“Technology can be simultaneously exciting, bewildering, thrilling, confounding and terrifying in the present. We must continue to think ahead to how our actions (or lack of actions) today will impact the future of our societies, businesses and global communities”. –– Webbmedia 2016 Tech Trend Report
Personalization was key to technology in 2015. From IoT and context-rich systems, to VR and 3D printing, 2015 brought engineers, designers, and developers to a new level of considering content within the context of the user, not just the device.
This year, we can expect to see major developments in virtual reality, smartphones, prototyping, touchscreen computing and more. Here are some upcoming developments that we’re most excited to work with in 2016.
The Coming-of-Age of Smartphone Virtual Reality
Thanks to simple innovations like Google Cardboard, we've been getting closer and closer to accessible smartphone VR over the last year. In 2016, we anticipate an explosion in development and release of technology required to make the virtual reality experience richer in content and more affordable. Rather than spending $1,000 on a powerful computer and $300 or more on a headset, users can buy a $15 portable headset and use a smartphone to access VR. Last year, VR companies raised $408 million, says CB Insights, and that figure is only expected to grow.
The Long-Awaited Oculus Rift Launch
Smartphones aren’t the only tech that’s enjoying a surge in VR potential. Oculus Rift is finally slated to come out during the first quarter of 2016, with the eagerly-awaited title “EVE: Valkyrie” bundled as the first game available on the platform. Oculus Rift includes technology that’s never been available in consumer-level VR before, including low-latency constellation tracking that gives you the sense of presence, letting you feel like you’re actually walking through the world of “EVE” or any other compatible experience.
Apple Watch 2 Release & New Features Announced
The Apple Watch 2 is rumored to have a spring 2016 release date. We saw a few issues with the initial release, including a short battery life and clunky profile, and we’re anticipating some improvements to the newer model. We’re eagerly awaiting the confirmed specifications, but have a hunch that the Apple Watch 2 will feature a better processor, allowing greater performance without quite as much drain on battery life. We’re hoping this version opens things up a bit more and gives us more of a reason to love the Apple Watch.
Apple TV: The Future of TV as an App Platform
Apple TV is actually anything but television in the strictest sense of the word. You don’t turn it on and switch channels. Instead, you customize it with media apps that suit your every viewing wish, and you access media when you want it, on demand. Accessing apps via TV isn’t new -- Roku and Samsung have both done it. However, Apple specializes in moving into markets and making a better product from a concept that’s already there, so we can expect something spectacular to come from Apple TV. Apple says that apps are the future of television, and we believe it. (Check out our ideas for future Apple TV apps.) We’re expecting that in 2016, developers will really get to sink their teeth in and build great products just as adoption grows.
New iPhone 7 Release
The iPhone 7 is slated to be the thinnest iPhone yet, and the iPhone with the largest screen display. With the iPhone 7 comes an entire overhaul of the product’s ubiquitous design, including the removal of 3.5mm headphone jacks to allow the product to be even more lightweight and streamlined. Bluetooth technology is everywhere at this point, so it’s about time that smartphone designers start ditching bulky headphone jacks in favor of thinner designs. Other rumored features include a rugged design, a significant jump in resolution, and potentially even an OLED display. The iPhone 7 will likely come out in September 2016, as the last few years of releases have been in September.
Blockchain Moves Beyond Bitcoin
Blockchain is the only completely integrated digital wallet provider on the market as of the start of 2016, but we see its uses extending far beyond its current place in financial tech, where it is used for a distributed database to verify the validity of Bitcoin transactions. Due to its secure nature and self-regulated nature, Blockchain can be used as a system to verify the accuracy of any kind of ownership, from currency to bikes to real estate. We see Blockchain disrupting the banking industry, but reaching far beyond that—any type of system that relies on accurate records can be transformed by this open-source platform, including medical records, the music industry, and even governmental functions.
Mozilla Funds Development of WebSockets
Mozilla is funding Django’s further development of WebSockets with a grant of $150,000 via the MOSS Grant from the Mozilla Open Source Support Program. This valuable protocol lets developers exchange communication with a server without having to take the extra step of polling the server, and with further research, we’re excited about the possibilities to develop better and cheaper low-latency tools that will help propel the IoT.
Salesforce Rolls Out Lightning Release
Early 2016 sees Salesforce rolling out Lightning, the new Sales Cloud UI that acts as a smart homepage to display data and action items the way that you need them. We all know that Salesforce as a CRM tool works, but the user experience hasn’t been on par with most modern web applications. Lightning changes all of this by providing a dynamic display that shows you what’s relevant on a daily basis, letting you gather information at a glance and make vital decisions quickly. We are excited to see more 3rd party vendors plugging their systems into an updated and bit more easy to use Salesforce.
Touchscreen Tablets Transform (Slowly) to Everyday Computers
The latest installments in the saga of touchscreen computing include the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Apple iPad Pro, both of which are deceptively powerful computers disguised as slim, responsive tablets. There’s no sign of Apple releasing an iMac with a touch screen yet, but with the iPad Pro and its capabilities, we’re sated until that inevitable development occurs a few years down the road. We are excited to see computers evolving in this direction and are even more excited to start building more useful and enjoyable apps utilizing these interfaces.
These are just a few of the developments that we’re most excited to see here at Yeti. In some way, each of these tech trends will likely affect your business and life in the coming year. For us, the best way to prepare for coming disruption is to learn as much as we can, discuss implications, and work to help our clients integrate the most innovative technologies into their businesses to remain far ahead of the curve.
Tony Scherba is a President | Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.