According to the latest IDC FutureScape report, the world is entering a digital innovation explosion. In the next five years, new tools, platforms, more developers, agile methods and lots of code reuse will drive 500 million new apps, equal to the number built over the past 40 years. Although the shift to Third Platform technologies has dominated the last two decades, IDC predict further iterations along the same themes including:
- Distributed cloud
- AI at the edge
- Hyperagile app technologies and architectures
- AI-powered voice user interfaces (UIs)
In particular, AI-powered technologies such as voice and chatbots, will radically overhaul user interfaces creating frictionless, personalised and predictive conversational experiences.
Most companies offer an app designed to sell products and create service differentiators. Yet when app features, products and services are similar across vendors, the challenge is finding a point of difference that attracts and captures the hearts of customers and users.
One area that is difficult to replicate is user experience (UX). UX is not only the design, presentation and interface of your app. It is also about how the app meets your customers’ needs and desires along their customer journey and enhances their overall customer experience (CX).
Some important yet basic questions to consider when assessing your app are:
- How does the customer feel when they use the app?
- What do they think about your company as they are completing transactions?
- Is there a familiarity across touchpoints?
- Is this experience supported by effective and seamless customer service?
These market needs were the drivers behind the Top 5 Mobile App Developments in 2018.
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We’ll also give you a crystal ball peak at what’s coming in 2019.
1. Instant Android Apps
Android Instant Apps is an evolution in app sharing and app discovery. Instant Apps are key pieces of apps that can run instantly, allowing consumers to trial an app without having to install it. This results in a lean app footprint, faster load times and less space occupied.
Developers can now also modularise an app, allowing users to load only the portion of the instant app they need, when they need it.
Users can now share Instant Apps with family and friends, increasing app awareness, trial and usage.
In October, Google added a new update, allowing developers to build instant apps using App Bundles. This means they don’t have to publish both an instant app and an installable app. Instead, they can enable their App Bundles to include an instant app and publish a single app to the store. Now there’s no additional code to maintain.
2019 will see premium Android apps shift away from monumental development to much more modularised apps, segmented by specific user needs and channels.
2. Mobile payments
A mobile wallet is an app that allows you to make purchases with your smartphone at point of sale (POS) terminals accepting contactless payments. Mobile wallet apps communicate with POS terminals through Near Field Communication (NFC). Examples are Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
Professor of Economics Richard Holden says Australia could become a cash-free society in just three years. Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe believes Australia is at a turning point, with cash set to become a niche payment type.
Australians are already the sixth highest users of electronic payments in the world, according to the RBA, with only 37 per cent of household spending occurring using cash compared to 69 per cent a decade ago.
What will 2019 bring?
In 2019, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia will share a slice of its transaction revenue with the world’s largest company, Apple, after relenting to customer demand and agreeing to turn on Apple Pay in January. The move indicates the technology giant has gained the lead in Australian smartphone digital wallets.
3. Cloud-based apps
Cloud apps, unlike Web apps, can be used offline even when there is no wireless access or during temporary internet outage. Cloud apps can also offer some functions when there is no Internet connection for example, when camping in remote locations.
A key difference between cloud and web applications is architecture. A web-based application must have a continuous internet connection to function. Conversely, a cloud-based application performs processing tasks on a local computer or workstation. An internet connection is required mainly for downloading or uploading data.
The benefits of cloud-based apps include:
- Simplified operation
- Gradual adoption
- Instant scalability
- Improved data sharing and security
- API use
- Fast response to business needs
- Reduced costs
What will be new in 2019?
Downloading and installing different applications uses up smartphone memory and reduces processing speed. Users then uninstall some applications to make their smartphone work better.
Cloud-based applications solve this problem by accessing servers in the cloud and storing the information there instead. The majority of apps will be cloud-based by 2019.
4. IoT Apps
IoT sensors make it possible to control, automate and monitor non-IT devices remotely on a low-power WAN (LPWAN) from connected devices. From smart homes, wearables and smart cities to smart grids, connected health, smart retail, industrial internet, connected car and connected health—the applications are vast and growing.
One of the fastest growing IoT sectors is connected health or the mobile health app market. Research shows mHealth apps play a positive role in both patient outcomes and the cost of care. There are now over 318,000 health apps available on the top app stores worldwide, nearly double the number of apps available in 2015. More than 200 apps are added each day. The market drivers are the increased adoption of smartphones and the continued investment into the digital health market.
The view in 2019
Government and enterprise will continue to find opportunities for non-IT devices to enhance public services and customer experiences and automate operations. For example, local government are installing sensors into a variety of non-IT objects such as public bins, parking spaces and bus stops to indicate when these require maintenance. This reduces the time and cost of sending rangers to check. Cameras can deliver images and updates instantly to centralised dashboards.
5. Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) makes the real-life environment around us into a digital interface by super-imposing virtual objects in real-time. IKEA is one of the first companies to successfully use augmented reality. IKEA Place app allows you to select anything from the store’s catalogue and see how it will look to scale anywhere in your house.
By contrast, virtual reality creates a totally artificial environment. Training is one of the most important applications of VR. In 2017, Walmart partnered with Virtual Reality creator Strivr to prepare employees for its Black Friday sales. Immersing employees in a lifelike environment of long queues and crowds is the perfect way to prepare them for unexpected peak shopping periods. It also reduces disruption of normal business operations for training purposes.
VR and AR originally focused on gaming and entertainment. Enterprises are now exploring augmented and virtual reality to enhance user, collaborative and social experiences in sectors such as retail, healthcare, medical devices, military and defence and real estate.
The view in 2019
Industry experts predict AR uptake will overtake VR in 2019 because it is easier to use on mobile phone and tablets. VR requires headsets for use. AR can be used on devices we all carry in our pockets making adoption easier, less intimidating and more affordable.
Thanks to tools such as ARKit and ARCore, AR is enabled on more than 500 million devices. The iOS App store offers more than 2,000 AR apps, and Google Play offers more than 200. Many of the mainstream apps are games, such as the hugely successful Pokémon Go.
As consumers become more used to AR experiences in their everyday lives, the barriers to entry for business adoption will continue to lower. While no business app has reached this level of success yet, mobile AR has massive potential in a number of different fields. These factors will likely cause AR to lead developments in advertising and streamline processes in manufacturing.
Although many of these developments are refinements of existing technologies, these iterations are driving new ways for customers to experience products and services. Instant Android Apps, Digital Wallets, Cloud based Apps, IoT Apps and AR and VR are providing businesses with more avenues to differentiate the user experience in a fast-moving mobile app development market. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. In the next 5 years, Third Platform technologies will continue to connect mobile, social media, cloud computing and AI and provide opportunities to ignite your customers’ digital experience.
Contact us to find out how we can help you deliver your brand effectively through your user’s digital experience now and in the future.