Mobile app development trends

We can see a couple of technologies and approaches that are rising in popularity, and we should keep an eye for mobile app development the coming months. Developer Rob discusses five developments to watch.

1) Hybrid mobile development - Write once, run anywhere

For years now, the industry has tried to come up with a solution to develop mobile applications without having to do so for each individual platform that is out there, the two dominant ones being iOS and Android.

Developing an application and targeting these two platforms can be quite costly for any company. They need a developer to focus on Android and another developer to focus on iOS. If it is a big project, you would need multiple developers for each platform. This is of course costly but for certain complex and large applications it is also the best option. However, for startups or others who want to develop their mobile application, this becomes very hard to accomplish.

This is where hybrid mobile development shines. It allows you to write one code base but you are able to run it in both platforms. This is not a new idea and there has been ways to do this for quite some time now, but with a lot of drawbacks. However, it hasn’t been till recent years that ‘native’ hybrid solutions have come into light. This means tools that allow you to write in one particular programming language but then transpiling it to each individual native platform and run as native. This year, we have seen a rise in this concept, with:

  • React Native
    React Native is developed by Facebook. This year it has been constantly on the move with improvements.  Actually they just announced that they are on the route to re-architecting the tool in order to improve it even further. 
  • Flutter
    Flutter is developed by Google. It has just reached version 1.0 and it has been picked up quickly by developers and becoming a good choice for startups.
  • Kotlin / Native
    Kotlin is developed by Jetbrains. It is actually a programming language that is used to develop native Android applications. Kotlin / Native is a technology that is being developed to target multiple platforms, including iOS. Although it is still in beta, it is something to keep an eye for in 2019 as well.
"React Native, Flutter and Kotlin/ Native are the languages to watch."

2) In app products / subscriptions

With the rise in mobile applications, it has become a competitive niche. For some time now we are seeing a constant decline in priced mobile apps, meaning it’s rarely the case where you need to pay for an app now in order to download it.

Rather, people now need to know what it is that they are getting in order to purchase it. We are seeing a shift into micro-transactions, in-app purchases and subscription models in most applications as this is the dominant business model today. Meaning anyone can now download apps, explore and see if it is something that they would want to keep and buy. With this companies allow limited interaction with the application, enough to engage users and they offer in-app purchases or subscription models for the entire experience.

Utrecht – Inpire. foto’s Thijs Rooimans

3) Instant app - Google play store, App Store next?

Again, with the competitiveness niche that mobile applications has become, users are very careful with what they download. Google Play store introduced ‘Instant apps’, which makes it possible to open and preview a small part of the application without actually downloading it.

This way the user can interact and see if they want to download the application. This is something that can be expected to rise in popularity and perhaps even be the default for all applications, specially if Apple decides to implement the same idea for iOS. 

4) Internet of things (IoT)

This is of course not a new buzzword, it has been around for a couple of years now. We are now seeing an increasing adaptation in mobile development because more products are coming out with this idea in mind. There are now thermostats, lightbulbs, refrigerators, garage doors and countless other products coming out with sensors and the ability to be integrate with your network. Since we have our smartphones with us at all times, mobile application is the perfect means to access and communicate with all these ‘things’.

5) Augmented reality (AR)

Last but not least, Augmented reality (AR), this technology has been steadily trending and we believe it will be even more so in 2019. Since AR differs from VR in the sense that it works with your current environment and surrounding, you do not need something like a headset to experience it.

And it is easier for a user to have access to it and interact with the technology. We have seen this in Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters and other applications. We will continue to see this in 2019 since you can apply it to almost anythings such as seeing if a furniture looks good in your living room. 

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