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Smartphone trends to watch for in 2017

Smartphone trends to watch for in 2017

As we bid 2016 farewell, and the explosive controversies along with it, we naturally have to look forward to the upcoming 12 months. Many analysts have remarked how the smartphone market has seemingly plateaued this year, both in terms of sales as well as innovation. Perhaps with one exception, 2017 might somewhat be the same. It isn't exactly a bad thing as it allows the smartphone industry to hunker down on its technologies before it makes the big leap which is expected to happen before the year's end.

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Here’s how Android tablets can survive 2017 and beyond

Here’s how Android tablets can survive 2017 and beyond

Smartwatches seem to be the new poster boy for "device categories that miserably failed" this year. But long before that, prophets of gloom and doom have long been circling around tablets like vultures waiting for a critter to expire. Especially when it comes to Android tablets.

With perhaps the sole exception of the Lenovo Yoga Book, this year hasn't seen any significant movement in the Android tablet front, whether it be from major manufacturers or even the Android community at large. But as the success of the Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple iPad Pro showed, there is still a market for tablets, even expensive ones. Fortunately, the Android platform can still catch up, and most of the solutions can even be done through software only, though it will definitely take some guts from OEMs to make it happen.

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The Best Games of 2016: Civilization VI

The Best Games of 2016: Civilization VI

The games in the Civilization series can be notoriously difficult to judge. There are so many working parts that the intricacies become overwhelming, and every time I try to describe one of the games to my friends, my explanation tends to collapse under its own weight. It doesn't help that all of the Civilization games thus far have been great, whether they're great at launch or they become great later on in life through expansions and DLC.

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Will CES 2017 bring the Mac accessories Apple can’t be bothered to make?

Will CES 2017 bring the Mac accessories Apple can’t be bothered to make?

CES 2017 is almost upon us, and while the annual Consumer Electronics Show will be dominated by vast televisions and, increasingly, car tech, it's the smaller gadgets I'm most looking forward to. If there's one thing 2016 has taught us, it's that we shouldn't get too attached to our favorite celebrities; if there's a second thing, though, it's that the brave new dongle world we live in is surprisingly poorly populated. Yes, Apple, I'm looking at you.

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The Best Games of 2016: Forza Horizon 3

The Best Games of 2016: Forza Horizon 3

After playing games exclusively on PC and Nintendo 3DS for most of this console generation, I made the decision earlier this year to buy an Xbox One S. Somewhat predictably, it doesn't see a lot of use since PC is still my platform of choice, but if one game was the exception to that trend, it was Forza Horizon 3. I wasn't expecting it at first, but what I thought was just going to be a fun little diversion turned into one of the best games of the year.

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A dual-cam 5″ iPhone would be the perfect 2017 tweener

A dual-cam 5″ iPhone would be the perfect 2017 tweener

A third iPhone 8 that cherry-picks the best of the two current models could give Apple a new sweet-spot - and a 2017 sales hit. Reports that the Cupertino firm will have not two but three new iPhones in refresh next year broke this week, with a 5-inch screen tipped to slot in-between the 4.7- and 5.5-inch sizes that have been part of the range since the iPhone 6. While a 5-inch iPhone might sound like a compromise, in fact it could end up being Apple's new mass-market pleaser.

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For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

I was somewhere around age 7 when I first saw A New Hope, then just known as Star Wars, and it ignited many things in my young mind. A love for storytelling, a love for science fiction specifically, and the stubborn insistence that lightsabers must exist somewhere regardless of what everyone said. It wasn’t until I watched Return of the Jedi, though, that Star Wars — and Carrie Fisher specifically — revolutionized my understanding of life and my place in it.

Star Wars was many things to me — a classic battle between good and evil, hope that the underdog could persevere against seemingly impossible odds, and, of course, a fun look at an imagined distant future. A New Hope reflected the world I’d perceived and known up to that point: boys having fun and being important and the one token girl being, well, a princess. An admittedly badass princess, but still.

It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the Princess Leia presented in A New Hope, but I didn’t see anything outside of what I knew as normal. She was exactly what I expected the princess to be. Luke was the special Jedi who got a lightsaber and a vital role in changing the galaxy. Han had a huge ship and all these connections amongst many worlds. Princess Leia needed help.

I’d declared at a young age that I wished I was a boy because boys were important and got to have the most fun. I had this idea of what a princess was, and it involved a hefty dose of forced helplessness. Being a girl meant having a lot of pink toys and being admonished about all the things that weren’t ladylike, and while that didn't describe the Princess Leia of A New Hope, I figured she'd had to put up with all that stuff, too.

