The article was updated on July 17, 2021.
Mobile app development in 2021 is an area of lightning-fast changes, disruptive technologies, and new blooming trends that help companies win customers in this tumultuous period for the industry.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been excruciating for many businesses, the mobile development market continues to thrive, with the global revenue estimated to hit $44.3 trillion by 2027.
The impact of the global lockdowns has shifted the general focus in mobile app development trends towards mobile-first, contactless, and connected services.
In this article, we’ll highlight the most significant useful and practical trends in mobile app development for 2021-2022 and demonstrate why you shouldn’t pass up on opportunities to innovate.
Modern app development has the luxury of utilizing 5G technology—the newest generation of telecommunication networks that’s already displaying stunning connection speeds. In fact, Opensignal reports that 5G was between 1.6 and 15.7 times faster than 4G on download during trials.
Together with the improved security and increased number of possible connections per square kilometer that 5G enables, the support of this new networking standard is on the verge of becoming one of the critical 2021-2022 mobile app trends.
5G is transformative for mobile developers because it expands the possible functionality of apps. The gaming industry can leverage the speed of 5G to promote mobile versions of highly demanding games like Fortnite and Clash Royale.
Going further, 5G also opens a door for creating more sophisticated and realistic AR/VR apps, streaming quality 4K-8K and 360 videos, and introducing more interconnected IoT devices into the market.
Read also: Powering Smart Cities with 5G Technology
In the not-so-distant past, voice technology had been presented merely as a fun gimmick to appeal to customers; now, it’s grown to reach the top trends in app development when it comes to mobile and IoT platforms.
Here are a few examples of voice tech and why users love it:
- Voice search is the go-to option for many shoppers owning a smart speaker system. In contrast to typing, voice search provides a quick and hands-free experience that makes browsing more pleasant for users and enhances retailers’ marketing.
- A voice user interface, or VUI, is an innovative way to approach designing the UI. It combines voice recognition with predictive machine learning and enables users to interact with the app via their voice. It introduces a new level of personalization, which is paramount both to customer conversion and retention.
- Voice shopping consultants work exactly as they sound: these voice solutions guide buyers through online marketplaces, suggesting items, answering questions, and notifying users about current discounts or sales.
In the U.S., about 66 million people have smart speakers at home. Considering the crushing amount of isolation that people have gone through in the past year, it’s no surprise that users like talking to their Alexa or Google Nest more than pressing buttons, and the audience for voice technology is only predicted to grow.
Catering to this expanding user segment is a natural step that your business can take to achieve better telemarketing and boost customer satisfaction.
Achieving high conversion rates is paramount when it comes to mobile applications—and pretty tough too. You have seconds to grab a user’s attention, persuading them to install your application, and not much longer after that to convince them to stay. This is where instant apps (App Clips for iOS devices) come into play.
Instant apps represent a key segment of the 2021 mobile app trends, giving users an opportunity to try an application before downloading it. They store minimal amounts of data locally, and users are not obligated to install anything to use them. A user simply needs to click on the link that the developer posts on their social media or website, and the app will be launched.
BuzzFeed, the NY Times, and a rapidly increasing number of other businesses are already using instant apps in their mobile development to win the battle for customers.
Foldable devices mark the possible future of mobile app development, as user interest continues to pick up despite the higher-than-average prices. The main thing about folding displays is their transformative ability: you can use it as a phone and then, wherever needed, you can unfold the display and receive a medium-size tablet.
Some models allow users to fold them in instead of out, making them more compact. Brands that present foldable displays include the industry giants Samsung, with their Galaxy Z Fold model, Huawei, Motorola, and LG.
The trend presents not only an opportunity for smartphone manufacturers but a creative and technological challenge for app developers. As the price tags for foldable devices grow more reasonable for the majority of users, developers should turn their eyes to this trend and tailor their apps to fit all kinds of screens, including folding displays.
