Over 1 billion smartphones and 179 billion mobile applications downloaded per year, mobile development is certainly one of the innovative and actively growing sector. The mobile application market is arguably dominated by Google apps (Gmail, Maps, Search), Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube) and Gaming apps (Angry birds, Temple Run). Giants like Walmart, Bank of America and Amazon are using mobile applications for branding, improving customer engagement, direct marketing etc. Small and midsize businesses are also following the mobile trend. Ultimately an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendly website. Mobile application development is driven by advancements in technology which requires businesses to have a vision for next few years. Below are some of the trends which will determine the future of mobile application development.
1. Internet of Things and Mobile-connected Smart Objects
There will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020 which includes several hundred smart objects such as LED light bulbs, toys, domestic appliances, sports equipment, medical devices and controllable power sockets etc. These domestic smart objects will be a part of the Internet of Things and will communicate through an App on a smartphone or tablet. Smartphones and tablets will act as remote controls, displaying and analyzing information, interfacing with social networks to monitor “things” that can tweet or post, paying for subscription services, ordering replacement consumables and updating object firmware. Established companies such as Microsoft, with its Intelligent Systems Service, and enterprise software vendors likes SAP, with its Internet of Things Solutions, are also adding Internet of Things capabilities to their offerings.
Currently RiotOS and Thingsquare Mist are software technologies and RFID, WiFi, EnOcean etc are communication technologies used for IoT. Google has two projects Nest and Brillo specifically targeting IoT. Nest develops home automation products- smoke alarm, camera, and thermostat, whereas Brillo is an IoT operating system which supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and other Android things. Apple recently launched some products of ‘Homekit’ that will enable you to have wireless and electronic control of your household appliances. The products include light dimmers, air monitors, a thermostat, and an entire smart home hub which can be controlled through apps and Siri, allowing homes to be automated by voice command. On the similar lines, Amazon launched ‘Amazon Echo’ which is a voice command device for answering questions, playing music and controlling smart devices. A comprehensive list of technologies driving IoT can be found at the Postscapes labs.
2. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Taking Hold
A particularly important mobile app development trend to watch out for this year is augmented and virtual reality. With the release of Pokémon GO in 2016, there’s no surprise that AR development will continue to rise. Dominating the App Store, this mobile game proves AR technology has great potential to influence consumers in engaging and meaningful ways. But it’s not just about games and entertainment anymore. In 2017, we are expected to see VR and AR apps in the retail industry, real estate, travel, education, manufacturing, healthcare and more. Apps that utilize AR have often been perceived as promotional, however, a greater number of apps have started integrating AR into utility. An example of an augmented feature for utility is Yelp’s Monocle that uses AR to make finding food and attractions quick and efficient, providing the user with a street view.
ARkit from apple is the new tool that will help developers to speed up the augmented reality application process.
3. Improved App Security and Attention to it
The security of a smartphone has become more crucial than ever because of the quantity of personal user data it houses. Surprisingly, a large number of people still do not take smartphone security as seriously as they should, which proves to be a concern for app developers as well. Apps with built-in security features can make a large difference in the app space. Coding for Apple’s iOS is now moving from Objective-C to Apple’s own programming language, Swift. More developers will be adopting the use of this platform, providing better UX with more security features. With this new programming language, we’ll begin to see more secure apps in the market.
4. Enterprise Mobile Management
Enterprise mobile management (EMM) is a set of people, processes, and technology using mobile computing for streamlining businesses. The main dimensions of EMM are security, application management, and financial management. It also includes mobile device management, mobile application management, application wrapping and containerization, and some elements of enterprise file synchronization and sharing. Such tools will mature, grow in scope and eventually address a wide range of mobile management needs across all popular Operating Systems on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Thus, EMM represents the future evolution and convergence of several mobile management, security, and support technologies.
We cannot deny that mobile applications have become an integral element of the digital ecosystem. The skills required in building consumer apps are in greater demand than ever now compelling businesses to take mobility seriously. Businesses should keep an eye on these trends to align their mobile application development strategies.
5. Wearable devices
According to IDC, 101.9 million wearable devices were shipped in 2016, up by a strong 29 percent from the 79 million units shipped in 2015. Smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Microsoft’s Hololens shows an upcoming change in computing and the transition from basic to smart wearables. This opens up new opportunities for vendors, app developers, and accessory makers. The smartphone will become the hub of a personal-area network consisting of wearable gadgets such as on-body healthcare sensors, smart jewellery, smart watches, display devices (like Google Glass) and a variety of sensors embedded in clothes and shoes. These gadgets will communicate with mobile applications to deliver information in new ways. And will enable a wide range of products and services in areas such as sport, fitness, fashion, hobbies and healthcare. Thus, wearable devices connected with smartphones will influence the next generation of mobile application development strategies.
6. Cloud based apps will see an increase.
Mobile apps will be run out of the cloud in increasing numbers in 2017.
According to the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Forecast (2015-2020), cloud apps will drive 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2019 globally and mobile cloud traffic will increase 11x with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60%.
Cloud based mobile apps are especially attractive for enterprises as they would largely alleviate the data security issues inherent in BYOD. With sensitive corporate data locked down on the cloud, the chances of it being stolen from a relatively unsecure employee devices will be non existent.
7. Beacons & Location-Based Technology Growth
Within the last two years, we saw the advancement of location-based beacon technology and it shows no signs of slowing this year, particularly in the retail and healthcare space. Juniper Research predicts that by 2019, $43.3B worth of retail revenue will be generated by location-based services. Beacons enable retailers to bridge the gap between the in-store and online experience. They collect valuable in-store data, location-based push notifications, and even traditional in-store metrics such as footfall. Personalization has become more important than ever which is the main reason why beacons are gaining traction as engagement tools to enhance the overall customer experience.