There isn’t any one, but several trends that are making their way into the limelight. This is very much in consonance with the basic idea of a mobile app development – something that helps you get something done. Because we are all trying to do several things in the same day, there are multiple apps that help achieve these ends.
Let us take a look at some of the latest trends in mobile app development
This is slowly gaining prominence as IoT becomes mainstream. Nowadays, you could say “Alexa, dim the lights”, “Siri, turn off the air-conditioning”, or “Hey Google, turn off the lights in the living room”, and your voice command would be carried out. At the heart of this lies an app that interconnects all devices, such as Samsung Smart Home.
Although IoT apps are mainly restricted to devices manufactured by the same company, this is witnessing a paradigm shift. The day is not far off when all devices from different manufacturers can be controlled by the same app. At the moment, differences in proprietary embedded operating systems and lack of access to their interfaces mean that it is difficult to control, say a Philips lighting system and a Sony music system with the same app.
But things are changing, and we are slowly getting there.
The Advent of 5G
For the longest time, people knew that 5G was the next best thing in telecommunications technology, but the way it was going to be implemented was not the same everywhere. Because of this, smartphone manufacturers shied from making handsets that would be 5G-compliant in all countries. Until Apple came out with the iPhone 12 that was designed to be compatible with 5G in the United States.
5G has not yet been rolled out worldwide, but it promises lightning-fast download speeds that can cause radical changes in the way we design mobile apps at the moment.
Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality, or AR for short, is still in its infancy, but when 5G becomes the norm, we will see AR integrated into many apps.
You could be using a McDonalds app, and Ronald McDonald – the friendly, ever-smiling clown that has become the official mascot of McDonalds – would be taking your order and informing you when your order is ready for pickup, all while you are seated at a McDonalds fast food outlet. Or a Colonel Sanders figure at Kentucky Fried Chicken showing you what a box of chicken nuggets would look like even before you place your order.
Augmented Reality is at the moment being used for learning, and it has proven to be most effective. Kids enjoy a lion coming alive in their classroom and it reinforces what they are being told about the king of the jungle. Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit are speeding up adoption of Augmented Reality technology.
One of the most popular AR apps is that of IKEA, where users can virtually place a piece of furniture in their actual house to see how it would look like in reality. More and more service providers are gradually embracing the concept, such as real estate and/or property development companies.
With increased speeds and data, Virtual Reality is also making its way into app development. Role-playing video games would come as VR games, requiring only the use of a VR headset and the game app. The costs of hardware are becoming affordable, and soon everything – VR hardware, mobile app / software, mobile data and mobile internet speeds – will be in perfect harmony to facilitate the entry of Virtual Reality into the mainstream.
Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality lies Mixed Reality, which too is a technology that is making its way to the fore.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) apps
You might have already come across FaceApp, which accepts your image and produces an output that outlines how you will look in your old age. This is powered by Artificial Intelligence, and other AI-based apps have also entered the market – apps that show you how you would look like with a beard, apps that you how you would look like if your cut your hair or changed your hairstyle, and so on. The sky is literally the limit – if you can think of it, it can be built incorporating principles of Artificial Intelligence.
Machine Learning is when apps make use of data to understand predictive patterns and act upon them. For instance, if you regularly buy shampoo from Amazon every month, an example of machine learning would be suggestions of similar products or a reminder to purchase the same product at roughly around the same time you normally place your order. Somebody who frequently buys shampoo might be excited to try out a new haircare product that has just been launched, or be grateful that the ML (Machine Learning) algorithm reminded him/her to restock on shampoo before he/she ran out of shampoo. Nobody appreciates a bad hair day
Cross-Platform App Development
Currently two major mobile operating systems rule the roost – Google Android and Apple iOS. They both have their own app distribution platforms (Google Play and App Store respectively) and apps on these distribution platforms are written exclusively for the operating system they are hosted on.
Google is trying to change this with Flutter, an open-source software that enables cross-platform app development. The keyword is ‘Develop Once, Use Anywhere’ and an app developed with Flutter could run on both Android and iOS, as well as other operating systems like Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Yes, you read that right. An app that could run on any operating system in use worldwide. This is expected to cut development costs and testing times greatly, as mobile apps will no longer have to be built for iOS and Android separately.
