The mobile app industry has exploded since the release of the first Apple iPhone in 2007, with new trends emerging every year to dictate what types of apps are most popular with consumers and businesses alike. But as the popularity of smartphones continues to grow, which types of apps will be on top in five years? Here are five mobile development trends you should know about, if you’re looking to start your own mobile app business or expand your current one in the future.
Mobile app development will be both more expensive AND cheaper
In 2017, 58 percent of American businesses said they didn’t have a mobile app and 31 percent said they did have one. By 2022, those numbers will almost certainly be flipped. If you’re not developing a mobile application development company today, chances are your competitors are, our report concludes. However, development cost is going down (even as features and functionality go up). It won’t come easy—but it also won’t be prohibitively expensive.
According to TechCrunch, app development is on track to cost just $5,000 by 2019. Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that it will cost a full 20 percent more by 2021—though that’s still just a drop in the bucket compared with 2010 (when developing an application first launched). The coming years are shaping up to be a developer’s market.
App development will be more agile
One of the biggest development trends that will affect mobile app developers is agile methodology. The term refers to an iterative approach, where project goals and requirements are loosely defined at first, then improved upon as they’re implemented. Agile has been used widely in software development since 2001, but recently it’s begun making its way into mobile app development.
The number of apps available on app stores will continue to grow
According to App Annie, an analytics firm that tracks global app stores, there are over 3.5 million apps available on Google Play, and Apple’s App Store currently boasts over 2 million apps. As these numbers continue to grow exponentially each year, developers will increasingly need new ways of making their mobile applications stand out from all of those others available on popular application markets.
App stores will continue to evolve
While there’s no clear definition of what a mobile app store even is, we know they’re more than just an online catalog of apps. Apple and Google are continually improving their app stores, adding additional services and support (see below), but it’s hard to tell how these efforts will translate into better user experiences.
UX design will get a bigger slice of the pie
In terms of market share, mobile-first designs are already becoming more dominant. But that doesn’t mean UX design is out of a job. That’s because we can expect there to be even more competition for mobile-only users—making them more valuable than ever before.
Developers need better soft skills
Software developers are becoming more and more specialized. It is now rare to see someone who can code on all programming languages and knows how every kind of system works. However, as technology continues evolving, one skill that seems to be remaining constant is that of soft skills – things like communication, persistence, adaptability, and teamwork. Companies are beginning to realize that these soft skills are just as important when developing a new mobile app or coming up with a tech strategy.
Voice user interfaces (VUI) are coming, whether you like it or not
According to a survey, 75% of users are comfortable using voice as a means of interacting with technology. If you’re not familiar with VUI and its capabilities, Google Home or Alexa are good examples.
By integrating VUI into your mobile app development projects, you can give your customers a more natural way of interacting with your business. However, you should be aware that VUI isn’t necessarily appropriate for every situation. If you want to leverage it, you need to identify scenarios where it makes sense and create an experience that’s user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Chatbots are here to stay, but mostly on mobile devices. Not everyone will love them.
While there is a significant amount of hype surrounding chatbots and their place in our digital lives, it’s important to remember that not everyone is on board with them yet. Given how new they are, it may take some time before people warm up to them. But according to developers who work on mobile apps, we can expect chatbots to increase in popularity as consumers become more comfortable with conversational UIs.
AR/VR applications are going to have even bigger impact than before
Virtual reality and augmented reality are already beginning to revolutionize how we consume content, but there’s a lot more room for improvement. Expected improvements in battery technology will make it easier for users to interact with AR/VR applications for longer periods of time. And innovations like multi-user virtual reality will open up all sorts of opportunities, from watching sports events together to shopping online and having your purchases delivered automatically as you try them on at home.