The app marketplace is thriving. There are currently over 5 million apps vying for attention across the app stores, and that number is growing every day. For developers looking to reach and serve their target audience, competition is fiercer than ever.
Consumer engagement with mobile apps is still surging amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research, the average user spends more than four hours on their apps every day, and this number is almost certainly a lot higher for those still caught up in the endless cycle of Zoom meetings.
Here we are, almost at the end of 2021. No, we don't know how that's possible either. It's been a tumultuous time, a period of disruptive technologies and lightning-fast changes, and there have been many emerging trends in the mobile app development world.
In this article, we'll take a look at the most significant mobile app development trends in 2021, the opportunities to innovate, and the most efficient ways to reach your target audience. We'll also throw in some predictions for 2022.
No mobile development trends list would be complete without a mention of 5G. With improved security, stunning connection speeds, and an increased number of possible connections per square mile, 5G is transformative for mobile developers. 5G allows games developers to untether network-intensive games like Clash Royale and Fortnite and make them available to a baying mobile crowd. It also opens the door for developing innovative and sophisticated VR/AR technologies and 360 videos.
2: On-Demand Apps
You'd have to be living in a cave (and at times, it felt like it during lockdown) not to notice the rise and rise of on-demand apps. Uber, Netflix, DoorDash: all of these popular on-demand apps have experienced massive uptake in recent months. These apps are changing the way that companies conduct business and serve their customers. And the trend shows no signs of stopping. By 2025, the on-demand apps development market is expected to reach $335 billion.
3: Instant Apps and App Clips
When you need to grab a potential user's attention, you only have a few seconds to convince them to install your app and use it. This is where instant apps (App Clips on iOS) come into play. Instant apps allow users to try out an app before installing it. These apps can be run directly from a social media post or the app website. The user simply clicks on the link, and the 'preview' version of the app is launched. This method of marketing an app can result in much higher conversion rates.
4: Biometric Authentication
Apps like PayPal and Apple Pay now use facial recognition to identify users and provide an extra layer of protection to their data and funds. For healthcare, fintech, and retail developers, biometric authentication can play a huge role in gaining trust and buy-in from consumers. Users want to know that their personal information is secure whenever they are using your app—the latest biometrics, whether fingerprint scanning or facial recognition, give them that peace of mind.
5: App Store Optimization
When you've spent so many hours coding the darn thing, it's soul-crushing to see your app failing to get the attention and traction it deserves. A solid App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy is critical. The higher you can get your app to rank in an app store's search results, the more chance you give it of being seen and downloaded. App Store Optimization requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, including the words they are using to search for an app like yours. And doing the groundwork will pay huge dividends. According to Google, 40 percent of users browse for the apps they want in app stores.
There's currently a lot of buzz around foldable devices. Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 is selling well despite its higher-than-average price tag and could be transformative for developers. This trend presents a number of opportunities for creative developers looking to leverage the 'Is it a phone? Is it a tablet?' capabilities of foldable devices. As the price of these devices comes down and the technology gets better (we can't wait until they finally work out how to remove the fold seam completely), the possibilities for foldables are exciting.
7: Beacon Technology
Another exciting trend that has caught the attention of many developers is beacon technology. Beacons are essentially tiny transmitters that work over Bluetooth. They connect to consumers' phones as they stroll around shopping malls, hospitals, airports, and other venues. When a customer enters a beacon's field, signals are sent in real-time to their phone. This signal can be anything, from the latest in-store promotions to real-time navigation services.
8: Mobile Wallets
Mobile wallets and proximity payment solutions are booming. With a reported 23.58% growth rate among users, developing apps that tap into this technology is an easy win for developers. Using digital wallets is no longer a nice-to-have; it's a must-have. This has especially been the case in the last few months, where limited physical contact and online shopping have been so popular. While the big players are still PayPal, Google Wallet, Cash App, and Venmo, smaller mobile wallet apps have emerged that offer users extra functionality and features.
9: Internet of Things App Integration
While the Internet of Things (IoT) isn't a new kid on the block, it's still worth mentioning due to the almost limitless opportunities it continues to offer developers. IoT changes how humans interact with the machines around them. From smart home technology to in-car apps, connected tech is constantly evolving and all-encompassing. The race for digital transformation is on, with every company and brand scrambling to build real-time, event-driven applications.
While there hasn't been a staggering technological advancement in wearables in recent years, growth is still sure and steady. More and more apps are being developed with wearables in mind. From mobile wallets to Google Maps, content creators and app resellers realize the enormous potential of porting their apps to a user's wrist. Independent apps are also being developed for these devices to further the fitness benefits and connected lifestyle features they offer.
Trends To Watch Out for in 2022
While much of the app development trends in 2022 will feature bigger and better versions of 2021's offerings, some exciting things are simmering. Blockchain technology is expected to do good things next year. HTC and Samsung are ahead of the game and have released phones focused on blockchain's more secure and decentralized capabilities. We're also expecting to see more in the way of multiple-platform and cross-platform mobile app development. The beauty of this framework is that it allows developers to work across multiple platforms without changing the codebase.
Mobile apps are at the heart of everything, from the way businesses serve their customers to the way customers shop and pay their bills. Heading into 2022, every business needs to find effective ways to compete. As the last two years have shown us, the world can change significantly without warning. For mobile developers looking to stay ahead of the curve, the trick is to keep up, adapt, and harness exciting new technologies and trends.