Mobile App Development Trends for 2017 & Beyond
In 2016, we’ve seen the ongoing battle between iOS and Android, the rise of the citizen developer initiative, the growing popularity of hybrid applications and countless attempts to battle mobile app insecurities. What are the latest trends in mobile application development for 2017 and beyond? Read on to find out!
Top 5 trends in mobile app development
- IoT-related apps dominate. By the end of this year, there will be 6.4 billion connected gadgets worldwide. The Internet of Things is shaping mobile app future trends since almost every IoT solution needs a dedicated application enabling users to manage smart devices. Although building IoT-related software is not that different from what developers have been doing for years, most Internet of Things solutions are innovative by default and often require integration with third-party or niche devices and services. Also, IoT mobile apps do not necessarily run on a smartphone. Our company has recently worked on a mobile application for a custom EKG tracker that detects the electrical signals of a human body and visualizes sensor data in real time. We achieved the goal by developing an iOS application which uses the OpenGL library and wrapped it in a native container. Besides having the ability to come up with nontrivial solutions, the modern developer should focus on security. According to Gartner, in 2017 75% of mobile app security breaches will be caused by misconfigurations. When it comes to building Internet of Things solutions, mobile app security is essential. Let’s take healthcare – one of the most promising IoT markets that will top $ 163 billion by 2020. Earlier this year Johnson & Johnson discovered a vulnerability in their OneTouch Ping insulin pump that is used by over 110 thousand patients in Canada and US. By accessing the device, hackers could potentially increase or lower the amount of hormone injected into a patient’s body and…kill thousands of people. If you consider building a custom IoT solution next year, make sure to address an experienced vendor who will create Proof of Concept, encrypt communications between hardware and software levels and conduct multiple security tests;
- Messengers continue to evolve. The evolutions of messengers was one of the biggest factors behind the 2016 mobile development trends; the following year, messengers and AI chatbots will become a trend of their own. Businesses seek new ways to reach out to their target audience. Although users spend over 85% of their mobile time in apps, only 5 applications – including messengers and social media – see heavy use. While high-quality mobile apps still help companies increase brand visibility, it’s getting easier to interact with customers through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. This year Facebook and Kik launched Chatbot platforms enabling companies to build light-weight conversation programs that use the artificial intelligence technology to answer simple questions and deliver relevant content to customers. By doing so, they’ve set one of the most revolutionary trends in mobile business app development. Several top players including General Electric, Pizza Hut, Uber and Sephora have already built bots to interact with customers in a convenient way – and more companies will jump on the chatbot bandwagon in the near future. With Facebook adding person-to-person payments to its Messenger (similar functionality has already been leveraged by WeChat), messaging apps will revolutionize e-commerce and create new challenges for software vendors (such as seamless integration of brand chatbots into messenger environment and protection of customer data);
- Enterprise mobile apps go micro & hybrid. Millennials (those self-assured guys born with technology at their fingertips) have officially become the largest generation in the US workforce. They value flexibility, use 3-4 devices in the workplace and believe the existing enterprise software (CRMs, ERPs and other solutions that are supposed to boost productivity) in fact slows down employee performance. As more companies take enterprise solutions to smartphones, tablets and even wearables, the demand for mobile developers will outstrip the available capacity by 500%. Ways out? Using no-code and low-code dev tools (aka Citizen Developer Initiative) will become one of the hottest trends in mobile app development. However, one cannot expect an employee with no software engineering experience to create a high-performance mobile application. Instead, they focus on one task (like emailing Excel files) and develop micro apps – small UI-centered programs that enable workers to access a certain function of an enterprise solution on a smartphone. But there’s a catch. Although micro apps are convenient and inexpensive, they require seamless integration with parent enterprise solutions (which is a huge problem for amateur developers). Hybrid apps have also landed on our list of biggest trends in mobile software development. In an attempt to reduce app development costs and project lifespans, more vendors will turn to technologies like HTML5, AngularJS and Apache Cordova;
- Android-first is finally happening. Back in March we listed several reasons why iOS-first was still among mobile app development future trends, citing Android fragmentation and the 90% revenue gap between the App Store and Google Play as the main arguments for testing the waters with an iOS application. Next year, Android may finally take over as the platform is now prioritized by 47% of professional developers. Here’s why. First, there’s a growing tendency to build mobile applications for driving brand awareness and customer loyalty (compared to direct monetization which is still a thing on the App Store). Second, it’s the new emerging markets (including China, India and Latin American countries) dominated by Android which recently saw a 18.4% growth in smartphone sales (compared to just 8.2% for mature markets). Finally, it’s the evolution of the Android ecosystem. With improved developer guidelines, security updates and Nougat up its sleeve, Google Play is on track to outpace the App Store both in terms of downloads and revenue;
- UX will marry accessibility. Over 18 million US citizens were born with some kind of disability or acquired one later in life. 54% of these people use a smartphone. It’s a huge and largely underdeveloped market, since few vendors build software with accessibility in mind. Thanks to IoT, the situation will change for the better. Home automation systems, medical alarms and communication solutions similar to SignGloves (ergonomic gloves which use smart sensors and a computer program to match words and phrases “uttered” in sign language with their spoken equivalents) open up new opportunities for the disabled and reduce barriers to living independently. According to Eve Andersson, Accessibility Engineering Manager at Google, people with special needs don’t want to have mobile apps and smart gadgets designed for them – instead, they’d like to use ordinary applications and devices in a different way. If you have plans to develop a mobile app in 2017 – either for an IoT gadget or a standalone one – make sure to create several mixed-ability use scenarios during the MVP/Proof of Concept stage, design simple user interfaces that do not require complex gestures and introduce multiple switch options.
In 2017, the global mobile application market will reach $ 77 billion and continue its growth. Although less than 0.1% of all apps will be commercially successful, you should not lose hope. The very notion of success has changed since 2008 when the first app store was launched. With multiple app monetization strategies and the growing adoption of smart gadgets, apps have become a new channel of customer acquisition – and that’s why UX and security are more important than ever. Provided you conduct market research, create MVP, address a reliable vendor and keep up with the latest trends in mobile application design and development, your project is doomed to success.