Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash
In this issue, we look at Tim Cook’s (Apple CEO) recent quotes on AR, an overview of Gartner’s key tech trends from its world renowned Hype Cycle report and what we can learn about mobile from the Rio Olympics.
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Hi Mum! Said Dad
Tim Cook declares augmented reality a “core technology” for Apple
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was recently asked about his thoughts on augmented reality to which he responded that it is a “core technology” for Apple and that it is “something we’re doing a lot of things on”. Augmented Reality is distinct from Virtual Reality, with the former overlaying additional information or imagery over the real world (like Pokémon Go), where as the latter allows a user to immerse themselves in a completely new world. With revenues from iPhones declining, investors are keen to know what Apple’s next play is. It seems that Apple has identified AR as a future growth driver for the company.
These comments from Cook are particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he went as far as calling it a “core technology” despite the fact that we haven’t seen anything from Apple in public. We heard rumblings in January that Apple had assembled a large team of VR experts and had even built prototypes of headsets similar to what Microsoft has produced with the HoloLens. Apple also recently acquired Flyby Media, a start-up specialising in AR. Of course, this could mean that something is not far away. However, it could also mean exactly what Cook has said — that this is a core technology and considering what is on the line for Apple, they are not in a rush to go to market with a substandard gimmick. Secondly, Apple has an advantage in the sense that a lot of people, in western markets in particular, are locked in/have a strong preference for their ecosystem, which is something they will most likely look to leverage in any AR offering.
Apple keeping its cards close to its chest could be an ominous sign for the likes of Microsoft and Google/Magic Leap (the Google owned AR startup — their homepage is amazing!).
Gartner reveals much anticipated key trends in their 2016 Hype Cycle report
Gartner is renowned for its long-running, annual Hype Cycle report which looks at the key technologies affecting businesses and key players such as business strategists, CIOs, R&D leaders and entrepreneurs. This year, Gartner has identified 3 key trends:
Transparently immersive experiences
This refers to human centric technologies with technology, businesses and people becoming increasingly intertwined. This includes technologies such as AR, VR (surprise, surprise) but also the connected home, affective computing (technologies that adjust to the emotional state of the user) and computer-brain interfaces (where a user voluntarily generates brain patterns that a computer understands as a command to control a particular application or device).
The perceptual smart machine age
Artificial intelligence has the ability to change society as we know it with Gartner labelling it as the possibly the most disruptive class of technologies over the next decade. If you are interested, Martin Ford expertly delineates the implications for society and areas including politics and inequality in his award-winning book, The Rise of the Robots. We have already begun to see some of technologies that Gartner has referenced, namely conversational UI (Facebook Messenger bots), drones (Amazon Prime Air) and machine learning (Google’s AlphaGo recently trounced 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol 4 games to 1). The less spoken about technologies include personal analytics (analysing one’s own life to glean actionable insights in the realms of work or life in general) and smart dust (tiny particles with computing power, multiple sensors and wireless radios).
Platforms are facilitating the creation of new businesses and business models. These platform-enabling technologies include familiar faces such as Blockchain (the tech that underpins the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin), Quantum computing and the Internet of Things. Other notable mentions include neuromorphic hardware (hardware that aims to mimic the brain’s structure and processing ability in order to allow computers to undertake tasks that have previously been out of its reach but come so easy to humans) and software defined everything (aka SDx — the phenomenon of replacing physical hardware via the virtualisation of hardware through complex pieces of software).
The most exciting aspect of all this? Gartner predicts that most of these technologies are only 5–10 years away from mainstream adoption.
Mobile takes gold in Rio
Mobile is going from strength to strength and the latest findings from the Rio Olympics suggests the days of mobile being the ‘second screen’ are long gone. In Phunware’s ‘Rio Olympics 2016: Year of Mobile’ survey, 70% of those using mobile devices said they planned to watch the Olympics directly on a smartphone or a tablet, compared to 23% who said they planned to use mobile as a second-screen experience. Traditionally, longform/live videos had always been a bit of a contentious area for mobile. There was a feeling that longform videos weren’t fit for consumption on mobile but the sentiment around Rio suggests attitudes are changing.
Generally speaking, this could be a watershed moment for video. With phone screens getting larger and users opting for larger data plans, viewing live content on mobile is quickly becoming the norm. Indeed, in the UK, mobile consumption of BBC iPlayer content in particular is very popular as is Netflix and Amazon Prime consumption (rush hour on the London Underground is prime time to see this trend in action). The common denominator in all these cases is the quality of the content on offer. If the content is good enough, users don’t need any convincing — they welcome the option to watch on mobile.
Olympics related apps have also been leveraging smartphone features to enhance user experiences. For example, BBC’s My Sport app has allowed users to customise the push notifications that they receive so that they are only informed of the events they care about. Similarly, RIOgaleão airport leveraged GPS to deliver indoor turn-by-turn navigation to ensure that travellers’ first experience of Rio was a good one.
More here about what Rio teaches us about the future of mobile.
Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.
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