Buying groceries could possibly take on a whole new twist in 2017. You’ll see the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, possibly with augmented reality and other cool new additions and there just might be a self-driving car in your neighborhood.
Looking ahead to the year in tech for 2017 sees several ground-breaking new twists in the mobile revolution, none potentially bigger than changing the way we shop.
Amazon says it will open a new kind of grocery in the Seattle area to the public in early 2017 that will ditch the cash register and those long lines.
Instead, you’ll just open up a smartphone app, scan your product, and Amazon will deduct the item from your account. Should the concept work, shorten the lines and dramatically increase sales, you could expect other retailers to join in.
“I see Amazon licensing the technology to others,” says James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research. “This is a model to bring the software to others and make the store experience better, not just open a string of Amazon stores.”
Steve Jobs first teased the iPhone in January 2007 and then launched it in June. The world hasn’t been the same since. More than 1 billion iPhones have sold to date and apps run our lives — where would we be without Waze and Uber?
The next iPhone, expected in September, could be a redesigned state-of-the-art wonder, with brighter display, faster processor, wireless charging and perhaps augmented reality technology, says Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies. “If Apple gets it right, it could kick AR to the masses,” he says.
No, 2017 isn’t the year self-driving cars go mainstream. But with Uber engaging in self-driving tests in Pittsburgh and Arizona, and with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and various auto shows scheduled for early next year highlighting the latest and greatest in tech, we’re clearly going to be hearing and seeing a lot about the new connected and really smart car in 2017.
More voice products.
This past year saw Amazon’s Echo and smaller Dot connected speaker emerge as tech best-sellers. Echo is a 2015 product that took off in 2016 — by the end of the year, the e-tailer was sold out for the holidays. With Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Echo-like Home product, Amazon has lots of competition and will see more in 2017, says McQuivey.
“You’ll see a lot more from a lot of companies: why wouldn’t a hotel chain like Marriott have its own? By 2019, they’ll be really, really common,” he says. Next year, Cortana will join forces with Harman Kardon to bring smarts to audio speakers while Alexa is coming to Sonos audio speakers.
Facebook pushed the Live experience big time in 2016. But beyond the celebrities, broadcasters and media brands showing big interviews or events, when’s the last time you actually watched your neighbor’s BBQ? The answer is probably never, which could provoke Facebook to just focus on the big-time names in 2017 and ditch us amateurs, suggests Jan Dawson, principal analyst at Jackdaw Research.
“The consumer level has not been a success at all,” Dawson says. “Either people will finally latch onto it or get so annoyed at the push for live that Facebook will have to get more focused.”
You’ll see more virtual reality products that attempt to woo consumers by taking them into a new world, with hopefully more consumer friendly features and more companies look to video glasses that marry the augmented reality of apps like Pokemon Go to real life. Snapchat’s Spectacles, the $129 video glasses, were snapped up by consumers, who stood on long lines to buy them from a wild-looking vending machine.
Investors will look to Snapchat’s spring $25 billion IPO and possibly Uber as well to try and make some money from tech, while those of us who enjoy living in the real world will look to Facebook to tame its issues with fake news, which its said it wants to do.
Meanwhile, the new year starts next week, when tech enthusiasts descend upon Las Vegas for the 50th edition of CES.