The trends continue to prove that the future is definitely mobile. PC sales continue to decline while sales of mobile devices are increasing globally, and the number of mobile devices accessing the internet continues to skyrocket. In fact, August 2014 was the first time in history that more people used mobile devices to visit online stores than desktop computers. According to the latest stats, 50.3% of traffic comes from mobile devices and 49.7% from computers. And M-commerce continues to surge. Forrester reported last year that it expected mobile commerce transactions in the United States to total $114 billion in 2014. $76 billion will be from tablets, while the remainder will be from smartphones.
To drive business, generate revenue, and retain competitive advantage in today’s super-fast paced digital market, organizations must adopt customer-centric mobile strategies. With mobile applications in such high demand, companies have to develop and deploy them as quickly and efficiently as possible. And with the tidal change pace of technology and the blending in of new capabilities in mobile, cloud, Big Data, and Internet of Things, web developers need to be aware of the latest trends to keep the competitive upper hand. So here are some of the most exciting transformations happening in 2015 that should impact how you formulate or update your mobile app development strategy over the next 12 months.
1. Apple Watch and Wearables
No matter your preference of mobile devices, whether iOS or Android or Windows, you’ll want to keep close tabs on the April release of Apple Watch. In November Apple released WatchKit, the development toolkit for the Apple Watch, which will help developers to start writing apps for the Watch such as alerts and notifications for their favorite services and brands. Apple Watch is predicted to revolutionize the whole smartwatch industry and will likely open a whole new market for wearable apps. The form factors will continue to change rapidly as consumer demand for any screen size and shape increases. Mobile developers need to keep a close eye on the Apple Watch ecosystem, along with wearable technologies in general, in order to keep the competitive edge in this fast-moving and transformative market.
2. Mobile Voice Apps
Texting is out and voice is in. What this means is that ‘voice’ is now becoming the preferred means for sending voice message with your smartphone, making calls, and performing a range of tasks like web searches. A whole host of voice apps have appeared on the scene in recent years, such as WhatsApp and Line, WeChat, Kik to provide instant messaging through video and audio channels. Speech recognition technology also continues to improve dramatically and between Apple’s Siri and Google Now, folks can use their voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Adopting the power of voice into one’s mobile strategy can be a great competitive advantage for business leaders in today’s ultra-competitive market.
3. Internet of Things and Beacons
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of the IoT industry, which is projected by some to be valued in the trillions of dollars in the coming decade. More devices are becoming accessible online and enable people to communicate with their cars, heat pumps, ovens, toasters and plants. Companies such as Smart Things already have kits that make your house appliances smart. Along with IoT, Beacons and other Wi-Fi based location service devices have received big buzz in the last year. Simply put, they’re low-power, low cost indoor radio transmitters that can alert other devices to their presence. Apple has already built this technology into iOS so it communicates with their network of iBeacons, and Android is expected to follow suite in 2015. Beacons are used for indoor positioning, providing product information, or for opening further customer engagement channels, especially in places where cellular service is spotty. Web developers will need to be quickly conversant with ways to leverage and build on top of the wide array of IoT and location-based services coming online in 2015.
4. Responsive Design
The rapid growth of mobile and new adaptable screen sizes has transformed the whole realm of app design and development. This trend will continue as the form factors change and consumers demand support for any screen size and shape. Top players here are ZURB’s Foundation platform, which is billed as the most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world, and Semantic UI – a new design framework which excels at responsive apps.
5. Mobile Payments
The mobile payment market is growing rapidly. Google Wallet has had a presence since May 2011 and other players are clamoring onboard, such as PayPal, Square, and Dwolla. The biggest trend-setter here, not surprisingly, is Apple Pay, Apple’s new integrated mobile and digital wallet service. The platform allows Apple mobile devices to make payments at retail and online checkouts in a way that is incredibly easy, intuitive, and much more secure than debit or credit card swipes. Mobile app developers will want to find their way to the Apple Pay for Developers site to explore ways to ensure their applications are plugged into the newest and most innovative ways to pay for physical goods and services such as groceries, clothing, and tickets.