It's not an understatement to say that smartphones have completely changed the way we live, and the technology behind these devices is constantly evolving.

As a result, more mobile app development trends have started emerging and are constantly materializing along the way. The question is—are you ready to embrace these mobile app developments in your next build?

In this article, we're going to take a dive into some of the most important mobile application development trends impacting the industry today. Let's jump in!

Internet of Things (IoT)

What is it?

IoT technology is all about the mushrooming network of devices connected to the Internet, providing convenience and ease of control to consumers. Smart home technology is an ideal example of IoT development.

Imagine with me, if you will: You have just reached your office, but it dawns on you as you set down your coffee that you forgot to lock your front door. So, what do you do in this scenario, inform your employer and head back home to lock it? Traffic can be a nightmare if you have a long commute, and the last thing you want to do is waste valuable time that could be spent getting ahead at work, on the road...

With an IoT powered locking system, you can lock your door with the click of a button, and all you would need is an IoT app and an internet connection in order to do it. Pretty awesome, eh?

What are some applications of this tech in the real world?

The applications for IoT are vast, and it's not a stretch to say that we can control almost anything with the help of IoT systems. Here are just a handful of applications for this technology:

  • Smart homes: As we mentioned in our previous example, IoT technology can be paired with any smart device in your home so that you can control things remotely. This includes smart appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, heating and a/c systems, home locks and security, and more.
  • Smart and self-driving automobiles: Utilizing  a combination of IoT sensors, cameras, radar, and artificial intelligence (AI), smart cars and self-driving vehicles are making it easier and safer to travel from one destination to another.
  • Smart cities: IoT is capable of playing a vital role in urban planning, development, and management in the form of advanced security systems, traffic and parking monitoring, and disposal management which can lead to more environmental, secure, and livable societies.
  • IoT in healthcare: IoT empowers healthcare professionals to be more watchful and connect with their patients in a more proactive manner. With IoT technology, the reach of healthcare providers can extend outside of traditional clinical settings. This type of patient care leverages connected devices with IoT sensors to offer providers a continuous stream of health data like heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose monitoring in real-time.

What does the future of this trend look like?

As we learn more about the benefits of the IoT, it's becoming clear that IoT technology can help us lead better lives in a multitude of ways. And analysts agree—the global IoT market is expected to reach $222 billion by the next year, and according to Statista, the revenue from technology associated with the Internet of Things is likely to reach 1.6 trillion by 2025. If you're looking to implement this kind of tech in a build, now would be a perfect time to do so!

A person out on the beach at sunrise checking the internet speed on their cell phone.
Photo by Frederik Lipfert on Unsplash

5G Mobile Internet Network

What is it and how is it different from what we've seen in the past?

With the introduction of 5G, we've gained access to a completely different kind of network. A network that's designed to help us connect with practically everyone and everything—people, devices, machines, objects, you name it! In comparison to its predecessors, 5G wireless technology delivers significantly higher data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and an increasingly more uniform user experience.

How will this impact mobile app development?

Compared to 4G, 5G technology is likely to be 100 times faster than its predecessor, which is likely to encourage new development models, deliver new services, and significantly boost the functionality of mobile apps. This increase in performance will help users better experience things like 4k streaming, VR and AR, and enhanced IoT services—all of which are important if you're interested in building mobile applications.

What will the impact of this trend be in the future?

5G is destined to take our mobile ecosystem to great heights, and it has the potential to impact every industry. It will make transportation safer, remote healthcare more achievable, aid in more precise agriculture, and digitize logistics.

A picture of Pepper, a robot powered by AI and ML technology.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML)

What are they?

To put it simply, Artificial Intelligence’s aim is to make computers and computer programs smart enough to imitate human behavior, and it initiates common sense, problem-solving, and analytical reasoning power in machines. Machine Learning (ML) is considered a subset of AI and is focused on designing and applying algorithms that are able to learn things from past use cases. This means that if there's any record of a certain behavior on file, you are able to use ML to predict whether or not it can happen again.

ML utilizes complex algorithms that perpetually iterate over large data sets, analyzing patterns that exist in data and facilitating machines to respond to situations that they may not have been explicitly programmed for. This advanced technology can be used to assist with tough problems like credit card fraud detection, enable self-driving cars, and face detection/recognition.  

How has this impacted mobile app development so far?

A blend of AI and ML plays an incredibly important role in managing complex activities like mobile app development, and there's no arguing the fact that they make apps smarter and improve performance tenfold. Whether you're building for iOS or Android, you can learn more about the development process using previous data to detect problems and fix them in real-time.

