The tech to look forward to in 2017
The New Year’s party is over and Christmas a rapidly fading memory – but for lovers of tech, games and gadgets there’s still a ton to be excited about in 2017. With a whole year of massive launches ahead of us, here’s Geek Squad’s pick of the tech we’re most looking forward to.
While most of us are turning our thoughts to diets, gyms and detoxes, here at Geek Squad we’ve made just one New Year’s resolution: to bring you the latest and most exciting news and developments from the world of technology.
With that in mind, we’ve already put our heads together to round up the most exciting developments coming your way in 2017 – and from a tenth-anniversary iPhone to a long-awaited new console from Nintendo, there’s a lot to get excited about!
The iPhone’s tenth anniversary
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a decade since Apple turned the mobile phone industry on its head with the game-changing launch of the very first iPhone – but, well, here we are!
In the intervening years, more or less every major phone has come to look like an iPhone as Apple’s once-revolutionary touchscreen-based design has become the norm – and last year’s iPhone 7 bucked Apple’s own trend of launching a radically redesigned device every two years. At the time, of course, the rumour was that Apple were saving their truly radical ideas for 2017: the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone.
It’s no great secret that many Apple watchers were somewhat disappointed by the samey 7, so there’s a lot riding on this one. For their part, Apple have remained as tight-lipped as you’d expect – but that hasn’t stopped a few persistent rumours from doing the rounds.
So far, we’ve seen speculation that the new phone will feature an ‘all-glass design’, which would be a decisive move away from the glossy plastic seen in recent models. There’s also talk of a bezel-free design – meaning a smaller and more manageable device without compromising on screen size.
Finally, there’s been a lot of talk about the name. At this point in the release cycle we’d normally expect to see an ‘iPhone 7S’ – but this year is likely to be different. Will we be treated to the iPhone 8? Perhaps the iPhone 10, to tie it into that anniversary angle? Or might they even reboot things entirely with the simple, minimalist elegance of a simple iPhone?
Right now, we just don’t know – but rest assured, as the details start to emerge you’ll find them here first!
A fightback from Samsung
In 2016, the Korean giant stole the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The long-awaited Galaxy Note 7 was the subject of the most embarrassing and high-profile tech recall in years – and Samsung ended 2016 with their reputation severely dented, if not quite in tatters.
It goes without saying, then, that Samsung have a lot to prove in 2017. So what can we expect? Well, we expect them to come out with their latest flagship, the Galaxy S8, at some point in February or March – and we’ve already seen a number of interesting leaks and rumours.
Firstly, and most radically, we expect to see wraparound ‘Edge-style’ screens on the regular-sized Galaxy S8 device. The Edge handsets have proven remarkably popular over the last couple of years, so this isn’t too surprising – but it does make us wonder how they’ll be differentiating the S8 Edge handset this year, or even whether they’ll release one at all.
Beyond that, we can expect the usual boosts to RAM, processor power and screen quality, with a 4K-resolution screen rumoured to be included as standard. As with the new iPhone, we’ve also heard that Samsung are trying to shrink the device by reducing the size of the bezel.
The good news for Samsung fans is that we won’t have to wait too long to find out for sure. Samsung traditionally announce their new flagship shortly before the Mobile World Congress conference, scheduled to start on the 27th of February – so we should know more within the next few weeks.
As for the launch date itself, Samsung face a quandary: rush it out early to silence the naysayers, or take a little longer to get it right and avoid any Note 7-style embarrassments.
In the meantime, however, the company are wasting no time in getting some other new products to market: just this week they've announced the 2017 refresh of their popular mid-range Galaxy A handset, which you can see in the video above. Pre-orders for this one start from the 20th of January.
A new range of Pixels from Google
One of the big smartphone surprises of 2016 was Google’s Pixel: a high-gloss handset that replaced the venerable but niche Nexus line in an effort to promote the very best in Android design and usability.
Our Agents loved the Pixel, particularly in conjunction with Google’s excellent Daydream View VR headset – and with reports suggesting the device is selling well, we fully expect to see a new Pixel phone at some point in 2017.
Of course, the original Pixel was only released towards the end of October last year, so we don’t expect to see the new device in the first half of 2017 – and at this point, there’s very little in the way of solid information about what to expect.
