What’s Next for Mobile Apps in 2018?

December 28, 2017 - 7 minutes read

With 2017 wrapping up, it’s hard to recollect all of the changes and disruptions that have occurred in mobile app development over the entire year. However, the fast-approaching future doesn’t allow any time to dwell on the past — 2018 will be a prime time of transformation for the app economy and developing technologies. The new year will also bring its fair share of challenges to the foreground of mobile technology. So read on to set yourself up for success in the coming year.

A New App Economy

Mobile apps make up 57 percent of total digital media usage. Over 250 billion free apps were downloaded in 2017. And as discussed in a previous Dogtown Media News segment, this is still the nascent stage of mobile app development. 2018 is forecasted to bring a 30 percent increase in mobile app spending, reaching more than $110 billion in value. Of course, this is magnificent news for mobile app developers.

While mobile app games are expected to continue making up the majority of the market share, other types of apps will take a bigger portion of the market than in 2017 due to a variety of reasons. Subscription-based business models will become more prevalent in 2018. And many apps will try to pivot from being a shopping research aid to becoming the actual platform that purchases occur on. We’ll also start seeing more brick-and-mortar stores trying to enhance their in-store shopping experience through mobile apps.

It’s well known that video is the next frontier in marketing, and companies like Snap, Disney, Netflix, Apple, and Facebook will all vie to be at the forefront of this movement. Almost a third of all iPhone users have four or more apps just for streaming video. While this number is expected to grow, the stiff competition between big companies will fragment the streaming market even more according to App Annie.

2017 was the year that businesses big and small realized that mobile apps were no longer a nice-to-have; they’re essential now. With billions of dollars being generated in the app industry, it’s no wonder that many organizations are turning to mobile technology to grow their revenue, build their brands, and bring customers new innovative solutions.

Let’s Talk Tech

With many new technologies flourishing in the coming year, it will be a race between businesses to see who can successfully leverage these new paradigms first. Artificial intelligence (AI) development will remain a linchpin in bringing customers customized, intimate interactions.

AI developers will focus on refining various social aspects of the customer experience with voice UIs as well as chatbots. Conversations will become more contextual, the purchasing process will become more personal, and customer service will be optimized to be faster and more efficient. Many businesses will have to choose between integrating these improvements into their own apps or utilizing existing services like San Francisco-based WhatsApp.

Integrating New Tech into Society

Besides AI, other disruptive technologies will make their way into our lives through both subtle and obvious ways. But a few will become much more ubiquitous in 2018. Virtual and Augmented Reality development are both in high demand as various industries like retail, healthcare, food, and real estate look to leverage the unique advantages they bring.

Similar to AI, companies will try to enhance the customer experience with these technologies. Furniture companies are already using AR to show potential buyers what a sofa would look like in their home. And many sectors like food and industrial manufacturing are already utilizing AR to train new employees.

Besides this, tech behemoths like Apple and Google will continue to release tools to the public for AR developers to streamline their work. It’s not such a stretch to assume that many startups and ideas will sprout from this open-source sharing, ushering in an era of new players in the VR and AR development markets.

Alongside AI, VR, and AR, the Internet of Things (IoT) also deserves an honorable mention. In fact, IoT may be the technology that expands into our everyday lives the most during 2018. Between MedTech development, industrial applications, smart homes and offices, and wearables, IoT will be everywhere by the year’s end.

Blurring the Line Between Web and Mobile

One trend across all technologies that we expect to see is the sharp rise of hybrid development. The use of cross-platform development strategies should grow exponentially in 2018. Whereas just a few years ago, web and mobile development were discrete subjects from one another, React Native and similar technologies will open the door for web developers to transition into mobile. This will simplify the development process by reducing the need for maintenance and allowing one codebase to be shared across every facet of a company’s digital presence.

Of course, a change in process necessitates a change in the way a development team functions. Teams will eventually start completing the bulk of development work with technologies like React Native, only moving into iOS development or Android development for requirements or features specific to those paradigms.

Adapt or Be Disrupted

Fine-tuning your mobile app development team to be more versatile and resilient to change is essential to survive. While hybrid app development offers a myriad of benefits to those who adapt, it’s also an obstacle for those who don’t.

But if you manage, you’ll reap immense benefits in terms of cost and speed. There will be tremendous potential to leverage disruptive technologies like AI, AR, and IoT to improve existing business processes. Mobile app teams that can do this will be leagues ahead of the rest in the new year.

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