Apps, VR, Voice, Oh My: Tech in 2017

Originally published in LBB Online.

Many of us are ready to be done with 2016, including me. RIP David Bowie, Prince, Arnold Palmer, and the myriad of other luminaries who shaped our culture. Hands down, Prince was the best concert I’ve ever seen; unfortunately I never got to see Bowie.  

The new year will bring a fresh start and the usual rhythm of events, starting with CES, rolling into SXSW, and so on and so forth. As I look to 2017, here are my four predictions for advertising, native apps, virtual reality, and voice interactions.  

1. Advertising professionals will pay better attention to the actual experience of their work on mobile

Looking at impressions, tap throughs, and conversions are baseline. There is still a human experience on the other end of the tech and, frankly, adtech failed us in 2016. Simply read an article on any website. Interstitials, clunky banners, trick-taps, and auto-playing video with audio are all making our customers crazy. In 2017, brands and content producers will work together to provide relevant content paired with tasteful ad experiences.  

2. Native app retention strategies will become centre stage

We work hard to build awesome applications and need to capitalise on keeping our users. If an app doesn’t keep its users, it is poorly made and provides no value proposition. A successful native app does a few things great.  And the users who stick to our apps are the best, loyal customers. Creative push experiences, better targeting, and being ready at the magic moment will be goals on product owners’ minds in 2017.

3. In the future, virtual reality will be a large part of people’s daily experience, but it is going to take time—and 2017 will not be the tipping point

However, we will begin to see substantive virtual reality experiences, with social elements added to the mix. This past year, I spent time taking 3D photographs with a Samsung Gear 360. This content creation was a lot of fun and, when I went to share these experiences, it was met with much excitement. But that excitement died quickly using the Samsung Gear VR hardware and software combination—controls on the side of the headset are cumbersome and awkward. Fortunately, a high note followed this: Google’s Daydream VR. I can now view the same images I took with the Samsung hardware via Google Photos—along with a better experience. In 2017, Google will make big strides in VR. Its approach to the headset as a piece of clothing is a big step in the right direction.  

4. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana are in all play to become the virtual assistant of choice

As this year ends, it’s clear that Alexa in the Amazon Echo hardware is trending well (of course, having the buying power of Amazon behind it adds huge value). I love asking Alexa to order things for me, especially household goods, in real-time as I need them. That said, in 2017 I predict Google makes up big ground in terms of footprint for Google Home. It will become a content-delivery powerhouse due to the combination of Home, Assistant, and Chromecast.  Apps with Chromecast integrations will also have a path to expanding their footprints. They’ll need to consider how that experience works with the addition of Google Home.  

At the same time next year I look forward to reviewing my predictions—and seeing how well I did.

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