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Building a Mobile App? Here Are The 5 Big App Development Trends You Need to Be Aware Of

As 2022 edges closer to 2023, it’s a good time to start looking ahead to what we can expect in the ever-evolving, always innovative realm of mobile app development. We can confidently say that some of the burgeoning areas of technological growth show no signs of a slow-down...

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Of course, the ultimate goal of looking at emerging trends in the mobile app development space is to ensure you’re meeting rapidly changing user expectations and delivering a customer experience that they’ll never have to seek elsewhere (aka, with your competitor).

Global spend on mobile apps hit $133 Billion in 2021, a rise of almost 20% from the previous year. And whilst this number will continue to grow into 2023 (and likely way beyond), mobile marketing is experiencing a seismic shift as the recent privacy upgrades from both Google and Apple present new challenges for both developers and marketers. 2023 is likely to bring more hurdles, but directly alongside will be more opportunities to deliver finely tuned customer experiences that cultivate loyalty and power growth. 

Let’s jump in and see where we’re headed …

PWAs 

Improved engagement? Increased conversions? Offline accessibility without the need to download an app? Although PWAs (Progressive Web Apps – aka ‘instant apps’) have experienced a rather slow climb to proliferation since first appearing in 2019, the benefits they deliver mean that they’re soon to enjoy their long-awaited moment in the spotlight. 

PWAs are, generally speaking, easier and faster to develop, which means they cost a lot less than native apps to both build and ship. But that’s not where the fun stops:

  • they work on every browser, for every user, every time
  • they’re fast – and they fit every screen size
  • they can be easily shared/linked to across social, email, SMS etc
  • they’re simple, lightweight, and can be easily accessed on both mobile and desktop
  • they work even when your smartphone or computer is offline
  • updates are instant 
  • they’re easily discoverable because they’re indexed by search engines
  • they’re immersive, just like a native app: once a user adds a PWA to their home screen, they’re indistinguishable from a native app. 
  • and finally, they’re ultra-secure. PWAs rely on enhanced HTTPS protocols, meaning that information is better secured. 

The results? Users get an optimum app experience with reduced data usage and shorter loading times. And for brands? They get to deliver a superior UX to keep customers engaged, which cements loyalty. 

The Medium PWA

Forbes, Medium, Uber, and Travajo, to name a few, are using PWAs to optimize the CX. As more continue to explore innovative new ways to increase reach and build trust, we predict great things for PWAs in 2023.

Apps for foldable phones

Think that the foldable smartphone is a whole lot of hype and not much action? The jury’s still out. Gartner is telling us that foldable smartphones will account for 5% of the high-end smartphone market by 2023 and that the global market is poised to reach 27.6 million units in 2025. What we do know is that consumer interest remains high and shows no signs of slowing … yet.

Right now, Samsung dominates the foldables market with an impressive 88% market share. But as these devices gain traction, we can expect to see others muscle in to grab a slice of the Android pie and make their mark in the rapidly growing space.

Let’s not forget, the iPhone Flip is rumored to be making an appearance come 2023/2024. If this happens, we predict a significant increase in demand for foldable smartphones.

Mobile app development trends - Apple Flip
What the Apple Flip may look like

Foldable phones deliver a far greater immersive experience than your ‘standard’ smartphone purely due to the size of the screen, making them a firm favorite for streamers and gamers. They’re great for multitasking thanks to the amount of screen space users have to work with. Users can stream a movie, chat with their BFF, and edit their photos simultaneously. Bottom line; if you’re developing a new app in the near future, don’t discount the foldable device!

AI-powered apps

The use of AI in the world of mobile apps isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a new or emerging trend. But as AI technology continues its rapid advances, its presence in mobile apps is becoming more sophisticated, innovative, and beneficial – to everyone. 

You’re likely already familiar with a few of these AI-driven app capabilities:

  • Enhanced security using voice and facial recognition (logging into banking apps, for example)
  • Real-time language translation 
  • Recommended products and services (think Amazon Recommends, based on previous purchases, and Google Maps ‘nearby’ recommendations)
  • Fastest routes (also Google Maps)
  • And better, more relevant search results … 

And of course, AI is known to do a stellar job of pattern analysis to deliver more personalized (and by default, more engaging) app sessions. 

