6 things to look forward to in 2017

The good thing about new year’s is that you figuratively get a clean slate – 365 days of possibilities to be exact. Despite having that much number of days where anything can happen, sometimes a little assurance on the future is what we’ll need to get going. We need definite things to look forward to so that we can make it through each day without a worry – may it be a trip out of town, a new album from your favorite band, or the return of a TV show you’ve been following religiously.

The Young STAR team came together and listed down the six things that they’re looking forward to seeing in 2017, and let’s just say the year is already shaping up to be far greater.

More virtual assistants at our disposal

Photo via Google images

We’ve all heard it: millennials are lazy and entitled. But we’d like to think that we just like it when technology does the work for us. Siri has been in our iPhones since Apple came out with iOS 5 but it was only recently that the virtual assistant has taken on a physical form through a smart speaker. One of the few impressive releases in 2015 was the Amazon Echo. It can answer any queries about the weather, traffic, and your favorite One Direction member. It also plays music and takes note of your to-do lists, among others.

The search engine giant Google also released a sleeker and funnier assistant through Google Assistant last year. It can pretty much do whatever the Amazon Echo does but it looks so much more Instagram-friendly. While Siri is not exactly in its best shape (it can’t detect what I’m saying most of the time), a smart speaker is also bound to happen for Apple. News is also circulating that Microsoft, in partnership with Harman Kardon, will be releasing their own virtual assistant soon. We don’t know about you but we’re looking forward to having a hassle-free year with these new virtual assistants.— Maine Manalansan, online editor

New year, new albums

Screenshot taken from twitter.com/edsheeran

The return of music heavyweights is always something to look forward to every start of the year, especially when they’ve been gone for so long. (read: Frank Ocean and Lady Gaga). Speculations, announcements, and confirmations of albums have already begun to pop up, starting with Ed Sheeran whose return to social media caused a stir during the New Year. His announcement of new music coming out on January 6 has made fans hopeful for the arrival of his third album. Pop and R&B singer Jason Derulo announced his return and his upcoming album to Billboard. Adding to the list of returnees is Avril Lavigne, who after battling lyme disease for over two years, announced the release of her album in 2017 through a lengthy and personal Instagram post.

Other artists who are said to be releasing new music this year include Lorde, who continues to be one of pop music’s favorite voices despite not having released a follow-up album to “Pure Heroine;” Jay-Z has already been spotted spending some time in the studio with various producers including Zaytoven; and the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and the rest of the band announced that they will be penning their sixth album. It seems like our 2017 playlist is already on fire. — Coco Maceren, editorial assistant for web

The return of Game of Thrones

Photo via HBO

Awaiting the return of Game of Thrones is excruciating as much as it is exciting. As much as you and your friends fight about the plot twists (“Will Daenerys Targaryen join forces with Jon Snow?”) and possible returning characters (see: Gendry rowing to parts unknown), we’ll never fully know what kind of surprises and curveballs George R.R. Martin will throw our way.

In an interview with Radio Times, Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) shared that there may be fewer episodes now than the previous seasons, but they all will have fuller content. Well, that is if you can trust Jorah Mormont’s words. Another highlight for GoT fans is the release of the sixth book from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series called The Winds of Winter. Martin also shares that in the book, we’ll get two major battle scenes in the opening. By the sound of it, it seems like what we’ll get is a spine-chilling book.

Game of Thrones season seven is slated for release during the latter part of April this year, while the book is said to come out on March. Winter is coming, and we’re ready. — Coco Maceren, editorial assistant for web

Virtual reality being more accessible

Photo via MSPoweruser.com

Advances in technology have allowed for virtual reality to be more feasible, and the industry has taken that as a cue to start making things happen. Last year, virtual reality made a comeback and had us all in awe, more so than it did the crowd back in the 90s. Big names such as Sony, Samsung and Google are paying attention and they are making sure our virtual reality dreams come true. Current offerings of VR headsets range at $600-$700 (Ocular Rift and the HTC Vive) to $80-100 (Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View). This year, even more cost-efficient alternatives are being provided with Windows 10 about to release their very own VR headsets starting at $299.

As the technology continues to evolve, gaming companies are following suit as well with the release of new games with VR capabilities. Resident Evil VII Biohazard, Gran Turismo Sport and Star Trek: Bridge Crew are some releases to look forward to this year.

This isn’t limited to just gaming either. As of last year, NBA fans have had the option to watch weekly games live through the comfort of their own homes, and we can just imagine what other content providers might come up with next once this technology becomes more accessible. – Isabelle Toledo, managing editor

People paying more attention to eco-friendly products

Photos via Sinaya CupsThe Last Straw MNL, and Avani 

Eco-friendly products have always been present in the market but have been neglected by local consumers for a long time. Recently, the tides have turned and aided in the growth of the organic and eco-friendly community.

For a product to be eco-friendly, it should not harm the environment in any way, whether in production, use, or disposal. Our locals are working hard and are making great strides in helping the community be more involved in the movement through their own little ways. The Sinaya Cups and The Last Straw MNL are both reusable local alternatives to small waste products (menstrual napkins and straws) that we constantly produce. Though both are not technically the originally branded eco-friendly products, what’s important is that they are locally sourced.

Another game-changing product that went viral in 2016 is Avani’s cassava plastic bags. These “biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable bioplastic” bags are made out of cassava roots and natural resins. Fortunately, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) also tested a biodegradable bag made from cassava starch early last year. The authors of the research, Engr. Andres M. Tuates Jr. and Dr. Ofero A. Caparino, say that the quality of the bag is comparable to the existing bagging materials such as Chinese brown paper bag and old newspaper.

With more countries joining the plastic ban this new year, we‘re hoping that the Philippines will start imposing stricter laws on plastic bans especially now that we’re developing more alternatives for it. Can you imagine the volume of waste we can all collectively avoid producing by choosing eco-friendly products? — Ina Jacobe, art director

More quality films in local cinemas

Two years ago, Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna proved that local mainstream audiences were willing to pay to see a film devoid of the usual kilig and hugot. Word of mouth powered the success of the film, and it slowly became a box office hit. This overall response convinced many that Philippine cinema (and in effect, its audience) would begin to rise up from being content with the substandard productions presented by big budget film companies.

Last month, the Film Development Council of the Philippines surprised everyone by selecting a majorly indie film lineup for the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. The move only goes  to show that the local film industry is still working on helping Filipinos strive to look for a greater variety of quality films that they deserve, whether they be produced by mainstream or indie companies. 2017 is looking good so far, especially with Erik Matti’s Darna, the film adaptation of F.H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles, the musical-turned-film Ang Larawan (with music by Ryan Cayabyab and based on the story A Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino by Nick Joaquin), and more to look forward to in cinemas. — Gaby Gloria, editorial assistant for web

#movies #music #technology #tv

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