“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
Thinking about what is to come in the future is not an easy task. Just ask anyone who wants to know where the flying cars and hover boards are (me). But, with a bit of research, data, and not such high expectations we can infer a relatively accurate outcome of what the future of communications will look like and what will be important to keep an eye on. Here is a list of what I believe will be very important in communications in the coming years.
Snapchat – Every social media is currently trying to copy Snapchat; from Instagram’s story posts to Facebook’s experimental ‘Messenger Day’ which is another stories copycat. Why does everyone want to be Snapchat? Because they’re successful and popular and they just keep growing. Snapchat just released an update to the app that allows you to create groups to send snaps to as well as create your own stickers from you photos and it’s a widely loved move. People are tweeting that Twitter needs to step up their game, ironic because of the platform used but telling all the same. Even their Spectacles are doing well because of a combination of marketing and the price point. This year they had their first movie, Sickhouse, filmed entirely with Snapchat app, and posted in 408 10 second increments to the star of the film’s Snapchat. The company is signing deals with advertisers and studios to produce exclusive content for their app and this will definitely be something to keep an eye on in the future.
Echo Chambers (Bubbles) – There has been a lot of talk about bubbles since this election was over. Everyone was blaming one another for being in a “bubble” and not understanding the views of people outside of that world. This is a phenomenon that is only gaining traction. The more formal term for this is an echo chamber where your beliefs are reinforced by those who share them and the information you obtain comes from these people with similar views as well. There is an app called Nuzzle which curates news based on what your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter like and share. This kind of app is a view into the future of communications; isolated communities reinforcing and not challenging the ideas and beliefs of one another. It will be harder to find outside information unless you actively seek it out because almost all social media algorithms now just show you posts that they think you will like; an imperfect system for educating oneself and sympathizing with people outside of your circle.
Mobile First/Only – There are already many apps that are mobile only, with no or a very limited desktop presence such as Instagram, Snapchat, and mobile games. This trend will just continue to grow as mobile only users continue to increase. Why put the time, effort, and money into developing and managing a website if no one is really using it? Most developers, even if they have a website like Facebook, put most of their efforts into mobile updates and usability because that’s where most of their users are. Look for a decrease in web presence and an increase in mobile in the months and yeas to come with new and pre-existing companies.
Virtual Reality/Alternate Reality – The VR sets currently on the market like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are around $700+ at this point in time. Don’t discount them because of that. They are making quality games and developing more media uses for them as we speak. As with all technology, the price will decrease and more people will get their hands on them and it will become more and more popular. Google Cardboard is a cheap alternative that does not work as well but it gives you a glimpse into the VR world and what it can become. My first experience with VR was Disney Quest in Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. An entire building dedicated to VR experiences and games like designing and riding your own rollercoaster; I adored it. It is now closed but expect to see more places like that in the future. As far as AR goes we just have to look at the success of Pokemon Go; people were already asking for a Harry Potter game that is similar…the possibilities are endless.
Drones – Drones are everywhere right now and for a good reason; they have so many possible uses. Currently they’re being tested to deliver Amazon packages or Domino’s pizza but they’re also being used to film amazing shots for movies and news stories. They are affordable so a student filmmaker or hobbyist could do something fantastic with them and not worry about the price. 2017 will show us just how popular drones are becoming; look out for your friends all taking wedding photos using them.
Smart Cars/Homes – This smart car and home technology has been around but is not widely adopted as of yet. With the success of Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, watch out for millennial’s who are buying their first homes and will be using and equipping all of this technology. That also means we have to watch out for burglars who would like to just hack your front door open. Ying and Yang I suppose.
These six things are what stand out the most to me for the future of communications. Keep an eye out for these trends and how they are going to shape media, news, communications, and many other things to come.