What does the future of AI look like?

Although it's clear that the best of this technology in app development is yet to come, there are already some fantastic real-world examples that give us a peek into what may be possible. From teachers using it to automate grading and keep remote students on track to chatbots being used to provide virtual diagnostics for healthcare providers, every industry is using AI and ML technology to improve their operations. We'll also see a lot of advanced features pop up in apps that we've already come to know and love—things like:

  • AI being used in combination with IoT
  • Smart camera with subject recognition
  • Voice and language translation
  • AI-powered Face Unlock
  • User behavior predictions
  • High app authentication for cybersecurity

An adolescent boy trying out a new VR headset in his living room.
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

What are they?

Augmented Reality, or AR, brings digital elements into your natural surroundings using a camera or a smart phone, and a fantastic example of this technology in action is Pokemon Go. Virtual Reality, or VR, on the other hand, is more of an immersive experience that allows you to escape the real world and spend some time in a digital one instead. Sticking to our gaming theme here, the Oculus Rift is an excellent example of the capabilities of VR technology.

Examples of AR and VR in real-world applications today

Although AR and VR have gained a decent amount of notoriety in the video gaming industry, there are lots of practical, business-related examples of this tech out in the world. These technologies can aid doctors as they perform complicated live surgeries, allow researchers to explore everything from the depths of the Marina Trench to Mars' rocky terrain, or even rebuild our reality. Below, you'll find a small fraction of the kind of applications that are possible with the help of AR and VR:

  • AR-based virtual user manuals
  • VR-based live music festivals and concerts
  • VR-based virtual training simulations
  • VR-based exploration activities
  • VR and AR-based visual learning
  • AR-based destination navigator

What does the future of AR and VR look like?

Although they're both still coming into their own, the future of AR and VR technology is bright, and the applications are endless. Over the coming years, we can expect to see even more advancements being made using these technologies when it comes to the way that we work, learn, and socialize. Extended reality (XR)—a blanket term that covers VR, AR, and mixed reality (MR)—is anticipated to be one of the most transformative tech trends we'll see over the next 5-10 years. With the help of other tech trends like 5G, it will enable us to experience more realistic virtual worlds and experiences.

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Enterprise Mobile Apps

What are they and what do they do?

Enterprise mobile applications are mobile apps created by organizations in order to better support workers as they carry out the functions necessary to run their business. Enterprise mobile apps often enhance internal communication between organizations, which improves employee satisfaction and productivity and increases ROI. Once merely considered "nice to have", enterprise mobile applications are becoming a bigger priority among businesses across the globe, and reports suggest that we'll see a huge number of companies shifting towards enterprise app development.

How can we observe this trend today?

Lots of organizations seek out enterprise apps to help them streamline a lot of different aspects of their business, from communication and customer service to HR and marketing. Here are just a few of the popular enterprise apps you can find today:

  • Zoom - Whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying that Zoom has become a staple in workplace communication strategies. During the pandemic, Zoom helped teams stay connected, and many organizations are seeing the value of keeping it around as they transition into a more hybrid work schedule.
  • Slack - Cherished by remote teams the world over, Slack is an essential tool for keeping everyone in your team on the same page. Our team uses Slack to communicate both internally and with clients, troubleshoot, gauge customer satisfaction, and maybe share a meme or two...
  • Hootsuite - These days, pretty much everyone is on social media, and Hootsuite can help you get the most out of the platforms you focus on for your business. Hootsuite helps your organization share content, connect with potential customers, and grow your brand.
  • Gusto HR - It can be challenging to run payroll for employees, so why not let a company like Gusto do the heavy lifting for you? If you're looking to optimize your payroll efforts, Gusto may be an ideal solution to your problems.
  • Google Analytics - If you want to know how your content is performing, Google Analytics is absolutely essential. With this application, you can view in-depth performance reports, web analysis, track your sales and marketing campaigns, and so much more.

A COVID-19 notification message on a smartphone thanks to Beacon Technology.
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Beacon Technology

What is it?

Beacons are small, wireless transmitters that rely on low-energy Bluetooth technology to connect and send signals to other smart devices nearby at regular intervals. Beacon technology is one of the most recent major developments in location technology and proximity marketing, and it's made location-based searching and interaction easier and more accurate. There is a multitude of different ways that this technology can be utilized, and it has been adopted by every industry from retail and marketing to agriculture and healthcare.

What are some real-world examples of it?

Initially, beacon technology was used by retailers to offer location-specific promotions and track things like store visits and offline activity, but more industries have started pushing the envelope on what is possible with this technology.

