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One of the main trends for 2016: productivity apps are experiencing an unprecedented growth in popularity, driven by new devices which make them easier to use.


Messaging apps have been on the increase since 2012, driven by electronic payment functions and games. But a new trend started in 2015 – the growth in productivity applications.

For a long time, mobile devices were seen more as machines for the general public. Easy to hold with high processing power, smart phones and tablet computers were more geared towards entertainment apps, such as games, music and video.

Small screen sizes and the difficulties in writing accurately on them meant that word processors, spreadsheet apps, image editing apps and note-taking apps were slower to catch on. But now, all this is changing. For the last couple of years, the tablet market has been expanding. Having initially missed the tablet boat, Microsoft is making up lost ground with a product aimed at professionals – the Surface. Apple has responded in kind with its iPad Pro, while Samsung has launched its Galaxy Note. Smartphones are becoming bigger and bigger while “phablets” are increasingly powerful – their processing power has been significantly improved.

So much so that in 2015, the most innovative new iPhone app according to Apple was a productivity app called Workflow, which can be used to connect various applications so you can combine several actions automatically. Meanwhile, Microsoft has developed a version of its Office suite specifically designed for its Surface tablet. And it’s gone one step further: in 2014, it launched Sway for creating interactive presentations on mobile devices.

Apple’s iWork suite can also be downloaded, free of charge, for tablets. Hotschedules, Slack, Evernote, Hootsuite and Mailbox, as well as a whole range of professional applications for managing expenses, finances and business trips are going to revolutionize how we use our mobile phones and meet users’ new requirements.


What apps can we expect this year?

Mobility is now within everyone’s reach – companies, graphic arts professionals, architects, researchers, people working in sales, etc. So depending on what type your company is, how big it is and what business sector it operates in, what sort of applications should you design?

The first app category improves employees’ productivity. These are apps which make production easier, such as word processors, spreadsheet applications, image editors, apps for preparing plans for architects, task scheduling and management apps, etc.

The second category improves a company’s processes. Automated expenses and travel management tools increase employees’ productivity: they can issue their claim while they’re traveling, simplifying the work of the financial controller by automating the claim’s life-cycle.


The last category is for apps that provide a new service or improve the way in which we use an existing product. These are less about users’ productivity and more about informing them of the existence of an offer. They are the most disruptive apps in terms of market for companies. App analytics firm App Annie references these apps in particular, which are in use in the banking sector: TransferWise for transferring money, WeSwap for changing currency and Wealthfront for asset management. What all these apps have in common is that they deprive traditional banks of their roles as intermediaries. The same phenomenon can be seen in e-commerce and online payments. Other sectors are more reticent when it comes to mobile apps – both for smartphones and tablets. Look at tourism, for example. Towns and regions have apps that provide info on accommodation, restaurants, events and local activities. But the fact still remains that despite there being some 3,600 tourist and information offices listed in France, fewer than 200 apps have been developed.

This last category can also include applications which are designed to improve the way a particular product is used – such as an application for improving the way in which connected objects that communicate using sound are used. Or an app designed to facilitate meetings – organizing a lunch among colleagues, for example.


The developer’s role as an adviser

The interesting thing about digital technologies is that they reshuffle the cards. All the cards. A company that comes from nowhere made up of five people and just one useful idea can radically transform a business sector and send the major groups back to their marketing studies. The developer has an interesting role as an adviser: thanks to all this demand for productivity apps which will improve processes or the way in which we use particular products, developers serve as consultants, project pilots, designers, user experience designers and developers managing design, production, optimization, test campaigns, quality assurance, and much more besides.

So basically, a developer who can manage the whole development chain. Isn’t that what a full stack developer does? They can use the open source, full stack, JavaScript Wakanda platform to drive such projects.