5 trends developers should not miss in 2017
We had managed not to give in to the temptation to draw up the typical list of trends for the year, but in the end we just couldn't resist. To a large degree because it tends to be quite useful for professional profiles who have some involvement in development, but who are not as embedded on a daily basis as programmers or software developers.
1. Native apps with artificial intelligence
Users are increasingly demanding a personalized experience from native apps. To provide this it is necessary –without exception– to know the audience, to know every single user and profile in order to be able to make recommendations, suggest contents and services tailored to their needs and treat users as individuals. Another way of adapting the experience is to incorporate personal assistants to enable each request at any time. There are some interesting examples on the market: Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Cortana (Microsoft), M (Facebook), Google Now (Google), Jibo, Clara… And there are dozens more.
This can also be achieved by grouping users into clusters to offer products and services tailored to the profiles in each group. Both of these tactics require technologies that can be seen today as two clear trends in software development: deep learning, with natural language processing as a key element; and machine learning, or how machines are capable of learning from their own performance and improving it as they make predictions.
It is likely that in 2017 numerous companies will launch native apps with an underlying cloud-based infrastructure, featuring technologies such as deep learning and machine learning so they can personalize their offer of products and services to their audience. This way they can adapt to their lifestyle (their schedules, their most frequent places...), their interests, and their wishes, and ensure that the performance of this personalization gets better and better, and more and more engaged.
The experience will not only be adapted in terms of content but also in terms of design. Responsive design was in some cases the ideal solution at a particular time, but the future will see design adapted to different types of users: large-scale menus or super search engines –appearing on the whole page when the user wants to look something– for older profiles, and quite the reverse for younger users. We're living in a time of intelligent experience in which there's no place for one-size-fits-all design.
2. Material design but with the return of skeuomorphism
Material design (Google), as with flat design (Microsoft) have been very clear trends in design for several years in both websites and mobile apps. But there's no doubt that 2017 will see the strong return of skeuomorphism, or –in a further step– the combination of material or flat design with using forms that show the objects in real life. The mix of these two visual elements is known as textile design: combinations of illustration, 3D and multimedia with elements of material design or flat design.
Skeuomorphism became fashionable in 2012 when Apple began using it in some of its headline products for its mobile devices –iPhone and iPad–, specifically starting with version 7 of the iOS operating system. This sparked widespread controversy among the fans of Apple's terminals. We'll start to see their integration with flat design trends now in 2017.
3. Microinteractions will be smaller than ever
The concept of microinteractions has been around in the design and software development market for some time, but it has been gradually evolving over the years. Microinteractions have been getting smaller and smaller until they are almost imperceptible to the user, but all together in the same action they generate a user experience that is adapted, meticulous, and has personality... The idea underlying microinteractions is to make the users' engagement visible by the way the interface responds to their gestures. This means the users participate more clearly in the experience itself, and complies with what Jakob Nielsen, the king of the user experience, called “the key principle of usability”: keeping the users informed of what's going on at all times on the screen.
This kind of extra detail, which designers and developers incorporate in the interface when the user makes an action on the screen, are becoming smaller and smaller so users barely notice them. In fact, there’s already talk in the design world of micro-miniinteractions –microinteractions formed by several mini-interactions, meaning these tiny features will become ever more sensitive and faster.
4. The boom in chatbots
2016 was the year of the chatbot as a field of innovation in both the communications sector and also in retail and banking. The trend is likely to continue growing in 2017. Last year numerous companies began to experiment with chatbots for interacting with their users, thanks to a large number of easy-to create platforms for conversational interfaces, and development frameworks for more complex products.
We've already talked about some of these tools for creating chatbots. Simple platforms like Chatfuel, Api.ai, Motion.ai, Smooch.io and Gupshup.io have burst onto an expanding market. Other companies such as Microsoft have launched their own bot development brand, like Microsoft Bot Framework, which requires a knowledge of programming before embarking on a project. This framework serves to develop bots for all the messaging apps (Slack, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Kik…) and has its own REST API, where developers can make their interfaces with syntaxes like NodeJS and .NET.
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