The app economy continues to expand and grow at a furious pace.
The number of free apps downloaded in 2017 is projected to rise to 253.91 billion, up from 57.33 billion in 2012. This works out to an average of 37 apps per person on the surface of the Earth.
Users are also increasingly downloading paid mobile apps. While the number of paid apps downloaded in 2011 was 2.89 billion, that number is likely to grow almost seven fold to 14.78 billion in 2017.
The increase in number of downloads has resulted in increase in app revenue. Analysis reveals that from $69.7 billion in 2015, app revenues will hit almost $189 billion in 2020.
As the mobile app universe keeps on maturing and expanding, 2017 will see several changes in the overall ecosystem. New markets will be created and older technologies will be phased out. Apps will become faster, sleeker and do things that they couldn’t do last year.
If you are smart, you will strategize ahead of time and set yourself up for success for this year.
Check out these 10 mobile app trends for a better context about where the market is headed.
1. More IoT and wearable apps will flood the market
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the wearable devices category will see a composite annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.3%, with 213.6 million units being shipped in 2020.
According to another forecast, driven by cheaper and smarter sensors, development of high speed networking technologies, and an increasing acceptance of cloud based platforms across several industry verticals, the IoT market will expand from $157.05 billion in 2016 to $661.74 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 33.3%.
Wearables and IoT devices for both consumers and businesses will need apps to manage, collect, analyze and present the data in readable form, and this particular app category will see a boom in 2017.
2. App streaming will go even more mainstream
Let’s face the facts: at its most fundamental level, the app usage model is no different from how people downloaded and used software for the PC.
While the app store model was a welcome change, people still had to download apps on their phones.
And that posed a problem because space is increasingly limited on phones no matter how much storage you have. As this Google study shows that lack of space is second most important reason causing app abandonment.
App streaming technology was built for this scenario. Much like video streaming, app streaming allows you to start using certain features of an app without downloading it from the app store.
The possibilities that this opens up are vast. App developers will be able to give users a taste of the app experience without the hassles of installation. This will potentially reduce user acquisition costs, improve user retention, and increase the average lifetime value of a customer.
App streaming is more of an Android thing right now, with Android Instant Apps showing up in mobile search. While there are only 100 apps available right now for preview on Google Play, that number is forecast to rise to 100,000 by 2020, according to a Bloomberg report.
3. There will be an increased focus on security
Most mobile apps focus on UI and UX and completely skip over security. Apps that ask for access to data unrelated to use (fitness tracker app asking for access to your calendar data), create unnecessary log files (94.8%) and rely excessively on analytics and advertising frameworks (61.7%).
Each of these gaps make it easier for malicious attackers to access your device and steal private and sensitive data.
According to the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Mobile Application Security Report 2016, out of 36000 mobile apps examined, 96.52% applications failed one or more privacy tests.
Given the increased usage of mobile apps in enterprises, it’s imperative for app developers to adopt best practices like:
- Avoiding storing sensitive data in unencrypted form in external storage.
- Analyzing apps during and after use to detect data leakage.
- Verifying that all applications are correctly transmitting data over SSL
- Checking whether passwords and encryption keys are stored in ciphertext or plaintext.
4. More enterprise mobile apps will be built
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 70% of software interactions will take place via mobile apps in enterprises. They also think that by end of 2017 the demand for mobile apps will outpace app development capability by five to one.
For many business users, especially those in the field or at remote locations, applications will go from mobile first to mobile only, in the same way cloud supported applications became cloud only applications.
However, as this graphic shows, mobile apps are not just about utility. For enterprises, not using mobile apps can be a matter of life and death.
The same Adobe study finds that businesses expect increase in investments in mobile apps delivering an average ROI of 35%.
5. The spotlight will shine on AMP like technology
The Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open source project which aims to increase loading speed on mobile. If you are on Google mobile search, you might have seen the AMP pages which incidentally show up at the top of the search page.
Because of how these pages are displayed, they get higher clickthroughs.
This graphic shows the impact of speed on the mobile web.