Facebook is also trying to do the same with React Native, and Microsoft with Xamarin. With more than one cross-platform app development software in existence, there is no doubt that this – cross-platform app development – is the future.
One promising technology of the future is Beacon, which makes use of low-energy Bluetooth signals. This is very much in its infancy, but as 5G arrives, there is no doubt that it will be widely used by everyone.
How it works is this – You are driving around in a mixed-use community, and as you enter a beacon zone (Bluetooth currently has a limited range, but this will improve), you are notified of say, the Nike store offering a discount on its latest range of sneakers. Or the local restaurant announcing its special of the day. Of course, you can turn off advertising whenever you want, or have selected advertising that is specifically targeted to match your interests. You can adjust your preferences accordingly.
Apple has already come out with iBeacon (and they did this way back in 2013), while Google Android has Eddystone, which they released in 2015. Some large five-star properties already do this, announcing their restaurants and specialty cuisines or their spa to hotel guests as they walk by. It is gaining popularity on passenger cruise ships, where there are even more avenues of hospitality, and in museums to pique the interest of visitors.
Banks and financial institutions are already adopting blockchain technology to cut out fraud. The world is slowly progressing to a situation where people need banking services, but not banks. In short, they don’t want to visit banks anymore, but expect banking services at their doorstep. And what better way to bring the bank into your living room than a dedicated mobile banking app? This means that users can upload documents through the app when applying for opening an account or accessing a service.
Blockchain has immense potential, as it verifies the chain of ownership. When you upload, say an image of your Driving License as proof of address, blockchain technology can be used to check if the Driving License was indeed issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or whether it is a forged ID. This eliminates a lot of man hours that would otherwise be consumed in the process of verification, and also reduces the time taken between an user applying for a service and receiving it.
Banking apps will in all probability come with some form of blockchain technology embedded into them in the future.
Mobile Payment Apps
This is not a technology of the future, but one which is already here; and becoming more popular by the day. Almost every major player in the field of technology now has its own mobile payment wallet, such as Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay (and the associated Apple Wallet), Microsoft Pay, Samsung Pay, LG Pay, WeChat Pay and so on. Facebook has already rolled out payment on WhatsApp, its chat and messaging app. Plus other mobile wallets like Stripe and PayPal, as well as PayU and Payoneer.
Going by the list, you can figure out that it is already a crowded market, with each vying for a share of the pie. Yet, that has not deterred new players from coming out with their own mobile wallets / payment apps such as Venmo, Zelle, and AliPay, which has grown to be the second-largest in the world.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Cloud apps
ERP is traditionally a large software system, sometimes requiring dedicated servers and other hardware resources for its operation. But just as how the computer that sent the Apollo-11 spacecraft to the moon weighed 32 kg half a century ago and how the iPhone, which fits into the palm of your hand, is 1,300 times more powerful than this, technology is shrinking. ERP software systems are slowly being shrunk to the size of an app makes use of the cloud for uploading or downloading of data on demand.
This is one of the emerging trends in mobile app development – to shrink large software to the size of an app. Much progress has already been made in this field. Because it is hard to share mobile memory resources, apps make use of the cloud, while also making use of the processing power of the smartphone in one’s hand. This promises to be the optimal marriage, and with 5G speeds, no one will ever have to worry about hardware or software resources required for heavy duty, high-end processing of data.
On-Demand Apps That Make Use of Geo-Location
Geolocation apps that use GPS to zero in on your exact location are already here. Uber is one of the best examples, while there are many others, like food delivery apps, that use GPS to determine exactly where you are. The lack of a standard address convention and/or numbering (you might have noticed that street names tend to change with time) means that one cannot rely on addresses anymore to arrive at a location.
Whether it is an on-demand hairdresser or a FedEx delivery worker, an exact location in real-time increases the chances of getting to you.
Looking for a Good Mobile App Development Company?
Established in 2013, Hello Pixels is one of the leading mobile app development firms in the Middle East. It understands the rules of digital engagement and continually pushes the envelope when it comes to mobile app development, never being content with anything less than a stellar user experience.
With a team of 50+ staff that includes UX designers, mobile app developers , and testing professionals, Hello Pixels does not rest until an app has been developed and delivered to the client’s satisfaction. No wonder then, that it has a client satisfaction rate of 98%. To serve its clients better, Hello Pixels has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and throughout the United Arab Emirates.