I expect to see six major real time communications (RTC) trends play out in 2016: Apple & WebRTC ubiquity, authentication, ‘collaborteam’, value-added services, smarter video and (still more) Internet of Things (IoT). Don't be surprised to see overlap between different trends, since there's a lot of synergies among them when properly combine.
Sooner or later -- but hopefully sooner -- Apple will join the WebRTC community as a full fledge member. There's a job posting on Apple's website with the company specifically seeking WebRTC skills in its next hire. Once Apple joins the club and adds native WebRTC support to Safari, the RTC technology will be available among all major browsers and operating systems. Over the long run, having WebRTC everywhere will be like having HTML everywhere, making it easier for developers to service providers and businesses to add RTC features to applications.
Security is always a Big Deal. Being able to quickly and easily authenticate who you are talking to, be it in a call center or a soft-sell e-commerce "concierge" environment, is critical. Major service providers and/or credit card companies may open up the use of voice and facial biometrics for wider use. Microsoft's Project Oxford, currently in soft (i.e. Free) beta, is offering a voice biometrics API available through the cloud and the company has a facial recognition technology in Microsoft Hello. Imagine going to a restaurant or drive-through and not even having to pull out a credit card - just simply smile into the camera/tablet and say "I authorize this purchase." Being able to accelerate e-commerce and cut down on customer friction in buying things is a win-win for any business.
Unified communications (UC) is on its last legs, so it's no surprise that collaborative team -- collaborteam -- applications have emerged as the new hotness. Start-ups are fueling the growth and adaption of collaborteam apps that (finally!) meld all the bits and pieces of UC with threaded conversations and archiving. A team can communicate using one thread, with all IM, voice, video, files and (sometimes) email all tagged, archived, and searchable, keeping everyone on the same virtual page. UC's major flaw was it throws all types of communication together under one umbrella, but doesn't provide the threading and one-stop archiving.
WebRTC is a major building block for voice and video, but developers need more sophisticated services to process voice and video, ranging from simple speech-to-text transcription to facial and image recognition. Being able to act upon the content of an RTC voice/video conversation to authenticate users, more efficiently process and archive conference calls and web seminars -- admit it, you'd love to have a transcript of your business calls on a "hands free" basis without having to take notes -- and numerous other apps just waiting to be created.
Smarter video -- the ability to process video in real time -- is likely to start emerging for broader applications in 2016, fed by APIs for face recognition, face authentication, emotion detection, and image recognition. Microsoft is going to be a big player here, judging by the APIs and apps it is cranking out; the company wants as many people as possible using its Azure cloud, with APIs a natural "hook" to bring developers and apps into it.
Finally, we'll see more IoT applications coming to RTC, both the usual suspects in voice and video as well as new apps taking advantage of WebRTC's data channel to deliver new services. Expect to see a lot of movement on the enterprise side as service providers and other IoT proponents push new applications expected to save money and improve customer service. Big Data will be a large part of the new solution sets, as companies collect information from thousands to millions of different devices and mine it for new insights.