Baig's best tech picks from a ho-hum 2016

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

NEW YORK--Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 might have claimed a spot on the tastiest products to consider this holiday season -- but we all know how that one turned out. After receiving high praise during its late-summer debut, the twice-recalled and ultimately discontinued phablet phone had a tendency to catch on fire. Fortunately, the products on this list might be deemed hot for another reason. They've left a (mostly) positive impression these past 12 months. The cameras are excellent, certainly on par with the equally fine iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 shooters.

Google Pixel Phone Is Powered by AI


With an aim to lead the world of smartphones with its artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology, Google on Tuesday launched much-awaited Pixel -- a new premium device completely designed by the tech giant with Google Assistant built right-in -- at a special event here. Don't Miss: Black Friday 2016: Everything You Need to Know Now The launch also ended the Nexus branding under which the company has always released phones in partnership with other original equipment manufacturers like LG (for Google Nexus 5) and Huawei (for Google Nexus 6P). Although HTC has manufactured the smartphones, the new device bears Google branding. With curved sculpted edges and a unibody made up of combination of aerospace grade aluminum and glass, the device comes in two sizes -- 5 and 5.5-inch with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protected super AMOLED display. Pixel is available in two -- quite black and very silver colors in India.

News roundup - Google opens Early Access beta testing to more developers


Welcome to DeveloperEconomics' weekly news roundup. In this edition, Google cancels its modular smartphone project, Apple plans to delete abandoned apps from the App Store and Epic releases a new version of Unreal Engine 4. Read on for the full news rundown. Google has expanded its Early Access beta testing, allowing any developer apply for the program. Previously, Early Access was only available to 29 hand-picked developers, who got to test out their apps with early-adopters (although other devs were given different testing options). Google says the Early Access program generated over 1 million beta installs since launching in May and "demand is only growing."

Google Pixel: Devices are a dangerous distraction from the new AI interface


Analysis There was a distinct whiff of the retro about Google's launch of its Pixel smartphone. Exclusives with selected large mobile operators; yet another attempt to create a unified Android experience; even the clear focus on Apple as the primary competition – all these should be issues of the past. "Premium is a very important category," Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Android, said in an interview. "It's where Apple is also very strong. Is there room for another player there?

CART's Top 10 Predictions for 2017


Alexa and Siri become new retail customers: Home-based digital assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri will proliferate and expand into eCommerce, enabling consumers to'shop by voice'. These assistants are becoming pervasive as the ecosystems expand outside the home; Amazon is already integrating Alexa into Ford, BMW, and Hyundai autos and Apple is a growing force in cars. IoT hits a tipping point: The Internet of Things (IoT) has been talked about a lot for both in-home and in-store applications. Omnipresent omni-channel: Platforms are being put in place that provide consistent relevant content across every digital touchpoint while ensuring a cohesive and comprehensive user experience across devices and channels both inside and outside the store. Relevancy required: Strategic hyper-personalization goes from a'nice to have' to a necessity to keep customers (especially millennials and younger shoppers) engaged and to make the most efficient use of marketing budgets.