Monday, December 31, 2012
The internet in 2013: Annoying, sneaky, elitist, expensive, and gorgeous

What's that? You want to know my digital predictions for 2013? Alright then.

Prediction #1: Apps will start to annoy you

When I hit five pages of apps on my phone, I realised I didn't need seven apps to add a grainy filter to a photo, particurly as I spent more time updating them than using them. After some spring cleaning, I'm now down to two pages and am happy with my choices. I use Path, Evernote, Facebook, Tweetbot, Kindle, Sky+, Skype, Fitbit, Google Maps and DocScanner regularly. Everything else is rarely used or a luxury. With the mobile web getting faster and designers getting more skilled at creating sites that look good on phones it's likely that, rather than download an app for every different task we want to do with our phones, we'll start bookmarking sites that do the same job.

Prediction #2: Your stuff will spy on you

Terms like 'the internet of things' and 'the semantic web' get used a lot, and I'm still not really that sure what they mean. What I do know is that there is a little device in my pocket that is tracking my every move, and telling my phone, which is then telling the internet. I also know that my phone knows where I am, and uses the internet to tell me things based on my geographical location. Plus, the internet knows the sites I've visited and the things I've bought and subscribe to. Once the internet gets its act together and realises the power of all the real-time data about me floating about, things are going to get interesting. (By the way, check out my friend's app Passcloud for an exciting first step.)

Prediction #3: An internet class system will emerge

Instagram's attempt at monetising its free service by stealing everyone's photos and selling them didn't go down well with users. But how come we expect a service that doesn't carry advertising to stay free forever? We already pay a bit more for a Kindle without advertising, and are happy to upgrade our iPhone apps to remove those annoying ads for dating services, so why shouldn't Instagram try to make money somehow? I'd happily pay a few quid a month for a social network I really need. In fact, I'd happily pay a few quid a month for Facebook if it stopped filling my newsfeed with sponsored stories and let me see all my friends' updates in chronological order. I bet more and more sites realise they need money and start to charge for enhanced use, creating 'business' and 'economy' style classes.

Prediction #4: The web will take all your money

Having been involved in a retail project for almost a year (my in-laws' dog clothes shop) I've been particularly switched on to the tech that you can use in a shop nowadays. Aside from Passcloud (which lets retailers push vouchers to iPhones as people walk past the shop), it looks like Square, GoPayment and iZettle (which let anyone take credit card payments using only an iPhone) are finally taking off. Contactless payments are also becoming the norm, via new-style bankcards and NFC-equipped phones. The bottom line? In 2013, you will no longer need money on you to spend money. Oh, and the internet knows what you like to spend money on (see point 3).

Prediction #5: All this will result in amazing design

When you combine all the above, there is going to be a need for amazing-looking mobile websites that are worth paying for, and have deep and secure technical integration with other web services behind the scenes. That means we're going to need our creative people to understand graphic, user-centred, industrial and interaction design across a lot of different platforms, and have the knowledge to bring it all to life. The internet is not just about seeing any more, it's about doing. With mobile hitting the mainstream and so much of our time and money flowing onto the web, a new breed of web person will be needed to weave everything together and make it work.