For example, AI can help businesses understand why users abandon their shopping carts at crucial moments so that they can fine-tune the user journey. They can also utilize it to identify purchase patterns across a specified timeframe so marketers can ship push campaigns when they’re most likely to see engagement, or to offer real-time customer support at the exact moment it’s needed.

If you’re not on board with AI-powered apps yet, consider how you might use the technology to personalize the various elements of the CX –  acquisition, retention, growth, brand advocacy – and build your app out from there. AI is the fuel that drives better and makes faster decisions. Successful businesses are three times more likely than their less profitable competition to say their data and analytics initiatives have boosted revenues by at least 20% thanks to AI. The quicker you can get started, the better.

Beacons

We all know the benefits of embedding personalization at the heart of a robust mobile marketing strategy (happy customers, greater brand reach, enhanced engagement, and increased revenues, etc.), so it goes without saying that you’ll enjoy a far superior competitive advantage – which is no small feat in today’s ultra-saturated mobile app space.

Right now, for many brands, delivering on personalization means getting familiar with proximity marketing, and while there are several technologies that’ll help with this (QR codes, geofencing, and NFC) it’s beacons that are attracting a lot of attention as we hurtle towards 2023.

Why? The proliferation of IoT, smart city initiatives, rapidly growing retail, transportation and hospitality industries, and the increasing need for spatial data (used by businesses to analyze demographic trends). In just a couple of years, beacon market revenues are predicted to reach an eye-watering $10.2 billion. 

Beacons are not without their challenges though. They are known to be costly, resource-heavy, and requires a set of developer skills that many just don’t have (yet). They may not be for every business, but personalization isn’t going anywhere. And cultivating the trust needed to power business growth and keep companies one step ahead of the competition means constantly looking for new ways to engage app users with valuable and relevant content. 

As we make big strides into hyper-personalization over the coming years, we’ll see more and more brands refocus their mobile app strategies around proximity marketing to deliver moments that really matter to customers. 

No-code and low-code app development 

The term ‘low-code’, used to describe development platforms that focus on ease of use and development simplicity, was coined back in 2014 by analyst group Forrester. 

Since then, the adoption of low-code development has been on the increase. Until the pandemic hit and brands found themselves having to react swiftly to rapidly changing circumstances, no one really noticed. 

As brands were forced to redesign their entire business strategy, and alongside it, their digital real estate, shipping apps in the fastest, most optimum way meant that low-code and no-code development reached stratospheric heights – no-code low-code platforms can reduce development time by 90%. 

Additionally, challenges such as the increasing lack of developer expertise, mounting project backlogs (72% of IT leaders now say app project backlogs are preventing them from working on strategic projects: ZNet), and market demand for app development services predicted to grow 5x faster than a company’s capacity to deliver, no-code and low-code options are looking increasingly attractive.

Microsoft has told us that of the 500 million apps it forecasts will be created over the coming five years, 450 million of them will be designed on no-code/low-code platforms. The knock-on effect means increased productivity,  decreased development costs, and a healthier bottom line. It also means that businesses can be far more agile, reacting quickly to new and emerging customer needs, driving innovation, and quickly adapting to market changes. 

If you’re not looking at no-code/low-code yet, now might be a good time to start.

Final thoughts

Work, entertainment, finance, health … More of us than ever are using mobile apps to help manage our daily lives. To remain competitive, businesses must ensure their apps are intelligent, trustworthy, data-driven, and UX-focused. After all, as the app space continues to grow (and by default, becomes more crowded), competition becomes fiercer, and standing out amongst the crowd becomes ever more critical. 

Being aware of new and existing app development trends coupled with a robust, data-driven strategy that focuses on delivering an exceptional user experience will give you a far better chance of ensuring you’re meeting user needs. If you’d like to discover how Optimove can help, let’s get the conversation started!

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