The growth in popularity of mobile devices for both personal and business use has had a multiplier effect on the creation of software applications designed for mobile operating platforms. Corporate software vendors, independent developers, and individual enterprises are all actively churning out mass-market and specialist apps for mobile, in an ecosystem where there can be as much misalignment and incompatibility between applications as there is integration.
But there’s a trend in mobile software development which has the potential to overcome the obstacles sometimes posed by a mix of standalone applications from different manufacturers. And it’s a trend that also packs the promise of improved app deployment and a greatly enriched user experience. It’s known as dynamic app building – and it’s set to have a big impact on the app development market of the future.
What Is Dynamic App Building?
Dynamic app building is a collective term for various methods of mobile software development, delivery, and implementation that are all adaptable and responsive – often in real or near real time. It involves a combination of one or more of the concepts and technologies that we’ll now discuss.
Personalization and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There’s been a lot of hype and buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its yet to be realized promise to revolutionize life, the Universe, and everything as we know it. This hyperbole has extended to the world of mobile apps, as well.
Dream scenarios for the world of AI propose the use of machine and adaptive learning algorithms to power mobile apps that can gather historical and current data on their users, pull in information from the internet, perform prescriptive and predictive analytics on their findings, and report or respond in real or near real time.
App interfaces will be capable of customizing themselves to suit the individual characteristics of the user, and on-board virtual assistants will provide human-like interaction with speech recognition based on conversational commands, and conversation delivered by human-sounding natural voice “personalities”.
The technologies are here – or at least, in development. Whether they prove to be life-enhancing or an intrusive and creepy nightmare, remains to be seen.
Cloud-based Mobile App Development and Distribution
Cloud-based development platforms for mobile apps are increasing in sophistication, and giving programmers access to extensive computer resources, libraries of code and data from industry applications, reusable data connectors, and acceleration mechanisms. These are enabling developers to speed up and boost the power and functionality of their software deployments.
Using the cloud environment as a common development platform enables enterprise software developers to adopt a more holistic approach to app creation, with greater integration and streamlining possible between applications with a shared resource base and development infrastructure.
Distribution via the cloud is helping to reduce both the speed of software delivery (to users with a fast and stable internet connection) and the storage burden on end-user devices, which no longer need to accommodate large installation and database files. Research by Cisco suggests that globally, cloud-based applications will account for 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2019.
Advances in analytics technologies for unstructured (or “big”) data sources – and the inclusion of these improved technologies in mobile apps – hold the potential for powering real-time responsive user interfaces, enhanced tools, and reporting capabilities based on predictive (the app knows what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, and projects what you’ll do in the future, on that basis) and prescriptive (knowing all that stuff, the app advises on what you should do next) models.
Changing Realities for Dynamic Interaction
Though it’s been around for the past two decades, Augmented Reality or AR is only now beginning to emerge as a driving force in mobile applications development and deployment. The basic principle behind AR is to create an environment where an overlay of customizable elements or additional information can be imposed on the reality that a viewer or user is currently experiencing.
AR is already being employed in many customer-facing applications, such as in the construction of catalogs or online shopping software. In a typical use case, Augmented Reality tools might display pop-up captions giving further information about a product when a user hovers their touchscreen finger over it, or enable shoppers to change the color and accessories associated with a given item on display.
Augmented Reality tools and services are also available to software developers, enabling them to “test drive” their applications for functionality and user-friendliness before they’re released.
With their potential to improve application interfaces and increase customer engagement, expand the possible user base (e.g., with overlays for multiple languages), and allow the fine-tuning of apps for different platforms and screen sizes, AR technologies are proving themselves as a significant growth factor in the mobile market. Research suggests that the Augmented Reality sector will account for close to $150 billion by 2020.
The Rise of Instant Apps
Another offshoot of cloud-based software deployment that’s gaining ground in the mobile market is the field of instant apps. These are programs that you can run on your device without having to have them permanently installed on the hardware. When an instant app is invoked, your app provider (Play Store, or whatever) sends to your device only as much information as required to recreate the app’s functionality.
It’s a dynamic and on-the-fly app deployment technique which is still in its relative infancy but will likely alter the way we download and use mobile software, as the technology develops. Users of Android devices may recognize this ecosystem from those frequent (and occasionally annoying) update notifications from the Play Store.
Integration with the Internet of Things (IoT)
Self-driving and self-maintained vehicles. Wearable fitness and performance monitors. Smart homes with self-monitoring and self-adjusting appliances. Entertainment and communications systems governed by speech recognition and talking virtual assistants.
All of these and more – including the regional and urban infrastructure surrounding them – form part of the growing Internet of Things, or IoT. And since many of these “Things” rely on embedded chips and smart sensors that are hidden or less than pocket-sized, it’s mobile apps and wireless networking technology that bind them together.
Real-time monitoring and adjustment are essential to the workings of smart devices and commodities – and dynamic app infrastructure and technologies can help make this possible.
Some estimates anticipate consumer and business spending on IoT hardware to reach almost $3 trillion by 2020. This growth is also expected to nurture an expansion in the number of jobs related to the IoT development, deployment, and management fields.
Clearly then, dynamic app building is set to play a major role in the development of the software markets of the future, and in the lives, services, and processes that are affected by those apps.
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