By 2017, wearable and smart devices will drive half of all app interactions

Mobile & tablets

by Ben Sullivan| 22 January 2014

Mobile users will provide personalised data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day.

A consumer technology expert from Gartner has said that within four years, apps will no longer be confined to smartphones and tablets, but will massively impact a wider set of devices, from home appliances to cars and wearable devices.

"By 2017, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will drive 50 per cent of total app interactions," said Brian Blau, a researcher at Gartner, which provides information technology research and advice.

Wearable devices will use mobile apps as channel for data exchange and user interface, because many of them will have few or no user interface capabilities. Offloading that responsibility to the mobile device means the wearable devices will depend on apps for all types of user input or output, configuration, content creation and consumption, and in some cases, basic connectivity.

While wearable devices will not fully rely on, or be a slave to, mobile devices, it is a way for manufacturers to keep these devices small and efficient, therefore significantly reducing device costs in favour of using apps, which are more easily maintained and updated," said Blau.

"Considering their underlying service, most wearable devices need some type of user interface. Taking the example of a fitness-tracking device, ultimately its onboard data will need to be uploaded into the cloud, processed, and then analysed in reporting back to the user. Apps are an obvious and convenient platform to enable great products and services to be developed."

Gartner has also made bold statements about the number of mobile apps that will be downloaded in the coming years. It predicted that by 2017, mobile apps will have been downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe. As a result, Gartner said that mobile users will provide personalised data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day.

"Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve," said Blau, research director at Gartner.

"This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funnelling data through mobile apps. As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data -- what they say, what they do, where they go -- that is transforming the app interaction paradigm."

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