With the evolution of technology and the growing popularity of mobile devices, it is essential to look into the future of their capabilities in relation to web development.
As the connectivity and processing power of smartphones and tablets continue to evolve, a world of possibilities opens up for creating richer, more immersive web experiences.
In this article, we'll explore some of the trends and innovations that could shape the future of this interaction between mobile devices and web development.
#1 Increased processing power
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful in terms of processing capability. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, had already predicted that the processing power of computers would double every two years.
This allows mobile browsers to run complex web applications smoothly and faster. Rendering 3D graphics and running Augmented Reality (AR) applications are areas that will benefit from this increased power.
Practical example: "Fortnite", developed by Epic Games, is a game that demonstrates the increase in processing power on mobile devices, offering graphics, advanced gameplay and matches of up to 100 players simultaneously. All on a mobile device.
#2 Increased connectivity
Mobile networks are rapidly evolving with the introduction of technologies such as 5G. The higher bandwidth and lower latency provided by 5G will enable faster, more interactive web experiences (and there are those who talk about 6G already!).
Therefore, the development of real-time web applications, such as multiplayer games and high-quality streaming, will be boosted by this improvement in connectivity.
Practical example: YouTube, with its ability to stream high-definition videos quickly and stably on mobile devices, demonstrates the benefits of increased connectivity.
#3 Integration with devices’ functionalities
Mobile browsers are becoming more proficient at accessing devices’ functionalities.
By leveraging features such as the camera, location sensors and audio capabilities of mobile devices, developers could open up new opportunities for web applications based on Augmented Reality, geolocation and voice recognition.
Practical example: Instagram, which allows users to capture and share photos directly from their mobile device, demonstrates the successful integration of device features into a web application.
#4 Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Progressive Web Apps are a growing trend in mobile web development. They offer a similar experience to a native app, but run directly in the browser. Therefore, PWAs can be installed on the device and accessed offline, providing a fluid and seamless user experience.
According to Ada Rose Cannon, co-chair of the W3C group: “The common wisdom for most companies that set out to build an app is to build a native Android or iOS app, as well as a supporting website. Although there are some good reasons for that, not enough people know about the major advantages of web apps”.
Practical examples: the “Financial Times” has been using a PWA for digital content delivery on mobile devices since 2012. And Pinterest, which offers a native app-like experience, allows users to save and share ideas and images even when offline. It is also an example of a successful PWA.
#5 Responsive and adaptive design
Responsive design is a common practice to ensure websites adapt to different screen sizes. However, it goes far beyond that, allowing websites to adapt to the device’s capabilities.
In the future, websites will be able to customise the user experience based on device capabilities, offering advanced features only when supported.
Ethan Marcotte, designer and author of the book "Responsive Web Design", is one of the strongest advocates of this practice, and he intends to help professionals “learn how to deliver a quality experience, no matter how large or small the display”.
Practical example: “The New York Times”, with its responsive design, automatically adapts to different screen sizes, providing an optimised reading experience on mobile devices.
#6 Immersive experiences
With the evolution of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality, mobile devices have the potential to become portals for immersive web experiences.
Mobile browsers are beginning to offer native support for VR and AR features, allowing developers to create more immersive and interactive experiences.
Practical example: Google Maps allows users to explore the world in 3D and get detailed information about places, using Augmented Reality features on mobile devices. It is, therefore, an example of an immersive web experience.
Challenges for companies and professionals
The future of mobile device capabilities, in relation to web development, is promising. However, future trends carry with them a set of opportunities and challenges for companies and developers.
By leveraging increased processing power and improvements in connectivity, by integrating device functionalities, adopting PWAs, ensuring responsive and adaptive design, and exploring immersive experiences, companies can gain competitive advantages and offer innovative business solutions to their mobile users.
In turn, developers have the opportunity to create rich, immersive, more advanced and sophisticated experiences, providing users with unprecedented web interaction on their mobile devices.
However, it is essential that companies and developers are willing to keep up with technological evolution and acquire the necessary skills to adapt to this evolving landscape.