Biometric authentication in mobile development normally refers to identifying users by their fingerprints or through facial recognition. As the latest mobile technology, biometrics redefines users’ expectations of how security should function for mobile applications.
For instance, apps like Apple Pay and PayPal use facial recognition to identify users and provide an additional level of protection to their funds and data.
Whether you’re in fintech, retail, or healthcare, employing computer vision and other biometrics-processing technologies will allow your customers to appreciate an additional level of protection to their data and money.
Beacon technology is another exploding hit in the development for mobile that helps combine the online and offline experience for users.
In essence, beacons are small transmitters that connect to smartphones via Bluetooth. They can be installed in shopping malls, airports, hospitals, and virtually any other venue. When a customer enters such a space, beacons send signals to the company’s app on their phone. This way, the user can receive real-time in-store navigation services, personalized promotions, notifications about discounts, and other information.
Beacons can already be found in Apple’s and Macy’s stores, and the corresponding functionality is embedded in the apps that the brands offer. Aruba Networks and Google also utilize beacon technology for indoor navigation and advanced data collection.
As more and more spaces become connected, mobile app developers should keep beacon technology in mind to design compatible and handy applications.
Before the pandemic, people used to spend around 3 hours on their phones daily. In 2021, this number has already reached 4 hours 6 minutes, and 3 hours 41 minutes of this time are dedicated to mobile apps rather than browser usage. Leisure was the first area to go fully digital due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and users are not willing to give it up any time soon.
Essentially, mobile-first leisure is the most intuitive of the recent app development trends: since users favor mobile platforms, your business should leverage them.
Using GPS in your software is one of the multi-purposeful mobile technology trends that suit any industry. Retailers, for instance, can use the concept of geolocation-based apps to help users quickly find their stores. You don’t need to look up the nearest Walmart or IKEA at every new place anymore—simply install their apps once, and they will automatically scan your location and lead the way.
Likewise, apps like Grubhub use GPS to improve customer experience by showing clients where their delivery person is at the moment and how soon they will arrive. Besides goods delivery, geolocation-based apps are also useful in the automotive industry (Google Maps, Onfleet, Geotab), travel and hospitality (Airbnb, Booking), sports (Nike+, Runtastic), and dating apps (Tinder, eHarmony).
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed on-demand apps into the list of modern top trends in mobile app development.
Essentially, these apps lie dormant in users’ phones, as opposed to games or planners, right until the person needs to use a particular service.
Among the most successful and widely used on-demand apps in 2021 are
- Uber, a taxi service app;
- Grubhub, an app for food delivery;
- Rinse, a laundry service;
- Handy, an app that allows users to order cleaning, repair, and other home services;
- Instacart, a service for groceries delivery;
- Soothe, an on-demand massage service;
- DoorDash, a food-ordering application;
- Wag, an app that offers dog-sitting and walking services at users’ homes.
Want to develop an app like Uber?
If you are considering building an Uber competitor or introducing an on-demand business model in your business domain, contact us now.
Another app trend that’s important to consider in 2021 is mobile payments. The fintech industry is boasting a 23.58% growth rate, and to clients, using digital wallets has already become second nature, particularly in times when online shopping and limited physical contact are both pervasive in the world.
Fintech service providers can offer mobile wallets, complete with the contactless payment option and in-app quick purchasing of tickets, loyalty cards, coupons, etc. In fact, the proximity payment option is growing so rapidly, market researchers predict that each user of this technology will spend around $4064 via mobile contactless payments in 2025.
While the most well-known apps and services in this sector include PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet, and Cash App, there are other evolving players on the market, offering additional functionality.
Due, for instance, includes time-tracking and invoicing software into its digital wallet to attract freelancers and those who were forced to shift to remote work due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Additionally, retailers can supplement their application development with payment options that ask to access users’ mobile wallets and enable them to pay for an item with a single click.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile app development has seen several brand new areas of focus, and m-commerce has shot to the top with a 25.5% CAGR. Online shopping is not an innovation.
