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Mobile Application Development Trends for 2016

February 16, 2016 Written by Andrei Klubnikin, Senior Content Manager

By 2017, mobile app market will generate $ 77 billion in revenues. An average consumer uses over 20 apps for 30 hours a month. Enterprises finally recognize the power of mobile. The competition between iOS and Android developers is tougher than ever. With 6.4 billion smart devices connected to the Web, this year marks a turning point for mobile vendors and their customers. What are the top mobile app development trends for 2016?

7 factors behind mobile app trends

  • iOS VS Android. Prepare for the grand battle between the two tycoons of the industry! During the 2nd quarter of 2015, Android’s market share was estimated at 82.8%, while iOS ended up with 13.9%. However, it is Apple who grabs the dough with 65% of the smartphone market profit. IT experts predict the rise of competition between the giants. What does it mean for consumers? Why, innovation, of course! With iPhone 7, Nexus 6 and the brand-new Android N operating system, businessmen need to be careful while choosing target platform and app features – perhaps even more careful than ever;
  • Mobile payment on the rise. By 2017, 50% of all online transactions will be conducted via mobile. Traditional e-commerce evolves into m-commerce. This year, major app stores will offer more solutions for retailers to reach their target audience. Quite a few innovative payment systems have already hit the market, including Google Wallet and Square cash. Do your customers use them? Do they stick to PayPal? Only a proper market research will provide answers to these questions;
  • The evolution of messengers. Believe it or not, the Facebook Messenger app is the second most popular mobile application in America. In fact, 36% of all smartphone holders use messaging apps. Vendors certainly follow mobile technology trends and enhance the applications with extra features. For example, users can now make payments through Facebook Messenger app. WeChat, the famous Chinese free call and messaging service, gradually transforms into a social network. It offers access to city services (such as food delivery), incorporates payment mechanisms, functions as a reader and is compatible with wearables. Tempted by the app’s viral popularity (it has over 500 million active users!), mobile vendors across the globe are likely to stuff their messengers with new functions. It’s a whole new customer acquisition channel for numerous industries, including e-commerce, entertainment and even healthcare;
  • GPS on a roll. In 2016, more navigation and augmented reality apps will be released to the market, including Pokémon Go – the first augmented reality game ever. Consumers no longer care about the “Big Brother is watching you” thing and let brands track their location. Besides gaming, GPS-driven solutions will impact retail, transportation and the Internet of Things market;
  • The Internet of Everything. By 2020, the number of connected devices will reach 24 million worldwide; some experts (including Cisco) even double the figure. 43% of enterprises that use IoT-generated data in digital marketing increase customer engagement. Meanwhile, smartphones remain the connecting links between users and their IoT gadgets. Any smart device out there is managed through an application. As you know, current IoT solutions lack security and fail interoperability tests. Are you capable of protecting your customers’ data?
  • Enterprises go mobile. According to the recent 451 Research survey, by 2017 50% of US companies will be using at least 10 mobile enterprise applications to manage business processes and keep in touch with their customers. That’s why Gartner urges vendors to focus on retention strategies –after all, serious customers need high-quality solutions and real value. And these are hard to maintain, especially when the demand for mobile enterprise apps will grow 5 times faster than developers’ capacities. Enterprise application integration is also one of the 2016 development trends: in the workplace, most employees use at least 3 different devices (including wearables);
  • Cloud-based development. Using cloud development platforms, enterprises build apps with similar functionality for any gadget, reduce software size and handle data storage issues. In 2016, 31% of US enterprises will run over 1 thousand VMs in the Cloud. However, 50% of businessmen who took part in the State of the Cloud survey in January cite security, lack of resources and management costs as the major arguments against cloud app development. Thus, vendors are expected to implement cross-platform dev solutions to meet their customers’ needs.

Mobile Application Development Trends for 2016

Mobile software development trends

  • The Swift language. Right now, Apple’s Swift is the 14th most popular programming language according to TIOBE Index. Although Apple doesn’t use it that much (except the Apple Watch and Calculator apps), the company is expected to design stable Swift frameworks and libraries. If your target audience dwells on iOS, you should consider integrating Swift features into your apps: both OS X 10.12 and iOS 10 which are scheduled for 2016 release will incorporate more Swift elements;
  • Hybrid HTML5 applications. Gartner claims 50% of all mobile apps deployed in 2016 will be hybrid (enterprises are to blame). HTML5 Web applications with native containers allow access to multiple devices and solve the interoperability issue. Isn’t it what businesses need? The hybrid mobile app dev trends will also impact consumer market – in fact, 42% of vendors were already using HTML5 last year;
  • UX is king. As more devices (with different screens!) hit the market, enterprises focus on user experience. In order to make sure your application works seamlessly on any gadget, you should embrace time-centered design principles, giving users a limited amount of data at a time. Touch-free input options which were introduced back in 2013 will continue to trend this year;
  • Proliferation of cross-platform tools. 2016 is all about interoperability. The “build once, run anywhere” approach has already been taken by notable vendors. For example, Facebook software engineers used the React Native JavaScript platform to build websites and native applications for both iOS and Android, and there’s more to come;
  • Focus on security. In 2015, 75% of all mobile applications failed basic security tests. It’s no wonder security remains one of the top mobile dev technology trends. The data generated by IoT gadgets can be easily accessed by hackers. Same with augmented reality. We’re not even talking about the Cloud Notorious 9 right now. And don’t forget mobile payment systems. This year, developers will have to update data encryption protocols and introduce new security solutions;
  • “Citizen developers” and outsourcing. Ok, enterprises massively adopt mobile applications, and there’s a lack of experienced developers. What’s next? Well, large IT companies want to tackle the issue through the “citizen developer” initiative. IBM partnered with Ionic to enable its MobileFirst platform with drag-and-drop options. Gupta Technologies released a simplified version of its TD Mobile tool for enterprise application development. Now everyone can be a developer, and that’s fine – as long as those newborn vendors stick to simple applications. Would you like someone with ½ year dev experience to build a payment service for your online store? That’s why more companies will consider outsourcing software development (particularly to Eastern Europe, where the hourly rates are reasonable, and the quality of coding is high).

The 2016 mobile app marketing and development race has just begun, and it might be too early to make forecasts. Although it’s important to follow mobile development trends, you shouldn’t forget one simple thing: only a reliable vendor can build a good, bug-free application that runs on any device and does its job.

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