In agriculture, a combination of IoT and beacon technology are being used in sensors embedded in Bluetooth beacons in order to measure temperature, movement, and other types of valuable information. Hospitals are using this technology to enhance customer satisfaction and boost hospital efficiency by keeping track of patients, reducing wait times, and streamlining check-ins and admits.

More recently, industry giants, Apple and Google, teamed up to release a beacon specification that would allow an app to track whether a user came in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and alert them to it.

What does the future of Beacon Technology look like?

A report from Statista states that the beacon technology market is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 59.8%, and the estimated market value will reach $56.6 billion by 2026. Jam-packed with impressive analytics and targeting capabilities, beacon technology is quickly becoming the future of mobile user acquisition. From a business perspective, we'll begin to see more beacon technology being implemented across industries like healthcare, travel and tourism, hospitality, agriculture, and marketing.

Blockchain Technology

What is it and what does it do?

Blockchain technology is essentially a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. This technology offers a comprehensive security solution to protect sensitive information and can be used for everything from transactions and data exchanges to sensitive documents.

What are some real-world applications of Blockchain Technology?

Some of the real-world applications of Blockchain technology are:

  • Blockchain in anti-piracy - In this example, media companies are already using blockchain to reduce piracy concerns with the help of content surveillance and digital watermarking.
  • Asset tokenization - Asset Tokenization is the process of converting tangible assets into digital assets on blockchain that enable multiple people to claim fractional ownership of assets.
  • Secure government elections - As we've already established, blockchain technology provides a platform for creating a highly secure, decentralized, anonymized, yet auditable chain of record. This same technology can be used to record and report votes and prevent many types of voter fraud in elections.
  • Blockchain as service (BaaS) - Similar to the growing SaaS trend where companies provide access to software on a subscription basis, Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) companies allow businesses to use cloud-based solutions to build, host, and use their own blockchain apps, smart contracts, and functions on the blockchain infrastructure developed by a vendor.

What does the future of Blockchain Technology look like?

As more industries recognize that blockchain isn't just for cryptocurrency, we'll see a lot more use cases in identity management, supply chain management, cross-border payments, smart contracts, and so much more.

A man holding open a foldable cellular device with a purple, gold, and fuchsia butterfly background.
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Folding OLED Displays

What is it?

Foldable OLED displays literally bend the limits of technology—no, really, they are capable of being bent by users. This innovative display opens up a world of possibilities and enables some interesting new form factors—like cell phones that can open up into tablets, laptops with more customizable displays, and even smart bands that can open into smartphones! Following a somewhat rocky start in 2019, companies are now rolling out more optimized devices to the market, and analysts predict a sharp increase in adoption in the future.

How will it impact mobile app design and development?

The impact will be rather limited if apps are only designed to be responsive when the phone switches format. UX’s first thought will of course be to maximize the application space as much as possible to allow ease of use between the mobile format and the tablet format (in short, nothing revolutionary).

One of the major challenges will therefore be in the search for new and previously unseen functions specific to this model of device. No matter what happens, the future of foldable smartphones rests on the ability of manufacturers to offer a product that fulfills the expectations of the greatest number of people.

What does the future of Folding OLED Displays look like?

Since this trend hasn't been around long enough to observe its potential longevity, it's difficult to say how it will progress. Still, from an app development perspective, resellers and content creators need to account for foldable devices when it comes to updating an app. The idea is that an app should seamlessly adjust its display as the screen folds or unfolds.

Video streaming and gaming apps can reap maximum benefits from foldable devices by simply increasing their screen size—or instead, using the extra space to offer additional information and controls.

Geolocation Functionality

What is it, and how does it impact app development?

Have you ever gotten a pop-up notification on your phone saying "Allow AppX to access device’s location"? That app uses geolocation! Today, you'll find that most applications on the market have geolocation functionality built in. Geolocation-based mobile apps create a seamless connection between your device and satellites in order to gather data in real-time. This technology is used to collect information from users for the purpose of things like crafting better target marketing campaigns while providing location-based services for users. Popular apps like Uber, Lyft, Caviar, Yelp, and Tinder utilize geolocation for this reason.

What does the future of Geolocation Based Apps look like?

Geolocation functionality is becoming more and more common, and you can expect to see more of this functionality in the future. Down the road, you can expect to see the following:

  • Better suggestions and recommendations as a result of apps using geolocation functionality to collect information about users.
  • We'll start to see AR being used in combination with geolocation functionality in applications for geography and astronomy purposes.
  • More personalized recommendations based on where users are and the places that they frequent.

