’s 2017… and tech is going to have a huge year.  From the “oh yeah, I’ll get that!” to “holy schnikies, I didn’t even know that existed”… here’s some of the tech we’re most looking forward to in 2017:

Nintendo Switch

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For the first time in over 10 years, Nintendo will have a new console not named Wii.  The Nintendo Switch will be a big departure from traditional consoles, as it’s both a home and portable gaming device.  At home, the Switch sits in a dock that connects the system to your HDTV.  Removing it out of the dock turns it into a portable game system, so you can continue playing your game on the go.  The “Joy-Con” controllers can be used in a variety of ways—including giving one to a friend for some sweet multiplayer action.

Nintendo Switch is slated for release in March 2017.  And on January 13, Nintendo is holding a special “Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017” event, where they plan to announce the price, software lineup, specifications and other product details.

Oh, and that game you see on the Switch… yeah, that’s the new The Legend of Zelda game.  (cue high-pitched squealing).


Project Scorpio
(a.k.a the next Xbox)

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Nintendo isn’t the only company releasing a new game console in 2017.  Almost immediately after announcing the new Xbox One S, Microsoft oddly announced an even better, more powerful Xbox console to be released in 2017: Project Scorpio.  It’ll be the first game console to play video games in full 4K resolution and have a ton of computing power.  So much so, Microsoft says it’ll be the “most powerful console ever”.  And while they didn’t state a specific partner, this new Xbox aims to have high-end VR capabilities (think Oculus Rift or HTC Vive).

But one of the best features of Project Scorpio is that Microsoft says it’s completely backwards compatible with Xbox One and Xbox One S.  So all games and even accessories will work with the new console—even games from your Windows 10 PC.  Now, once upon a time, Microsoft also said Xbox One would get 4K video playback—and that never happened.  So we may have to wait and see with some of its capabilities.  Outside of that, not much more is known about it.  But there’ll likely be more details at the annual E3 conference in June.

Project Scorpio is currently slated to be released during the holidays (most likely around October or November).

 

iPhone 8 / iPhone 10th anniversary

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One of the most anticipated releases of 2017 will no doubt be the next iPhone.  But this won’t just be any iPhone… it’ll be the 10th anniversary iPhone!  That’s right, the original iPhone was released in 2007 (feel old, yet?).  And while many “iPhone killers” have come and gone, iPhone is still considered by many as the best smartphone available.  But iPhone hasn’t drastically changed in a few years.  Instead, Apple has added or altered features that change the way you interact with the device—such as changing the Home button into, well…not a button at all.  So, of course, there are many rumors swirling about what Apple will do for the 10th anniversary of arguably one of the most iconic tech devices ever.  Some rumors are pointing to a new OLED, edge-to-edge display in place of the current LCD—with the Home button built into it, instead of it being separate.  One of the biggest rumors is the possibility of truly wireless charging—where your phone could charge using a receiver plugged in from several feet away!

Of course, these are all rumors right now.  So we’ll have to wait to find out what Apple plans to do for their milestone iPhone.  Expect iPhone 8 (or whatever it’ll be called) sometime in September.

 

Samsung Galaxy S8

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Samsung has had, well… an interesting year (I was going to say explosive, but that’s too obvious).  However, it hasn’t slowed them down much—as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge were the best selling Android devices of 2016.  And in 2017, Samsung looks to continue it’s Android dominance with the Galaxy S8.  So what should we expect from Samsung’s latest device?  Well, again, it’s all rumors at this point.  But many are pointing to a full edge-to-edge display with a fingerprint scanner built into the glass, similar to the iPhone 8 rumors.  A 4K display, which would make sense given their further push into VR with their Gear VR.  A reversible USB-C jack instead of micro-USB for charging.  And, of course, much more power under the hood.  The biggest speculation right now is the inclusion of “Bixby”: Samsung’s first smart assistant to rival Siri and Google.  To do that, Samsung acquired Viv, the super impressive smart assistant from the original creators of Siri last year.

But again, rumors for now.  We’ll have to wait and see what fun, new things Samsung plans to include in the Galaxy S8.  Typically, Samsung unveils their newest Galaxy devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, so expect to see the Galaxy S8 sometime in March or April.

