How developers can prepare for the new era of content and data

The world is about to experience an explosion of personal video and data as wearable devices become more pervasive. Wearable technology recently dominated the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and is marked as the big topic of conversation at Mobile World Congress later this month.

According to ABI Research analyst, Aapo Markkanen, multiple device ownership and the pervasiveness of cameras that generate high quality video is strongly driving consumer cloud storage growth. But what’s interesting is that while the volume of data we produce grows, device capacity continues to shrink. This has forced device manufacturers to rethink storage. They are now looking to cloud providers and application developers to solve the storage challenge, so that they can continue to focus on bringing smaller, thinner, and innovative devices to market.

As more data is migrated to the cloud and developers create apps to better manage data on new devices, there are a number of important considerations:

1. Focus on the user experience - as the quantity of personal data grows, so does the complexity of interacting with that data to keep it relevant and useful. The old days of silo’d files, restricted file sizes, and limited sharing need to be re-thought for multi-platform access, instant streaming access, and quick sharing. As more devices come to market, usability and experience will have a significant impact on the success of the device, and the applications built for the device.

2. Make data accessible…from all devices - consumers now expect ubiquity when it comes to applications. If they snap photos on their iPhone, they expect them to be easily accessible from their laptop.  If they download a movie, they want to be able to watch in on their TV, or their tablet. Furthermore, they expect to be able to access and use the data they create. In the past, third parties (platform and apps) have had open access to consumer data, while the first party (the consumer) has limited access according to the function of the application. Consumers are increasingly aware of the data they are creating, we are seeing more people taking active steps to control, access and share the data they produce.

3. Integrate sharing functionality – the trend towards the “quantified self” has people tracking their activities, while mobile camera technology like Glass and GoPro have made it easier for consumers to create impressive content. As social creatures with a little bit of ego, we naturally want to share our achievements and experiences with our community. As with web and mobile apps, integrating sharing functionality into applications for wearable devices should be considered par for the course.

4. Keep things discreet – the new era of wearable devices will create a wealth of personal data - not only location data, but also health-related data and data on lifestyle patterns. Exposing this sort of sensitive information would be a gross invasion of privacy as well as breaking consumer trust, which for a brand is difficult to earn back. The next generation of apps will require an even more stringent commitment to protecting consumer privacy and brand reputation. Wearable apps should provide the controls to allow consumers to select what content is available publically.

5. Defend the data – closely linked with privacy, the data produced on emerging devices will increase the focus on security. Already we’ve seen instances where smart refrigerators have been hacked – in this case only to send spam emails. But this highlights some of the vulnerabilities of emerging devices. The only true defense is encryption. As such, developers need native and end-to-end encryption to ensure the security of personal data.

By tapping into power of APIs, developers have the opportunity to build unique solutions for this new era of wearable devices. By making it easier for apps to control access, sharing, and privacy of their data, consumers gain a better experience and more loyalty to your product.

As Google Glasses, smart watches, Fitbits and other wearables head towards mainstream adoption, the shortcomings of unpolished applications will become apparent. The winners will be the developers that are well prepared for this new era of data and content, producing apps and services that avoid the negative headlines.


If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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