Make your app stand out against the noise with the most cutting-edge trends in mobile app development.
If you're developing an app, you want to make sure you rise above your competition to grab users' attention. That's a tough task, considering the Google Play store currently hosts 2.1 million apps, while Apple's App Store is close behind at 2 million. App design and development is constantly evolving to provide a better experience for users. If you want your app to stay on the cutting edge of this evolution, you need to pay attention to the 10 trends below.
1. Flutter is here
This is a huge one. Flutter is Google's app engine that allows developers to work cross-platform on Android and iOS. You can build native apps on Flutter using Dart, which is a simple programming language.
But Flutter will do much more than that. It can run on mobile devices, desktops and the web. It includes two different payment system software development kits (SDKs). It integrates Flare, a vector animation tool that can be directly embedded into a Flutter app. Flutter has the potential to vastly decrease the time it takes to develop an app, allowing developers to work inside a single ecosystem for tasks that would have previously taken several different development tools.
2. AR gets integrated
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) aren't fancy tricks anymore. Instead of being relegated to games, AR and VR will broaden their scope to a wide variety of apps. Augmented reality is a useful tool for retail apps, allowing users to see how goods fit in their life before they buy. It can be a handy training and development tool as well, bringing visual learning into real time. It can also be used across a range of other app purposes, such as healthcare, construction or tourism. Developers have barely scratched the surface of the possibilities available through AR and VR, and 2019 will see the tech take off.
3. Instant apps, because we hate waiting for anything
Instant apps are Google's "try before you buy" model. You can run instant apps directly from Google Play without downloading them. This means you can run an app without taking up storage on your device. Instant apps have been around since 2016, but app developers will continue to refine and make better use of this functionality in 2019. Whether it's as a marketing strategy to hook users or for one-time use apps, developing instant app functionality will give you an edge in the year ahead.
4. Locking down user data
Data security is under incredible scrutiny both from governments and users. Last year, Facebook saw 87 million users' data compromised, a scandal which wiped $50 billion USD off the tech giant's market cap. Governments around the world are taking data breaches seriously, with Facebook called on the carpet before the US Congress to explain itself.
Mobile app developers will have to work harder in 2019 to protect user data. As apps become more personalized and collect more information about their users, the task becomes more difficult. But with pressure mounting both from users and lawmakers, it's a trend no developer can afford to ignore.
5. Content is king
Graphic designers now are trending more towards simple, unobtrusive app design that puts the content front and center for the user. This allows the user to interact with the app more seamlessly and prioritizes function. Expect to see more apps using a monochromatic color scheme, a single typeface and large fonts and contrasting colors to bring attention to important elements. For 2019, minimalism beats complexity.
6. Progressive web apps take your mobile to your desktop and back again
While no one can seem to agree on the dictionary definition of a progressive web app (PWA), the basic framework is that they're responsive to any platform, they're available regardless of connectivity, they're constantly updated and they're installable to the device home screen through browser prompts.
Developers love PWAs because they're cheaper to develop than native apps and require less buy-in from users, but they allow for app-style navigation and gestures. They can load instantly, be kept up-to-date at all times with pre-caching and don't take up space on a user's device. Expect to see more and more companies shift from native apps to PWAs.
7. Blockchain is for more than bitcoin
Blockchain often gets lumped in as synonymous with cryptocurrencies, which can lead to some natural aversion by anyone who rode the market from crypto boom to crypto bust last year. But the potential of blockchain goes far beyond Dogecoin. The technology allows for quick, secure and efficient transfer of data. Ignore the tokens associated with blockchain tech and instead focus on what it can do. From sending health records to tracking shipments or preventing fraud, there are a host of applications for blockchain. Clever mobile app developers should be looking at how to integrate it.
8. The Internet of Things gets more things
The Internet of Things (IoT) once seemed like a fun concept for a few gimmicky products, but is now moving into the mainstream. Research from Forrester shows 85% of companies surveyed are planning or implementing IoT deployments in 2019. Bain predicts that combined markets for IoT will grow to $520 billion USD by 2021. Connecting mobile apps to consumer goods will be big business in the year ahead. Developers will have to balance integration with data security to capitalize on the trend.
9. Artificial intelligence keeps getting smarter
Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to expand its capabilities in 2019. The robust amount of data being collected from users will allow mobile app developers to work towards more sophisticated applications of AI and machine learning to create more helpful personal assistant apps, more intuitive chatbots and deliver more personalized content. AI also has massive implications for IoT. As AI becomes smarter, device-connected consumer goods will become better at predicting user behavior, prescribing actions and adapting to changes in their environment.
10. Wearables finally get traction
Put wearables in the same category as IoT as a cool sci-fi gimmick that's on the edge of becoming an integrated part of day-to-day life. According to CCS Insight, the wearables market is set to grow from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units this year, an expansion that would put the global market at $25 billion USD in value. This isn't just for fitness trackers and smartwatches, but includes items such as medical monitoring equipment for people with chronic illnesses. Wearables will require both native wearable apps and mobile apps to sync to. Savvy developers will be looking to build apps for both platforms in 2019.