Our Farewell to an Eventful 2015

Our Farewell to an Eventful 2015 The beginning of the year is always a good moment to look back and get a new, fresh perspective on things past. 2015 was truly a great year for designers and developers, and with widespread adoption of collaborative software like InVision and Slack, more amazing products got shipped faster and in a more effective manner. Looking forward to all the things that 2016 has in store for us, we prepared a short list of events that had the most profound impact on the industry in 2015:

Technology:

  1. Open sourcing of Swift – just before the end of the year, Apple managed to fulfill its promise from the latest WWDC by releasing Swift’s source to the community. This is a very big deal in and of itself, but the manner in which it was done may have been even more newsworthy. It wasn’t just a plain old code dump so typical of Apple in the past. We got a dedicated website, mailing lists, the ability to submit changes to the language itself, and a way to gain insight into what’s next for Swift.

  2. React Native – Facebook continued to innovate by bringing its highly popular React framework to iOS and Android. We find React Native interesting mainly because of two reasons: 1) it introduces a different way of thinking about UI components: most components can be stateless, meaning that their look and behavior depend only on the data they’ve been configured with, and 2) it allows us to create native apps in JavaScript, bringing easy code-sharing between platforms (much easier than with C++) and even some unified APIs for platform-specific components.

  3. Machine Learning – and more generally, Artificial Intelligence, aren’t all that big on mobile just yet. They certainly will be in the near future, because, as they say, “The Best Interface Is No Interface”, and that can’t happen without ML. If you’re a developer, we encourage you to tinker with Google’s TensorFlow library, released last November. Moreover, you should keep an eye on OpenAI, the joint research foundation established by Elon Musk, Y Combinator, and others. Finally, treat yourself to a look into the more distant future with The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence.

Design:

  1. Apple Watch – as is the norm for all things from Cupertino, the Apple Watch quickly became the best-selling wearable on the planet and a device that companies now have to take into account when designing their products and services. For designers, it’s a brave new world rife with opportunities to provide users with new experiences on a tiny screen, but one that demands a very thoughtful design process.

  2. Micro-Interactions – this year was marked by the proliferation of tiny visual clues, meaningful transitions, and animated indicators. All these humanizing details became ubiquitous in both apps and all over the Internet. It feels really great to see how many companies are willing to put in the extra effort to surprise users and deliver a better experience.

  3. The Design Sprint – the amazing workflow frame for designers working in Agile environments introduced by Google Ventures partners was a smash hit in designer circles. With the upcoming and highly awaited book, we’re looking forward to see whether the process will help organizations from different industries address business questions in the coming year. We believe it can empower designers with a business-friendly potential similar to Osterwalder’s canvases so they can ideate, prototype, and build better products faster.

Business:

  1. Mobilegeddon – at the beginning of the year, Google started pointing out which websites were not optimized for mobile devices and then struck again with a deep linking system indexing apps in search results. In the long run, this can provide developers and designers with new design opportunities, it offers an invaluable tool to increase user retention, and, in general, encourages every industry to adopt mobile solutions faster.

  2. Cars, cars, cars – all throughout 2015, we were ceaselessly flooded with media speculation about potential new players in the car market, new startups focused on drivers or vehicles itself, new models were being constantly revealed and reviewed, even job listings started popping up looking for developers to work with Car Play or Android Auto. With the global adoption of Uber and car companies experimenting with new ideas about car ownership, it was truly a transformative year for automotive and transportation industries, with more business opportunities likely to emerge in the coming years.

  3. Microsoft on the App Store – one of the biggest surprises of the year was Microsoft presenting its apps at Apple’s September keynote. The giant from Redmond first offered its flagship Office suite for free on iOS, quickly followed it with the release of Outlook on iOS, widely considered the best email app out there, and finally released its virtual assistant as an iOS app. By committing substantial resources to delighting users, Microsoft is clearly showing that it wants to be considered a design-oriented company shipping amazingly designed and carefully crafted experiences.

In the coming year we wish you bold ideas, helpful technical improvements, fresh business opportunities, and never-ending design inspiration. And as usual, if you have an idea that you’d like to see in action in 2016, don’t hesitate to let us know. We can help make it happen.

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