It is no secret that smartphones have embedded themselves in many aspects of our daily lives — from travel navigation to mindless animal video entertainment. Many of these offerings are accessed via mobile apps, which typically act as housing units for a specific service or function. These apps have become incredibly prevalent, standing as household names due to their convenience and innovative approaches to outdated or previously absent concepts and demands.
But are smartphone apps destined to be a longstanding part of our society’s technological landscape, or are they simply another trend in a much bigger chain of events? I recently outlined a few crucial implications in apps’ immediate future, but are a few more important focal points moving forward.
Arguably one smartphones’ biggest innovations is their ability to guide us to destinations, alert us of nearby businesses, and track our movement for fitness- and entertainment-based purposes. These types of apps (from Waze to MapMyRun to even Pokemon Go) have become progressively advanced to mirror growing user demand for precision and general sophistication, providing highly relevant contextual information and services. This surge in location-based innovation is expected to continue during the next few years — mainly in terms of how these capabilities will work alongside other modern technological conveniences. Location-based apps “will enable a new generation of extremely personalized services and information,” assisting with the accuracy and overall functionality of smart lighting and indoor location sensing, among many other concepts.
The aforementioned point brings us to another significant trend in apps’ future: the ever-evolving relationship between apps and the Internet of Things (IoT). As I have touched on numerous times already, IoT-ready smart devices are expected to grow exponentially in the foreseeable future, exceeding 26 billion devices by 2020. Many of these devices — from LED lighting systems to remote control toys — are accessible via app technology, leading most commentators to assume that the IoT-connected apps will only become more prominent to match the rapid growth of the IoT in general. Major tech players like Google are now designing key parts of their future strategy to implement IoT/app implications, using it as a basis for new projects and shifts in ideology.
New approaches to entertainment
Apps have set new norms for entertainment, pairing the convenience of portability and connection with a services rooted in streaming and quick accessibility (Netflix, Hulu, etc.); and their impact on the entertainment industry is only made more profound by their high ceiling in terms of future potential. Entertainment-based apps have pushed the limits of the mobile app spectrum, implementing “high-performance mobile CPUs, powerful graphics, quality displays, and fast Internet connections” to transform smartphones into full-fledged gaming systems and mobile theatres. These types of services have generated the vast majority of app-based revenue since 2010, and as these numbers continue to climb annually, it can be expected to see even more emphasis being placed on these types of apps in the future.