A glimpse into the future of mobility
Over the last 15 years, organizations have undertaken a mobile journey that has produced profound changes in the daily lives of people the world over. This journey began with point solutions for adapting websites to display on mobile phones. With the advent of smartphones, organizations shifted their focus from web to mobile apps. The success of mobile apps like Airbnb, Instagram, and Uber led to the rise and expansion of a mobile-first approach to app design.
As a result, mobile adoption became one of the prime drivers for digital transformation as organizations began to focus on reinventing the customer experience. While many of us can no longer imagine doing without our apps and the on-the-go, contextualized experience our mobile devices provide, the future of mobility promises greater disruption still.
The next chapter
Organizations are engineering this disruption at the intersection of new technologies. A new wave of apps is arriving that are cognitive, intelligent, and able to mimic human behavior. Instead of waiting for our inputs, they pick up data from connected systems and use analytical models to arrive at contextual solutions and actions. These applications use new inputs as a mean to learn continuously and upgrade their capabilities. The most alluring feature of these applications is their ability to make use of speech and gesture to conduct frictionless and natural interactions with humans.
Amazon’s Alexa provides a demonstration of these capabilities. Alexa uses natural conversations to carry out tasks such as booking plumbers, ordering groceries, and completing banking transactions. It achieves its human-like character by using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), speech recognition, natural language processing (NLP), natural language generation (NLG), and Internet of Things (IoT) along with deep learning architecture. The day isn’t too far away when such capabilities will become the core of mobile apps.
And the advances won’t end there. Before long, the sophistication of mobile applications will rise yet another notch. Technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), machine vision, and the 5G network will make immersive 3D environments smooth and convincing. A way of interacting with machines that only a short time ago we would have called futuristic is now fast upon us.
In fact, we are already seeing the future trickle into the market. Android Things enables users to build a network of connected devices for a wide variety of consumer, retail, and industrial applications. Apple’s HomeKit framework lets users configure, communicate with, and control smart-home appliances using an iOS device. Microsoft and Amazon have their own IoT solutions.
The change is becoming rapidly evident in external and internal enterprise apps, which are all moving towards delivering improved customer experience and, ultimately, aim for business disruption.
Browsing the future: how mobile apps will behave
How will tomorrow’s mobile apps be different? Advances in many key areas will follow one general trend – making interactions between humans and machines simpler, more realistic, and more intuitive. These areas include:
- Machine vision: Sophisticated machine learning and machine vision will give us the ability to search for content using only images. By pointing the camera of a smart phone at Big Ben in London, for instance, we will be able to bring up search results that describe the legendary clock, its location, history, and more.
- Voice, video, and immersive reality (AR and VR): Currently underutilized, biometric authentication will soon become a technology that does far more than unlock applications and phones. Both facial and voice recognition will find uses well beyond authentication. Organizations will deploy voice and video chat, call, and conference to provide automated support and provide expert assistance, elevating the user’s experience from “type and tap” to “speak and show.” Apps will decipher user intent rather than commands, making them seem more human and allowing them to provide sophisticated assistance in areas like healthcare, banking, retail, and utilities. Rapidly maturing technologies like AR and VR will further enhance these capabilities. AR and VR will impact industries such as retail, entertainment, tourism, education, engineering and construction, and oil and gas by providing unprecedented depth and sophistication to imaging.
- Wearables and IoT: Developments in data, analytics, cognitive computing, and cloud are enabling machines to make real-time, accurate decisions and take corrective actions, reducing the need for human input. Driverless cars are able to analyze millions of data points in real time to make life-and-death decisions, making sophisticated autonomy in our everyday lives an imminent reality. We are already experiencing simpler versions of this kind intelligence in the form of the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, which measures usage of printer ink, detergent in washing machines, coffee in percolators, and filters in air purifiers to automatically order replenishments.
- Maximize capture capability of existing niche tech: Technologies such as near field communication (NFC) that allow contactless communication between two devices will gain traction. Such communication is already in effect at Amazon Go stores, where customers see the products they select automatically appear in their virtual carts, and payment is completed seamlessly – customers can simply walk out when they’re done, without stopping at checkout counters or swiping cards at point-of-sale machines. Soon, mobile devices will eliminate the need to carry wallets and maintain multiple remotes for electrical devices and appliances at home. They will ultimately become a central device to control connected personal belongings and objects.
- Auto-intuitive scrolling: The term “right swipe” will become irrelevant as applications begin to analyze the user’s eye movement to automatically scroll through content. When a user looks up or down, the content on the screen will scroll up or down, saving time and effort. All this will happen without users having to wear intrusive equipment. Instead, non-intrusive sensors track eye movement and facial expressions, then translate these inputs into actions.
The psychological impact these advances herald will be unparalleled in the history of machine-human interfaces, and they by no means signal the pinnacle of mobile advancement. Ultimately, mobile applications may begin to induce sensation into the nervous system, completing a convincing immersive experience.
As personalization, adaptive workflows and intuitive interactions become common, and intelligent apps will no longer be specific to a device or operating system, there will be huge leaps forward in user experience and satisfaction.
What is the innovation you will create at the point where these technologies intersect with your business? What will make your employee-facing or customer-facing mobile apps great? The best way to answer these questions is to examine your business problems and solve them with a holistic approach of human-centric design, right methodology, and the creative use of the latest technology for delivering tomorrow’s mobile apps.