Mobile apps have undergone several major transformations since their introduction in 2008. In 13 years the technologies and tools have moved on so far that they’ve rendered today’s software entirely unrecognisable in comparison to their early predecessors. The next decade may well see even more changes still.
The unveiling of the iOS and Google app stores have both spawned entirely new industries. Deliveries on-demand, ride-sharing, and fitness tracking tech are just a few verticals that have taken full advantage of increasingly capable mobile devices.
Since its launch, the marketplace for mobile apps alone has become an industry worth tens of billions of Euros. In addition, the number of delivery on-demand services and firms supported by mobile applications has reached tens of billions more. It’s no exaggeration to say that smartphone apps have transformed the world beyond what could have been imagined two decades ago.
Today, users expect exponentially greater things from their mobile applications. It is important to find the right team to be able to meet those expectations, if you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
Shifting trends, better engineering, and improving technologies have made leaps in mobile app design and functionality ever more possible. Mobile applications have become the preferred method for users to interact with services. By following these user trends and measuring where habits and patterns lead we gain a keen insight into both what is happening now and what we should expect in the near future.
Despite mobile applications dominating consumer habits, the number of apps downloaded every month remains stubbornly low. Likely driven by device saturation, less than 35% of users download one app or more a month. More than half of users don’t download any at all.
The vast majority of people use just 20 apps or fewer in an average month. Of those, 10 apps account for almost all time spent on the device.
Yet, mobile apps have never been quite so popular. Users spend far more time using smartphone applications than they do on desktops. More than half of digital media is now consumed in mobile apps and the trend only appears to be accelerating.
One of the key tools mobile app developers have in combating this reluctance to install is instant apps. An emerging trend of recent years, instant apps were first introduced in 2016. Since then, the technologies have gained traction with both users and developers across both major app marketplaces.
Smaller in size than conventional mobile apps, instant apps create an ability to implement a transactional relationship between services and users.
Offering faster load times, a native mobile user experience, and integration with quick-pay and smart lock features, instant apps can provide the frictionless experience that users have come to demand from services. Providers have an opportunity to reach users and create services without asking for the additional buy-in that an app install would have previously required.
An uptick in instant app use has provided a purchasing boost in many markets. Online stores have seen instant apps provide 30% of their mobile traffic and increase purchases by more than a fifth compared to mobile web.
In the future, expect a great deal more from instant apps as an attractive way to drive traffic and improve sales.
Mobile apps are playing a leading role in interactions taking place between customers and services. The impact on business success mobile applications have today can scarcely be overstated. Services now can’t afford to skip investment in the mobile application experience, but that’s not to say that having a presence in the app store guarantees business success.
Mobile is fundamentally changing modern business models. The evolution of apps means that new technologies are shifting how we interact with our devices and ultimately, the way we interact with businesses. Artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and wearable gadgets are all having a major impact on user experience.
Future mobile app development is rooted in integrating these services in a seamless way that delivers value to the user in an ever more competitive marketplace.
The single most impactful change to the future of mobile app engineering is improvements made to cross-platform application frameworks. This isn’t new technology, though - the desire and available tools to implement cross-platform apps goes back as far as apps themselves. Consistent improvements in the maturity and tooling of available frameworks have brought them to the forefront of application development in recent years.
Today’s frameworks suffer from far fewer penalties than previous generations. Their performance is now closer to natively produced apps than they’ve ever been. The end-user experience and development tools available are now a close match to what can be expected in developing native applications.
By reducing the amount of code required to target multiple platforms by 50% or more, cross-platform frameworks are earning their place as a key component in the future of mobile application development.
Leading cross-platform frameworks currently transforming mobile app development include:
If you’d like to know more about these frameworks, you can consult our guide to mobile app frameworks. Each of these, amongst the many additional frameworks out there, offers advantages to mobile app development which make them hard to turn down. In the right hands, they can reduce the time-to-market, overall costs, and marketplace segregation that often happens in native mobile applications. If you need help finding those right hands, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
With ever-more complex apps and ever-increasing user expectations, cross-platform mobile app development has a large role to play in the future of mobile app development.
