Do you know what you are going to do in 10 years' time? How will your music tastes change? What phone will you buy next? What will your future house or children look like? No matter how much data you gather and how closely you analyze it, how many professionals you involve in your research, it is extremely difficult to find out exactly what the future will be like. Who knows what innovation or discovery will be made that will absolutely change the way we perceive life? All we have left is to predict, make guesses and act accordingly.
Decades ago audio streaming, instant messages and video calls only lived in sci-fi books and our dreams. They used to be a mere fantasy. As for now, no single day passes without the gadgets that make it possible. Who could tell precisely how technology would one day change our lives? In other words, it has always been difficult to talk about the future. Nevertheless, we will never stop trying and will continue to analyze what we have now in order to know what to expect next.
The sea of apps
One of the most reliable ways to do that is to analyze the past and the present with the help of numbers. Billions of people use smartphones every day, and not necessarily for calling via their mobile network providers. They spend a ton of their time primarily surfing the net in browsers and performing numerous activities within apps.
User preferences gradually change. Gaming applications used to be number one reason for app download. However, now the market is dominated by social media (Facebook and Facebook Messenger) and Google apps (YouTube, Maps, Play, Search and Gmail). Our mobile home screens are occupied by numerous application icons.
The market of mobile app development is huge. Apple App store alone offered 2 million apps for downloading this June and continues to grow. On the other hand, the amount of applications that remains on our gadgets for good tends to decrease. Remember the Apple App Store slogan? "There's an app for that!" Well, guys, just wanted to let you know that most users say that they no longer need that...
A brave new world
Such a tight connection of the day-to-day life to technology has seriously influenced people. Now they have a shorter attention span and less patience. Installing a new app demands a convincing reason (and don't even ask me what to do if you want a person to pay for your unknown application, however innovative and useful it may be). Moreover, if a person doesn't like something in an app, chances are that he will simply replace it with another one that will do the same thing but better. So let's try to analyze the most popular mobile application trends.
Very often new things appear because we want to solve some problems and seek for another way. Here are a few issues that modern app users have to face and would be happy if app developers could offer a solution.
Issue #1. Space.
A serious problem everyone's complaining about (besides short battery life, of course) is the lack of space on their smartphones. This one is closely connected to users' reluctance to download and install an app (especially if it's a one-time use). Here, a few things app development companies can do. One of them is the recently announced by Google App Streaming. A user simply has to tap a link and Google will stream the right parts of the application, so there is no need to install the full version. However, this technology can't be called exactly new as a mobile application company Agawi worked on this technology years ago. It was acquired by Google in 2014 and is coming into action only now.
One more solution can be found thanks to ODR (On-Demand Resources). It was released with iOS 9 and allows a user to download a lightweight core of an app on installation. All other parts are further received from the Internet on request. At the moment, ODR is mostly used in games where levels are gradually downloaded as the player progresses, while assets for completed levels are deleted in order to free space. This promising technology is about to spread across all kinds of applications, not only entertaining ones.
Issue #2. Time.
Modern people are always on the go, constantly hurrying somewhere. They suffer from a serious lack of time because of their fast pace of life. No wonder that application development trends change accordingly. In order to save users' time, mobile app developers do not only try to avoid full downloads but attempt to change the nature of notifications. They are no longer simple signposts that tell you to open some application, but are becoming a kind of containers where you can take action. A person no longer needs to open an app to respond to a message, for example. An interactive notification allows users to do it inside itself, which saves a lot of time and battery life as well.
Issue #3. Isolation.
One more problem that smartphone users have today is the lack of connection between applications. Their home screens are full of icons which act as small doors into separate rooms limited by blind walls. When they use an app, they often can't go beyond its boundaries. Well, it looks like this is something that app making companies are going to change.
Applications are already integrating with each other and it is a trend that is gaining traction in app development. For example, Uber integrated with CityMapper. Now you don't need an Uber app to learn how much time this or that distance will take you. All the estimates are displayed in CityMapper in real time. In this particular case you need to have both applications installed, but it is likely that before long one parent app will suffice. By the way, Uber is integrating not only with navigation apps but messaging ones as well. A user will soon be able to book a trip from a Facebook conversation in which an Uber bot itself will be the app.
So, parent applications and bots with app functions are going to decrease the number of icons on our screens and free us from the necessity to install some application in order to see content and take action.
Issue #4. Mass consumer.
A huge number of smartphone users and the intention to attract as many of them as possible has led to mass produced apps that try to occupy some place in everyone's heart. That's not possible, of course. But with rapid technology development we are now able to apply smart targeting. From now on, getting a message is not as important as where and when it will actually happen. Your application will become much more powerful if it can reach the right person in the right place and at the right time. Integrating with Beacons and relying on geofencing can help you out a lot here.
In addition, companies that make apps do their best in order to provide more personalized notifications. With the help of an integrated system of analytics it becomes easier to learn about user preferences and improve the notification system within your application.
But the tendency remains…
I have previously given some tips on how to make successful mobile apps. To develop a good application, you still need to make it easy to use, unique and sharable. These tendencies haven't changed as well as the advantages of native apps over hybrid ones. Here are a few more ideas you can take into consideration.
Keep in mind that users are still not inclined to purchase applications (even though the average app cost in the Apple App Store this June is only $1). At the same time they want something reliable. Modern apps contain a lot of personal data, yet in 2015 many of them failed the basic security test. So when developing your own application pay extra attention to safety issues in order to avoid unintended data leakage or broken cryptography among others.
In addition, a successful app has to represent some fresh idea, fill some gap. For example, USAA, a financial services company that attends to military members and their families, learnt that customers wanted to cash checks without going to the bank. So they created an application that allowed them to do it by taking a photo of a check with their smartphone. Knowing your users' requirements and wishes is a good way to earn their appreciation and makes your app unique and necessary.
Also, don't forget that a streamlined UI and app engagement are also vital for getting your app noticed. Modern apps tend to include interactive content layers, circular design patterns, cards and different forms of intuitive design.
But that's not all. With the growing popularity of mobile retail apps, people now want to be able to pay through apps. This feature will be a strong side of your application, even if it isn't connected to online shopping directly (if it is however, you can find some more tips on mCommerce apps right here).
And one more thing…
Try to make sure that the process of app development doesn't take too long. At the XChange 2016 conference that took place this August Michael Facemire, principal analyst at Forrester Research, recommended to release apps in stages and listen to users' feedback. "Don't wait for it to be 85-percent finished. Ship the minimum, and look at the feedback," he said. This, by the way, works well when you adhere to Agile development principles.
The future of the tech world reminds me of a shadow theatre. We can make out some silhouettes but can't see exactly what objects look like. One thing seems certain: apps aren't likely to disappear but their nature will surely change. It's already happening. Applications are becoming more and more interactive and connected to each other, like a system in a system. In addition, they integrate seamlessly into every aspect of our lives, making them more synchronized. Just look at the latest developments: smart cars, houses, watches, glasses, etc. And they all need not only to work properly but to interact with each other with the help of apps, just like it is already happening in Apple Watch app development, for example.
The spreading of wearables, by the way, will require developing applications that retain their functionality and efficiency across all devices. This can be achieved thanks to cloud technology. It allows apps not only to occupy minimum space but become synchronized across multiple devices, and this is one of app trends predicted to rule the market in 2016.
Forewarned, forearmed. Don't be afraid to step into the world of modern applications, experiment with new wearables, implement augmented reality and make windows in isolated app rooms - all of this is sure to create unique user experiences. In case you need some assistance on the way, just know that there are professionals who are ready to help you out in turning your bravest fantasy into reality.