As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look at what’s coming next year in the world of tech and the Internet. Chances are our 2018 technology predictions will be wrong, it would be boring if we were right about everything.
Child Tracking GPS Technology
Our big tech prediction of 2018 – parents will be given devices and platforms to specifically track their children’s movements. Currently, it’s all there with wearable tech, find-my-iPhone style pinpointing and mapping software. The problem is that it’s too easy for a phone to be switched off, settings changed, battery run out etc. Not every kid can be trusted with a phone nor afford one with a data contract too. Sure there are things you can buy now – if you have the budget. The markets will converge to create an app/device package that will retail to parents in a low-cost, always-on fashion.
Bendy and Multiple Screen devices
Back in 2013, we were shown the first concepts for flexible device screens. Thanks to the new OLED technology, screens can be made much thinner as they don’t need a backlight. So where are they? Like most new technology, it’s making great ideas scalable and affordable where the challenge lies. Whilst the promise that we can print screens from something like an inkjet printer isn’t going to happen, we certainly think that a major phone in 2018 will have bendy or more than one screen. We love this dual-screen from ZTE which looks great even if a little more like a proof of concept than something eminently usable right now.
Google has teased us this year with its Google Lens product, available on the latest Pixel 2 phones in Beta. The promise is a simple and blindingly obvious one – wave your phone camera at something and it works out the most appropriate action. So if you show it an advert it rings the number, visits the website or loads up the email address in your mail app. Why this hasn’t yet happened in the mainstream is something that we’re puzzled by, OCR and scanning has been around for over 20 years and it’s an obvious extension of today’s selfie society. We predict Google will allow this tech to be part of any Android device and Apple to follow suit.
In 2017 a box pops up on major websites. “Hello, I’m Joe. How can I help you?”. It’s linked to a real person, and a real person tries their best to answer. Some companies are trialling the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with customer support Chatbots to give users real-time informed answers based on informed search algorithms. Taking this one step further, why can’t such a bot book me a cinema ticket? Tell me the best way to travel to America? Let me know how many loan payments I have left? The first step in the predicted march to replace humans with AI surely must be in the area of customer support and service. Major banks Capital One and Santander are making strides right now.
Emjois in Passwords
Eggplant Eggplant Spash Grinning-Face. Ok maybe not that combination. The Emoji is now a mainstream way of communicating along with the written text words. The semi-colon/bracket has come along way from it’s use by geeks on IRC, and they have even made a movie about them. So we predict that in 2018 users will be allowed to set Emojis as part or all of their password. We don’t see any reason why not – as passwords aren’t stored in databases, but encrypted first. So the manner and method shouldn’t matter. Passwords were one of the major IT security topics this year with many issues raised (including Apple’s latest OS not even needing one). We feel there will be a move away from the request that a passwords has capital letters, numbers and a symbol, to allowing and even asking for Emojis.
One “Biggie” to Go
Ok this is a gamble rather than an informed opinion. We predict one of the big Social Media platforms to go in 2018. Why? Because revenue streams from advertising online are being squeezed more than ever before, and many of these apps are being supported so far by investors and venture capital. They will want a return at some point.
We’ve trained our sights on Snapchat. Snapchat famously refused a a buy-out offer from Facebook. Facebook’s reaction was to replicate a lot of Snap’s features on its Instagram platform anyway. Instagram has over double the user base too – around 500 million active users, compared to Snapchat’s 180 million. Snapchat’s launch of it’s “Spectacles” wearable tech product was a complete failure, losing them millions. Their recent launch of many confusing features, soon removed or rolled-back, also didn’t help.
The final issue is in revenue. Instagram has a broader user-base, piggy-backing on Facebook as it does. Snapchat’s main audience though is the “teen girl” market of 16-24 females. This sector love using Snapchat, however the number of advertisers who can make real sales from this market sector is small, limited to lifestyle and fashion products. When looking to increase user base and advertiser revenue, being niche won’t help.
Whilst it’s too important to completely disappear in 2018, we predict it will either be at risk (similar to Soundcloud this year), be finally bought out or be radically overhauled into a different beast altogether.