According to a report from the Ericsson ConsumerLab global research programme on anticipated trends for 2014, mobile apps will continue to transform society, the human body will be used more and more in place of passwords, and sensors will be increasingly present in our everyday lives.
Ericsson ConsumerLab identified ten major trends that it expects to characterise the communications technology market in 2014 and subsequent years.
Better living through apps
The report points out that we can expect apps to transform society in profound ways over the coming year.
According to Michael Björn, Head of Research at ConsumerLab, "the most important trend we see is the mass demand for apps and services across all industries and societal sectors - which has the potential to fundamentally change everyday life".
The rapid adoption of smartphones around the globe has transformed the way we communicate and access the internet. Going forward, the apps will be more important than the phone itself.
The report highlights a growing interest in mobile apps that allow users to quantify their personal health, often through sensors detecting blood pressure, heart rate or steps per day, for example.
The report stated that "40 per cent of smartphone users want their phone to log all of their physical activities and 56 per cent would like to monitor their blood pressure and pulse using a ring".
In addition to sensors on their bodies, consumers expect to see sensors in other places in the near future, making their surroundings as interactive and connected as their phones.
Ericsson ConsumerLab reports that 60 per cent of smartphone owners surveyed predict that "sensors will be used in everything from healthcare and public transport, to cars, homes and our places of work" by the end of 2016.
From next year, the human body is expected to replace passwords on a growing number of gadgets. Ericsson indicates that "52 per cent of smartphone users want to use their fingerprints instead of passwords and 48 per cent are interested in using eye-recognition to unlock their screen".
A strong majority of those surveyed (74 per cent) estimated that biometric smartphones would become mainstream devices during 2014.
Unsurprisingly, Ericsson found that consumers will be even hungrier for reliable Internet connectivity at all times, and will come to expect connectivity regardless of their location.
Currently, satisfaction with mobile Internet networks appears to be the lowest in subways, where Ericsson indicates there is room for improvement.
On a related note, the report also points out that 19 per cent of overall content streaming occurs via a phone or tablet, indicating that people often begin playing the content in one location, pause it and resume later in an entirely different location.
On the other hand, users are increasingly aware of the risks presented by the Internet.
While Ericsson found that "56 per cent of daily Internet users are concerned about privacy issues", only 4 per cent of these users reduced the time they spent on the Internet for this reason. Instead, they prefer to remain vigilant about providing certain types of personal information online.
For over 15 years, the Ericsson ConsumerLab has carried out global research programmes to analyse the values and behaviours of consumers in relation to information and communication technology. The research programme is based on yearly interviews with 100,000 individuals in 40 countries and 15 major cities.