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Analyst 2017 Prediction: Mobile Apps Will Be Composed, Not Coded, with APIs

Forrester Research Inc. sees enterprise mobile development undergoing radical changes next year, predicting the composing -- not coding -- of apps with reusable APIs that can be mixed and matched.

That was just one of many trends forecast for next year in the new report, "Predictions 2017: Mobile Is The Face Of Digital."

The research firm sees a changing mobile landscape driving a push toward more flexible, modular architectures for faster development, emphasizing user "mobile moments" and "app fragments" such as messaging and virtual assistants that will provide a portfolio of "mobile experiences" rather than one isolated, all-in-one app.

And for that to happen, a new development model is in store.

"Next year is the year functional programming evolves from academia to the enterprise," Forrester analyst Julie Ask said in a blog post earlier this month. "Application infrastructure powers this change. Instead of building objects that interact with each other, developers will use Lambda architectures to code reactions to environmental changes."

Those changes, Forrester said as an example, could be a news event that prompts Amazon -- an early adopter of Lambda architectures in its cloud services -- into pushing a news alert to users of its Echo devices. Chasing Amazon in this area are challengers Google Cloud Functions, IBM OpenWhisk and Microsoft Azure Functions.

The actual (for-pay) report provides further insights into Forrester's thinking.

"Consumer app fatigue is forcing digital business professionals to offer a portfolio of mobile experiences that go beyond apps and depend on ecosystem partners, pull mobile in-house, operate as a collection of synced Agile teams building better customer experiences -- not just digital ones -- and collaborate closely with technology counterparts," the report said. "They'll compose (not code) them using APIs like Lego bricks -- breaking from the monolithic models of today."

Forrester also predicted successful enterprises will bring more mobile development expertise in-house as part of a closer alignment of product owners, developers and teams that provide back-end functionality -- a realignment that requires colocation instead of outsourcing.

Other predictions include enterprise investment in Web experiences to match mobile apps, an expanded reach and increased functionality for notifications, enhanced onsite, intelligent wireless networks and many other insights.

"In 2016, we got a sneak preview of the future with Amazon's Alexa, Apple's in-message applications, Facebook's Messenger, Google's Instant Apps, and Kik Interactive's chatbots," the report said. "We are steadily moving beyond siloed app experiences toward app fragments that live on third-party platforms as we make the journey toward dynamically assembled experiences within open ecosystems."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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