Technology never stands still. What’s likely to happen in the mobile arena this year?
- Native mobile applications die a slow painful death. Unlike many celebrities that show up in your Facebook feed as “shockingly dead,, mobile native apps really are dead. The cost. The hassle of getting them approved and into app stores. The constantly evolving operating systems they run on, which quickly make today’s version tomorrow’s “brick.” All of it contributes to the demise of the native app. Just getting the functionality by “going native” will no longer cut it.
- Progressive mobile applications displace native and hybrid. There is a perfect storm of technologies that is making this happen, some of which have to do with an 800-pound gorilla that knows the “Alphabet.” First, more and more functionality is moving into the mobile browser. What used to take a plug-in or a polyfill to ensure cross-browser compatibility is now standard. What used to take a whole JS library to accomplish is now native in the browser. The browser is the fat client to end all fat clients, and it is putting on more weight, just like most of us will in 2017. Second, progressive web apps (PWAs) have higher conversion rates because the website you visited just to “kick the tires” is easily enabled to be an app with a link in your home screen. No need to go to the app store when you find a site you like; just follow the prompts when it asks if you want it to be permanently added to your home screen.
- What about mobile and desktop app convergence? Used to be that the mobile browser was the ugly stepchild of the desktop. These days, new functionality that can be quickly leveraged on mobile comes to mobile browsers first. Desktop web apps now run just the same on the mobile devices, even PWAs.
- Microservices and microservers will become the main building blocks for mobile. Modularity to the extreme is what’s driving this particular trend. Server-heavy, service-heavy applications are being displaced by “micro.” Much like the “big iron” versus PC wars of the ‘80s, there is still much ground to be covered by the micro movement. My guess is that, as functionally specific components are built and deployed, the building block approach to assembling a mobile app solution will become easier. Need a push-notification widget? Done! Need a Bluetooth connection? Connected! We will be building once and assembling often in our future mobile app development.