Almost two months into 2017, it is now clearer what technology trends are going to dominate this year. It is amazing how something new is always coming up on the horizon, and how a few technologies always seem to be 5 years away. Here are some of the top trends for this year according to most analysts.

1.    The Smartphone

2016 was a year of underwhelming and overpriced smartphones. It was a year of unnecessary features, uninspiring hardware design, and overheating battery. Lack of innovation have given the second tier smartphone companies a chance to create phones that look like flagship products, and this is likely to accelerate in 2017. So, even cheaper models will have great features and specs. It will thus become very difficult to charge a premium price. There could be some curved screens, bezel-free device with a built-in fingerprint reader.

2.    Machine Learning

There has been huge development in the last few years, even Google’s core search engine algorithm is being assisted now. But the applications have been limited. There are likely to be many machine learning updates throughout 2017 in many types of consumer applications. For instance, product recommendations could be made based on buying habits and improving user experiences gradually. Machine learning will become the “new normal” soon, and 2017 could see big strides in that direction.

3.    Automation

In 2016, we became scared of automation, with advances in machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence. This may take away millions of current jobs. automation is great at boring and systematic tasks, but it cannot do designing and architecting systems, interpret gray areas, or make calls when the days isn’t presenting a clear winner. It isn’t good at complex problem solving. 2017 could be a landmark year, as we may take the first strides in combining automation with machine learning. That will skyrocket productivity, and many jobs will begin to disappear.

4.    Virtual Reality

We are already having virtual reality in defense, education, and healthcare. In Australia, Google’s Daydream View is being used to alleviate isolation and loneliness for patients who must stay in hospitals for a long time. There are likely to be many more practical applications of VR soon, and we may make rapid strides in this direction in 2017. VR will continue to pop-up in places where nobody thought possible. It is about to take a leap and go real world soon.