Telephones were once large and bulky devices that were only accessible at home and in the office. Over the past few decades this has dramatically changed with the advent of cellphones and, more recently, smartphones. Smartphone’s today are much more than simple communicators, however. While they still provide consumers with a means of one-on-one communication through phone services, that is only a fraction of their capabilities.
Nowadays smartphones have a host of different features and benefits ranging from HD cameras to on-board GPS. As a mobile computer, smartphones are capable of playing games and communicating in real-time through video. With the ability to access the internet and the amount of apps available, its capabilities are basically endless.
Currently, mobile app revenue is expected to reach $581billion in 2020. However, according to Statista, by 2023, this number will be close to $1trillion, and the growth shows no signs of slowing down. Businesses around the world are powering this growth. With the increasing number of smartphones worldwide, companies are finding new ways to use them to benefit their consumers. Understanding what trends will be significant is, now more than ever, a very valid question that I hope to help you answer.
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) basically talks about physical devices that are connected to the internet, which perform a specific function. These devices, like appliances and wearables, can help adjust thermostats and even unlock doors. IoT has been around in a piecemeal fashion for a while. In recent years, however, this technology has really started to take off as people have embraced its usefulness. The IoT market is growing by leaps and bounds with a growth of 14% in the past year alone. By 2025 the expectation is that revenue from IoT devices will surpass $1.5trillion.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was long considered a death knell for people in the support and services industries. The expectation was that machines would simply swoop in and replace staff leading to mass layoffs. In reality, the picture is quite a bit different. What has started to become extremely clear is that a better arrangement is the partnership between AI and human. This arrangement ensures that simple issues get addressed quickly by AI tools while more complex problems requiring additional investigation are transitioned to the human partner. Building that seamless relationship is not natural though.
This is where machine learning (ML) comes into the picture. ML helps bridge the gap between technology and humanity. It helps educate AI algorithms and trains them to distinguish and understand the question and how to find the answer. AI tools are gradually becoming commonplace. Alexa and Siri are used in homes around the world on a daily basis, and tools like chatbots are prevalent with support and service teams. In some cases, AI-powered features like automatic photo filters are a key differentiator and can help propel a product to instant success.
ML on mobile phones is getting bigger everyday. Not only are users and companies constantly finding new use cases for it, but phone manufacturers themselves are building chipsets optimized for ML into smartphones. This means that phones are getting a boost in terms of ML operations processing power, and that opens up a whole world of opportunities for developers.
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) is a fascinating technology. By using a smartphone, AR helps transform a 2D image into a 3D hologram. At its simplest, it could include modeling furniture in a home. Taken to another level though, AR has a ton of different applications:
- It can help improve training for new employees by showing how parts connect. In addition to training new staff, this can also benefit field personnel trying to understand and diagnose maintenance issues.
- In the healthcare industry, it can help improve the health of patients by assisting doctors to literally see under a patient's skin. Aside from the benefits of training new doctors this provides, the improvement in diagnosis can’t be ignored.
- AR assisted navigation tools can change the way we drive on the road. While the GPS in itself has been an enormous leap forward, AR-powered HUDs are already being deployed. By placing all of the information a driver needs right on the windscreen, driving will be safer.
Apple, a key player in the AR industry just released ARKit 4, the new version of their AR development framework, and it's packed with very interesting features that will enable app developers to build more immersive AR experiences. Their new Depth API —powered by the LiDAR sensor included in the new iPad Pro— makes virtual object occlusion even more realistic by enabling instant placement of virtual objects and blending them seamlessly with their physical surroundings.
Google also recently released their own Depth API —yes, it even has the same name— which is a part of ARCore, their AR development kit for Android apps.
The competition between the two giants in the AR field is getting fiercer every day and us developers couldn't be happier, because we're getting more tools to develop cool AR apps constantly.
5G could transform the world in a fashion remarkably similar to the launch of the internet itself. While at its simplest, it’s just an expansion to the current 4G/LTE networks, in reality, it’s quite a bit more. 5G infrastructure spending is set to reach $2.3billion by 2021; however, this spending is just the tip of the iceberg.
5G networks will offer speeds of up to 100GB/s. The expectation is that 5G will decrease network latency, and in comparison to LTE, speeds will be close to 100 times faster. This technology will power advances in smart cities, driverless vehicles, and the continued acceleration of IoT devices worldwide.
5. Mobile Commerce
Online shopping is here to stay, and the current lockdown has only cemented it into our behavior. However, mobile is gradually becoming the dominant player in the eCommerce field. In 2019 mobile accounted for 67.2% of all eCommerce, but 2020 saw mobile crack the 70% threshold of eCommerce. This trend line is not stopping, though, and expectations are that mobile will be close to 73% by 2021.
6. Mobile Wallets
In a similar manner to mobile commerce, mobile wallets have been seeing massive growth in recent years. Apple, Samsung, and Google Pay all transacted close to $6.1billion in 2019. However, this number is set to more than double in the coming years with an expectation of hitting close to $14billion by 2022.
The way businesses work is changing. Clients and consumers are looking to use mobile in new and innovative ways every day. Companies need to continually stay on top of the most recent trends if they want to remain in business. Working with the right partner on mobile, can make the difference for a project.
At Hattrick we understand mobile. If you are looking to build a mobile-first product, drop us a line because we'd love to hear about it.