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What will be Google, Apple, Microsoft’s focus in 2017?

Over the past few years, the big battles in the tech space revolved around smartphones and computing devices. While that won’t entirely change in 2017, we will see some of the big tech brands focus on newer and emerging technologies and categories. We take a look at some of the potential new battlegrounds.

In your car

The integration of your smartphone with your car has well and truly started. Tech giants Google and Apple have each developed in-car platforms called Android Auto and CarPlay, respectively. The idea is to make your phone the critical piece for entertainment and communication requirements inside your vehicle, including apps such as messaging, music and navigation for handling tasks such as making and receiving phone calls, without having to look away from the road.

With Android and iOS now powering the in-car infotainment system, what you will inevitably get is a user experience far superior to what stock infotainment systems installed by carmakers tend to offer. In India, most car makers are now including either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as the default option in some of the vehicles that they sell, and this number will only increase in 2017.

Smart speakers

With the Echo speaker, Amazon opened up an entirely new category of technology that the likes of Google, Apple and perhaps even Microsoft will look to cash in on in 2017. Amazon decided to try this out at a time when Google with Now, Apple with Siri and Microsoft with Cortana were restricting themselves to smartphones and computing devices. Essentially, with these smart speakers which are connected to the internet, you can speak to them, and get responses based on context and can link up with compatible third party applications—and not to forget, it plays music too.

Google has already given indications that it is interested in this emerging space, with Google Home—it also understands your voice, can execute tasks and connect with other smart gadgets in your home. These devices could very well be the personal assistants of the future.

Virtual assistants

While smart speakers may still take time to become entirely common, voice based virtual assistants will become ever more prevalent in 2017. This include Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. Google has fired the first salvo with the artificial assistance capabilities in Assistant we have seen in the Pixel smartphones.

Companies are already investing heavily to make these assistants better listeners, their ability to understand context apart from just words and key phrases and are thus better geared up for completing requests and tasks. Another thing with artificial intelligence is the ability to learn more along the way—as more services come within the ambit of these assistants, and as users use them even more, they’ll be able to gauge preferences better.

Artificial intelligence

This is a category that will perhaps be massive in 2017, and you’ll be touched by it as you use technology, more than you probably imagine. The best example of that is how Google, Apple and Facebook identify your friends in photos that you click. At present, AI is being trained with human intervention, mostly revolving around key words and context. The next evolution will be able to learn on its own, as we see more advanced neural networks. With Microsoft and Facebook relying ever so much on bots, you may not know whether you next conversation, for example with a business representative, will be with a human or a machine.

First Published: Wed, Dec 28 2016. 09 56 AM IST

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