The top mobile technology predictions for 2016: more evolution than revolution

With CES just behind us, it's clear 2016 is going to be more about evolution than revolution in terms mobile technology trends

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New technology such as wearables, virtual reality and drones are set to take a growing share of the market in 2016

With CES, undoubtedly the world’s largest annual consumer tech exhibition, just behind us I thought it was worth summing up some of the techie trends that we can expect to see in 2016. 

At CES there was no doubt that mobile devices, TVs, laptops and desktops, which account for 51% of the industry's $287 billion in revenue are still very prominent, but new technology such as wearables, virtual reality and drones are also set to take a growing share of the market in 2016. 

The Internet of Things will continue to be a huge growth driver for these products in the year ahead and what I found at CES this year was that it is more about evolution than revolution.

A lot of the products and technology on display we have seen in earlier forms or guises, probably less practical, but what we're seeing now is a real leap in terms of the functionality of some of this technology. 

> See also: Mobile web vs. apps: which will triumph in the battle for advertising spend?

It goes without saying that today, mobile is everywhere consumers are. In fact, there are now more mobile devices in the world than people. Your customers are using mobile devices to research, shop, compare products and services, read and write reviews, anytime and everywhere. In today’s always-on world, a great mobile customer experience is critical.

Added to this is the fact that mobile apps are now an inseparable part of our daily lives and purchases made through mobile devices are set to double in the year ahead.

So there is no doubt that these statistics and figures are indicative of the dominance of mobile apps in every walk of life, and this got me thinking about the sort of trends that I am expecting to see in the year ahead. Here are my top six:

The prominence of Swift

Ever since it was launched last year, Swift, the latest programming language from Apple, has garnered a lot of attention from tech communities and particularly from developers. The language is designed to work both as an application language and a systems language, and offers greater reliability when writing code.

This is quite clearly demonstrated by the fact that since its release in September 2015, Swift has enjoyed 11 million downloads. Swift is also faster than Objective C and is the biggest release for a rapid app development environment.

Mark my words; in 2016, the new programming language will take a lead in developing diverse apps for iOS, OS X, Apple Watch OS, and Apple TV OS apps.

Apps fuelled by cloud

With mobile and wearable devices making the need to access apps and data from any device and location a necessity, cloud is naturally going to take a central role for the vast majority of apps.

As integration and synchronisation of apps across multiple devices continues to grow, so cloud driven apps will carry on being adopted by more businesses and developers in the coming year.

New cross platform tools in abundance

With the simultaneous and often competitive growth of several mobile platforms, and the rise of wearable tech and smart TVs that we witnessed this year at CES, no business would consider developing an app for a single platform.

With a vast array of devices and their advanced features and functionalities, apps need to address the requirement for multiple platforms and devices and have a cross-platform development approach.

Recently, we have seen an array of cross-platform tools in the market such as PhoneGap, Appcelerator, Sencha, Titanium, Unity3D, Cocos2d, etc. In 2016, several other cross-platform development tools and frameworks will be added to this list.

Mobile pay will drive more mobile commerce

Our love of mobiles is feeding our love of mobile commerce. Several big ecommerce leaders have shut their websites and begun operating as app-only businesses, and there are many other ecommerce companies who give more priority to mobile traffic in their decisions.

It might surprise you to know that around 90% of ecommerce traffic accesses the store from either smartphones or tablets and there is no sign of this trend abating in the near future. Especially with technologies like Mobile Pay being offered across platforms and devices. The integration of wallets and devices is going to become even stronger in 2016 and so too will the integration of ecommerce and mobile.

A bigger role for beacons

GPS-based technologies like Beacons have revolutionised the business marketing, promotion and shopping experience. In this coming year, Beacons will be even stronger, guaranteeing location tracking benefits for several niche markets aside from retail.

> See also: How retailers can navigate their way around beacon technology

Brands like General Electric have already ventured into incorporating Beacons into a range of lights made for retail stores, and the technology has also prompted interest from security agencies. So, through Beacons, location tracking will continue to experience new applications for businesses and other civic purposes. 

Form-factors around wearables set to change

After Google Glass and Apple Watch, what can we expect from wearables in 2016? The focus will be more on making wearable form factor better so the devices are richer in experience than simply offering another smartwatch or optically mounted computer. Smartwatches are already showing signs of becoming fully standalone mobile devices and 2016 is just the beginning.

Wearables are set to be more fashionable, moving away from being just gadgets that no one actually wears. New devices launched at CES seem to be moving away from the ‘traditional’ watches and wristbands.

The new form-factors on display at the show included necklaces, clip-ons, rings and jewellery in general. Indeed, high-tech wearable tattoos made their debut at CES 2016 and, whilst this might have been seen as a bit gimmicky, in my opinion the injectable, sub-cutaneous version may have wide appeal – only time will tell.

Sourced from Paul Swaddle, CEO, Pocket App