Princess Leia was okay, but I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. And so I felt like someone must have made a mistake and I was supposed to be a boy. There couldn't be any other answer, I'd figured.

Fast-forward to Return of the Jedi and the plot twist that my young self never saw coming: Luke had a sister, and that sister had the Force, and that sister was Princess Leia. To most adults it seemed like a somewhat cheesy twist, given the love interest angle of the previous movies, but to me it was something else entirely: the very first moment I realized girls could be just as special as boys. She wasn't just a princess tagging along with the boys, she was just as important as them.

Fisher's role in the Star Wars world took on a new form in Return of the Jedi, and she steered it masterfully. Princess Leia wasn't just a stereotypical princess, and at the same time she wasn't a stereotypical "one of the boys" character who tried too hard to be masculine as if the feminine aspects of her personality were shameful.

This point was driven home during the Endor battle scene in which Leia was both warrior and nurturer, being able to hold her own against Imperial forces without needing the boys' help, and at the same time being gentle and loving toward the ewoks and, later on, having no qualms about donning a dress and braiding her hair.

It may sound like such simple things, but to many girls watching those movies for the first time, Fisher presented (and still presents) a look at what could be. You didn't have to be a boy to be special. You didn't have to be saved or sit on the sidelines, and you didn't have to pretend to be a boy or act tough all the time. I stopped wanting to be a boy or be Luke, and I decided I wanted to be like Princess Leia instead: someone who could be a person instead of just a girl.

In light of Fisher's passing, many narratives about her life will no doubt arise across social media in coming days. Many can't seem to help pointing out her past drug use, and others dismiss her as just an actress. Like Leia, though, she was more than any single one thing: she was a person who lived a complex life, and she wasn't afraid to be herself. Her influence will ultimately outlive any single narrative that may arise, and she'll no doubt continue to influence young viewers for years to come.

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Snapchat could make Augmented Reality mass-market

Snapchat could make Augmented Reality mass-market

Snapchat's reported $30m buy of an Augmented Reality specialist could be the key to taking mixed-reality mainstream, as its real-world users embrace virtual products. The news earlier this week that Snapchat owner Snap paid as much as $40m for Cimagine, an AR startup focusing on making online shopping more immersive, prompted questions as to just what the ephemeral messaging app might have in mind. Certainly, with its vast cohort of Millennial users, it could be the first truly successful push of Augmented Reality into the mass market.

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Why did CyanogenMod die? What is LineageOS? All the important details

Why did CyanogenMod die? What is LineageOS? All the important details

The Cyanogen company did not shut down, nor did the operating system CyanogenMod - it'll just change names. CyanogenMod OS will rebrand as LineageOS and will be separate from Cyanogen Inc., the company, which will operate separate from the open source OS. Those with CyanogenMod installed on phones or tablets right now should consider installing a more basic version of Android now, as no new support for the operating system will be offered.

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Tech’s 8 biggest winners of 2016

Tech’s 8 biggest winners of 2016

The biggest winners of the year this year really shine a light on where our priorities are as a collective unconscious. This list is not based on the "most popular stories" or "most searched topics" or anything scientific like that - instead it's based on my perception of the tech world as a reporter and a participant. It's also important to note that I consider "tech" to include technology, science, and science fiction entertainment, as well - so those that have any items to add, please, by all means speak up.

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Meet Wild Joker, “The Dude” of Pokemon GO

Meet Wild Joker, “The Dude” of Pokemon GO

Let me share with you a story of positivity in the global monster game Pokemon GO. Thanks to the Pokemon GO player known to Imgur as Acentrella, we've been introduced to the epic and unforgettable Wild Joker. If Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski lived in Arizona in the year 2016, there's little doubt in my mind that he'd be in a situation much like the Wild Joker.

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The Best Games of 2016: Pokemon Sun and Moon

The Best Games of 2016: Pokemon Sun and Moon

You may not know this about me, but Pokemon and I go way back. From the moment my mom bought me a Game Boy Pocket and a copy of Pokemon Blue at the now-closed KB Toys in my local mall, I've been hooked. I wasn't the only one either, and in the past 20 years, Pokemon has become as much of a cultural sensation as Superman or Mickey Mouse. In that time, though, the series hasn't strayed much from its tried-and-true formula. That all changed with Pokemon Sun and Moon.

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