Ten years ago, the best cell phone in the world was the Nokia N73. There was no Uber, no WhatsApp, no Instagram and no Paytm. Then came the iPhone, Android and iPad. App stores, selfies, digital assistants and digital payments followed. Now we have 4G networks, which enable us to broadcast anything to the world from anywhere on Facebook Live. We have prime ministers conducting opinion polls using apps, and soon we may have presidents who announce nuclear war on Twitter.
As everything around us—toothbrushes, locks, bulbs, cars—get smart and connect to our phones, what next? As always, Google, Apple and Facebook think they have the answer—AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). The 17 products in this list of products for 2017 reflect that change.
Living in the moment, we often think we are technologically super-advanced. But in the grand scheme of things, we are just beginning our great technological journey. With over two billion smartphones capable of running AI assistants such as cellular PA Cortana, smart home butler Cubic and with tens of billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices around us, we are entering a glorious tech future. Perhaps a decade from now when cars will drive themselves and watches anticipate our every need, we will look back upon 2017 as the year when we started trusting and truly depending on AI.
Google Pixel and Apple iPhone 7
Smartphone wars are over and the winners are Apple and Google. As their latest flagship phones, smartphones are at their refined best. They are more powerful than any desktop computer, take pictures as good as DSLR cameras and come with very powerful AI assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri. This can mean only one thing for 2017. The smartphone will truly become the centre of our digital lives and our everyday lives. With the government’s push towards a cashless society and with even the most basic products such as toothbrushes getting connected, 2017 is the year when the smartphone will become irreplaceable. Google Pixel from Rs Ten years ago, the best cell phone in the world was the Nokia N73. There was no Uber, no WhatsApp, no Instagram and no Paytm66,499 and Apple iPhone 7. From Rs 55,349.
Xiaomi Mi Mix
Every phone in the market has an ugly problem—big screens tucked into big bodies. One way to make phones smaller while keeping the screen sizes is by getting rid of ugly bezels around them. Xiaomi did just that with their Mi Mix, pointing the way to an exciting 2017 when we can expect to see more phones with bezel-less screens. Even though it looks good, the ceramic-bodied Mi Mix is not all that good as the selfie camera is in the chin in the bottom. From Rs 55,000.
Spectacles by Snap
In one fashionable swoop, it brings together the most popular app among youngsters, Snapchat, with a future where cameras are everywhere and record everything. Where Google tried and failed with Google Glass, Snapchat succeeds by making the glasses fashionable and accessible. They are more affordable than Google Glass. It makes a 10-second video called Snap, which can be shared via the Snapchat app. Gauging by Spectacle’s success, expect more wearable cameras to appear in the market in 2017. With better batteries, smaller cameras and better Bluetooth connectivity, next year we’ll get accustomed to cameras on every face. Rs 8,900.
Amazon Echo Dot
The smaller sibling to the company’s popular Echo, a living room speaker with an AI assistant. Packed with seven far-field microphones, Alexa hears and responds to voice commands from anywhere in the room. It tells you the news, weather alerts, plays music, controls devices and even orders an Uber. This year seems ripe to become the year of the ‘shouting-at-your-devices-in-the-living-room’. Rs 3,400.
The AirPods are two earbuds that sync seamlessly wirelessly over Bluetooth. Dubbed one of the most magical products Apple has ever produced, they hold 24 hours worth of charge, while the AirPods give five hours of uninterrupted use. Lacking any buttons, AirPods are clever enough to pause the music when you take them out of your ears. They have a smalwhen you take them out of your ears. They have a small touch area, which you can double tap to activate Siri. As the rest of the industry follows where Apple goes, expect more phones in 2017 to drop the headphone jack and more earphones to lose the wires. Rs 15,400.
As magical as the AirPods are, they are still more or less normal in-ear earphones. For the best musical experience without wires, look towards Bose. Their newest over-ear headphones are the best wireless ones ever made and give 20 hours of usage on a single charge. They also have the world’s best noise-cancelling circuitry. Add a wire and you can use the headphones for 40 hours. Using Bluetooth and NFC for connectivity and with features like volume optimised equaliser and a dedicated app that can tweak the settings, Bose QC 35 is the precursor to the great wireless headphones of 2017. Rs 30,000.