Our bet? It’ll highlight the latest version of Android, which, in keeping with Google’s alphabetical tradition, will probably carry a code name starting with the letter O. Beyond that, we’d just be guessing!
That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw even more Pixel-branded goodies from Google before the year is out. The Nexus line eventually expanded to include tablets – and with the Chromebook Pixel already representing the pinnacle of ‘netbook’-style design, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of Pixel tablets soon.
Perhaps more exciting are the persistent rumours that Google may be getting into the wearables game with a smartwatch of their own. While they’ve certainly made inroads, wearable tech still hasn’t quite caught on like the smartphone has – but if anyone can make it mainstream in 2017, it's Google's hardware team.
The Nintendo Switch
2017 also looks set to be a fantastic year for gamers, with the launch of a brand-new console from Nintendo, the Switch, already causing excitement around the world.
Early videos of the device, released last October, revealed a slick design which immediately prompted a positive reaction from the gaming press. The new device is something of a portable/home console hybrid: as well as the standard gamepads, there’s also a tablet-like body which can be detached from the console’s main dock for gaming on the go.
This is an approach Nintendo first tested with the Wii U, which featured a gamepad with an embedded touchscreen – but in practice, few games supported standalone play on the controller, which was substantially less powerful than the main device. Here, though, Nintendo seem to have made a major effort to make the console’s ‘tablet mode’ a viable choice.
Beyond the hardware design, there are a couple of other features that make the Switch particularly notable. In some respects, it harks back to Nintendo’s classic consoles of yesteryear: unlike their last three home consoles, it uses cartridges rather than optical disks to store the games. And in a move that places it more in line with the Xboxes and PlayStations of the world than the Wii, the Switch won’t feature motion-based controllers as standard, relying instead on traditional buttons and joysticks.
In terms of games, not much has been announced at the moment – but we’re sure to see new Pokemon, Mario and Zelda games alongside a raft of third-party titles. Indeed, Nintendo have taken the unusual step of releasing a list of 48 third-party publishers, studios and developers who’ll be supporting the device – a clear response to criticisms that the Wii U lacked third-party support.
2016 was an odd year for Nintendo. While Pokemon GO! and Super Mario Run saw some of their best-loved characters land on mobile for the first time, and Pokemon Sun and Moon revitalised their 3DS handheld, the Wii U finally ceased production after lacklustre sales throughout its lifespan.
All things considered, then, the Switch may be Nintendo’s last chance to make a real impact on the home console market. As to whether they’re able to pull it off – we’ll soon find out!
The Xbox Scorpio
While it’ll be a while yet before we see all-new consoles from Sony or Microsoft, we do expect at least one significant new launch: the Xbox One Scorpio.
Hot on the heels of last year’s PlayStation 4 Pro, this is a souped-up version of Microsoft’s current-generation console, packing more processing power and improved graphics. The new machine is said to have a four-fold increase in graphical computing performance, alongside an improved eight-core AMD CPU.
In practice, this should mean greatly improved performance at 4K resolutions – and while no specific hardware has been announced, it’ll also clear the way for the Xbox platform to support virtual reality headsets. All existing accessories and games will be compatible with the Scorpio, and existing Xbox One games should enjoy a significant performance boost.
Interestingly, unlike the PS4 Pro, Microsoft haven’t ruled out Scorpio-exclusive titles – but they haven’t confirmed them, either. To us, it seems like it’d be a divisive and likely unpopular move, but stranger things have happened.
There’s no official launch date for the Scorpio yet, but we expect to land in the second half of the year, in plenty of time for the Christmas rush.
A more connected home
Finally, we expect 2017 to be the year when the connected-home world of the Internet of Things takes off in a big way, driven by the latest generation of smart home hubs.
Amazon’s Echo launched in the UK late last year, and the Google Home hub should be landing here at some point in 2017. These products really work to centralise and streamline the experience of controlling connected-home gear – and there’s something incredibly futuristic about giving voice commands to you home!
With these devices becoming increasingly powerful, useful and desirable, we expect the home of 2017 to become better connected than ever.
That's it for our look at the most desirable new tech coming up in 2017 – but if there's anything else you're looking forward to, why not share it with our readers in the comments below? And for more great articles from our Agents straight to your inbox each month, get your name down below for the Geek Squad newsletter!