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110 Mobile Apps to Watch for 2012

As the market for high-end smartphones heats up, Gartner says it has identified the top 10 cutting-edge technologies and trends for 2012. “Increasingly, mobile applications will define the user experience on high-end devices and device vendors that proactively integrate innovative apps and technologies at the platform layer will have the competitive edge.” – Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner.

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LBS plus Context Equals $$$Location-based services (LBSs) will evolve to marry context with location to deliver services based on context (AKA, personal preferences). Marrying info like gender, buying history, age, profession and all the other dirty details of your personal life may lead to increased corporate revenue opps, but a richer mobile experience for you.

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Socially MobileSocial Networking via the mobile channel is picking up steam, and has already become standard on most mobile devices. In turn, traffic caused by countless Twitter and Facebook updates means more activity on the network. As social networks become even more popular, they will morph into portals for commerce, games, and community-based apps that will turn cloud providers in data warehouses for serving up data and access to consumer brands.

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Search Leads to ActionMobile Search technology is poised to evolve as users on site compare prices, look for restaurants, find in-stock inventory and more. Look for app users to take action based on search result, whether based on location, social sharing technology or making a direct purchase.

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Commerce Evolves On-siteOver the next 24 months, Gartner expects “check in” along the lines of Foursquare today, that will lead to adding items to shopping carts, alerting retailers to consumer presence, and then, direct integration with promotions that lead to purchase. Capabilities like bar code scanning and photo taking will lead to a richer mobile experience.

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NFC Use Picks UpAlthough near field communications (NFC) are already a main stay in high=-end phones, Gartner says it won’t become mainstream until 2015. What will hold it back? Security and ease of use and integration concerns need to be overcome. Look for vendors to tackle these issues in the next 24 months.

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Context Leads to Richer ExperienceContext-aware computing could lead to a host of new mobile applications and experiences, including NFC, promotions, mapping, directory assistance, advertising and privacy controls. That also means applications become “push” instead of “pull” relying less on user initiation. The result? Mobile interactions get easier (and creepier) to engage.

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Object RecognitionAs smartphones evolve, sensor and processing capabilities will enable object recognition (OR) to be implemented mainstream. That means sophisticated apps that mean you don’t have to tell your device where you are or what is within striking (or purchasing) distance. Users will rely on cameras and other embedded sensor technology to push technology, promotions and, in the enterprise, more productivity.

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Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM)Service providers that offer unified communications and VoIP capabilities pose a severe threat to traditional carriers looking for voice revenue, says Gartner. Companies looking to ride the UC wave will need to integrate MIM with location and presence, says Gartner.

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PIM and Mobile emailMobile email is on the rise, Gartner predicts mobile email users to increase from 354 million in 2009 to 713 million in 2014! Since email addresses are personal, look for carriers, email providers and OTT (Over the Top) providers like Skype to lock in consumers, and make email a main conduit for services and long-term engagement with customers.

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Mobile videoLarger screen real estate, faster networks and the adoption of tablets mean mobile can become the ideal platform for video consumption, driving larger data plans. Gartner says carriers should partner with YouTube and video providers, so traditional Internet video consumption moves to the platform. As HD and 3D become more mainstream, look for it to jump to mobile phones and bundled content and free downloads to proliferate.