As we close out 2021, a year that brought us many new challenges and advancements, one thing that has become crystal clear is humans will either learn from history or be forced to repeat it. With that in mind, let’s take some time to identify some of the key trends we saw in mobile technology this year and the ways those trends will help shape the future.
Mobile technologies have revolutionized the way we live. From communicating, organizing our day, and simplifying tasks to carrying out management logistics—everything is streamlined through mobile apps and creative algorithms. Considering the exponential increase in the use of smartphone users over the years, with over 3.8 billion people with smartphones worldwide, mobile apps have also evolved to satisfy the growing needs of businesses and people alike.
In 2021, we saw an integration of advanced technologies in app development and the usage of these technologies by small and large organizations. In particular, the following trends led this year:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
If there is one technology that has single-handedly remodeled mobile applications, it is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The defining aspect of AI is its ability to increase the efficiency of work and provide an enhanced user experience. The incorporation of AI in mobile apps is fundamental to the growth of any business today and this is one trend that is set to dominate 2021. Interlinked to Machine Learning (ML), AI can build real-time applications that provide extremely valuable services to any business. From Cortana to Alexa to Google Assistant, the incorporation of AI enables organizations to understand their users better. This information is instrumental in generating revenue because the businesses can create advertisements and projects that are relevant to their target group.
By accurately using predictive analysis from combining ML and AI data, one can forecast future events. For instance, the ‘recommendations’ that show up on Netflix and Google are how companies leverage predictive analytics to understand the user better and are then able to enhance the user’s experience. Moreover, it is estimated that 30% of companies will be incorporating AI in their sale processes by 2021. Using AI to discern how the user is interpreting and using the content helps to build creatives for the ads which are precise and targeted to the customer’s expectations. AI is also built on a secure data system to improve customer personalization and sales optimization. AI and ML have the power to capture and analyze the data across the past, present, and future. It is the single most effective tool that businesses can utilize for a customized and seamless user experience that is efficient and holistic.
Another exciting trend to look out for in 2021 will be the increasing use of chatbots for businesses. Whether it is an online purchase, a customer-care query, or even a political campaign, chatbots are here to stay. In 2021, we will see a massive integration of chatbots in mobile apps to facilitate a real-time, online conversation with the end-user instead of an in-person conversation.
Chatbots are new trendsetters in software. Chatbots were instrumental during Joe Biden's presidential election campaign and they can also be found running in the Starbucks Barista Aoo. Chatbots establish a personalized communication and direct engagement with the user. It is estimated that in 2021 approximately 80% of enterprises will be using Chatbots to enable precise, efficient, and effective communication while problem-solving for the end-user. Together, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Chatbots are set to dominate the mobile trends for this year.
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
In creating a sense of the hyper-real for a seamless experience for the user, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are increasingly becoming the most sought-after trends in mobile app development. Using AR, many technological giants like Google and Apple have innovated their applications. For instance, an interactive development in Google Maps will assist people with real-time directions through their camera phones. Transcending their usage beyond gaming applications, many businesses are keen on investing in AR and VR in their mobile apps. It is estimated that the market of AR and VR will grow from $27 billion to about $210 billion by the end of 2022. Especially for the media and manufacturing industry, app development in AR and VR will be an undeniable resource to create brand awareness, engagement with users, and higher revenue.
- Omni-Channel Engagement
Omni-channel engagement leverages a multi-channel sales approach to provide customers with a unified shopping experience. Living in a time when we use the same services and platforms across different devices underscores the importance of an omni-channel engagement. From marketing to mobile app building, omni-channel engagement has become a necessity for brands and organizations. Living in this internet era, the goal is to unify the experiences of the user and maintain a consistency of the brand no matter the device or the channel being used.
For brands, an omni-channel analysis enables them to understand their customer’s journey more holistically. When an organization provides an omni-channel engagement, it is estimated that the retention level of its customers is almost double as compared to a single-channel marketer. Using an omni-channel strategy for marketing and sales significantly increases the engagement rate, purchase frequency, average order value, and customer retention rate when compared to a single-channel engagement. Allowing for a more personalized and holistic association with the brand and the organization, omni-channels engagement is set to dominate in 2021 as one of the leading trends.
- 5G Technology
The expansion of 5G networks has grown to include investments in cloud services and media. As the wireless industry shifted to 5G in 2019, we saw a technology that could process and deliver data at an exceptionally high speed. Notwithstanding the speed, 5G was rolled out in only a few dozen cities across the U.S. With the COVID-19 epidemic, this technology gained colossal momentum, which is only expected to increase in 2021. With schools and offices shifting to a remote work mode, the rampant usage of 5G becomes undeniable. Moreover, with many devices supporting wireless technology the exponential growth of 5G is imminent.
The development of 5G will invariably change apps' development and make them more efficient and ultimately more user-friendly. Once 5G is fully deployed, it will redefine the mobile experience. Besides faster speed, 5G offers low latency and higher reliability of the network. This breakthrough in wireless technology will enable mobile app developers to transition much of the intense computing from mobile devices to servers.
- Increase in Usage of Mobile Apps
Although once a vital resource of the big players, mobile apps have become a tool that everyone actively uses. An emerging trend is the increasing usage of mobile apps by small businesses. Irrespective of the company's size or the number of years it has been in operation, users can reap the benefits of using a mobile app. In fact, more than half of the small businesses in the US shared that they intend to develop a mobile app for their company. One of the most significant reasons for app development is its ability to increase sales and revenue.
A mobile app enhances the user’s experience and enables a business to maintain its competitive edge. Within the field of mobile app development, especially by small companies, we also find increasing use of Wallets. There is a visible correlation between people's comfort level in conducting mobile payments and the Wallets' popularity. The provision of In-App Payment enables a prompt and efficient method for companies to provide a seamless user experience. Investing in mobile apps can improve the user experience for small companies and will allow them to retain customers in a highly competitive market.