 

New Mac Desktops

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Updates to Mac desktops are difficult to pinpoint.  Unlike their mobile counterparts, Apple doesn’t frequently update their at-home offerings.  The iMac received the most recent update back in 2015, when it got a bump to its processor.  However, the Mac Mini hasn’t seen an update since 2014, and the Mac Pro—Apple’s super small and powerful trash can-like desktop—hasn’t been updated since its debut in 2013.  So, they’re all overdue.  And with Microsoft starting to get serious with desktops aimed at designers, an update might be good for consumers and prosumers, alike.  But what might we expect from an update?

Well, certainly the usual fare of updated processors and graphics cards—and hopefully ones in a Mac Pro powerful enough to power high-end VR (as they currently can’t do that).  Possibly a refresh on their ports to include USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.  But also, an update to their accessories could be possible.  Like, might see a Touch Bar—like the one on the recent MacBook Pro—on their wireless keyboard?  So their Magic Keyboard becomes… even more magical?  Who knows.  But what is known is that an update to their already pretty great desktop computers would be welcomed.  

And as their CEO, Tim Cook recently said in response to a question about Apple’s commitment to desktops, “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap.”  If that roadmap includes 2017, expect them to come out sometime in either June for Back to School or October during their usual Mac announcements.

 

Pixel 2, Phone by Google

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The Pixel is the first phone entirely made by Google.  From the hardware to the software, they designed it all themselves (similar to what Apple does with iPhone).  It certainly isn’t without it’s kinks—which make sense since certain reports are claiming they built the device in only 9 months.  But even if that’s true, the superb camera, fingerprint scanner, AMOLED display, Google Assistant, Android 7.1 Nougat, and super snappy user experience, help make Pixel a great, overall phone.  So with at least a full year of learning from this device, we’re excited to see what Google has in store for the second generation of its flagship phone.  For starters, we’ll hopefully see water-resistance added to the phone in order to match iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7—as that feature is missing from the current device.  Outside of that, expect the usual improvements to features like the camera, processors, display, and fingerprint scanner–as well as a new flavor of Android with a slew of new features, too.  That version of Android will start with the letter “O”.  Soooo, Android Oreo?  Let’s hope.

If Google releases a new Pixel phone this year, look for it around October.

 

New Android watches & Android Wear 2.0

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With Apple Watch and FitBit vying for consumers’ attention, it’s easy to forget that there are a slew of Android-based smartwatches out there.  They do many of the same things that Apple Watch does (although to varying degrees), but with one big exception: they work with both Android and iOS devices (again, to varying degrees).  Well, a new set of Android watch devices looks to turn them into a serious competitor for your wrist space.  Jeff Chang, a product manager of Android Wear at Google, recently told The Verge that Google will launch two new flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of 2017.  Unlike the Pixel, phone by Google, they won’t be Google-branded devices—rather, a collaboration with a yet-unamed manufacturer, similar to their Nexus devices.  These watches will be the first to feature the new Android Wear 2.0 platform—with most recent Android Wear devices receiving the update later on.  And, of course, newer Android Wear devices that get released throughout the year will also include the newest operating system.

Android Wear 2.0 looks to bring lots of great new features to the platform, including stand-alone apps and a Google Play Store for Android Wear devices—so you could download apps straight to your device without needing your phone.  Lots of new complications/watch faces and ways of tracking your activity.  Support for Google’s popular (and darn good) Google Assistant, which is included on their Pixel phone and Google Home devices.  And support for Android Pay, which Chang also confirmed will work with both Android and iOS devices.

Look for the first new Android Wear devices from Google around February or March.

 

Aero-X hoverbike

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That’s right… a freaking hoverbike!  We’re one step closer to the Speeder bikes from Star Wars!  The California company, Aerofex, has bred a hovercraft with a motorcycle to give you the Aero-X: a low-altitude vehicle capable of flying up to 10 feet off the ground at 45 miles per hour.  Because of the way you ride it, the Aero-X responds to your movements similar to the way a motorcycle would respond.  And Aerofex claims you can learn to operate it safely in just a weekend.  It can be ridden in many different terrains.  And because of that, the company says it could be used for things like, surveying, search and rescue, border patrol, ranching, and more.  But let’s be honest, wouldn’t you just want to use this thing to fly above traffic during rush hour on a freeway?  Think of the time saved!  Aerofex says it’s affordable, costing a fraction of basic airplanes and helicopters.  So, if you have around $85,000 lying around, you too can experience this new, affordable way of getting around—or for that quick Target run (hey, it’s still cheaper than a Tesla).

The Aero-X is expected to be released sometime in this year.  In the meantime, check out their entire demo video.

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