In 2011, I started a tradition of making predictions for the coming year (click here to see). Then, I got busy. So, five years later, I'm here to offer my second set of predictions: the top trends in mobile app dev for 2017.
It’ll be fun to see if these top trends are part of the conversation at the end of 2017.
Mobile App Dev Trend 1: More Augmented Reality Apps
Who hasn’t been amazed by the success of Pokemon Go? And with that kind of success comes imitation and innovation. The list of augmented reality (AR) apps for the iPhone alone is mind-boggling. There are so many that there is not a Top 40. (I’m serious: check out the rankings here.)
AR is like virtual reality and GPS combined, and it’s going to be hot in 2017. Lots of augmented reality mobile dev projects are underway that go way beyond fun and games. These apps are moving into industries such as retail, manufacturing, life sciences and more.
Gamers, have no fear; no one is abandoning your games. Developers are investigating how they can use augmented reality apps to enhance the engagement levels of their 3D games. Initially, people were concerned about GPS “broadcasting” their locations to a server. Thanks to wearables, sensors and the Internet of Things (Iot) fewer people are worrying, which brings me to the next trend.
Mobile App Dev Trend 2: Even More Context-Aware Intelligent Apps
Currently, the number of separate but connected devices is expected to reach more than 28 billion in 2017. Revenues and profits from the IoT industry have been surging since 2015. Some think those revenues will double by the end of 2017. Because of this mobile app dev trend, if you're a developer, be prepared for an increase in demand for apps that use smart device sensors.
What’s different about these “smart apps” from those in the past is that they separate sensors and content delivery and include a “thinking” component. Machine learning and artificial intelligence process the context and location of the person or sensor (often in a wearable) and make recommendations. This “contextual awareness” enables an app like Netflix to suggest programming tailored to the person logged in and not the whole household. It’s also what’s behind a smartphone health app that recommends the food a diabetics should eat after a specific exercise to normalize their blood sugar levels. So, get ready to integrate AI and machine learning into simpler apps in 2017.
Then, there's the approximately 50% of respondents in an AtSCale 2015 survey about Hadoop who say they will be using it more extensively in 2017. So companies will be in the hunt for developers to build contextually aware, intelligent apps that process big data. For those who don’t know, Hadoop is an open-source implementation of frameworks for storing and processing very large data sources. So, as part of this top mobile app dev trend, developers will be challenged to strike the right balance between user-friendly interfaces and reliable, enhanced functionality in contextually aware, intelligent apps. And with that, we go to my third trend.
Mobile App Dev Trend 3: Much, Much More UX as Art
User experience is the single biggest indicator of the success of a mobile application (or even lack of success) and this won't change for 2017. And we will see some currently “trendy” UX characteristics become a basic part of UX.
Designing a diffused background is becoming more common for app developers and I see it becoming a requirement even now in 2016. Diffused backgrounds for apps, with highlighted call-to-action tabs and buttons and areas that are easy to tap, allow users to focus on the main features with the backgrounds providing minimal distraction. That’s a characteristic that’s bound to become a gold standard.
As for UX as a whole, graphic designers and artists will evolve it into an art form. So look for parallax graphics, grid-based interface designing, split-screens, splash screens and visuals, and micro-interactions to gain traction. The days of simplistic flat apps are over.
A final note (about enterprise apps)
I’ve been doing some reading and I keep seeing that enterprise apps will take off in 2017. However, I think that’s not a trend for 2017 but a 2016 reality. In fact, many of us at OutSystems whose job it is to look forward feel that it’s anticlimactic to bring up enterprise apps for 2017. They’re here and they’re real. And that’s why we’ve made sure you can use OutSystems to develop the enterprise mobile apps that so many businesses crave.
To be honest, I kind of cheated for this article. At OutSystems, we’ve pretty much known what things would be hot for mobile app development in 2017. So, we made sure you can address them with OutSystems 10.
Take a look and see. I’ll catch you on the flip side of 2017.