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Why Artificial Intelligence Will be Big In Mobile App Development in 2017

What’s the next big thing in mobile development? Many analysts and industry watchers say it’s artificial intelligence (AI). They expect it to be used for many purposes, including embedding chatbots into retail apps, adding built-in smarts to traditional enterprise applications like ERP, and integrating with context-aware smart sensors. Here’s what to expect when it comes to AI and mobile apps in the coming year.

Gartner vice president and Gartner Fellow David Cearley says that intelligent apps will be one of the top ten strategic trends for 2017. He’s talking about more than just virtual digital assistants that make common tasks like prioritizing email easier. Instead, he sees them built into every category of mobile app in the enterprise, particularly marketing and ERP. In fact, Gartner is so bullish on AI everywhere that it expects most of the 200 largest companies in the world to have developed intelligent apps by 2018.

If you’re building a retail app in the coming year, AI may be vital because your competitors could well already be using it. In early December, Starbucks announced a new AI-powered mobile app called “My Starbucks Barista.” Just tell the app what you want, and it places the order for you. If you’ve instead got a craving for Tacos, you can order from Taco Bell using the TacoBot, which doesn’t just take orders, but also recommends menu items and answers questions.

Merging AI, context awareness and mobility

What sets mobile apps apart from traditional applications on desktop PCs is their ability to be aware of their location and the outside world using sensors. Adding AI to the mix will make apps even more useful. AI and machine learning will use input from the sensors and based on that, make recommendations on what you should do next.

Zulfi Alam, General Manager at Microsoft, points to the example of a fitness tracker that uses sensors to measure the amount you exercise, your fitness level, and heart rate. He writes in a blog, “Imagine you’ve set the goal that you want to get fit and lose weight as part of your exercise routine. Based on your burn rate and exercise over one week,” an app can auto-suggest a customized workout plan for you.

Analysts expect this kind of AI capability to be built into many mobile apps in the coming year, not just for fitness trackers. As a result, developers who can build contextually aware, intelligent apps that make use of big data will be in demand.

Finally, AI will potentially be used in the development process as well, although it’s not close to replacing developers yet. Forrester’s Diego Lo Giudice says AI will eventually transform the way applications are built. In the short term, though, he expects it to be used primarily to automate app testing. He concludes, “Firms are looking to AI both to increase test automation to unprecedented levels and test in much smarter ways, and lower the costs for it.”

So don’t worry. A robot won’t take your job anytime soon.

Read why this trend will be further fueled by cheaper sensors.

Read how the oil and gas industry will benefit from these mobile innovations.
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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.