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Major Tech Trends Happening in 2018 (and Beyond) That Developers Should Be Aware Of

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With just a little over a week in the new year of 2018, things are about to heat up down under 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (like literally as we’re right in the middle of hottest summer at the time of this writing).

2017 has brought vast changes and major disruptions in the tech ecosystem that we, developers, should no longer afford to ignore what the preceding events have in store for us. It’s gonna be one helluva year for engineers and developers of all ages.

After doing some bits of googling and researching online, several industry watchdogs are keeping their watchful eyes and keen ears on the next upcoming ‘tech appetite’ people could expect to taste in the new year.

I.O.T

Having a lot of amazing devices near homes or at work has become commonplace, there’s no slowing down of where this so-called buzzword is taking off next. In the world of sensors, moving computers and embedded electronic devices to communicate with people at the most rudimentary yet sophisticated has been nothing short of exemplary surprises. Now with the ever-growing hype of blockchain development that’s been budding up all year of 2017, we’re expecting the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) are going to become excellent perfect couple for each when you have vast array of business networks that require real-time and accurate information or data to be exchanged without any compromise through blockchain nodes.

Developer tools you can expect to spring up on the scene with a lot of hardware electronics vendors bursting into the scene. Arduino has been around in the IOT space for some time thanks to the number of IOT SDKs they supply over the year; IBM Watson is not falling behind either with their core set of APIs you can leverage to talk to your devices simultaneously with great support for AI and machine learning functions; an interesting newcomer Tessel that focuses primarily on embedded electronic platform development that enables sensory circuits to connect to the internet; which runs entirely on Node.js and npm platform. How intriguing!

FinTech Payments Startup Comeback

Thanks to the emergence of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies technology like blockchain, smart contracts are thrown in the mix, people living, working and breathing in the fintech/payments environment are sure to make some comeback waves. With the ever-growing omnipresent of e-wallets and digital payments coming to fruition, more online consumers than ever before will find purchasing items by swapping their mobile phones over the counter seamlessly. No debit cards or credit cards are needed anymore, thus this could be the very start of the modern cashless(and cardless) transactions of the 21st century. Besides e-wallets, there have been some solid movements for startups wanting to encourage peer-to-peer lending models between borrowers and lenders by allowing seamless transfers of cash as well as other forms of tangible assets between different types of bank accounts. Banks will be expected to collaborate more with fintech startups than before rather than seeing them as a major threat to their financial services everything from e-commerce, analytics, artificial intelligence, chatbots etc.

As developers and hardcore engineers, what we can expect our rich set of tools will be mainly around leveraging banks, credit card vendor, payment API gateways to flourish; along with strong skills in C#/C++, Python, Go, Java as they’re better equipped to handle complex transactional data due to strong type-checking eg algorithmic trading; and big players such as IBM Watson are coming out to support functions too. And be sure to watch for key SaaS environments as well such as AWS/Heroku/Azure offering serious services for fintech guys for low-barrier entry as well.

Augmented Reality to go mainstream

What Pokemon Go did to bring everyone in the whole world to their knees by getting caught into this pokemon-catching-craze frenzy more than a year ago is exactly the major proof of what Augmented Reality (AR) software can potentially achieve for future generations. This cool vibrant tech is poised to make some serious stamps into becoming actual mainstream applications such that it’s projected to reach business worth of $90 billion by 2020!

Because of this, developers are getting spoilt with tool choices thanks to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, and even Snapchat Lens Studio. These new toys or tools give developers the freedom to create their own studios to create augmented reality worlds like never before, with nothing but high-tech lenses and photo filters. Vuforia is another successful AR platform kit for developers as it offers one of the more unique platforms that meshes well with Unity engine, that’s normally used for high-performing gaming experiences! With these tools at our disposal, we could expect to see a number of companies across certain industries that are looking to make practical applications that are useful for marketing/advertising industry such as this software company Marxent that is using AR for furniture retailers.

Machine Learning and AI

Chatbots, robotics, virtual assistants and real-time information analytics on the rise as more and more industries are picking up new innovative ideas that can do research, excel in automation, and run intelligent predictions of certain trends that could cause harm or ill-will to the society as a whole for eg diseases, fraud or street crimes. This is especially true for the healthcare and fintech industries. You can rest assured that there will be no shortage in supply of data scientists to meet these new challenges. Data scientists across the board will expect to leverage as much as these new technologies as they surface.

