• Market researcher highlights top 10 app trends for 2016
  • Virtual reality takes initial steps; e-sports coming to phones

Apple Inc. bringing applications to TVs through its set-top box will be a boon to developers and game publishers in 2016, according to market researcher App Annie.

Messaging apps in Asia will continue adding services such as payments and taxi bookings, while counterparts outside the region stick to communications, the San Francisco-based company said in its predictions for the top 10 trends next year. Adoption of virtual-reality headsets, growth in competitive game playing and productivity apps that take advantage of more powerful tablet computers also made the list.

“There is real chance for monetization on TV screens,” said Danielle Levitas, senior vice president of research and analysis at App Annie. “I am using my tablet or my phone at the same time. You can have opportunities to engage consumers through either screen.”

Apple announced upgrades to Apple TV in September, adding a new touch-enabled remote control that integrates Siri voice-activated commands and doubles as a motion-sensing game controller similar to that on Nintendo Co.’s Wii systems. For the first time, developers will be able to make games and content for the set-top box just like for the iPhone and iPad.

Second Screen

That will drive creation of gaming and video streaming apps, and spur the use of smartphones and tablets as “second-screen” devices, App Annie said.

Instant-messaging services such as Naver Corp.’s Line and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat will increase the amount of time users spend on their apps by bundling games, taxi booking and payments functions into them. That will appeal to Asia-based users, who typically spend more time on the apps than customers in the West, where rivals like Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp pursue a “pure play” strategy.

“The East-West divide is largely a result of deep-rooted cultural differences,” App Annie said in the report. “We expect the average sessions per user of leading messaging apps in Western markets to go up incrementally, but continue to trail those in Asia.”

Free-to-play games will reach a larger audience than those played on consoles or personal computers, and that will create revenue streams for competitive events or eSports, App Annie said.

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