7 Top Mobile App Development Trends in 2020

Mobile apps are continuing to transform consumer behavior and alter business practices. Custom mobile application development is necessary for organizations across many industries sincec consumers expect great experiences through an app. Companies need an innovative, cutting-edge mobile app that's integrated with the latest technologies to realize all the benefits that they bring. 

Mobile App Development in 2020

Apps are expected to generate over $935 billion in revenues by 2023, so it's no surprise that 2020 is another year of rapidly advancing technologies. Companies in a wide range of sectors are racing to take advantage of all that modern mobile app development has to offer. Here are some of the top mobile application development trends that we anticipate seeing in 2020 and beyond - 

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT enabled mobile applications are far from new but are only continuing to grow in popularity. Revenue from technology associated with IoT will grow beyond $1.6 trillion by 2025. (is this relevant or feels awkwardly placed?) The global IoT market is expected to reach $194 billion in 2020 - with $143 billion coming from software like apps. 

Global IoT revenue by technology segment graph

Consumers are accustomed to using technology to improve their everyday life. IoT offers convenience and automation, and with the increase in IoT devices, comes the demand for IoT enabled applications. The use of IoT in apps in 2020 continues to include:

  • Home Automation (thermostats, locking doors, security systems, appliances)
  • Healthcare (sensors, medical equipment, portable devices, health monitors)
  • Data Analytics (decision making assistance, trend identification) 
  • Personalization of Retail (bettering the shopping experience)
  • Security (finance, healthcare industries to employ apps for optimal security)
  • Smart Cities (aid in traffic congestion, improve security, sustainable development) 

2. AI and ML

In addition to and often in conjunction with IoT, mobile app development is delving deeper into the artificial intelligence and machine learning realms. AI and ML have been an existing and exciting factor in software development for years, but we're only just beginning to realize how impactful these advanced technologies can be in apps.

Forbes differenciates AI and ML like this:

AI - "The broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider 'smart.'" Artifical intelligence makes computers act like humans do and helps complete tasks that would otherwise require human interaction. Examples could include voice recognition or language translation. Siri, Cortona, or Alexa may come to mind when thinking of AI apps.

ML - "A current application of AI based around the idea that we should really just be able to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves." ML educates computers to recognize patterns in the way that humans do. Examples could include how apps like Facebook and Snapchat utilize facial detection. Or how Uber finds the best routes for drivers and identifies suspicious or fradulent accounts. 

But the use of these technologies will go far beyond this in app development.

Last year, Apple released Core ML 3, the latest version of the iOS machine learning framework, that's designed to help iOS developers embed AI technology into their apps. Google continues to add pre-loaded features to its ML Kit. Now we can get deeper into these technologies and get properly acquainted with its features and components. 

Examples of AI/ML features that can be implemented into mobile apps include:

  • Integration of AI with IoT
  • User behavior predictions
  • Image recognition/face unlock
  • AIOps for automating IT functions
  • Speech recognition
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Language and voice translations 

3. Foldable Apps

2019 saw the release of foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr. Like the name suggests, these are phones that fold and either compress or expand the screen. According to Samsung, hundreds of apps have been updated for these phones, including Spotify, Twitter, VSCO, Facebook, Amazon Prime Video, iHeartMedia and more. Roughly 3.2 million foldable phones were shipped in 2019 - a number that is expected to reach 50 million by 2020.

2020 is a big year for foldable phones, and custom mobile app development companies will need to account for these devices when building or updating apps. The idea is that an app should seamlessly adjust to its display as the screen folds and unfolds. Good app developers will make use of this technology to improve these user's experiences. 

4. 5G Technology

The rollout of 5G is majorly impacting 2020 app trends. For developers, the technology is poised to change the way apps are used and created. Take a look at the expected growth of 5G smartphone connections over the next four years.

2020 will have roughly 15 times more 5G connections than in 2019. These will almost quadruple by 2021. So what does this mean for app development?

Speed and efficiency will drastically improve. In fact, 5G is expected to deliver a 10x decrease in latency, while boosting network efficiency and traffic capacity. Compared to 4G, 5G will be up to 100 times faster, depending on the mobile network operator.

The penetration of 5G will ultimately boost the functionality of mobile apps. This will allow developers to add new features to apps without negatively affecting the app's performance. Developers and mobile app resellers should also use 5G network speed during the testing and development stages of building an app.

5. Beacon Technology

The beacon technology market value will reach $5.6 billion by 2026 - over 10 times higher than the $519.6 million worth in 2016.

Beacons are small devices that offer proximity marketing solutions. When an app user is within range of a beacon, they'll be sent a notification about a nearby product, or whatever it is. 

Airlines use it to send boarding pass notifications when users are close to a private security check or send commission free currency exchange deals to passengerse to the depature section of the airport. Retailers use beacon tech to track customer movements within their store, push product recommendations and discounts and inform shoppers about relevant sale items. Hotels use beacons to let housekeping know when guests are still in the room. 

Beacons can also help track buyer behavior in stores. They can detect if a user is spending a significant amount of time in a particular aisle. The app can automatically trigger a push notification to entice a sale at a later date related to those products.

The main benefit of beacon technology is proximity marketing. It ultimately improves the customer experience within a mobile app. 

6. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is far from being a new feature in apps but is only going to continue to trend upward in 2020. 

Pokemon Go is probably the most recognized form of AR in an app. Snapchat is another hugely popular app that utilizes AR. Those face filters showcase AR at work.

But there are many more cases of companies using AR in their apps for more practical uses.

IKEA's "Place" app uses AR to showcase what furniture will look like in consumer's homes.

Workforce apps can use AR-based training programs for employee learning.

AR adaption is a top app development trend for content creators. You can use this technology to get creative as Instagram and Snapchat do with face filters.

AR is a powerful engagement tool that modern businesses can use in their software products. By combining visuals, sounds, and enhanced interactivity, AR reinvents the way users receive information and interact with their environment.

Companies can gain an edge over their competition or operate in entirely new niches by offering AR-driven services and products to their customers.

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