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Watch out for these mobile technology trends in 2019

As 2018 ends, IT should be on the lookout for the newest trends in enterprise mobile technology. Here's what IT pros should have on their radar for 2019.

Mobile devices have gotten smarter, bigger and faster. And organizations have continued to embrace and integrate mobile technologies within the business. As employees have demanded improvements in user experience, mobile app developers have attempted to adapt to their needs.

With all of these changes within the past few years, IT professionals that manage mobile strategies should keep an eye out for these mobile technology trends in 2019.

Smartphones get smarter

AI and virtual assistants aren't new mobile technology trends for 2019, but it's becoming common for mobile devices to integrate AI technologies into chatbots, virtual assistants and OSes. The current mobile device market indicates these changes; for example, chips from Qualcomm and Huawei already include AI capabilities.

Within the next two to three years, users will be able to use voice commands to fully power their mobile devices, according to Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates in Marlborough, Mass. In the next three to five years, users may not even know which mobile apps they are accessing because virtual assistants will determine their needs in advance and act accordingly.

These advancements will have a profound effect on organizations. AI will likely improve security for mobile devices, for example, by detecting anomalies in user behavior and understanding whether a user is the true owner of the device. AI-enhanced security will extend beyond methods such as biometric authentication. This may come in the form of on-device applications, or it could supplement enterprise mobility management (EMM) suites.

To prepare for AI-powered devices, organizations should be aware of the current market and consider strategies to take advantage of intelligent features. Technology purchasers should talk with vendors and their representatives to understand which features are available as extensions of the hardware and software of mobile devices.

EMM and beyond

The EMM market will likely change in the upcoming year, as the focus continues to shift from mobile device management (MDM) and EMM to unified endpoint management (UEM). UEM incorporates a variety of devices, including desktops, wearables and IoT devices. Many UEM tools include the features of EMM and MDM and integrate other aspects of IT management, as well, including identity and access management.

Vendors are renaming and refocusing products to align with these mobile technology trends in 2019. This is a trend that has been consistent for a few years and will likely continue. In 2016, BlackBerry rebranded its EMM suite as a UEM platform. In May 2018, Citrix changed the name of XenMobile to Citrix Endpoint Management. And in July 2018, Gartner rolled out its first Magic Quadrant dedicated to UEM.

Organizations should understand the ramifications of their vendors' product updates. Many vendors, such as Citrix, for example, encourage their EMM customers to migrate from on premises to the cloud. IT should know which features of their on-premises EMM platform, if any, will depreciate.

If applicable, IT should also prepare to integrate IoT edge devices into a UEM strategy. This may include finding a product that can securely integrate, provision and monitor connected sensors and equipment.

Mobile development of the future

Developers must also adapt to mobile technology trends in 2019. Cross-platform mobile development is becoming more viable as more developers turn to frameworks such as React Native and NativeScript, as well as technologies such as progressive web apps (PWAs).

Frameworks such as NativeScript and React Native enable developers to write one code base for both Apple iOS and Google Android. Tools such as Apache Cordova have attempted to do this in the past by creating hybrid apps that display web content in a native view. There are particular customizations that each platform requires, however, which makes it difficult for developers to truly use one code.

PWAs, which blend the best features of both web apps and native apps, are becoming more popular among mobile developers. PWAs are likely to become the new standard for mobile app development, according to Michael Facemire, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Users will see little difference in the interface of a native app and a PWA, which makes the new mobile development method an easy transition. PWAs are also relatively easy to develop, and it's likely that a developer will have the skills to create them. For PWAs to become mainstream, however, Apple needs to support them on Safari, and it's unclear when that will become a reality.

This was last published in December 2018

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