The future does not happen overnight. It happens when we least notice it. It gives signals with patterns and changing behaviors that we take for granted. A year ago, we would not have thought mobile apps will evolve and become what they are today. But, there were subtle signals of oncoming changes that the exports would have taken notice of.
Those who sat back took notice and prepared for the future we’ able to stay immune to sudden shifts. So, it is worthwhile to know the upcoming mobile app development trends for 2021. Knowing these trends will help you prepare for a future that is coming faster than we expect it to.
Broadly, there are 10 trends that we expect to happen in the mobile app development space, namely:
- AI & ML will become part & parcel of mobile apps
- Enterprise mobile applications gain momentum
- Cross-platform app development will see accelerated adoption
- Apps will be built with 5G connectivity in mind
- IoT applications will increase in population
- AR & VR deliver mixed reality experiences
- Mobile wallets integration will become active in eCommerce
- Apps will become compatible with wearable devices
- On-demand apps will have multiple variants
- App security and privacy will gain paramount importance
1. AI & ML will become part & parcel of mobile apps
Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning are not just for large-scale enterprises or federal agencies. Consumer-facing mobile apps that collect and process a large amount of data can also put it to good use. In fact, in the past few years, due to the rapid decline in commodity hardware price and rapid incline in computing capabilities, AI and ML have become within the easy reach of small and medium-scale businesses.
AI and ML adoption will only gain more momentum in the coming years as businesses want to personalize their offerings to customers on an individual level. In fact, the future of AI goes beyond the mainstream virtual assistants and image-searching applications.
AI applications will rise in prominence in several sectors including healthcare, online trading, self-driving cars, text-in-image translation, cybersecurity, and so on. Statista estimates that between 2016 to 2025, the investment in AI applications across multiple sectors could be well over 8 billion.
2. Enterprise mobile applications gain momentum
2020 proved that those businesses that were digitally equipped were able to quickly shift their operations to the remote mode and continue business without any harm. Those businesses, which can be called digital laggards found themselves grappling to keep their heavily manual operations reliant processes afloat.
The peculiar situation made companies accelerate their enterprise mobility projects. Until the pandemic caused a knee-jerk reaction, enterprise mobility was regarded as a buzzword — a fancy technology trend to be considered in the distant future. However, the true benefit of enterprise benefit was brought to light when all businesses had to switch to a remote working model.
As a result, the adoption of enterprise mobility will see an upward surge in the coming years as well. In fact, according to Telemessage, 71% of enterprises count mobility as a top priority to stay competitive.
3. Cross-platform app development will see accelerated adoption
Cross-platform app development or hybrid mobile app development is one of the fastest, cheapest, and efficient methods to build and launch multiple mobile apps across multiple mobile OS with a single code base.
Also, it delivers multiple other benefits like:
- Easy integration with cloud applications
- Simple app hosting
- Consistent app experience
- Minimal technical complications, etc.
In the initial days, there were hardly a few cross-platform app development frameworks. Today, the market offers countless options that make cross-platform app development even easier.
Related reading: Top 10 cross-platform app development frameworks
Combined with the need for accelerated digital transformation, it is only natural for cross-platform app development to pick up pace in the coming years.
4. Apps will be built with 5G connectivity in mind
The coming of 5G signals a drastic improvement in the way how apps will perform and respond to user queries. 5g will deliver several benefits like faster connectivity, quick loading times, enhance app visual clarity, and so on. Also, in geo-location-based applications, the app’s accuracy will also increase significantly as connectivity will face minimal interferences.
As a result, mobile apps will be built keeping in mind the capabilities of a 5g network. In fact, most of the latest apps are already demanding higher hardware specs so that they can deliver better app screen animations, accurate data, and also rich user interactions that are not possible with erstwhile connectivity modes.
5. IoT applications will increase in population
Mobile apps and IoT devices complement each other. Mobile apps are technically the control consoles that can control, operate, put IoT devices to good use. As smartphone penetration rapidly increases across the globe, the scope of IoT devices and their mobile applications also increases.
This will lead to a twofold benefit for businesses:
- It will transform businesses processes through better asset utilization and maintenance
- It will enable new business models, like remote monitoring-as-a-service
According to McKinsey, currently, less than 1% of IoT data is being used for analysis. With the mobile apps, this net can be further widened thus maximizing the value of IoT. all said, this hints that there will be a tremendous increase in the population of IoT applications in the coming years.
