In our ever-growing technological society, it’s easy to question how we will continue to adapt and evolve in the distant, and not-so-distant, future. What will be created and what will become archaic? One of the more prevalent technologies in our daily lives are smartphones and subsequently, mobile apps. Will the continued development of smart technologies eliminate the need for apps, or will they evolve as well? From my findings, we will see a mixture of both ends of the spectrum.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive web apps, or PWAs, have become popular for businesses in the last few years. They combine mobile websites and native apps (those apps that you download from the app store). These apps essentially work just like a mobile app but are delivered through a web browser rather than downloading the app directly onto your phone. They load much more quickly than a native app, even in low connectivity areas. Businesses are drawn to PWAs because they are economical and efficient – developers do not need to design two or more apps to operate on different devices. Instead, they are designed to work on browsers on all devices and since only one app needs to be designed, they cost less to develop. Having a good PWA can replace a company’s native app, mobile site, and desktop website to ultimately gear traffic from mobile users. The end result is the best of both worlds from a mobile site and a native app.
Augmented reality (AR) has already made an appearance in apps like Snapchat and Pokemon GO, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. We will continue to see the development of AR in mobile apps, particularly in games and retail apps. Retailers, such as Nordstrom, Ikea, and Pottery Barn have already integrated AR features into their apps to help buyers envision how a product would look in their home.
Expansion Across the Globe
We have to keep in mind that many countries with large populations, like India, Brazil, and China, own a fraction of the number of smartphones that more developed countries own. As these countries continue to develop and acquire more smartphones, more time and money will be spent on and in apps. There has already been an increase in app purchases, with a Q3 return of about $17 billion in 2017 alone.
The smart assistants that we encounter on our smartphones are expected to get smarter – much smarter. Google released a new operating system called Google Now, which provides users with the information they are looking for, and sometimes information they don’t realize they are looking for, in any app they use because the apps are all integrated. While Google Now’s system will be extremely convenient because users will not need to open and close multiple apps to find the information they are looking for, this isn’t to say that Google Now is going to make apps obsolete. Per Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT|The App Association, “Consumers like self-contained apps. They like apps that work in dead spots and whether or not they have WiFi.”
Looking towards the near-future, apps and smart assistants will coexist with each other. As for decades from now, we can merely speculate how our smartphones will evolve.