Advancements in mobile technology can arrive in a flash. In just the past year, we’ve seen several new smartphones and tablets hit the market, many of which offer apps and features that are light years ahead of their predecessors.
So what does the future hold for mobile devices? Although it's impossible to say with absolute certainty, several recent trends could offer a preview of what’s in store for the mobile consumer in 2012 and beyond. Here are some developments to look out for:
Continued growth in the tablet industry: If this year’s unveiling of Amazon’s Kindle Fire is any indication, the competition among tablet producers is about to get even fiercer. With its accessible $199 price tag, Amazon is poised to put more tablets into the hands of more consumers–quickly.
What's more, Apple recently made the iPad its entry-level “laptop” when it quietly phased out the white Macbook earlier this year. While there was little fanfare surrounding the Macbook’s retirement, its disappearance indicates that the company is betting on more would-be consumer-grade laptop buyers opting for tablets in the months and years to come.
Proliferation of voice-recognition applications: Apple also pushed smartphone technology in a new direction by introducing Siri, its voice recognition app, in this year’s release of the iPhone 4s. While still a very new concept, early reviews of the technology are largely positive, and critics expect it to improve significantly in the near future.
As it does, and as the buzz around Siri grows, expect to see other smartphone makers release applications that can call your contacts, search the web and turn your voice into text for an email. In the next year alone, advancements in this space could be significant.
Smartphones becoming the new normal: By 2012, a majority of U.S. mobile users will have smartphones. The realm of apps and anywhere-you-need-it email will no longer be limited to the business community and the most tech savvy among us.
We’re getting to the point where one’s ability to access the Internet on the go is simply assumed. In just a few years, anything less than a smartphone will be to mobile technologies what dial-up Internet is to network connectivity. Expect all industries to react to this development by providing more opportunities for consumers to engage with media and brands on mobile devices.
Heavier integration with social media: With Facebook’s announcement that it will enter the mobile technology arena with its very own Android-ish smartphone, it's probably safe to say that mobile’s emphasis on social platforms is only going to grow.
But don’t get too excited. The Facebook phone won’t be available for another year or more. Even so, the anticipation leading up to its release is sure to make other smartphone producers take a good, hard look at how their platforms handle social media—in terms of both direct communication as well as sharing content among users.
Sure, today’s smartphones already handle social media apps, and they handle them well. But what will Facebook give us that we haven’t experienced yet? We’ll have to wait and see.
All HTML5, all the time: With Adobe’s recent announcement that it’s ditching Flash development in favor of HTML5, there’s no question that the latter technology will reign supreme in the mobile sphere for years to come.
For developers, this means more opportunities to get their creations to market without regard for the requirements of certain hardware platforms or online app stores. For users, it will mean a similar, interactive web experience among all their devices. Going forward, the line between “app-like” digital content and the kind of content we’re used to accessing on our desktop computers will begin to blur.
Something else entirely: With so many advancements in the world of mobile devices, it’s possible that the most revolutionary development we’ll see in the coming years will be something current trends can’t even begin to predict. Expecting the unexpected may well be the best way to approach new mobile technologies.
What do you think about these new developments in the mobile technology? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.