MWC 2012: Time to look to future of mobile apps


Mobile applications are a dominant force in both work and play, but the ongoing fight to decide whether native or web applications are superior is hindering advancement in the area altogether.

So claims Scott Jenson, creative director at application design company Frog, who believes we need to look past the technology of today and start thinking about what the future will bring.

"When we talk about the iPad and when the iPad 3 comes out... what do we talk about?" he asked the packed out keynote at this year's Mobile World Congress 2012. "We say it's faster, or it's got more pixels, wow... not really that exciting is it?"

"When we talk about the future we speed bump the past, we are always looking in the rear view mirror expecting the new launches to be based around the technology available now. But that can't be the way for mobile apps."

Jenson spoke of the battle between native and web, falling very much on the latter's side, but tried to hammer home the point the industry must to do more than squabble.

"We have all [been] excited by native and web, but there are more exciting things [in the future] and we are too busy fighting over here," he added.

The next step on the road for applications centres around the sensors on your phone, claimed Jenson, namely GPRS, Wi-Fi, BlueTooth and RFID. Instead of downloading a whole application or searching online, these sensors will interact with the objects around you, from a food product to a bus stop, giving you all the information you need instantly.

"Look, am I going to walk up to a poster and install the app to [access the extra info) on it?" he said. "No. I want to use it and lose it, so [developers] have to start with the attitude of [a user that is] not sure what [they] want."

This is different to the world of the past 50 years, claimed Jenson. Although devices have got smaller, faster and cheaper, the nature of applications has remained the same.

"Why do we think we have to keep working this way?" he said - with audible frustration.

The creative director concluded: "We want to see the future but we are being blinded by certain paradigms of the day. There is nothing wrong with this paradigm but, seriously, are we all going to be using iPhones in 30 years?"

"We need to stop getting [caught up] in today's paradigms [and] we need to start inventing the future."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.