The Next Big Thing
We used to talk excitedly about mobile being the next big thing. Clearly, we’ve arrived, and the smartphone is the center of our computing world.
The first wave of mobile apps and tools were largely mobile versions of things we already had on the desktop web. E-commerce became m-commerce, and sites like eBay benefited from people being able to post and sell 24/7, regardless of location. Maps and directions were an amazing use of mobile tech, and getting around has never been easier.
As mobile rose in importance, we started to chant and hear the chants for mobile first. This was a battle cry that was intended to stress the importance of mobile when building products and creating dedicated mobile and responsive sites.
Once we collectively got our head around what mobile is good at, we started to see tools and businesses be launched that couldn’t exist without mobile devices. Foursquare, Tinder, and Strava are all apps that are designed around location, and they wouldn’t be viable on the desktop. The ultimate example of a mobile enabled app is Über, the on-demand car service. This service uses everything our phone has to connect riders and drivers.
The next wave of functionality that’s coming to apps leverages the collective sensors on our phones. Google Maps knows when traffic is slow in areas, and re-routes you, automatically, based on how it sees other drivers moving. This type of thing is rapidly becoming and expectation.
Weather prediction is getting better, and mobile is helping bring micro-predictions to us all. A mobile app called Dark Sky (and web companion Forecast.io) use all of the publicly available weather data, and use that to give you a forecast at your exact location. It’s incredible, and it’s getting better all the time. In addition to analyzing the public weather information, they also leverage input from their users and the sensors in our phones. The iPhone 6 has a built-in barometer; as this type of sensor becomes more common, and more people share this type of information, we’ll see an amazing improvement in forecasts from all of the automatically crowd-sourced data.
Mobile First now means something different: rather than seeing these devices as limited version of our “real” computers, they’re allowing us to do things that weren’t possible before, and in many ways are much more powerful. As the physical and digital worlds are becoming increasingly connected, expect phones to increasingly be at the center of this world.