But the omnipresent threat of the virus and lasting lockdowns have forced users to try buying online for the first time, and many of those users will actually continue using m-commerce apps to shop even after the pandemic recedes.
As we have already witnessed from the immense success of Shopify, Instacart, and numerous other apps for everything from grocery delivery to all kinds of retail, mobile commerce holds its position among the steadiest and most promising application trends.
The market for wearable devices will continue to grow which means that there will also be a growing demand for mobile apps integrated with these devices.
Wearable technology offers enormous opportunities, especially for sports and healthcare industries. The ability to measure and analyze vital signs in real time attracts people to smart wearable devices: watches, bracelets and even jewelry.
This is where Machine Learning will also come into play – from making predictions and recommendations based on health indicators to even detecting illnesses in the early stages.
Before the pandemic, taking an online Zumba class had been a lazy peculiarity, but now, when events streaming is at the top of the latest trends in mobile app development, it’s a new kind of normality.
The last year has given a huge boost to platforms like ConnexMe, Hopin, Glisser, Eventee, vFairs, SpotMe, and many others. Conference software like Zoom and Jitsi has also grown in popularity, and this trend is likely to carry on into 2022.
Mobile applications constitute just one part of any IoT infrastructure, but they are instrumental in connecting users to their smart devices, vehicles, and entire houses.
Essentially, the Internet of Things is a network of objects that can connect to each other and to the Internet. These include everything from smartwatches to autonomous Teslas and Control4 smart home systems.
In terms of apps trends, IoT is a disruptive direction that has already begun dictating the new rules for developers. Since more users have started noticing the appeal of IoT, mobile developers need to build applications that run smoothly on all kinds of devices.
Besides, IoT makes it possible to create new kinds of apps altogether, empowering developers’ creativity and experimentation.
Autonomous and deep analysis that machine learning enables has an incredibly broad scope of uses in the mobile app development industry.
Although not exhaustive, here is a list of popular use cases for ML in mobile platforms:
- Personalization: learn more about your users and deliver better services, more relevant recommendations, and enhanced experiences, leading to higher retention rates and sales;
- Analytics: use ML to derive more comprehensive insights into your business operations and make better decisions, forecasts, and optimization efforts;
- Security: use ML as one of the top mobile trends in data security to safeguard your users’ sensitive information;
- Convenience and a competitive advantage: AI enables the use of biometric authentication and offers a variety of solutions, such as image recognition, voice assistance, smart maps with route planning, and others, all of which can become a deciding factor when it comes to user retention.
The inclusion of virtual and augmented reality elements in mobile software has spiked since apps Civilisations AR came to the market. An augmented reality creation from the BBC, Civilisations AR serves an educational purpose in a truly stunning fashion. It allows users to explore ancient objects and interact with them, rotating, moving, and scaling them.
As trends in mobile apps, AR and VR are already applicable for many purposes besides game development. In education, virtual reality provides useful hands-on training experiences while being safe and relatively cheap, which presents a particularly significant advantage to healthcare, aerospace, military, and industrial fields.
Augmented and virtual reality can also attract customers when used for online shopping (allowing users to “try” an item on through their phone), marketing, as well as house and property tours.
The ability to collaborate remotely with coworkers, employees or customers using mobile devices makes enterprise mobile apps one of the hottest industry trends. Enterprise applications are great tools for managing and optimizing business processes. Being able to utilize these apps on mobile devices makes them even more popular.
We will see more and more midsize and even small businesses interested in incorporating enterprise mobility into their everyday operations to increase productivity, profitability and to stay competitive.
Trends in mobile app development reflect what customers want to see in software and what other companies in your market have already started employing.
If you want to launch a successful mobile application, it’s crucial to keep up with the fluctuating tendencies in the mobile industry and include the most powerful trends in your product.
Eastern Peak developers always use their expertise to research and incorporate the latest app trends into your mobile software. Book a free consultation with us to discuss how we can help make your vision a reality.