Within this realm of development, what can developers and engineers expect if interested to work in this field in order to help data scientists reaching their goals? Major vendor players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft have come up with their own answers. With Amazon, they bring in SageMaker, Alexa AI, Deep Scalable Sparse Tensor Network Engine (DSSTNE) as platforms for machine learning, AI and deep learning tools respectively. Google brings up TensorFlow, a machine learning library for image search and speech recognition patterns written in C++/Python; while Microsoft comes up with Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit (DMLT) and Computational Network Toolkit (CNT) toolkits, with the expectations of having high-performant CPUs/GPUs to run these.

But if you prefer something different than the above-mentioned or would like to build things that have your favourite programming languages to go with, you can try out these other alternate open source machine learning and AI libraries. For Python, we have scikit-learn library which, personally, is my go-to-library for learning useful machine learning and data science concepts. For C++, you can try Shogun library a go, though this also works with other languages too like Java, Lua, Ruby, Matlab etc. For .NET, we have the Accord.net framework. For Java, we have Spark MLib and H2O, though it has support for Python, R and Scala. For Golang, we have GoLearn, which is based off the popular Python libraries such as NumPy, SciPy and R. And, finally, we have DeepLearn.js in JS for running deep learning in the browser, and plus many more.

Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

This is no brainer as there’s been so much hype thrown within the developer/investors community to give into this magic fever of mining the new gold rush in this modern internet age, all because I kept hearing new fascinating tales of how bitcoin investors become bitcoin billionaires over the course of 4 years. Thanks to the so-called rags-to-riches fairytales like these, many people in the financial industry are more than ready to cash in this technology, hoping to bring them massive wealth hence the proliferation of blockchain startups are born and bred everywhere. While everything on the surface looks exciting to get involved, care prudence is best advised. IMO, as a developer, we owe ourselves the passion in building amazing products whose sole existence is to solve major problems for the masses on a day to day basis, and believing in the value they hope to bring in. Not simply because of the major windfall of hotness vibes, people get themselves hopelessly romanticised with.

Having said that, we now have the following tools at our proposal to build our blockchain engineering prowess. Many established open source blockchain platforms are there for us to use such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bass, Mist, CoinBase, Tierion, Embar, Solc. You can read more about their brief description in detail. Or if you prefer something a more specific cryptocurrency to specialise like the Ethereum stack, you can check out this resource link as well, everything from Rust, Go, Javascript to Solidity.

Mobile App Development

Again no-brainer. This trend has been going strong and it’s set gears to get better for future years to come. As of now, we have over 254 billion free mobile apps downloaded from App Store or Google Store mid of 2017, up from 57 billion downloads in 2012. The trend still looks pretty healthy and you can bet your horses that developers and engineers can all look forward to cash in onto this trend too.

For developer tools, we have great choices. For eg, Xamarin for C#/.NET developers. People with general JS skills can look into cross-hybrid framework like Ionic or PhoneGap or Sencha. For those are highly proficient with JS, you can get your teeth sink into working with React Native a try - not for the faint-hearted.

Conclusion

So, there you have it, folks.

Those are the major areas you should consider pondering about if you want to look to grow your speciality of interests, moving forth in the new year.

Whether you wish to stay on your working full stack development, and then expand your tech stack territory a little bit. Or whether you’ve been doing mobile app development for some time, but you want to increase your net worth more by branching out to other technological advances within mobile development such machine learning or virtual AI assistants etc. Or maybe you had enough of what you’re doing in your speciality and decided to pursue another speciality passion elsewhere for eg IOT and machine learning tools etc. Or maybe you want to explore them just for fun, perhaps treat it as one of your pet or side projects or something.

Anything that tickles your fancy.

My firm thoughts on this post are not to actually bombard you what’s hot out there and where you should invest your skills in next. I’m in no position to show you the crystal ball what are best tools that will help to safeguard your career. The future will get too broad with infinite possibilities, thus it’s hard to pinpoint where different tracks will lead you to.

But what I can confidently say is that now it’s a great time to be a developer or hardcore engineers. These exciting trends like these will shape the way we will work and/or play in the future. The industry watchdogs have been so “kind” in giving us the bleak insight into the future where all the hot technologies are heading to and how they could act as technology pivots to dictate where cutting-edge innovations are heading next.

Thus, as an aspiring technologist and a software maker, I took the liberty in bringing things up to speed on how the crazy world of innovations befall upon us. Thus, we should be fully aware (and prepared) on what and how these innovations can going to impact our lives (both directly and indirectly) in many ways.

And it’s going to be a one helluva interesting long ride for us this year.

Till then, Here’s to Happy Coding 2018 (and beyond)!

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