While you should absolutely focus on converting your pages to AMP, there’s another technology that will let you steal a march over your competition in the race for delivering the fastest user experience on the mobile web.
Called Progressive Web Apps, a technology first introduced by Google, it makes any mobile website look and feel like a mobile app. This approach is cheaper than developing and updating native apps, given that you don’t have to deal with the complexities of API or maintaining backward compatibility with older versions of mobile OSs, thus avoiding version fragmentation and maintenance costs.
6. More apps will have AR, VR, and mixed reality capabilities
With Pokemon Go, the AR genie is completely out of the bottle and there’s no going back. Both Google and Apple are doing their bit to improve augmented and virtual reality support on their respective platforms.
For instance, in August Google released improvements to its augmented reality SDK called Tango which allows “computer vision to enable mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to detect their position relative to the world around them without using GPS or other external signals”.
Mixed reality, like with Microsoft’s HoloLens tech which allows users to manipulate real objects with holograms will also hit mainstream as multiple manufacturers include Microsoft release headsets based on this technology, and the demand for apps which support this hardware will boom.
To understand the potential of HoloLens and similar tech, check out this amazing video.
7. Apps will become more intelligent
According to an article in Wired
“…a new incarnation of the Facebook smartphone app. It can transform a photo of your backyard barbecue into a Picasso. Or a Van Gogh. Or a Warhol…the app includes several deep neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence that’s rapidly reinventing the tech world.
Mobile apps are increasingly getting more intelligent as smartphones come loaded with beefier hardware. From Google Translate’s AI powered algorithms to photo filters that turn a boring photograph into a work of art, artificial intelligence will make apps more contextually aware.
They will be able to tell you what movie you should watch next, the diet you should eat based on your blood sugar levels, and streamline your workday by highlighting important emails and conversations.
Thanks to open source machine learning platforms developers can also build apps which will recognise your emotions or incorporate features like speech recognition and face detection.
Gartner thinks that cloud based neural networks will handle over 40% interactions between apps and users by 2020, and 85% of all customer interactions won’t involve customer service reps.
From analytics to business processes and conversational and continuous interfaces (think Siri, Alexa, Cortana), AI will massively impact all in 2017 and mobile apps will lead the way.
8. Cloud based apps will see an increase.
Mobile apps will be run out of the cloud in increasing numbers in 2017.
According to the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Forecast (2015-2020), cloud apps will drive 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2019 globally and mobile cloud traffic will increase 11x with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60%.
Cloud based mobile apps are especially attractive for enterprises as they would largely alleviate the data security issues inherent in BYOD. With sensitive corporate data locked down on the cloud, the chances of it being stolen from a relatively unsecure employee devices will be non existent.
9. It’s going to be the age of Chatbots
While chatbots are related to artificial intelligence, they deserve their own category because of how mainstream they have become ever since Facebook Messenger opened up its platform to third party bots.
And it’s not just Facebook.
Every tech giant worth its salt is pouring research dollars into creating chatbots with a human touch. Google’s Allo, Amazon’s Lex, and Microsoft’s Azure Bot Service are all messaging platforms/products which make it easy for any developer to build a fully functional bot.
These bots are already helping you buy stuff online, organize their calendar, and book tickets on Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Telegraph.
Expect this scene to heat up in 2017.
A Chatbot helping you book a flight ticket
10. User developed apps will proliferate
Business users no longer have to spend months waiting for app development teams to roll out a new apps.
There are plenty of low code/no code tools available today, users with zero technical expertise can create their own fully functional apps on the fly, within a matter of weeks. Though there will continue to be a huge market for custom made apps and a lot of these tools can not deliver the custom functionality needed for complex apps.
Some of these tools like Google’s App Maker lets G Suite Business customers create drag and drop apps which can provide business functionality like CRM, customer support and project management.
Source: CIO insight
While the number of downloads are booming and more people are paying more money to develop and buy apps, the user have started to experience fatigue with poorly built apps. Users regularly use few apps, with 23% apps used only once in 6 months in 2016.
This year, it’s even more imperative that developers focus on delivering standout and memorable UX for their apps to make become a regular part of their users’ lives.