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Top 10 Mobile App Trends for 2021 and Beyond


mobile app trends

In the digital era, smartphones have made everything available at the touch of a finger. From booking a ride to ordering food, from keeping in touch with friends and family to keeping yourself entertained, smartphones and mobile apps have become integral to everyone’s lives. No wonder, legacy enterprises are now forced to re-evaluate their business strategy in line with the mobile platform. At the same time, mobile-savvy enterprises are leveraging innovation to stay ahead. In this article, let us take a look at the mobile app trends that are reshaping the business landscape in 2021 and will continue to do so for the coming few years.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that 2020 accelerated the pace of digital transformation for enterprises large and small by light-years. Mobile app trends have gone from a ‘nice to have’ aspect to a ‘must have’ aspect for businesses across sectors. Last year, Reliance Telecom witnessed a huge growth in terms of mobile app users. Downloads of Banking and FinTech apps saw a record number of 4.6 Billion, healthcare apps grew by 50 percent YOY, and a massive 82 billion hours were spent on shopping or retail apps.

mobile app trends

The picture is clear, mobile apps are here to stay and prudent businesses are bolstering their mobile app strategy by planning ahead and leveraging innovation to win consumers’ attention and loyalty. 

Overtime mobile apps have come a long way. From just being mobile websites to highly engaging and interactive apps – technology has brought forth a new era of mobile app trends. 

mobile app trends

What are the Mobile App Trends that Enterprises should take note of to stay ahead of the Game?

Let’s take a look.

1. Voice Technology

Today’s consumers are seeking technologies that can connect with them at a human level. Voice technology brings in the human element to digital, perhaps why it is one of the most sought after technologies for 2021. According to a Gartner report, 30% of all web searches will be done by voice technology by 2030. Voice User Interface or VUI uses voice technology to enable the device/medium to understand the user’s needs and thereby facilitates a connection between the user and the device. Voice technology is a trend that will see a rise in the coming years. In fact, it is predicted that by 2023 92.3 percent of smartphone users will be using voice assistants.

Needless to say that Voice technology is a trend that enterprises shouldn’t ignore while creating an app strategy for 2021 and beyond.

mobile app trends

2. Chatbot Integration

Gone are the days when customers would raise a business enquiry and wait for a sales representative to get back, or mass emails & cold calls will pique a prospect’s interest which will lead to conversions. In today’s world, digital experiences are the flag bearers of customer engagement and retention. Chatbots can help expedite the process of resolution of customer issues or queries and convert them faster. No wonder nearly 40% of consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot in their buying journey.

A Gartner report suggests that by 2022, chatbots will help enterprises save up to $8 billion. It is expected that by 2024, the retail spend via chatbots will reach $142 billion. More and more enterprises are continuing to invest in the technology and chatbot players like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have been bringing in innovation in the development of chatbot technologies 

In today’s world, buyers want more tools that can help them simplify the online interactions, round-the-clock service and faster resolutions of issues and businesses want to deliver a delightful experience in optimized costs a chatbot integration will be an integral part of the user experience. 

3. IoT and Beacons

Smartphones are undoubtedly bringing in the era of a world that will be driven by smart tech and IoT or the Internet of Things will fuel this smart world. By 2023, the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is projected to increase to 43 billion an approximate three times increase from 2018. With the ubiquity of smartphones, it is becoming a one-in-all device that can enable users to control all their smart devices. At a consumer level, IoT has fueled the growth of smart homes, connected cars, e-health, and more. A McKinsey report suggests that there are over 200 use cases on IoT applications at an enterprise level. 

At a consumer level with sensor technologies becoming more advanced. IoT is poised to be one of the most sought-after technologies in the coming years.

An important manifestation of IoT technology is beacons. Beacons are small wireless sensors powered by Bluetooth. They can detect various critical information like temperature, motion, quantity of shelf items, and more. One of the most popular applications of beacon technology is in retail. Where consumers get information about items in the store or offer when they are in a store. 

IoT is the technology behind the detection power of beacons. They also help convey the data to other devices and receive data from them. It is predicted that by 2024 the global market of beacon technology will reach $10.2 billion growing at a massive CAGR of approx 65% during 2019-2024.

IoT and Beacon technology are two trends that will fuel the making of a smart world, as these technologies gain traction enterprises put their strategy in place to leverage them as much as possible for 2021 and beyond.

4. Growing Popularity of Faster and Lighter Apps 

a) Instant Apps

In the year 2016, fueled by the user’s need for lighter and faster apps, Instant apps were born. Google introduced these native mobile applications which are smaller, user-friendly, and convenient to use. These mobile apps can be accessed without downloading – a critical reason why users love them. They allow users to experience the apps without really downloading them. They are compatible across all Android devices. The best part is they require significantly less storage space, and have an extremely user-friendly UI design

The Android Developers’ Forum suggests that adapting existing apps can be delivered as Instant Apps relatively easily. Owing to the popularity of Android Instant apps Apple launched a similar feature with iOS9 known as App thinning. 

As users continue to add more and more apps on their phones this trend towards lighter and faster instant apps will definitely be an instant hit. Such mobile app trends are definitely not to be taken lightly.

b) Cloud-based Mobile Apps

With the rise of instant native apps, another trend that is gaining popularity is cloud-based mobile apps. These apps run on external servers and they need little or no storage space. The benefit for users is that these apps are not required to be stored on their devices. 

