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This year at two of the biggest conferences in technology and mobile, South by South West and Mobile World Congress, several key trends stood out above the rest that mobile developers need to have on their radars.
- Virtual Reality: Finally getting some legs under it, Virtual Reality and the availability of 360 cameras is opening a new way for people to capture, consume, and experience content. Samsung released several new innovations, which included a 360 virtual travel app to let people relive past experiences. As headset cost decrease and consumers become more comfortable with generating and experiencing 360 or VR content, developing with VR in mind will become a must in the next 1–3 years for social, content and gaming apps.
- Virtual Assistants: From Cortana and Siri to Alexa, Google Now and beyond, the virtual assistant is becoming a standard on smartphones across the board. This trend is likely to have one of the bigger impacts on mobile developers. Gartner predicts that by 2019, 20% of our interactions with a smartphone will be carried out via such assistants. But how will they integrate with mobile apps? Will most interactions be voice commands or will we reach a new level of sophistication with AI and machine learning? What level of complication will these independent virtual assistants add to an already multi-platform development world?
- Connected Devices (IoT): The adoption of the internet of things continues to spread and networked devices are becoming much more abundant. Smart homes, vehicles, and building sensors were on display at both SXSW and MWC. The core information screen for these new connected devices is the smartphone or tablet. It is the primary UI/UX that consumers will use to control, monitor, and react to the devices in their homes, cars and businesses.
- Longer battery life & Faster Charging: Remember Pokémon Go? That was a battery sucker. More battery life and faster charge times means that people will be willing to use apps that they normally avoided due to battery drain. It also means that they will be on the go and mobile more often given the need to be tethered to an outlet will be greatly reduced (or carrying around one of those battery packs).
- Artificial Intelligence: AI was an overused buzzword at both conferences but it still holds great promise and opportunity for mobile developers. With more and more companies looking to use machine learning and AI to offer better advertising, content recommendations, and personalization the future is bright for mobile developers when it comes to data integrations. Termed the ‘smart app,’ the integration of mobile apps will be highly personalized using these AI in addition to virtual assistants with the biggest opportunities being in personalization based on behavior and interaction data as well as cross integration of data with advertising platforms to target the right device at the right time with the right ad.
These were just a few of the key trends that surfaced at Mobile World Congress and South by South West this year but the ones that mobile developers will be impacted by. We will keep an eye out on these trends and see how they develop over the next year.
Be sure to check out Microsoft’s newest mobile developer toolkit, Mobile Center, to ship your apps faster (and with fewer bugs) on iOS, Android, React Native, and Xamarin.