A Glimpse into The Future of Mobile App Engineering
Mobile apps are now at the heart of everything consumers do. From banking and finance to games, media streaming, and exercise—mobile apps are a key interface we all rely on today. Since the launch of Apple’s app store and the Google Play marketplace over a decade ago, this interface has become increasingly more capable over time.
From these capabilities, entire industries have been spawned worth tens of billions of dollars. Ride sharing, short-term accommodation, streaming services, and shopping apps are just some of the industries transformed by Android and iOS app development.
In short, the world has been transformed in groundbreaking ways over the last two decades with a large part of that transformation owed to mobile app development. This transformation, however, hasn’t ended yet.
Mobile app revenues have continued to grow year after year to be worth $400 million in 2021. By 2023, annual app revenues are easily expected to exceed half a billion dollars and are only expected to grow from there.
So what is it that's driving mobile app development today? What are the features and services driving ever-increasing revenues? Most importantly, what are the future trends of app development consumers should expect to see in the coming weeks, months, and years?
6 Key Trends in the Future of Mobile App Development
1. Demand Is Shifting in the Way Customers Interact with Services
Mobile apps now play a leading role in the way organizations interact with their customers. Today, the impact an app has on businesses and services can scarcely be overstated. Investment in high-quality mobile apps are becoming more and more essential to success in every industry.
Essential business tools such as chatbots powered by AI) tech have become commonplace for organizations to ensure high standards of customer services at all hours. Similarly, Internet of Things (IoT) devices integrated into customer interactions are increasingly responsible for issuing updates and notifications direct to the consumer.
Users have come to expect an ever increasing quality of service from businesses today. Cutting-edge technologies and services are enabling application engineers to deliver on these expectations and provide the high-quality user experience necessary to meet customer demands.
The future of mobile app development is firmly rooted in integrating these cutting-edge services into customer interactions and providing a higher standard of service than would have previously been possible.
2. Instant Apps Becoming Increasingly Common
Despite mobile applications dominating consumer habits, the number of new apps downloaded every month remains stubbornly low. Likely driven by consumer devices feeling over-saturated with choice, less than 35% of users download one app or more a month. More than half of users don’t download any at all.
Yet, mobile apps have never been quite so popular. Users spend far more time using smartphone applications than they do on desktop. More than half of digital media is now consumed in mobile apps and the trend for mobile devices to take over only appears to be accelerating.
Instant apps are a key tool for mobile app developers to overcome consumer reluctance to download new applications. Available on both iOS and Android devices, these apps have rapidly gained traction with both users and developers for their ease of use and portability.
Smaller in size than conventional mobile apps, instant apps create an ability to implement a transactional relationship between services and consumers.
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 their services. For the first time since apps were created, organizations now have the opportunity to reach users and build services without asking consumers 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 already 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.
3. Cross-platform Application Development
The single most impactful change to the future of mobile app engineering is improvements being made to cross-platform application frameworks. Consistent improvements in the maturity and tooling of available frameworks over time have brought them to the forefront of application development in recent years.
Today’s frameworks suffer from far fewer performance penalties) than previous generations. Now closer to natively produced apps than they’ve ever been, the frameworks available today are capable of competing with native iOS or Android app development in all key metrics.
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:
- Flutter: Google’s mobile framework aimed at creating a native look and performance in cross-platform mobile applications
- Xamarin: Microsoft’s mature C# based cross-platform mobile framework. Features excellent tooling and support for development teams.
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.
4. IoT Technologies
Another mature technology continuing to rise in the mobile marketplace is the internet of things. 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 homes, 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 relies 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 such as automated progress updates and order tracking. Leaning heavily on IoT tech, organizations can deliver advanced functionality for minimal ongoing costs.
Firms diving into new projects— particularly in the home, fitness and automotive spaces—should ignore IoT services at their peril.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
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 rapidly becoming a common part of day-to-day life. The Google assistant greeting “Ok, Google” and Apple’s “Hey, Siri!” are two examples of these technologies being 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 the 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 among 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 rich and complex features without an in-depth 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
6. Wearable Devices
After an initial slow uptake, wearable devices have matured into a dominant market position. In the coming years, wearable tech is expected to see a continued increase in demand and use.
With the market revenue for wearable devices expected to exceed $100 billion by 2028, apps that leave behind valuable wearable 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 interaction 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 favor of more complete application experiences.
Preparing for Your Future in Mobile App Development
Developers, designers, and managers are working increasingly hard to remain competitive and productive in a consistently shifting ecosystem. The pace of technology changes and the growth of consumer expectations make the mobile application marketplace an exciting place to work and thrive. Fortunately, the increasing depth and breadth of technologies becoming available to work with are creating opportunities to do so.
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 the comprehensive guide to hiring mobile app engineers.
Throughout the history of smartphone apps from the touchscreen calculator to multi-screen VR experiences, it’s consistently been good ideas and well-built applications that have risen to the top. Focusing on quality apps and effective teams with a solid grounding in the latest technologies is a guaranteed way to keep your organization at the forefront of application development.
Future of Mobile Apps FAQs:
Q1. Is Mobile App Development Growing?
Yes, mobile app development is an area of software development that continues to grow at an astonishing pace. Mobile app downloads exceeded 230 Billion in 2021—keeping up with trends that began during the early years of mobile development.
The reasons for this continued growth are clear. More and more organizations demand high-quality applications to represent their services. Mobile first, rather than desktop or web first development is a paradigm change being adopted throughout many organizations who favor the mobile app as a primary way to interact with customers.
Downloads, users, and revenues for mobile app creators continue to grow at pace with projections for the trend lasting until the end of the decade at least. All these factors combined make mobile app development one of the most rapidly growing areas of software development today. Demand for app developers and effective development teams has never before been higher and only likely to continue to grow from here.
Q2. Does Android Development Have a Future?
With a 70% share of the global mobile OS market, Android development will have a strong future for some time to come.
Even outside of the mobile app marketplace, Android development is now growing into entirely new areas. Android automotive, Android TV, and Android things are three platforms that Google is expanding into to ensure the ecosystem has viable areas to explore in the coming years. As a result, the number of apps for Google’s platforms alone is going to grow at an astonishing pace.
The future of Android development is rooted in devices, integrations, and increasing amounts of data. The focus for developers is likely to shift away from mobiles as devices to services that integrate wearables, desktop computing, entertainment and more into a more seamless end-user experience. With the right teams, the right technologies, and the right management—this can be a highly exciting proposition within which you can place your next major services.
Q3. What Is the Future of Mobile App Developers?
The future of mobile app developers is an accelerating increase in demand and continued investment in technologies and skills that will see use in new and innovative ways as mobile platforms evolve over time. As platforms and devices get increasingly powerful, capable, and prevalent—mobile app developers will gain new opportunities to create groundbreaking apps and services that can impact user’s lives.
Developers today can increase their investments in learning AR, VR, AI, IoT, and blockchain technologies to take advantage of a changing technology landscape just over the horizon. While this landscape is likely to be increasingly competitive for developers, high-quality apps and highly effective services will prove to be a deciding factor in how users spend their time and money on apps.
For developers, the future of mobile applications is an investment in the skills and quality that can make their services stand out from the crowd and reach an audience of enthusiastic consumers.
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