Developing mobile applications isn’t for everyone. Aside from the technical skill and industry proficiency necessary to remain competitive in this arena, mobile app development requires a constant vigilance. A hyper-awareness of the latest trends is an expected prerequisite for most professions, but when the security of your app and the safety of your users is on the line, keeping a close eye on what the future has in store becomes a top priority.
In the coming year, app development will only continue to rise in prominence, as it’s quickly becoming the most popular way consumers connect online. However, with technology changing all the time, it’s difficult to know the steps you need to take to keep providing your customers with the high level of service they deserve. Here are just a few of the biggest trends in mobile app development coming your way in 2017.
- Heightened need for security: Given the continuing use of mobile technology, security has accordingly become more important than ever. Just as apps have become more popular, so too have hackers become more creative in how they target software and the sensitive data it is supposed to keep protected. Expect two-step user authentication and other permissions models to become more rampant, and be sure to give your entire security strategy a periodic review. You might, for instance, want to opt for automatic security updates if you aren’t already using such a system. As a developer, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of potential mobile app security risks.
- More location-based beacons: In recent years, the user experience has become one of the biggest deciding factors for the ultimate success or failure of mobile technology. That’s likely why location-based systems are becoming so essential to so many businesses, especially those in the retail space. By creating a clear connection between physical locations and their online presence, stores are only boosting customer engagement, and billions of dollars in profits later, personalization — in particular, using location to deliver a unique experience — is here to stay. Your business cannot afford not to take part in what is sure to be one of the strongest trends in app development going forward.
- Small businesses climb aboard: Sure, mobile apps may have seemed like the kind of thing that only major corporations were doing. After all, they have larger budgets for marketing to consumers through mobile devices. Now, however, having your services customized for mobile users in no longer much of a luxury. Small businesses are actively moving towards development of their own apps, and this year promises to see a dramatic leap forward in that regard. How a mobile app fits into your business model and what services it provides might vary, but now’s the time to start answering some of these questions.
- Here comes artificial intelligence: As futuristic as the prospect may sound, artificial intelligence is becoming a key part of mobile app development. Self-learning apps now have the ability to be far more intuitive, adapting to user behavior and (as mentioned above) even their location. The year ahead will see AI take a more prominent role in how mobile apps are implemented and incorporated into businesses across every industry. Such technology will make your app an even more attractive prospect to users, encouraging them to keep coming back for more and reaffirming your company’s place on the cutting edge of mobile app development.
- Continued popularization of virtual reality: Remember what a phenomenon Pokémon GO was when that app was initially released? Well, if you thought that virtual reality and other augmented reality mobile apps were going away anytime soon, think again. In fact, Google, Apple and other leading companies are already making extensive plans to capitalize on this trend. It’s still early days for VR and AR apps to become an inescapable part of the business, but rest assured that their time is far from over. For now, at least begin exploring how such an approach might be applied to your business.
- Further reliance on the cloud: Convenience is king in mobile app development, and with consumers expecting data to be easily accessible from anywhere and everywhere, cloud technology has effectively come to replace traditional storage devices. The cloud will continue to loom over mobile apps in 2017, saving users smartphone memory and allowing them to interface with their personal — and often sensitive — data (remember how we said security is more vital than ever?) with the touch of a button. Research indicates that cloud apps will make up 90 percent of total mobile traffic in the next two years. If your app is utilizing the cloud, you may already be missing out in a big way.
While the above trends provide a clear indication of where app development is heading, we know that the future will no doubt provide a fair share of surprises for the industry, as it always does. Moreover, the list we’ve detailed is far from all-inclusive and does not supplant the need for your business to remain independently updated on what your competitors are up to.
In addition, just because a particular trend is sweeping through the world of app development, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it applies to your business. No matter what, you need to keep testing and exploring your options, reaching out to your customer base to find out what services they want and need. In this way, your business can adapt and evolve along with the industry as as a whole rather than wind up beholden to what everyone else is doing.