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Get ready for the future of apps

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Organisations need to quickly adapt and deliver models for proactive collaboration and transparency. This is crucial in the context of new data legislation – which will continue to trail digital economy developments – as well as the impact of IoT, AI and machine learning.
This is the words from the Future of Apps survey commissioned by F5 Networks and conducted by The Foresight Factory.
The report suggests that secure and consumer-focused data practices could eventually emerge as a benchmark or standard equivalent to sustainability or environmental impact. There will also be significant changes in the power struggle for personal data.
Foresight Factory reports that, over the longer term, many consumers will move away from corporates to proactively isolate and control data sharing. Globally, Allianz anticipates that the current total written premium for cyber insurance policies, currently estimated at $5-billion could reach $20-billion by 2025.
Meanwhile, motivations around security will be matched by a desire to optimise personal return. Foresight Factory notes that 4 in 10 European consumers would share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts.
Martin Walshaw, senior engineer at F5 Networks, says: “There is growing pressure on organisations and developers to stay relevant. Demands are changing at lightning pace and security concerns are surging.
“The Future of Apps indicates how the balance of power is shifting away from businesses, creating immense opportunities for those capable of delivering apps with speed, adaptive functionality and security. This is particularly true as apps increasingly harness the cloud and sit at the heart of complex ecosystems incorporating everything from voice and biometrics to haptics and augmented reality.”
The development of high-profile partnerships will be of critical importance, elevated by the looming influence of AI, machine learning and robotics. Late 2016 saw the formation in the US of the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society. In January this year, the European Commission called for new rules for robotics to map out ethical standards and liabilities related to driverless cars.
Changes are also afoot in the labour market. Global Foresight Factory figures found that 41% of 16 to 25-year-olds believe their current jobs could be supplanted by AI or robots within the next decade.
The developmental trajectory of future apps will be heavily influenced by AI and machine learning.
Developments in this field are likely to include more personalised, predictive services in areas such as cognitive health. Foresight Factory found that around half (49%) of surveyed consumers crave services to understand the future impact of their dietary choices, rising to 57% among Gen Y.
Cognitive finance is another hot topic. Nearly six in 10 (58%) Gen Y consumers expressed interest in a service predicting future their financial situation based on current actions.
EMEA is already poised for the next wave of advances. Nearly a third of surveyed respondents across Europe and South Africa say they use voice commands on their mobile devices. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, there were over 10 000 third-party voice enabled apps on Amazon’s Alexa platform – a 100% increase on the last quarter of 2016.
Looking ahead, Foresight Factory flags critical advances in areas such as collaborative AI, where virtual assistants – and underlying apps – can communicate and act accordingly. The report also highlights a raft of implications from the emergence of AI and machine learning, including their native ability to code and develop apps, as well as evolve functionality when “live”.
“It’s not so much that the app will change, it’s the underlying platform that will get a revamp,” said Rodolfo Rosini, CEO & Co-founder, Weave.ai.
“As the AI becomes more powerful, the apps become more complex, interact with each other and perform an increasingly vast range of predictive and contextual actions.”
IDC predicts that the AR/VR market in Western Europe will reach $2.5bn this year – a 131% increase on 2016. By 2020, the market is projected to hit $25,7-billion.
Against this backdrop, app interfaces will be transformed by the rise of “mixed reality” and hardware innovation. Location will become irrelevant to many aspects of communication, learning and experience, creating the notion of “individual realities”. In parallel, new risks will arise as individuals become ever more immersed in their computational existence.

To keep pace, developers need to approach app design with a view to embed or layer into a wider ecosystem. Equally, they need to anticipate new app interfaces that more effectively integrate voice, biometrics and haptics.
According to Foresight Factory, consumer demand is fuelling much of the evolving innovation roadmap. Nearly half of surveyed respondents across Europe and South Africa have already used a VR headset or are interested in doing so, rising to 57% among Gen Y. 71% of EMEA consumers also agreed they need to satisfy a desire for new experiences, and nearly half (46%) said they would be interested in night vision contact lenses, increasing to 56% among Gen Y.

“In the future, a new application could very likely be the same as adding a new organ or sense,” says Neil Harbisson, Founder, Cyborg Foundation, and the first person in the world to have an antenna implanted in his skull.
“Once you merge with technology you can extend your perception and you can extend your senses to give you a much more profound experience of life and of reality. It can change not only how you see your daily life but it can also change the way that you see the future.”
Foresight Factory anticipates far greater decentralisation as blockchain technologies and edge computing become mainstream, empowering IoT and privacy-hungry consumers. Any momentum in this direction hinges on significant technological advances, including edge computing and 5G.
Research and Markets anticipates that by 2020 blockchain technology and solutions will be used by up to 65% of enterprises. The global blockchain market will grow from $210.2 Million in 2016 to $2,312.5 Million by 20214.

The ethos of decentralised apps, or “dApps”, chimes with a growing appetite for peer-to-peer solutions, driven in part by institutional mistrust and a desire for better value. Across Europe and South Africa, a third of consumers (32%) have used, or would be interested in using, a peer-to-peer lending service, rising to 37% among Gen Y.
“It’s much more a consumer’s world now,” said John Mitchison, head of compliance at the Direct Marketing Association UK.
“I think that there is quite a transition for marketers and people developing online and digital systems. It’s going to be a bit of a shift.”