Jordan McQueen/Unsplash

Jordan McQueen/Unsplash

Smartphone technology changes at a faster pace than the average user can handle. As old trends have fizzled out and new ones taken their place, what does today’s smartphone landscape look like, and how is it likely to change in the coming years?

The contemporary smartphone is both more intuitive and more powerful than ever before. Like an extension of the nervous system, it’s designed with built-in tools to send you messages about the conditions of your environment and even your own body. As if that weren’t enough, it also serves as a personal assistant, paying your restaurant tabs, buying your theater tickets, and hailing you a cab to take you from place to place.

Personalized Technology

Back in 2014, a CNN Tech article predicted that the next decade’s mobile technology trends would be largely immersive and personal in nature. Barely two years on, that prediction has already been realized.

Apple’s iPhone 6s 3D Touch feature senses and responds to fingertip pressure, giving users an in-depth preview of emails and web pages. Individualized security is also a feature of the 6s, which use fingerprint identification in addition to passcodes to protect the caches of personal information stored within. Mobile wallets allow smartphone users to pay without credit cards or cash, thanks to applications such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Another, more subtle personalized feature of today’s smartphones is the industry’s commercial relationship with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Companies such as Mobiquity Networks help retailers use a Bluetooth network to communicate with shoppers via the stores’ mobile apps, as Eweek reports. The apps, noting the proximity of the stores in question and the personal habits of the smartphone users, can help consumers to seize opportunities to conveniently shop that they otherwise would never have noticed.

But this trend, like the targeted internet ads based on search habits, prompts questions about privacy violation, according to phys.org. The debate about whether such technology gives smartphone users an efficient, customized shopping experience or whether it simply exploits their habits in the name of commercial greed is likely just beginning. In any case, it seems that smartphone technology has permanently changed the consumer experience.

Using Your Smartphone to See Your World: Inside and Out

Some of the most popular trends in smartphone applications offer users an increased sense of awareness. According to Science Daily, there is now an app to help young patients manage the symptoms of spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the spinal cord and bones. Walgreen’s Pharmacies in Madison, Wisconsin are test marketing an app that monitors heart rhythm using the same technology medical professionals use, as WTAQ reports.

There are also a growing number of ecological uses for smartphone apps. A collaboration from Google and the Universities of Nebraska and Idaho has produced an app that can track agricultural water usage, according to AZO Sensors. According to Emergency Management Magazine, first responders now have access to a pilot app that identifies the types and quantities of chemicals stored in facilities throughout their states, helping them fight and react to fires with better and more consolidated information than they’d ever had before.

App-Building for Everyone

With personalized security, shopping features, and health and environment monitoring capabilities, today’s smartphone emphasizes the individual, giving you unprecedented control over your lifestyle and surroundings. So it comes as no surprise that one of the newest, most exciting trends in mobile technology allows smartphone users to create their own applications, which can then be distributed and sold around the world.

Increasingly, DIY app builders are creating innovative apps for their communities. Case in point: OldFashioned Health, which works to keep Atlanta healthy with relevant health and nutrition information. Business owners are also building apps to access and serve their customers better. Deer Creek Winery, for example, has an app that updates its customers on wine tastings and other fun events at its Pennsylvania wineries.

Creators with limited budgets and coding experience alike are turning to a growing number of app-creating platforms to create these programs. Services like Infinite Monkeys, MIT App Inventor, and Buzztouch are leading the vanguard of DIY app creation, helping facilitate the transformation of big ideas into tangible apps available on the major mobile markets. With these platforms bringing app creation to the masses, smartphones are indeed getting smarter — they’re finally able to share the ideas and designs of everyone.