Author: Baskar Agneeswaran – Vajro
The original Instagram app, launched in late 2010, seems almost quaint compared to today’s algorithm-powered platform. Gone are the days of Valencia filters and retro frames. Feeds are no longer chronological. Selfies have largely pushed out photos of quirky interests. Monetization has taken hold. Essentially, simplicity has been shuffled to the side to ensure competitiveness and profitability, with users now able to post photos, videos, reels, send messages, and even sell items directly within the app.
Instagram is just one such example of many, and if the rapid app evolution of the past 12 or so years has taught us anything, it’s that apps will continue to evolve. Updates will continue to be released periodically, buggy aspects will be tweaked, and user experience will be prioritized to ensure individuals stay engaged with their experience on the app. Other factors in this evolution include the leap in technology within the infrastructure that supports app development.
Starting this year, 2022, tech companies have begun incorporating 5G technology at scale. Currently, 47 percent of smartphones are 5G enabled, and 5G is available within many metropolitan areas across the globe. As such, it makes sense new app trends will build on this underpinning technology.
What might the future of mobile apps look like? To understand what’s coming en masse in the future, we need to look at what is trending now. Read on to learn more.
Evolving Devices and Updated Mobile Technology
Devices are constantly changing and evolving, and just like with fashion, things that were once in style tend to come back around. Case in point: flip phones. While the flip phones of the mid-2000s were low tech compared to the smartphones of today, they were fun and somewhat sassy. There was nothing like hanging up a call by snapping a phone shut. Thankfully, tech has caught up and we’re now seeing the first waves of foldable touchscreen smartphones penetrating the market en masse.
According to Statista, around 50 million foldable devices are set to be shipped throughout 2022. So how will apps adapt? We can most likely expect increased resolution setting controls, new apps designed to accommodate varying screen sizes – ie: automatically adapting when the device is folded or open, – and added controls within gaming apps to maximize usable screen width while ensuring an optimal experience for the user.
Other devices and apps that are set to evolve in line with 5G capabilities include wearables, like health bands or smartwatches. This continued evolution presents new horizons for app developers to be creative and add adaptations to their offerings to make them usable on smaller and adaptive screens. Google, for example, recently announced a unified wearable platform that will see its Android OS integrate with Samsung’s Tizen to boost app startup times by approximately 30 percent. Typically, and as we’ve seen with many Apple products, usability boosts adoption, it is imperative that developers who develop wearable-ready apps will have an upper hand over their competition.
Better Performance and Smarter Apps
With increased download and upload speeds due to 5G, it makes sense video streaming apps will improve to offer higher resolution, lower latency, and faster performance. This means developers will be able to add new features without negatively impacting an app’s performance. Mobile payments should also become seamless, with increased speed and security due to faster processing of biometric data.
Predictive analytics should also receive a boost thanks to 5G capabilities, and we may start to see them being used outside of product recommendations on Amazon, or ‘we think you’ll like’ sections on video streaming services. One possible way this could manifest is in app development, with data from the app being analyzed to optimize any bugs or other possible user-issues before they occur. Ideally, this should drastically reduce app development time while maintaining quality and fostering innovation.
AI, VR, and the IoT
With 5G capabilities soon to underpin almost all mobile technology on the market, it’s likely we’ll see great strides being taken in virtual reality and augmented reality. Despite being on the market for close to ten years now, apps that truly make the most of this tech haven’t eventuated quite yet. Now, thanks to increased speeds due to 5G, we’ll soon see more apps like Google Maps’ Live View feature which allows users to see directions in real-time imposed on real-world imagery. With the VR and AR industry expected to grow to $209 billion in 2022, now is the time for developers to look at ways to integrate this technology into their app offerings.
Increased performance should also see a greater infusion of artificial intelligence and machine learning within apps. A prime example of this happening already is again within Google Maps, which has integrated AI functionality to suggest the least carbon-intensive routes when traveling from point A to point B.
The final app trend we should start seeing more of throughout 2022 and beyond is greater Internet of Things, or IoT, functionality. While we all know about smart switches, bulbs, and relays, big brands like Samsung and Xiaomi are currently heavily investing in their own IoT technologies. With this mass adoption of the technology, demand will likely increase for apps to manage the scope of these different technologies. One way this could manifest is within productivity apps, which could be used to identify times where distraction needs to be mitigated, such as noise, or message alerts on smart home devices, and automatically dull them during ‘focus’ periods.
With more than six million apps across Google Play and the Apple App Store, the battle to stand out among a highly competitive landscape as we move into the future will be a fierce one. To stay ahead of the pack, developers need to be aware of trends as they emerge and proactively adopt new and evolving technologies.
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