If you said that almost every American has a smartphone with him or her, you would not be far off from the truth. A Nielsen report published mid-2014 said that 171.5 million people own a smartphone (that is 71% of the total US population). PewInternet backs up that claim with a report published as recently as April 2015 stating that nearly 2/3rds of Americans now use smartphones.
While mobile phones were traditionally, a device used predominantly to call and later text, with the smartphone generation, that trend has well and truly been buried. Another study, this time from Flurry dating back to 2013, stipulates that the average smartphone user in the US spends 80% of the time they spend on their smartphones, on mobile Apps. This number has increased in recent times, with this article from TechCrunch reporting that as of 2014, that percentage had risen to 84% and has gone up to 85% in 2015. Statista also claims that 34.5% of the smartphone consumer base downloads Apps every month.
The numbers are only growing, and are expected to continue to do so in the future. So just what does the future hold for App development?
Emerging trends for Apps of the future
- Wearable technology
An emerging industry, wearables are smart devices that can be adorned by the user. Fitness is currently the big leader in this market, but it is predicted that users will move away from such niche products and embrace a more rounded device that can do more than just provide fitness statistics. Wearable fabric too is expected to be big in the future, as are wearable glasses. In fact, wearable fashion as a whole is one of the emerging sub-facets of the industry, and all these products will require clever apps that can fully explore and harness their capabilities.
- Banking, finance and commerce applications
Smartphones have changed the way we handle money. From carrying out banking transactions to doing the shopping, everything can now be done straight from the phone. In fact, with NFC based payments becoming increasingly popular, the smartphone may very well replace credit and debit cards as the instrument of choice for making financial transactions. This will continue in the coming years as this technology evolves further, and even more businesses, big and small embrace the e-commerce culture.
- In-App promotions
Using apps as tools to promote products, make sales, and market other products in the portfolio are all things that are beginning to happen. The whole in-App marketing movement is expected to kick on in 2016, with more intuitive and subtle promotion techniques replacing the garish ads we typically see today.
Transactions are major contributors to the increasing emphasis on App security. There is also the fact that personal information is shared through Apps (such as addresses and personal identification, apart from media such as images and videos), which could lead to compromising situations. All these considerations mean Apps need to be more secure, something App developers are actively looking into.
- Tools for cross-platform Apps
Creating a fresh app for every different operating system out there is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the development process. This is one of the key reasons why solutions are being sought that would make App migration across platforms easier to accomplish. With the advent of wearable technology, the need for such solutions is all the more pertinent.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is the use of machines to communicate with each other (via internet, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, among others) to make life simpler for us humans. The idea is to imbibe objects with smart capabilities so that they can perform actions without the user being actively present. This technology is already gathering steam, and is expected to get even bigger as time passes.
- Cloud technology, big data and analytics
The idea of wireless storage is a brilliant one, and has a variety of applications. A lot of these possible applications are being explored and will come to the fore in the near future. Big data and analytics are a huge part of this development, with data collected being transmitted straight to the cloud so that it can be examined and pertinent, helpful solutions can be found based on results of the analysis.
- User Experience (UX)
App developers have found that UX is one the most important factors for user retention. How easy an App is to use and navigate through is one of the biggest determining factors of whether or not a first-time user will continue to interact with the App. This has led to a renewed focus on the design of Apps and how they behave when people download and use them.
- Social media integration
Social media has become an important interaction tool in today’s generation. App developers are exploring different means to use these platforms to engage existing users and attract new ones. While no straightforward approach has appeared, the benefits of deeper social media integration have so much potential that App developers continue to strive to make this possible.
For those who think this App popularity is just a fad, it does not appear that way. Because the future of mobile apps seems secure, at least according to Statista, who speculate that the global figure for mobile app downloads will rise to a mammoth 268.69 billion by 2017. So Apps are here to stay, regardless of what a few isolated doubters may say, and the future is full of excitement because the next big idea could very well turn existing communication systems on their head, and chances are that this will be achieved through an App.