Consumer usage of social media and other applications has shaped smartphone development in many ways. A recent report by Nielsen shows that Americans spend about 29 percent of their total smartphone usage on social media and about 18 percent of their time playing games. Phone manufacturers have quickly adapted their designs to accommodate the demands of modern consumers.
One of the largest connections between smartphone design and social media comes in the form of photography. Millions of users update their social media with pictures every second of every day. TechCrunch Facebook users post approximately 350 million pictures every day and Snapchat users post about 400 million each day. That’s a lot of selfies.
In response to the growing desire for higher quality smartphone cameras, manufacturers and designers have developed better photo apps like AntiCrop and VSCO Cam as well as lenses for internal cameras. The quality of smartphone photography has increased exponentially, and where just a few years ago a 4-megapixel smartphone camera was standard, many consumer cell phone designs include cameras with resolutions as high as 41-megapixels. As consumer demand grows for higher quality video and picture capabilities as a standard, smart phone developers will continue to create more powerful lenses and sensors to meet this demand.
Many times, consumers don’t know what they want from a smartphone until it doesn’t have the function that they need at the moment. Enter app developers. Software designers often push the physical functionality of a smartphone to its limits and inspire smartphone manufacturers to include features that may have been missing from previous models. Take, for example, how many people use their smartphone as a flashlight—app designers saw this common usage and quickly developed applications that would give users what they wanted. The Flashlight app by iHandy and others like it often outpace even the most popular social media applications. Business Insider reports that Flashlight is the eleventh most popular application on the iPhone, whereas Twitter is thirteenth. Smartphones are evolving to become a sort of personalized multi-tool, as each consumer has the opportunity to tailor their phone’s functions to the needs of their daily life.
The Secret Console
Smartphone games have come a long way since the time of cell phone games like Snake and Brick Breaker. Smartphone games now hold a vast section of the global games market. Venturebeat reports that by 2016 smartphone gaming is expected to capture a share of more than 16 percent of the predicted $86.1 billion global game industry. As more and more people choose to play games on smartphones, developers are swiftly designing phones that can bring the console video game experience to them. For example, think about the array of phones on the market now—screens have gotten larger and resolutions crisper to accommodate consumer desire for better image quality, and the tide is still rising. The iPhone 4S screen measured 3.5 inches across, the iPhone 5 has a four inch screen, and, according to Gotta Be Mobile, many analysts believe the next generation will have a screen that is more than five inches across. Smartphone designers compete to meet the needs of their customers on a year-by-year basis with an agility that one day might very well put the big video game console manufacturers out of business.