6. AR to deliver mixed reality experiences
Augmented Reality (AR), which is a subset of mixed reality technologies, came to limelight in the recent years. AR, in specific, became a world’s darling with the Pokemon Go game. While it lasted, AR created the impression that its biggest application is in gaming and entertainment. However, this is far from the actual truth.
AR can deliver unique mixed reality experiences that go beyond the scope of gaming or entertainment. In fact, it was originally envisioned as a technology to assist engineers at Boeing to design wiring for aircraft. In the days to come, AR will emerge as a technology that can help students learn better, scientists visualize data better, factory workers diagnose equipment issues faster or even sell a product better with unique marketing experiences. Just like how Pepsi did with this bus stop AR campaign.
7. Mobile wallets integration will become active in eCommerce
The mobile wallet market size crossed USD 100 billion in 2019. It is expected to cross over 15% CAGR between 2020 and 2026 (Global Market Insights).
Like IoT and mobile apps, mobile wallets and eCommerce complement each other. Digital wallets make online payments easier. They let customers complete their orders without having to reach for their physical wallets or the plastic cards within them. The mobile device on which they are scrolling becomes the medium through payment is also completed.
Now, this convenience has great scope for growth in the near future. As is proven by Global Market Insights, this is a space that is swelling with every passing day. The future of mobile app development will definitely have mobile wallets playing an active part in them.
8. Apps will become compatible with wearable devices
By 2022, the world will have one Billion wearable devices. This is a growth rate that is faster than television and even smartphones. Wearable devices bring to users a host of unique offerings that their larger screen-sized counterparts cannot offer.
To begin with, wearable devices help ‘qualify the self’. The most popular form of wearable devices is fitness trackers that track the physical activity of the user and quantify it as various vital health stats — a number of steps, hydration, heart rate, sleep quality, being some of them.
Now wearable devices have larger use cases too. For instance, banks can create wearable apps that can be used for contactless payments. A smartwatch or a chip-embedded wristband can replace a plastic card for processing a payment with an NFC machine. Thanks to beacon technology, they can even be used for accessing office entrances or even avail public services like a subway ride.
Disney Bands are a perfect example of this. Disney MagicBands and cards are secure all-in-one devices that allow users to access rides and services at Disneyland. It eliminates the need for any cash or card payment at the rides. In a way, this is also a way to deliver a superior customer experience, especially when the users are children and teenagers.
9. Lite apps will become more popular
Facebook Lite. Uber Lite. Twitter Lite. LinkedIn Lite. Skype Lite. Do you get it? Almost all of the world’s popular mobile apps have a lite version. In simple terms, the lite version is a lightweight variant of the actual app. It allows the user to use the basic features in the app with some limitations. In return, the app does not consume too much storage or RAM and allows smooth functioning in entry-level phones as well.
Most mobile apps inflate in size once they are launched on the device. For instance, the Facebook app itself can size up to 260 MB once installed and used. Whereas, the lite version will consume only a meager 13 MB allowing the user to use the spare space for other purposes. Lite apps are popular in emerging markets where basic smartphones with minimal specs have the largest user base. It is no surprise that lite apps will become more popular among users who do not want their phones to be bogged down by heavy apps.
10. App security and privacy will gain paramount importance
On 20th March 2018, Brian Acton, one of the founders of WhatsApp tweeted this:
What makes this tweet so special is that it was not triggered by any personal vendetta, but, out of sheer disappointment with the way Facebook was handling and exploiting user data.
After this tweet, the topics of security and privacy on the internet became hot topics of discussion. Also, app developers started taking user data security and privacy seriously. Unnecessary permissions that pose a risk to the user’s security and privacy started getting removed from mobile apps.
In fact, the future of mobile app development is going to be more secure and private. It will access and store only such data that is essential for the app’s functioning.
The world of mobile apps is always on the move. With every passing year, a new technology, a new practice, or an innovation comes into the foray that changes everything forever.
These are the trends that we expect to make a splash and ripples in the mobile app space in the coming years.
Do you foresee any trends that are on the horizon that are not discussed here?