A person using the Apple Pay mobile Wallet to purchase something at a shop.
Photo by CardMapr.nl on Unsplash

Mobile Wallets

What are they?

A mobile wallet is essentially a virtual wallet that stores information from a credit card, a debit card, coupons, and loyalty cards on a mobile device. Mobile wallets are gaining in popularity because they allow users to seamlessly make in-store payments without having to carry cash or physical credit cards. Some of the most popular mobile wallet applications around today include Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and PayPal.

What kind of an impact are Mobile Wallets having on app development currently?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have started making digital transactions. With social distancing rules in place, many establishments have embraced contactless payments and mobile wallets as a safer way to manage their money.

What does the future of Mobile Wallets look like?

Although a significant percentage of Americans were using mobile wallets with some regularity prior to the pandemic (about 72 million in 2019, according to eMarketer), that number has grown drastically as a result of social distancing measures. In 2020, this number rose by 29.0% to 92.3 million, and it's expected that mobile wallet and digital wallet users will surpass 100 million this year and growth to continue steadily through the end of 2025.

If you're building an app and are considering the type of payments you should accept, mobile wallets should absolutely be on your list.

Mobile Commerce ( M-Commerce)

What is Mobile Commerce?

Mobile commerce, also called m-commerce, refers to any monetary transaction that is completed while using a mobile device or tablet and includes paying your bills online and online banking. It's considered an advancement of e-commerce, and it allows people to buy and sell goods or services regardless of where they are, simply by using a mobile phone or tablet device.

How has this impacted app development already?

With the advent of e-payment systems, mobile commerce has become a popular medium for making cashless transactions through applications like Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and PayPal.

What is the future of the M-Commerce trend?

Mobile commerce is forecasted to have the biggest retail sales growth (12.2%) in 2021, beating traditional e-commerce and in-store shopping. Driving this trend is the estimated 292 million people expected to have their own mobile devices by 2024. Some of the future Trends in M-Commerce include:

  • One-click ordering - One-click ordering operates under the idea that consumers can enter in their billing, shipping, and payment information once and then simply click a button to purchase anything else moving forward. It was a real game-changer when Amazon initially rolled it out, and you can expect to see this feature pop up more frequently down the road.
  • Voice shopping - Once again leading the charge, Amazon's Alexa allows you to make hands-free purchases via voice, and similar to one-click ordering, you can expect to see more retailers hopping on this trend.
  • Omni-channel retail - Omni-channel retail (or omni-channel commerce) is a multichannel approach to sales that focus on providing a seamless customer experience regardless of whether the client is shopping online from a mobile device, a laptop, or in a brick-and-mortar store.

Wearables

What are Wearables?

Wearables are electronic devices that can be comfortably worn by anyone and are used for tracking things in real-time. With the help of motion sensors, these devices are capable of helping you stay on top of things like the number of steps you take each day, your heart rate, oxygen levels, body temperature, heartbeat, even keep track of your daily calories. Wearables currently come in the form of glasses, smartwatches, smart jewelry, smart clothing, and implants (e.g. - to track things like insulin levels).

What will the future of Wearables look like?

Over time, we expect that wearables will become less visible as they continue to gain in popularity. Rather than looking like a fitness band or clip-on tracker as they are today, we'll likely start to see devices blending in more to look like everyday objects similar to jewelry or clothing. They also may be hidden from public view in the form of something like a patch, strap, or even tattoos. Wearables also seem to be headed in the direction of authentication as a means of doing things like unlocking your home, getting into concerts, and even buying things at the store without having to go through the checkout process.

Biometric Authentication

What is Biometric Authentication?

Biometric authentication refers to security processes that harness biological traits such as retinas, irises, voice, facial characteristics, and fingerprints to verify user identity. It has become an incredibly important part of mobile apps built for various industries ranging from payment apps to healthcare and banking.

How has this impacted app development so far?

The most significant factor that made an impact on the mobile app development trend is its ease of operation. Biometrics have provided a more dynamic solution for business owners, who now have the ability to navigate various complications such as ID swapping, undocumented access, and regular badge checking.

What does the future of Biometric Authentication look like?

Futuristic Trends of Bio-metric Authentication:

  • Cloud-based biometric solutions
  • Immigration Services
  • Online banking and mobile payments

Conclusion

If you are interested in adopting any of these new technology trends to grow your business but aren't sure where to start, Crowdbotics can help! We have an expert team of PMs, developers, and engineers to keep you and your business on the cutting edge of technology. Get in touch with one of our experts today for a detailed quote!