Mobile App Trends
Following on from a year that saw smartphone sales exceed one billion and app downloads reach 70 billion, the future for mobile technology looks bright. Even though device manufacturers are striving to create sleek and lightweight smartphones and tablets with attractive designs, powerful processors and stunning screens, software remains the most powerful tool available to the world of technology.
According to data from independent technology and market analysis company Forrester Research, a whopping $568 billion will be spent on software throughout 2014. In addition to cloud-based services, smart computing and real-time predictive analytics, mobile apps and smartphone marketplaces will inevitably provide even more exciting and stimulating content. Therefore, be prepared for some of the following trends to gain prominence in 2014.
For a few years now, various wearable technology devices have entered the market with varying degrees of success. In 2013, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear watch, which connects to compatible smartphones to deliver alerts, notifications and messages. Nike also released its latest FuelBand incarnation that tracks physical activity and monitors exercise routines.
Although these devices haven’t taken the market by storm, several companies have recognised the potential in this new and exciting consumer space, with 2014 looking like the year we start adopting smartwatches and head-mounted displays as everyday items.
For every wearable technology device, appropriate software and apps will be required. From taking pictures or shooting video to sending messages and making calls, these apps may not be revolutionary, but an emphasis will be placed on making routine tasks straightforward and uncomplicated.
Social Media Integration
Popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most recently Vine have transformed the way we communicate with friends, share created content and stay entertained. However, its power and influence looks set to grow in the year to come.
A great deal of apps requires the user to sign up or log in with their preferred social network. Although several people will have various privacy concerns or be unwilling to share their activity online, this social media requirement looks like a trend that is here to stay as it is free advertising and encourages users to invite and share with friends.
However, developers should be careful when it comes shunning potentially valuable users, even if social media integration is a fundamental part of the app in question.
Digital Currency and Mobile Wallets
Digital currencies, in particular Bitcoin, grew in significance during 2013. Although its value notably dropped towards the end of the year and concerns over illicit activity became more apparent, Bitcoin and other digital currencies are hoping 2014 will deliver even more success.
What does this mean for app developers? Well, it indicates that more and more people are willing to deal with their finances online and steer clear of physical money. Therefore, expect more mobile wallet apps and contactless payment solutions.
With continuing reductions in the cost of owning a mobile phone and the difficulties of living in rural areas, developing countries in Africa and Asia are adopting mobile money at an exponential rate. In fact, mobile penetration in Africa hit 80 per cent last year and is growing 4.2 per cent annually according to Venture Beat.
Health, Fitness and Education
Although games, social networking and photography apps are some of the most popular on the main mobile marketplaces like Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play, an increasing number of developers are turning their attention to health, fitness and education as areas for expansion and potential prosperity.
Smartphones and tablets will continue to see fitness trackers, exercise tutorials, calorie counters and diet plans, but wearable technology is set to facilitate further growth. This could even include monitoring blood pressure and heart rates, much like running specific watches do at the moment.
In terms of learning, the two-way commutative nature of smart devices and their decreasing price points means more educational institutions will purchase tablets for both teachers and students.
While this is somewhat dependent on the progression of hardware and manufacturer inclination, there could well be scope for developers to create apps with biometrics in mind.
Fuelled by the introduction of the Apple iPhone 5S, which features a fingerprint sensor in the home button, emphasis on the unique characteristics of the human body might well be the next big thing.
In addition to potential eye scanners using a smartphone or tablet’s in-built camera, e-signature apps that adopt correct and secure recognition may also be triumphant in 2014.