Mobile apps aren’t just a fad, they’re the content delivery and computing future. A recent report from Gartner says that by 2017, users will have downloaded apps more than 268 billion times and generated a revenue stream of over $77 billion, and Gartner predicts that wearable devices will drive 50% of total app interactions at that time. Apps won’t just be on smart phones and tablets, but on everything from home appliances to wearable technology – even our cars and homes will consume and run apps. We already see some of this today with fitness trackers and smart thermostats, but expect to see a lot more!
Cognizant computing is another huge theme in Gartner’s predictions. (Cognizant computing is when tasks and services are performed automatically on behalf of the user, often based on collected data and statistics on that user, such as preferences and past actions.) Many apps for things like appliances will need to run passively (refrigerators need to run all the time!) which is where cognizant computing comes in. The apps will learn how we work as individuals and tailor their function to suit their owner’s needs.
While this is fantastic news for app creators and market places, it also presents a new set of challenges – how do you create, test, secure, and maintain these sort of apps? How will apps integrate with each other? How will data be shared securely and efficiently? How will they look and feel when a user interacts with their visual display or partner program?
Data security might be the number one concern moving forward. We’ll suddenly have new categories of potentially sensitive data to keep safe, while still allowing our apps learn from it. Data points like our weight, eating habits, energy usage, and even when we leave the house are sensitive bits of information that need to be handled with care. In the case of Nest, the “smart” thermometer company, Google announced a couple weeks ago that it is acquiring them. Immediately, Nest posted on their blog, clarifying how customer data would be shared with Google, explaining that the data would only be used to improve Nest products and services, but not all companies share the value of “do no evil.”