For enterprises these cloud technology is a cost-effective technology and is quicker to implement as well. It gives the smaller enterprises or businesses a new app world opportunity to opt for a faster and cheaper development. 

In the coming years, the global cloud-based apps market is expected to see a significant surge. Some reasons behind this growth will be: 

  • increasing demand for mobility in data usage, 
  • IT infrastructure-related cost savings for enterprises, and 
  • access to multiple devices for users from anywhere. 

According to this report, the major driver for this growth will also be the adoption of cloud services and low-cost app development by small and medium enterprises.

c) Google AMP

Over the years Google has given a significant push to mobile experience and the launch of Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) in the year 2016 was a critical step towards this objective. Why are AMPs becoming a rage? According to KISSmetrics data, 40% of people are likely to abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. AMP-enabled pages get higher conversions.

mobile app trends

A study with eCommerce website shows AMP resulted in an increase of – 27.1% in organic traffic, 33.8%  in impressions on search engine results page, and 15.3% higher click-through rates through SERP.

Precisely why Google ranks mobile-friendly pages higher, an important SEO strategy that businesses shouldn’t ignore in 2021 and beyond.

5. App Clips

App clips – Apple’s 2020 feature for iOS14, has become a popular mobile trend in the last year. What are App Clips? They are parts of original apps that enable the users to preview and try the app without the need of downloading and installing it. App Clips harness the power of the software and hardware ecosystem of Apple to deliver convenience.

Like Apple adapted Google’s AMP with its App Thinning feature. We will soon see the App Clips variant coming up for Android too. A trend that enterprises should be prepared for.

6. Augmented Reality

The Global AR (Augmented Reality) market is expected to reach $26.75 bn by 2021 and at a CAGR of approx. 44% from 2021-2028. The growing popularity of smartphones, smart glasses, and wearable devices driving the adoption of mobile AR technology and providing immersive experiences to users. 

Businesses especially in retail and healthcare are leveraging AR technology to offer customized, interactive, and immersive experiences to their users. Recently Google launched a ‘View in 3D’ feature that allows users to see a life-like 3D version of their favorite animal.

In the coming years some of the industries that will see a spike in the use cases of AR and will drive its market growth will be:

  • Healthcare Segment: is set to witness the fastest growth due to the growing adoption of AR technology. It in use cases like – medical training and education, vein and surgical, visualization, etc.
  • Retail Segment: will see an increased application in offering consumers a life-like experience of the products they want to buy, in-store navigation, apparel fittings, immersive displays, and more.
  • Education Segment: AR is helping enterprises in EdTech offer interactive learning experiences. Such use cases will continue to rise not just by EdTech enterprises but also schools and colleges adopting AR to create a much interactive and engaging learning experience.

7. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence 

It is expected that the global ML industry will be worth approx. $9 billion by the end of 2022. With consumers seeking more personalization in their digital experiences AI/ML are becoming an integral part of mobile app creation. One leading example of this is the recommendation engines of OTT platforms like Netflix, and eCommerce platforms like Amazon.

No wonder the global cumulative investment by enterprises in ML and AI is expected to reach $58 billion by the end of 2021. Some of the reasons driving this encouraging growth in AI/ML are:

  • Newer use cases of AI/ML- stock market projections, predictive vehicle maintenance, humanized chatbots, etc.
  • Rise of AI-powered Hardware- by 2022 the market is expected to grow over $120 billion. With the big players like Google, IBM, Nvidia in the game this growth will continue to grow.
  • Rise of AI-based Assistants.
  • Rise of much Advanced Neural Networks- the capsule networks.
  • NLP (Natural Language Processing) to become more nuanced, increasing its adoption.

8. 5G

5G Technology will certainly impact the mobile app trends development in a positive way. It is expected that the number of 5G connections worldwide will grow to 1.1 Billion by 2025. 5G will change the way apps are used and developed. 

Why? The reason is simple – with a faster network and download speeds, the number of apps downloaded will see growth. Along with the amount of content consumption (especially video) will also rise. 

In the coming years, businesses will have to be prepared to leverage the growth that will be brought about by the 5G network and offer better user experiences to their customers.

9. Rise of mCommerce and Mobile Payments

A BigCommerce report suggests that by 2021, mobile eCommerce sales will be 54% of the overall eCommerce sales. COVID-19 has already spiked the usage of mobile for all kinds of transactions. Whether it is Mobile shopping or mobile banking Integration of mobile payments. It is going to be an integral part of all commerce-oriented businesses and this trend will continue to rise in 2021 and the coming years. 

10. The Upcoming Era of Foldable Phones

Foldable phones were a hit in the early ages of smartphones. And, that trend has come back, but with a twist. Samsung is coming with its OLED display, Moto Razr has come back with a foldable screen. Seeing this trend Operating Systems are also getting ready to optimize their systems for the new era of foldable phones.

Anticipating this trend – Google officially announced the foldable support on Android phones by using its ‘screen continuity’ API two years back. How this trend will shape up is yet to be seen, definitely something that enterprises should not lose sight of.

Wrapping up

The era of smartphones arrived over two decades ago. Now is the time for the world of mobile to revolutionize with the latest and the greatest of the technologies and follow mobile app trends. From AI/ML to foldable apps – these 10 technologies will reshape the world of mobile not just in 2021 but for the coming years as well. Enterprises should keep an eye on these technology advancements, make the most out of these to stay competitive and offer amazing mobile experiences to their customers.

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