Mobile App Evolution: Using the Smartphone Camera for More Than Selfies

In a society that increasingly sees the world through phone screens; what’s the next big innovation with smartphone camera capability?

Remember your very first camera phone? We were all so excited about the tiny, pixelated images that only existed on that device and nowhere else. Our phones have advanced pretty drastically since then. What once was a device for simply calling and texting has become a cornerstone in modern lifestyle.

The apps on our phones have evolved right alongside the advancing capabilities of the smartphone. Their features made their way into our daily routines so seamlessly; we’re not even sure how we ever lived without them. Most young consumers have never known a world without technology.

In a society that increasingly sees the world through phone screens; what’s the next big innovation with smartphone camera capability? How will advanced camera and image recognition technology shape the future of app development?

With smartphone camera advancement comes a huge influx of content creation. We now carry in our pockets the ability to capture and document every important and memorable moment. We once scoffed at over-eager tourists with cameras around their necks, yet now snapping selfies is a societal norm.

This trend comes with an issue: how do we organize what’s important? A video of your baby’s first steps is obviously an important moment to document. A blurry snap of that label from the bottle of rosé you drank at dinner last week? While it’s comparatively less important, it’s saved right there in your camera roll next to your precious memories.

But when you’re trying to pick out a bottle of wine for a friend’s dinner party, suddenly it’s the plethora of personal photos that slows down navigation. It’s up to apps to provide answers to this problem.

Successful apps provide a way to separate the meaningful from the mundane, and do so in a way that saves you time. So how do apps cater to both the sentimental generations and the quick-changing interests of a young user? A desire for instant information and immediate results is consistent regardless of the user’s age. The smartphone camera is the ideal tool to accomplish both of these things.

Deposit a check in the bank just by pointing your camera at it. Scan a barcode to enter your calories into MyFitnessPal. Snap a label to find out if you’ll like a bottle of wine before you even taste it with Next Glass. Let your friends know exactly what you’re up to in real time with Snapchat. Apps that harness camera technology successfully cultivate a sense of instant gratification, eventually integrating into everyday life.

The recent announcement from Google about Alphabet promises to make huge leaps for how we use our smartphone cameras by allowing smaller companies to focus on lofty future projects and goals. We’re looking at a future tech landscape where your phone’s camera has the ability to recognize not only faces, but potentially diagnose diseases, identify medications, or plants and animals just from images we capture with our phones. What started as a way to tag your friends in photos on Facebook has morphed into Google DeepDream, an analogical processor that’s so powerful it’s capable of learning.

Many of these apps that started with trivial purposes catered to their users and have become the basis of innovation. Facebook started as a way to meet people at your college, now it’s a digital summation of your life.

Snapchat started as a way to allow sending a regrettable photo without consequence, and it’s quickly becoming the primary communication tool for teens, rendering even a superpower like Facebook irrelevant to users under seventeen. Next Glass started as a way to avoid ordering a bad bottle of wine in a restaurant, and now it can scientifically predict your personal tastes. It’s impressive to see how far these apps have come.