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7 Mobile App Development Trends Developers Need To Know

7 Mobile App Development Trends Developers Need To Know

As a mobile app developer, you already know that a quick look at our smartphone is the first thing many of us do when we wake up in the morning. It’s also the last thing we do before bed. Recent research from Apple suggests we check our phones “an insane” 81 times per day, or every 11 minutes.

The reason we’re checking in so often is because of the mobile apps you are so passionate about developing. Every developer wants to be the hero behind the hottest icon on our phone screens, the creator of the app that allow us to text, status update, search, play, maintain our fitness (or our business), shop, find our soulmate, or catch all the Pokemon in town.

Mobile app developers are as ubiquitous as the number of apps available for our devices. To compete, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends so you have all the tools (along with your killer programming skills) to create the next blockbuster app, or to land your next project.

So, let’s look at the top 7 mobile app development trends you need to know.

1. Location-based mobile apps

You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the worldwide viral phenomenon of Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO is a free, augmented-reality, location-based mobile app developed by Niantic and released by The Pokemon company based on characters that are over 20 years old.

Location-based apps are nothing new. Foursquare came out more than 7 years ago and allowed users to “check in” to various locations. While some Foursquare users still obsess over being the virtual “mayors” of their local coffee shop, and users of other location-based apps are getting coupons delivered as they walk by a store, the true potential of location-based mobile apps is playing out as we speak, with Pokemon Go.

Why is Pokemon Go seeing so much success with a technology that is more than 7 years old? Developers need to consider this when developing their next app:

• Pokemon Go nails game mechanics. With the tagline “Gotta catch ‘em all,” the game allows you to play in short bursts while still delivering that dopamine rush of winning that everyone wants during a short walk to the dry cleaners.
• Pokemon Go is growing from user adoption and viral buzz, not by marketing or dreaded popup ads.
• The app has wide audience appeal based on user passion for the game and the desire we all have to be entertained.
• Pokemon Go uses GPS geo-location technology. There are pros and cons to using GPS, over iBeacon, or Wi-Fi enabled location technologies.

Location-based technology is forecast to grow at nearly 40% every year for at least the next 5 years. That’s before adjusting for the growth potential that mobile app developers are seeing with Pokemon Go. So, location-based mobile apps offer plenty of potential for mobile app developers.

2. Security

Gartner has predicted that as many as 75% of mobile apps would not pass even basic security tests. Hackers continue to exploit these security gaps to gain access to the confidential information and back-end data of your users.

Even the Pokemon Go app suffered some bad press when the developers admitted to erroneously programming “full access” to user’s Google accounts when they used Gmail to set up the game. While the security risk was fixed with a quick app update, the concerns show how easy it is to forget the implications of security controls.

Security in mobile app development is not a new trend, but one that is more important than ever. Developers need to continue to take security seriously, and consider the security of data storage, account permissions, access controls, unintended data leakage, broken cryptography, and other security issues.

3. Mobile enterprise apps

According to IDC, 35% of large enterprise companies utilize mobile app development platforms for building and deploying mobile apps.

This growth has also driven the implementation of enterprise app stores that include internal app ratings, allowing companies to feature top apps, and get rid of apps that are not in use.

Many enterprise app stores integrate with public stores like iTunes for a wider approach. Therefore, app developers should see a tremendous increase in opportunities to work on apps for the growing mobile enterprise market.

As enterprise companies see the need for enterprise mobile apps in an increasingly mobile workforce, they are rapidly ramping up their demands from developers for rapid mobile app development and hybrid frameworks.

According to Thomas Grassl, SAP’s VP of Developer Relations, developers are consolidating around the next generation of mobile app technologies. Thomas sees developers focusing on building new mobile experiences for the end users in Java script-based HTML 5 and even more using native mobile app platforms frameworks and capabilities. The main challenge for mobile app developers is to deliver consistent value to customers while reducing development lifecycles to meet growing demands.

4. Cross-platform functionality

The massive increase in consumer and enterprise usage of mobile devices is forcing app developers to be more focused on integrating and synchronizing apps developed for multiple devices. With cross-platform approaches to mobile app development, functionality can easily be transferred to different mobile devices and operating systems while maintaining similar data and features.

Many companies are working on cloud-based app development platforms and frameworks that provide developers with complete tool sets for building, integrating, testing, and submitting their apps to app stores. This leads to a faster, often more secure, development process without the need for in-depth technical knowledge about every device and OS.

HTML 5 and related development tools continue to gain huge popularity. Unlike development of native apps, mobile apps built using hybrid frameworks can support multiple platforms and reach a larger user base. For that reason, developers should keep an eye on hybrid technologies.

5. Mobile banking, e-payments, and m-commerce

Some estimates suggest that as much as 25% of all commercial sales are coming from either a mobile phone or tablet. Analysts say this trend will certainly continue as more and more consumers are adapting mobile commerce and e-payment solutions.

Transferring money or purchasing goods using a mobile phone is becoming as common as using a credit or debit card. Developers need to consider this growing trend and think about developing mobile apps that process transactions without needing cash or physical cards.


Additionally, a variety of ad formats such as image, text, and video ads with buy now capabilities are being integrated into the mobile app experience. As such, developers need to start thinking like marketers to understand the potential of the in-app experience. With the availability of location based Wi-Fi, GPS, and beacon technology, there’s a whole new dimension of marketing potential.

6. A focus on user experience

Mobile app developers need to work hand-in-hand with app designers, or pick up design skills themselves, as the user experience becomes mandatory for any successful app. The demand for UX and UI skills continues to grow, along with mobile app coding skills, to insure that the right features are developed for the end user.

Developers need to think about how to incorporate rapid user acceptance testing and mobile app analytics into their development process.

7. Internet of Things and wearable tech

IoT and wearable tech opens up a world of connectivity and information sources. Some key IoT trends to be on the lookout for are new devices, new standards, and M2M automation along with the corresponding conversations about security and privacy.

Most of the wearable devices developed so far have focused on health and fitness. Now, as enterprises begin to see the potential to improve productivity among their employees, customers, and suppliers, this demand will open up an unlimited potential for new apps that go beyond just health and fitness.

The best way to learn how to build amazing mobile apps is to learn by doing. With SAP Cloud Platform, user-based packages, apps are easy to build and the process is much quicker. Click here to get access to a free (for production) account and try it out!

About The Author

Daniel Szabo works as the GTM Lead for SAP Cloud Platform within SAP Digital’s team. Daniel has worked on several app development projects in smaller startups and for bigger corporations.

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