shutterstock_471865.jpg There is no doubt that tablets are super popular -- everyone from preschoolers to grandparents love their ease of use and portability. But when tablets first appeared in the marketplace, they were not expected to be used almost solely for entertainment.

Instead, they were expected to be widely adopted by businesspeople on the go. According to eMarketer, however, most tablet owners only use them at home. Naturally, this trend has informed the proliferation of apps that are geared towards our leisure time.

As tablets continue to evolve, there will be many more new uses and technologies developed to make tablets even more useful. Let's look at the following five trends that will affect the future development of tablets:

Responsive Design

Responsive design allows designers to add or remove features and content based on device resolution and orientation. The way it is approached from a design standpoint is by focusing on mobile first.

This means designing for your smallest device, which forces you to add only the most relevant information. You work out content from there and design up to the tablet and then up to the desktop, adding more content as you go to bigger screens and therefore more screen real estate.

Responsive design is being widely adopted and has been made possible by specialized JavaScript libraries, HTML5 and CSS frameworks that optimize the user experience around the resolution of the user’s device and viewport.

Convergence of e-Reader and Tablet Applications

There will be a major technology convergence over the next year: e-Readers will be more like tablets, with games, social applications and browsers, and tablets will become better e-Readers, with the ability to shut off the backlit screen for easier reading.

Last year, a tablet called PixelQi started this trend. The backlit mode, which you would use for watching a movie, for example, could be easily switched off when you wanted to read an e-Book.

Tablet Apps Will Leverage the Cloud

Right now, all of your purchased content (music, TV, movies, books, newspaper, photos, e-Books, games) is stored on individual devices and it is difficult to access content across platforms. This will change for the better, as all of your content will be stored in the cloud and available on each of your devices -- and you will be able to share content with friends.

It will further evolve by managing the state of the content between all of your devices. For example, if you’re watching a movie or playing a game online on your tablet, you will be able to go to your desktop and the movie or game will be in the same state you were just viewing on your tablet.

Second Screen

Since 70 percent of tablets are used while watching TV, there will be more second screen applications. These applications will compliment what you’re watching on TV. It’s happening now with sporting events, allowing you to view additional game stats, for example. What’s being tapped now is social features, so when you are watching a TV show with friends, you can communicate with them about the show using an app specifically designed for that show.

Advertisers will also leverage the social nature of second screen tablet applications, so if you’re watching a commercial, you can learn more about the product. Shazam has already begun doing this.

Code Consolidation

As it stands right now, if you develop an app using native code, you are developing an app for just one device. Moving forward, you will be able to build native apps using PhoneGap, an HTML5 app platform that allows you to create native applications with open source code -- the same code that you’d deploy for an iPad would be the same for a Kindle.

This will allow you to reuse code across platforms and devices, and will make it much easier to find app developers, as most of them use open source coding rather than proprietary coding languages.

Title image courtesy of Cora Reed (Shutterstock).

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