Technology leaders, entrepreneurs, startup innovators, and a whole lot of tech nerds gathered in Austin, Texas this weekend for SXSW Interactive. Among the countless sessions, mobile exhibitors, flashy technology, and app notifications, a few key trends rose to the surface.
Location Apps – Highlight, Ban.jo, and Sonar were a big hit at SXSW, bringing people together based on location and interests. “It’s all about connecting locally,” one attendee told me. While these tools help break the ice, they suck the life out of your smart phone battery. Yet, location apps like this further the proof that technology can encourage socializing in spite of the argument that technology does the opposite.
Augmented 3D Reality – App developers are looking at unique ways to integrate information into surroundings through the lens of a smart phone or tablet. Layar Vision, an augmented reality browser, is gaining traction, especially with the SXSW Interactive crowd. Layar Vision helps users interact with the real world digitally.
Beautifying the Web – The Web is getting more beautiful. The race to success is about having a concrete design that wows everyone from the inside – out. Even Todd Park, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Macon Phillips, the Director of Digital Strategy at HHS, discussed information, content, and visual design at the forefront of development of Healthcare.gov, an initiative to inform the public about healthcare coverage and pricing options.
Active Assistants – Social media and social apps have a reputation of being a time waster. Recent hits like Pinterest, Instagram, and others capture our interests but fail to make us more productive. Apps like SuperBetter, a game to empower people to overcome life challenges, made their debut at SXSW this year, seeking to assist inidividuals in creating and meeting goals for positive productivity in life.
Open API – API opens collaboration and partnerships betweeem complementary businesses, platforms, and developers in ways that never existed before. More and more companies are looking to find ways to host content and allow others to build interactive apps around their offerings within the site. Edmodo announced last week that it plans to open its platform to host educational apps.
Mobile vs. Web – Many startups and developers are debating where to build first: a mobile app available on smart phones or a web app available on any device through a browser. Some are noting the trend to build a soley mobile interface with little to no web presence while others argue that apps are lazy mobile development and prefer mobile websites.
Edmodo is a portfolio company of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner.