Technology changes faster than people can keep up with. From the rise of remote work to the death of cable, it’s hard to keep up. With so much new information and technology coming out all the time, it’s hard to know what works, what is fantasy, and what is changing the game. To help you understand the current state of technology, here are the 10 biggest trends this year that have been changing the way people use technology:
1. Mobile First
Smartphones have been taking the world by storm, and this year mobile web traffic has finally surpassed desktop traffic. As a result of this trend (that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down), technology is now being designed with mobile in mind. Everything from websites to startups are focusing on the mobile market and for good reason. Yet this isn’t to say that new tech is only mobile friendly, it is merely the starting point for development. Instead, technology is now designed with the intention that it will be accessed by multiple platforms, from desktops to tablets and smartphones. Versatility in design has never been so important.
2. Digital Purse
Uber’s massive growth revealed the potential for apps to enter the consumer service industry and succeed (to say it lightly), but the company’s dominance also points out another interesting element of user behavior: people like paying through an app. It’s simple and clean. Users don’t have to worry about having enough cash or even getting out their wallet. The payment process is handled by the app. All you as a rider have to do is request the car in the first place.
This concept of the digital purse is only gaining steam, and many services have stepped up to bat. Most banks now offer mobile apps to manage your accounts, and Coinbase is even now providing regulated Bitcoin exchange in 26 countries, reviving cryptocurrency. Venmo entered the mobile payment market early and is massively successful on college campuses, but it still has security issues to work through. Recently services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and PayPal One Touch have entered the market. Keep an eye on Samsung Pay’s growth because it is available in 85 percent of all stores, something no other service yet can compete with. Regardless of who comes out on top, the digital purse is booming this year.
3. The Internet of Food
Grocery shopping can be a bit of a pain, but soon it may not be. 2015 is the year that services are trying to enter the grocery delivery market. The kinks are still being worked out - how does a customer know that the service is picking the freshest fruit and vegetables and won’t damage them during the delivery process? Yet if those issues can be solved, this could change the way people interact with grocery stores. Amazon is testing out its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service in select areas, and startup Instacart is perhaps best poised to take on the online retail giant. Yet the market for food delivery is huge and offers plenty of opportunities for other services to step in, such as Swill a booze delivery service, or Seamless, a restaurant food delivery startup.
4. Sharing is Caring (and Profitable)
Why buy something new when you can rent it from someone else? So goes the logic of a recent trend in startups. Led by Airbnb, an incredibly popular lodging rental service, several new rental startups have gained traction this year. From car rentals with Getaround to renting out your free time to run someone’s errands with TaskRabbit, there are all kinds of ways to make money by renting things out to those who need them, or are willing to pay for them. The potential for targeting niche markets is huge. CampusBookRentals is making waves purely focusing on what their name implies. With the ease mobile applications create for making last minute rentals, this service industry is growing tremendously.
5. Wearable Tech
Okay, so Google Glass failed, but that doesn’t mean wearable technology will too. Every new trend has hiccups along the way, and Google Glass was just opening the door and put the idea of wearable tech in the public’s mind. This year, wearable tech has gained even more attention, from a huge multitude of smart watches to the rise of the fitness tracker, particularly the Fitbit Charge HR. With wearable tech finally embracing aesthetic and utility, expect to see more wearable tech when you walk down the street, but maybe not when you’re on the beach.
6. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things was trending last year, sure, but it’s still a hot topic this year. The idea behind the Internet of Things is that more and more appliances, devices, “things,” are being connected to the internet. Imagine a scenario in which your alarm clock is connected to the internet, and so is your coffee maker. Your alarm goes off, and your coffee will start brewing before you make it to the kitchen. That’s only a fraction of what the Internet of Things is capable of. The Internet of Things is real and growing, and eventually you will be able to control your network of things through your smartphone.
7. Big Data and Analytics
The Internet of Things is useless without the ability to analyze the data it produces. As more and more devices connect to the Internet, the amount of data will increase. In the past few years, more data has been produced than previously existed in the entire world’s history, and if properly mined and analyzed, this data could be a huge boon to businesses and individuals. With the rise of real-time analytics, internal hybrid analytics, and the continually dropping price on gathering data, big data is growing more economically feasible and beneficial than ever.
With the influx of so much data, there needs to be new ways of protecting it. Cyber-security has been making headlines this year, with Target finally offering a settlement for its security breach in 2013 and even attacks against the US government going public. The growing Internet of Things is not secure either. It hasn’t gotten much public attention because most of the public isn’t involved with the Internet of Things, for now, but the problems remain. Along with growing cloud services (more on that below), new security measures are in order, and luckily they are in the works as businesses rethink their approach to security. Companies like Palerra are targeting cloud security, and endpoint security to protect networks is back on the rise.
9. Ambient Intelligence
The only way the Internet of Things is possible is with machines that possess a degree of ambient intelligence, meaning that they are aware of and responsive to people. While these tech is only just entering the market in the past few years, there are already numerous devices out there, from the Nest Thermostat that learns your behavior to save you money on your energy bill to the recent wide release of Amazon Echo, a voice controlled technology that can conveniently help you run your house. Everybody loves convenience, and as the tech develops, ambient intelligence will take over the tech market.
10. Cloud Architecture
The cloud is ubiquitous these days. Every business wants their service to integrate with the cloud. It’s too convenient to users for businesses to ignore. Part of this increase of Cloud usage is the development of containers, which allow IT operations to successfully integrate and their applications to be readily available and deployed. The container movement is led by Docker and isn’t without flaws, but containers are on the right track to fixing a lot of issues with current cloud architecture. The cloud is also evolving past its public roots and is entering a hybrid phase where it combines public data with private links, ensuring information protection. Companies such as Equinix are bridging the gap between the two spheres, pushing the cloud into a new era.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi