Tuesday , August 22 2017

What we’re expecting from IFA 2016 in Berlin

[toc] With a IFA 2016 in Berlin almost upon us, it’s time to look ahead and see what we think we will see. Last year, IFA became a bit of a hotbed for Smartwatch announcements with Samsung, Moto and Huawei all announcing new Android Wear devices on stage, and that was in addition to a whole raft of other announcements from all over the industry.

So based on what we have seen in leaks, heard from sources or simply expect to happen, what are we likely to see this September from IFA in Berlin?

What will we see from the device manufacturers?

Asus

Asus may not be the largest player in the Android space, however, they consistently release devices that keep everyone’s feet to the fire in terms of not resting on their laurels. Being a big OEM in the PC space, Asus always has a presence at IFA and we’re expecting to see a few bits of Android goodness.

The ZenWatch line has been very polarising, some love the large rounded rectangular look, others not so much. With the ZenWatch 2 launching last September we’re hoping to see the ZenWatch 3 in Berlin this year.

What else could Asus bring? With Asus’s Android strategy seemingly to make multiple variants of the same device each on focusing on one specific feature perhaps we will see more variants of the Zenfone 3?

HTC

For years we’ve heard rumours of an HTC Android Wear device, and we’re wondering if they could finally announce such a device at IFA this year. Of course, they could but we’re honestly not expecting it. What we are expecting is one of two devices in their mid-tier Android Handset line up, perhaps a Desire for instance.

Let’s not rule out the wearable, but it seems remote.

Huawei

Over the past few years, Huawei has emerged from being a lesser-known Chinese OEM to being one of the major brands in Android. In 2015, they were the crowned King of the Android Wear space with their first device the Huawei Watch. What will this rising star bring to Berlin?

If we don’t see a second generation Huawei Watch we’re going to be disappointed. With the original Huawei Watch been chosen by Google as a development device for Android Wear 2.0, it seems even Google was impressed with the HW1. We haven’t heard any specific rumours as yet, however, with the knockout success of the HW1 a successor seems likely.

We could also see some new Android handsets from Huawei. With the premium devices from Huawei being sorted this year we could be seeing something from their Mate or G series phones (which fits with their developing annual cycle).

LG

LG continues to struggle to make a meaningful dent in the Android market. It seems that each year they release hardware that only just misses the mark for mass adoption.

With LG being the only OEM to have LTE-connected Android Wear device and independent apps becoming a larger feature of Android Wear 2.0, they could be just ahead of the pack. A new LG Watch could well find itself on stage come September.

With the release of the LG G5 earlier this year, it’s about time we hear more about the LG Friends line-up. For LG’s modular and extendable device strategy to be successful, they are going to either need to announce 3rd party products or extend their own 1st party offerings. Honestly, as much as we’d like to see them, I doubt we will.

In addition to their Android division, LG is a large producer of many consumer and home electronic products. As such we could also see new products in their connected home line up, IoT products and of course a TV or two.

Moto

This will be Moto’s first IFA since Lenovo has been fully in charge of both the company and the product roadmap. It will be interesting to see if Lenovo’s involvement has affected their offerings moving forward.

Moto was the original darling of the Android Wear market with their striking round Moto 360 if it wasn’t for the flat tyre design in the Moto 360 2nd generation they may have retained that position. We are expecting a Moto 360 3rd generation device later this year, the big question is have they got rid of the flat tyre?

In addition to the standard Moto 360, we could also see a 2nd generation sports variant to cater to the active market.

We’ve heard rumours that there could be a Moto Z Play edition in the works, and if true perhaps it could take the stage in Berlin? More importantly, we’re hearing that this Z Play may just get its headphone jack back, how this could affect compatibility with Moto mods is yet to be seen.

Samsung

Samsung used to use IFA to announce their Note line of devices, however with both the Note’s and Samsung’s popularity now they choose to launch their devices at standalone events where they can dominate the news cycle, and why wouldn’t they?

What we are expecting is the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatch to launch in Berlin as the Gear S2 did last year. At this stage, there are several rumours pointing to this release, so it’s highly likely we will see a new watch from Samsung in September.

We spotted a new Samsung tablet heading through the FCC this week, and unless they choose to do a one more thing bit at next week’s Note 7 launch the 8” device will likely launch at IFA.

Last year Samsung introduced an expanded range of IoT products including a sleep tracker, while nothing has been rumoured yet we wouldn’t be surprised to see more devices for their Smart Things line of home automation and IoT devices.

What else could we see from Samsung? Well this is Samsung so honestly anything would be an acceptable answer, they’re such a large company with some many things in development nothing would surprise me. However what we are more likely to see is more devices from their connected white goods lines as well as the obligatory Smart TV or two.

Sony

Sony has had a strong overall presence at IFA for years, and despite their struggling to reach financial profitability from their consumer electronics ventures, we’re not expecting this year to be any different.

According to previous leaks, Sony is working on a new high-end Android phone. With Sony having a track record for releasing new flagship hardware every 6 months it’s quite likely that this new phone will show itself in Berlin. The real question is, is this the Xperia X2 or a new line to complement their new X series?

Two years ago, Sony released the Sony Smartwatch 3 at IFA since then we haven’t seen a new Smartwatch from Sony. The SW3 was actually a quiet achiever with many writers at Ausdroid buying them to use in addition to their other Android Wear devices. While we haven’t heard any rumours yet we think that a Smartwatch 4 device could well launch this September.

Alongside these two devices, we could also so other new products from Sony including a successor to the Sony Xperia Z4 tablet, new announcements for their personal audio range including headphones and perhaps portable speakers and perhaps a TV or two.

Overall expended trends at IFA

Overall what sorts of technology do we expect to see at IFA this September?

If it wasn’t clear above we’re expecting smartwatches to be a big feature, this could well be based on our own desire to see this market continue to iterate and develop. The real question for Android Wear is are the OEMs already souring to this line, or does it have legs?

Leading on from smartwatches is wearables and fitness tech. We should continue to see fitness trackers, HR thingies and health gizmos all over the show. Between the fitness, quantified self and low-cost watch replacements we should see a lot of these products.

With IoT and home automation still being the new hotness, we’re expecting vendors large and small to bring us an onslaught of connected things. With Google’s IoT offerings still confusing and Google Home yet to be announced it’s unclear how much Android/ Google integration we’re going to see with these products. Having a 100 connected devices is great, having 100 apps to control them is less great.

VR and AR seem to be the holy grail of technology right now, Everyone is chasing this market. Mobile VR and AR should also get a good look in, who knows with the DayDream specification having been out since Google IO 2016 we may even see some DayDream, compatible viewers and controllers? We just need some phones, oh and the software would be nice.

More than mobile, with TVs DVDs Computers and more

Believe it or not, there’s more to IFA then Mobile. That’s right, as Europe’s largest tech show we will be seeing new products from all over the product spectrum. So what else might we see?

If 4K HDR Tv’s and ultra HD DVD players don’t feature strongly we’d be surprised, both of these standards are fighting for dominance and OEMs will want to have their best offerings to showcase the technology.

Apart from that, you should expect the standard range of Laptops, PC,s Monitors, Routers and tech accessories.

The wrap

In the end, a list like this is painstakingly researched, trends are analysed, market growth is looked at, and then we guess. Even with products, where there are multiple rumours or we’ve got good sources for things can change, so just know that one thing in this list you’ve got your heart set on just may not make it.

That said IFA is happening and there will be a lot of tech some great some not so much coming our way. If you’re interested in IFA stay tuned to Ausdroid in September.

 

Duncan Jaffrey   Journalist

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