Mobile app development revenues worldwide continue, not unsurprisingly, trending upward. According to Statista, 2020 is projected to see a roughly $130 billion increase over 2019 revenues of some $461 billion worldwide. What trends contribute to this growth? Here’s what mobile app developers should keep top of mind in 2020.
“Hey [Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google, whatever the name of your digital assistant might be), what’s going to be a big trend in mobile app developmentin 2020?”
Most likely, he/she/it is going to reply, “Voice-interaction.”
According to Christi Olson writing in Campaign, 50 percent of all searches in 2020 will be performed through voice queries. The technology has been evolving over the past few years and, while still not picture-perfect, is getting more commonplace, not just in smartphones and mobile apps, but in the home. The situation is somewhat analogous to the early days of cell phones—users were willing to put up with some inconsistency (i.e., dropped calls, service coverage blackouts, and the like) to use a cool and convenient technology. And just as cell phones have become more reliable to the point where they are ubiquitous, voice-enabled apps are getting better at the hearing and responding to what users say to them.
Internet of Things (Iot)
Iot as a concept has been around since 1999, but in 2020 we may be at a tipping point. Xavient Information Systems Senior Director Archana Sharma points out to estimates of 50 billion devices connected to IoT by 2020, representing an approximate worth of $1.7 trillion. Mobile app development, particularly for wearables, is leveraging IoT for both personal and business use to take the concept of “networking” to new heights of innovation. Consider just a few examples:
- Health apps on smartphones and wearables that track activity levels connected to medical devices and physician/healthcare monitoring systems.
- Sports sensors such as ShotTracker™ that collect athlete performance statistics and stream real-time results and findings to coaches and fans.
- Enterprise apps that provide real-time monitoring of employee as well as asset (e.g., fleet and equipment) activities to improve safety and productivity, as well as customer-facing apps that enhance service experience and satisfaction by providing timely delivery updates and arrival (see Uber).
- Smart homes/buildings that provide the ability for users to set locks/temperatures and other environmental/security features remotely from smartphones, as well as collect data to better manage energy consumption.
Chatbots were first implemented on websites primarily to perform routine customer service functions. As they’ve grown in sophistication and capabilities to perform a variety of back-office functions (e.g., opening and sending emails, providing documents and links), chatbots are increasingly integral as virtual assistants for mobile apps. The challenge to mobile app developers is that chatbots represent both opportunity and threat. As Robby Gupta writes in TechJini, “Chatbots help in reducing the number of apps we use. If you think about it, all the websites and apps that we use daily are just a collection of information. If this information can be packaged into an app which uses a sophisticated chatbot, it would make other apps obsolete. Services such as booking hotel rooms and flight tickets, buying movie tickets etc. can be done using one app.”
While chatbot integration is likely to render some mobile apps obsolete, mobile app developers can look to new ways to deploy chatbots in ways that improve user experience to make newer apps more exciting and more important to perform everyday tasks such as shopping, appointment scheduling and time management and entertainment.
Augmented reality began to become, well, more of a reality for mobile app development in 2018, spurred on in part by Apple’s release of ARkit 2.0 (which is now in release 3.0). MobiDev reports that the augmented trends to watch for 2020 include:
- Shopping: brick and mortar stores increasingly see this as a way to bring consumers back into a physical store by, paradoxically enough, providing more of an online virtual experience on-site.
- Navigation: not just traffic and walking directions, but where to go in airports, hospitals, malls and other interior buildings.
- Training: provide hands-on simulations of equipment use; physicians and other healthcare professionals can “practice” treatment techniques on virtual patients.
- Gaming: it almost goes without saying.
Cash is no longer king. Pretty soon, neither will plastic credit cards. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the degree to which users are reliant on them for daily living, mobile wallets serve a range of convenient uses:
- Making payment for a range of services, both on-site and online, including scheduling auto-payments
- Splitting bill payments among multiple users
- Transferring and receiving funds
- Receiving discounts, discounts, cashback and other promotional incentives.
Finally, what is further stimulating all the trends just discussed is the prospect of 5G technology that will bring faster speeds and accommodate greater volumes of data. Mobile app developers are already taking into account 5G technology in anticipation of a more extensive rollout in 2020 along with the introduction of more 5G enabled devices.