There are 1.2 million apps available to iOS users, 1.3 million to Android partakers. There have been 85 billion cumulative downloads from the Apple App Store alone.
So to cut this story short, apps are huge. They’re abundant and ubiquitous, they provide us a way to pass boring meetings by, ensure we get from A to B and let us send photos of our not so amazing dinners to all our friends.
But what does the future hold for our loveable little digital friends?
To effectively discern the future of apps I think it is important to set out some context of the future.
The Smartphone market share is growing, so a more and more diverse demographic are being exposed to apps. This is especially true as smartphones become cheaper and companies put a greater focus on supplying handsets to developing countries. The Android One phone launched in India is a prime example of this.
As the demographic diversifies so will app functions. Functions such as virtual payment systems provide an incredibly useful and every day tool to people who do not have a stable internet connection at home. In parts of Africa, phones and mobile coverage is far more affordable and reliable than an expensive computer at home. This need changes the landscape for available apps adding innovation to developers desires.
Along with the rise of smartphones comes the roll out of even faster, more reliable and stable mobile coverage. 4G is paving the way through the UK, and EE has now announced even greater speeds with its 4G+ service that can achieve 150mbps or, on average, a speed 5 times faster than the normal broadband speeds.
These remarkable speeds again provide a new landscape for app functions. As the connection is reliable and incredibly fast the functions change to being more streaming and multimedia based, providing access to videos and music on the go.
But still what does the future hold?
Peek Vision provides one of the best examples for the future of apps. It is a service that along with a smartphone add-on, allows professional eye examinations using your smartphone. Read about it properly on their Indiegogo site or listen to their interview with Click Podcast. But this technology, if successful, will pave the way for revolutions in healthcare, especially in poorer countries where expensive professional equipment is not available. I suspect many other health services will take this digital route, giving apps another route of development.
This sort of function will become ever more present in the world as mobile internet and technology becomes greater. The beloved Internet of Things will also have a huge affect on shaping apps in the future. Apps will via away from simply being tools to pass time to being purpose build, process heavy and incredibly instrumental to our lives.
We are heading to a world of automation and machines; self driving cars and drones will become common place, along with the ability to control our entire homes with our smartphones. But bigger than that, we will be able to do everything through our phones- We can already watch TV (iPlayer app), pay for our coffee (Apple Pay), turn off the music (Sonos) and monitor the heating (Nest) from our phones. Just think what else is possible! My phone may get a notification from my fridge when I’m running low on milk, reminding me to buy more. Or go further and order the milk for me so that I simply collect it. Useful or creepy?
This automation and purpose built application will become the common smartphone app.
So my impression of the future is a little bit Black Mirror but incredibly exciting and very opportunistic.