Dell XPS 13
With over two billion people poised to own a smartphone in 2017, PCs running Windows need to be outstanding computers. Using a borderless InfinityEdge display, Dell squeezes a 13-inch screen into a body that would normally hold an 11-inch screen. The screen’s super-high resolution at 3,200 x 1,800 make the colours pop out. Running the latest sixth generation Intel Core and with 18 hours of battery usage, the XPS 13 shows us that in 2017, we will get more PCs with touch screens and high resolution to use the full potential of Windows 10. From Rs 70,990.
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID
Microsoft thinks laptops should have touch screens. Apple thinks that is like tethering a refrigerator to a toaster. So Apple has another plan—put a touch screen running a full-fledged OS in your keyboard with a fingerprint sensor. The Touch Bar replaces your keys and changes according to the app you are in. If you are playing a video, it is a scrubber; in a game, it could be a controller, and for Safari, it will just show browser tabs. And more than anything, the new MacBook shows we could see laptops with colourful changing keyboards this year. From Rs 55,990.
Lenovo Yoga Book
Tablets are supposed to be PC replacements, and tech companies are trying to make them more productive. The Lenovo Yoga Book opens up like a book, with one half being a normal touch screen and the second, a touch sensitive pad. It can be folded up and used like a normal tablet and opened like a laptop, using a keyboard on the touch pad. Comes with a styler. From Rs Ten years ago, the best cell phone in the world was the Nokia N73. Rs 49,990.
Microsoft Surface Studio
If PCs are not for everyone, how niche can they get? Microsoft has the answer for that with Microsoft Surface Studio, an all-in-one PC with a massive 28-inch touch screen display that can also be used as a monitor. A round puck called Surface Dial can be placed anywhere on the screen and rotated to access menus. If other manufacturers such as Dell see that the Dial could be useful outside of professions like graphic design, 2017 will be when we can start expecting cheap Dial-esque, Studio-esque computers in our offices. From Rs Ten years ago, the best cell phone in the world was the Nokia N73. Rs 2 lakh.
Games People Play
Nintendo NES Classic Console
A classic gaming console from the golden age of gaming. This one connects to our modern, massive, high-definition television sets. The NES Classic Console gives free access to such eight-bit classics such as Super Mario, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. The included retro controller can also be used with NES Virtual Control games on the Wii or Wii U by connecting it to a Wii Remote controller. Rs 4,000.
Play Station VR with PS4 Pro
The best gaming console on the planet, the Play Station 4 gets an update to be called the PS 4 Pro and gains an accessory, a beautiful VR headset. Unlike the bulkier VR headsets from other companies or the flimsy ones from Google, this one is lightweight, sturdy and super futuristic. So much so that more companies are likely to jump on the VR bandwagon in 2017. Rs 39,000.
Anki Cozmo Robot
Anki is famous for bringing AI to a children’s toy with its overdrive racing track and intelligent cars. The Cozmo Robot is the size of a small phone box with a very big brain that responds to voice commands and gets better the more it communicates and plays with you. The colour-changing blocks can be a great companion for you and your kids. It shows that AI is ready to enter our houses in toys and devices. Rs 13,000.
Noke Smart Padlock
Noke’s Bluetooth equipped padlock syncs with Android and iOS phones and can be managed with an app. It can give virtual keys to friends, unlock from anywhere in the world and notify whenever it is unlocked. It is water-resistant, sturdy and comes with a battery that lasts a year. It shows that everything will have a Bluetooth chip and will sync with phones in the new year. From Rs 4,000.
This smart suitcase syncs with your smartphone and you can track it wherever it is in the world. With a built-in battery, it is a power bank to charge devices more than six times. It’ll tell you its weight. It can be locked and opened remotely, is water-resistant and comes with hubless wheels. Rs 32,000.
Shoes from Back to the Future 2. These are the first shoes with adaptive lacing. Step into the shoes and they tighten automatically around the shape of your feet. Nike designers see a future where shoes will automatically adapt to our circumstances, activity levels and weather. The downside? You need to charge them with everything else in your life. Rs 48,000.
The world’s first biometric smart shirt with trackers to measure heart rate, breathing rate, breathing volume, activity and track your sleep. It can sync with your smartphone and Apple Watch to show info in graphs. The machine washable Italian fabric is a perfect fit for anyone thinking of getting fit in the new year. Rs 27,000.