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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Tech to look forward to in 2017

A new year means anticipation of all the things that might be packed into the next twelve months. But so often—especially in adulthood—anticipation seems to follow a direct line to disappointment. Still, even with the disaster that was 2016, I haven’t had all optimism crushed from my spirit quite yet. Here are a few things, mostly technological, that I’m looking forward to in the year ahead.

Sonos-Echo integration: First announced last summer, this year’s best team-up should see my favorite virtual assistant joining forces with everybody’s favorite purveyor of wireless speakers to offer voice control of music playback in any room in the house. As someone who now owns a pair of Echos and a pair of Sonos Play:1s, this is literally music to my ears. It’d be extra great if said music could play on the Echo and the Sonos simultaneously, but I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath. The initial announcement says the feature will arrive some time in 2017, after a beta period.

Nintendo Switch: I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the very first DS (the only other Nintendo console I owned was an original NES), but I’m intrigued by the upcoming Nintendo Switch. In part because of its hybrid approach that lets you hook it up to a TV or take it on the go, and in part because as much as I wanted to like the Wii, it never quite ended up being a compelling buy for me.

Nintendo Switch

If the Switch is as good as it looks—and hey, Nintendo makes a pretty marketing video, but we all know that’s not necessarily reflective of reality—and there’s, say, a new version of Mario Kart, then I am in. (Alternatively, if Nintendo would like to follow up on the success of Super Mario Run and bring a Mario Kart game to iOS, well, that would be just fine and dandy as well.) The company’s expected to dish out more information on the Switch in a livestream on January 12, so we’ll be paying attention to that; the console itself is slated to ship in March.

VR: Vague, I know, but hear me out: last year saw a lot of movement in the virtual reality space, and there are now a bunch of viable products that are actually on the market. This year, we can expect to see companies start to announce the second-generation versions of those devices, which should get closer to the VR that we’ve all imagined: lighter, cheaper, wireless, and so on. There are also some big question marks in the VR market. Sony’s launched its PSVR headset, for example, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to have made any tip towards VR on the Xbox, beyond pre-announcing its Project Scorpio update to the console, which should have the horsepower to at least handle VR. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if I owned a VR setup by the end of the year.

Whatever Apple comes up with: VR, AR, wearable tech, wireless charging…Apple’s got to have something up its sleeves for 2017. There have probably been more lackluster years for Apple than 2016—like pretty much any year in the ’90s—but it wasn’t until the AirPods squeaked in at the very end of the year that there seemed to be an Apple product that really hit the zeitgeist. (Sorry, Touch Bar!) The Mac Pro and AirPort lines are on life support, with a prognosis that is far from positive, and the iPad and much of the rest of the Mac are in need of some updates. That product pipeline would seem to have backed up a bit; here’s hoping it gets unclogged this year.

Star Wars: Episode VIII

Episode VIII: Okay, it’s not exactly technology per se, but come on. Much as I liked Rogue One, I’m eager to see what happens in the still-as-yet-untitled next chapter of the main saga. Does Rey master the Force? Will Finn wake up from his coma? Can Luke Skywalker work his way up to a single line of dialogue? And in the light of Carrie Fisher’s recent passing, this probably marks the last outing for everybody’s favorite senator/princess/general/all-around badass. I’ll be at Star Wars Celebration in April, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll mark the debut of the official trailer for the next installment.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]