We might still be in the dog days of summer, but look around and you’ll see the first signs of fall. The NFL pre-season kicked off Thursday night. Pumpkin spice everything is starting to infiltrate grocery stores, coffee houses and restaurants. And the tech world is on the cusp of its annual explosion of new products.
Samsung will get the ball rolling next week, with its Unpacked event on Aug. 10. Apple, Google, Amazon and Meta are set to follow as the holidays get closer.
Some of the items are predictable enough. New phones are as regular as clockwork. But it’s the wildcards that make this time of year especially exciting for tech enthusiasts. A year ago, for instance, Amazon unveiled its Astro robot, an “Alexa on wheels” that would follow you around the house. The year before, it touted a security drone. (Both products, it’s worth noting, are still available only via invitation).
The wildcards will, of course, be surprises, but here are a few of the most anticipated gadgets you could be hearing more about in the coming days and months.
Samsung, via a teaser video for its Unpacked event, confirmed it will be introducing new foldable smartphones, likely the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Look for the crease to become less noticeable along with the usual memory and camera improvements. Hopefully, the price will come down some as well. Expect some peripherals, like a new generation of the Galaxy Buds earbuds, to be shown as well.
Apple hasn’t set a date for its fall showcase yet. (It tends to wait until nearly the last minute to do so). It’s a fairly safe bet that it will be held in September, however, and you can expect the iPhone 14 to be in the spotlight. Apple is expected to roll out four models this year, including a new Plus/Max version.
Google, meanwhile, should begin selling the Pixel 7 in October, after teasing it in May. It’s expected to run on a second-generation Tensor chip and to come with Google’s Magic Eraser photo editing tool (which lets you remove unwanted objects from photos). The Pro model will feature three rear cameras, while the standard model will have two.
Look for bigger screens and a more rugged casing on at least one model in the new crop of Apple Watches. Apple’s leaning into the sports market more and a report in Bloomberg says the rugged version will have a screen that’s larger than current models. A standard Apple Watch 8 and budget model are also expected to be part of the September event.
Google, meanwhile, in May confirmed it’s getting into the smartwatch game with the Pixel Watch. That could be available sometime in October, likely alongside the Pixel 7. The renderings the company has shown point to a more minimalist design. Expect it to have a sports focus, also, after Google’s acquisition of Fitbit last year as well as some Android-exclusive features.
Virtual reality could be gearing up for a big push this holiday season. Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 could hit store shelves before the end of the year (though early 2023 is still a possibility), with an impressive spec list. The two OLED displays combine to give users a 110-degree field of view and the headset will utilize eye tracking technology to both increase immersiveness and reduce motion sickness. The controllers will have the same haptic characteristics of the PS5 controller. And the game lineup is impressive, with VR installments of the Horizon, Resident Evil and No Man’s Sky franchises.
Meta, meanwhile, is expected to introduce the Meta Quest Pro later this year, with more advanced sensors and mixed reality capabilities. It’s expected to be a high-end product with a high-end price tag, which might be targeted more towards enthusiasts and professionals. One rumored feature is facial tracking sensors that will make metaverse interactions more realistic. And Zuckerberg has touted potential augmented reality (AR) features as well.
“Imagine working at your virtual desk with multiple screens, while seeing your real desk so clearly that you can pick up a pen and write notes without taking your headset off,” he said when revealing what was then called Project Cambria. “Or you’re doing a workout with a virtual instructor in your living room.”
Apple, though, is the real wild card in the AR/VR space. The company is widely expected to introduce a mixed-reality headset, but there’s no good information on when that might happen or what features it would offer. Whispers, though, say it would combine elements of both VR and AR, letting users fuse digital content onto the real world.