Another mature technology that continues to rise is the IoT-based device. Estimates suggest that the number of connected devices will exceed 25 billion by the end of this year and double that by the end of the decade.
Used to control our home, manage our security and interface with our cars, demand for IoT devices has skyrocketed recently, making IoT-enabled applications an essential part of the future of mobile apps.
One of the key services engineers rely on to make this future possible is cloud-connected IoT services. These are used primarily to manage the vast amounts of data and processing associated with large numbers of smart-devices.
Commonly used IoT platforms for secure application development at scale include:
The future of IoT devices and ever-connected appliances is one that integrates its way into users’ lives with minimal friction or even direct management. Well-designed IoT apps remove the trivial and the mundane from the user’s view while providing advanced features that lean heavily on the tech.
Firms diving into new projects, particularly in the home, fitness, and automotive spaces should ignore IoT services at their peril.
Already two of the most significant engineering trends for several years in succession, continued investment and surging interest make these two technologies a significant part of the future of mobile app development.
Tools powered by AI and ML are a common part of day-to-day life. The Google assistant greeting “Ok, Google” and Apple’s “Hey, Siri!” are now a well-established part of the lexicon. Integration between users and these tools is only going to grow from here. The ML industry is expected to be worth $30 billion by 2024.
To strengthen this growth and invest in the future, both Apple and Google have released their own ML toolkits to help developers build on features of this game-changing technology.
Apple’s Core ML 3 framework, released in 2019, provides a way for developers to integrate machine learning models into iOS applications. Google’s ML Kit offers a similar cross-platform development experience.
Both technologies lead the field amongst several open-source and competitor platforms which provide toolkits to developers. What is being made possible by such platforms is truly revolutionary.
These frameworks provide out-of-the-box functionality such as face, text and handwriting recognition, object tracking and natural language tools that enable developers to integrate complex features without a rich background in machine learning.
Apps leaning heavily on AI and ML tech can go a long way to meeting user’s ever-increasing demands and requirements
Wearable devices, after an initial slow uptake, have matured into a dominant market position alongside mobile devices. In the coming years, wearable tech is expected to see a continued increase in demand.
With the number of wearable devices expected to exceed 1 billion by 2022, apps that leave behind valuable integrations may lose out to competitors with a more rapid pace of adoption.
Much like IoT integrations and AI-powered tools, wearable technologies have now become an everyday part of life. With enthusiastic adoption, users have shown that they value discrete interactions, streamlined notifications, and modes of use that complement mobile devices rather than take over.
WatchOS, a recent addition to Apple’s wearable platform, has helped in this regard. No longer tied to its companion iOS application, WatchOS launched fully independent apps and a dedicated app store to the Apple platform in 2019. It was a significant shift that proved that wearable tech was no longer focused on an ‘adapted’ and extended experience.
The majority of modern cross-platform frameworks include functionality and extensions to target wearable devices in addition to the major mobile platforms.
Wearables offer an extension to the frictionless functionality users are enjoying in the modern age of apps. Contactless payments and ticketing, seamless notifications and effortless data collection all add a great deal of new functionality into traditional modes of interaction.
Developers and businesses ignoring this booming marketplace are in danger of being left behind in favour of more complete application experiences.
With the mobile app ecosystem becoming consistently more competitive, app builders are having to work hard just to maintain pace with the continued acceleration of technology. Keeping on top of the latest technologies and emerging trends is the number one way to gain a dominant position in the mobile app store.
Having a rich, varied, and up-to-date skillset goes a long way to gaining a valuable edge. While technologies, trends, and devices are constantly changing, skilled engineering has an evergreen value. To make sure you keep a current skill set on hand, we have put together a comprehensive guide to hiring mobile app engineers.
In the 13 years since the introduction of smartphone apps, good ideas and well-built applications have consistently risen to the top every time. The future of mobile app engineering will always be high-quality apps built well to last.
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