As smartphones continue to proliferate and become the central computing platform for many, mobile apps are more important than ever for engaging users. The app industry is constantly growing and evolving at a rapid pace. Exciting new trends and technologies are emerging that will transform the future of apps in years to come.
This article will provide an overview of the state of the industry today and discuss key innovations on the horizon. It will examine the potential benefits and challenges of these developments for the future of mobile apps and users.
The Current App Market
The app industry has exploded over the past decade. Some key stats about today’s marketplace:
- Over 5 million apps exist across Apple’s App Store and Google Play
- Total app downloads surpassed 170 billion in 2018
- Apps generate over $580 billion in global revenue annually
- Mobile accounts for 87% of total app usage time worldwide
Consumers use apps more extensively than ever before. The average smartphone user has over 80 apps installed and uses around 25 of them each month. Apps with the greatest user penetration include social media, communication, photography, entertainment and gaming.
While gaming and entertainment see plenty of use, utilities and productivity apps meet some of the most essential needs for users. The app model has created software that is more nimble, user-centric, and focused on streamlined experiences.
Emerging Trends and Technologies
Several new developments are on the horizon that will shape the future of apps:
Greater emphasis is being placed on cross-platform app development that offers unified experiences across iOS, Android, desktop and web. Tools like React Native and Flutter allow developers to build cross-platform apps from a single codebase. This streamlines creation while enabling custom UI optimizations for each target platform. Expect more apps to follow this path to maximize accessibility.
5G Network Connectivity
The much faster 5G networks rolling out globally will impact apps in several ways. First, higher bandwidth will enable faster downloads and reduce lag. Apps can leverage greater data speed for advanced capabilities. Finally, persistent 5G connectivity will facilitate more sophisticated real-time, collaborative and interactive app experiences.
Enhanced Real World Integrations
Context-aware computing using sensors and IoT integrations will allow apps to respond intelligently based on environmental cues. Apps may automatically adjust UI or functionality when detecting location changes, nearby devices, time of day, driving status and more. This contextual awareness adds convenience and personalization.
Voice Control and AI Assistance
Voice control via AI assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant is increasing, allowing hands-free app usage. More apps will adopt conversational interfaces powered by AI to deliver intuitive voice command capabilities. This expands the possibilities for faster, simpler app interactions.
Augmented and virtual reality offer new dimensions for engaging app experiences and use cases. AR adds digital overlays onto the real environment while VR transports users to immersive simulated worlds. As ARKit and VR hardware mature, apps will creatively incorporate these technologies for interactive 3D, gaming, visualization and more.
The Impact on Apps
These emerging technologies will enable apps to be smarter, faster, more immersive and efficient. Users will benefit from apps better tailored to personalized needs and contexts, with frictionless interfaces.
For developers, cross-platform frameworks can reduce cost and complexity of supporting multiple device types. But fully leveraging new device capabilities may require custom implementations.
There are risks too, if apps become overcomplicated or demanding on hardware. Privacy must be maintained as apps utilize more user data and sensors. Ultimately though, these trends promise apps that feel closer to magic, able to anticipate desires and adapt instantly.
Apps are set to achieve far greater intelligence, ubiquity, and integration into all aspects of life in the years ahead. Exciting new technologies will profoundly change mobile app capabilities and interactions. While apps already feel indispensable for many, they are poised to become even more powerful personal assistants. However, it will be critical that usability and privacy are not sacrificed along the way. Overall, the future of apps is bright and ever more promising as this disruptive platform continues maturing.