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2021 Software Development Trends

CK Hicks
November 4, 2020
“The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” - Dennis Gabor


Most articles trying to predict technology trends will tell you that solutions like chatbots, AMP and SEO optimizations, and innovative voice search tools are all going to be big in 2021. But you already knew all of that, right? 


It seems that we will always have yet more chatbots plaguing our websites, structured content will always be important, and privacy around voice input will always be a hot topic.


If you're tired of hearing how Artificial Intelligence is going to change the world (it already has) or that Augmented Reality is an important trend (it’s already here), then I invite you to travel with me, fellow future builder!


Here are a few guesses at broad 2021 technology trends and industry directions, one dreamer and inventor to another.


Self-updating software

DYMOS (Dynamic Modification System) theory has been around since 1983. It describes software that can be updated while the system is still running. Leap forward to 2020 and it’s now an expectation that apps and websites appear to remain updated with no perceived downtime. Imagine a world where you had to manually upgrade Google’s homepage to gain the latest features!


OTA (over-the-air) updates for major version releases and minor security patches will only increase as time goes on. Your users expect that your products will always be running the latest code without having to check for updates on their own. You can bet on the fact that people will pay for simplicity. Find ways to lean into this and make it transparent to the user or risk being left behind!


App store solidarity

Users and developers alike face a decision when creating something new. As a developer, I love being able to write code one time and deploy to multiple platforms. One example is Flutter, emerging as one of the first frameworks to natively support a pipeline that includes mobile, desktop, and web deployment targets.


However, publishing to all platforms universally in the future may be less intuitive than it is today. Massive rifts were opened between giants in the mobile gaming sector this past year (looking at you, Fortnite). Reducing efforts to target fewer platforms is a natural by-product of these large-scale corporate disputes and politics.


Off-loading the heavy lifting

We say it every year and every year it's more true: cloud build pipelines, microservices, and distributed workers are both easy to set up and powerful additions to existing workflows. This tooling will continue to become more approachable, enabling developers to work in distributed ways without missing a deadline due to hardware constraints.


One great example of this trend are the advancements in cloud-based GPU technologies. NVIDIA made large strides in several sectors this past year, further democratizing access to HPC (High-Performance Computing) for anyone with a credit card. Watch for increasing advances in sectors that rely on AI/ML at scale to make their work more efficient.


What will you invent?

2020 has been a long year for all of us. Most people I know took a break from building their dream product during such a strange time. If that list includes you, I hope that you made space for the important things in life.


But this is an article about the future, right? We don’t know what 2021 will bring - all we can do is continue moving forward with intentionality, understanding, and a hopeful vision for better things.


Stay sharp and update your portfolio. 2021 will bring changes of its own and you want to be in a good position to respond quickly.


Futures are not predictable, but they can be invented. Get busy!


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