After ten years and millions of apps published, the need to build mobile apps shows no signs of slowing down. How else could it be? Digitalization of services continues and almost everyone carries a smartphone. Mobile apps are our main interface to the digital world now. With 2019 just around the corner, let’s take a look how mobile app development will look like next year.
1. The Megatrends
Advances in AI will continue to have an impact on mobile app development, too. Machine learning algorithms can already detect objects, people, and emotions in photos and videos with uncanny precision. As the AI models get more advanced and trained with more data, the accuracy will get even better.
In 2019, we will also see more use of AI in user interfaces. Voice-operated and chatbot-powered conversational interfaces will be augmenting or even replacing traditional graphical UIs in mobile apps. The ultimate goal being ‘no interface is the best interface’. With AI-based user data analysis, app interfaces and content can also be customized for each user in a smart way. This will result in better user experience and higher retention rates.
Both Apple and Google have now provided developers with the tools to create AR applications (ARKit and ARCore). What kind of AR apps can we expect then? Most likely funny Animoji-like effects on people and scenes in videos will gain popularity. If you’re into games and wizardry, rejoice! The Harry Potter AR game will be launched in 2019. Apart from entertainment, will we see the first killer app for AR in 2019? That remains to be seen.
Photos and videos
The cameras and image processing in smartphones will continue to get better. That is no surprise, but what this means is that, in terms of technical quality, amateur-generated media will soon approach the level of media generated with professional gear. Anyone can potentially create content good enough to be televised. 360 degree videos is another growing trend and will most likely become more popular in 2019. Especially after ultra-fast 5G mobile networks become available.
This technology will find its way from generic cryptocurrencies to more widespread use in applications. Blockchain technology will allow app developers to create secure micropayment systems inside their applications.
2. App development technologies
Native will continue to be a viable solution for those organizations that have enough resources for ‘real’ app development. In 2019 there is probably not going to be any radical changes in development environments on iOS or Android platforms. On Android, Kotlin will gain popularity as programming language over Java. On iOS, Swift 5 will be released with major focus in so called ABI Stability (https://github.com/apple/swift-evolution). This will result in smaller app size and less frequent changes to Swift language.
The lure of cross-platform is still there. It is time consuming to develop for two platforms and good native app developers are hard to find. Still the basic premise remains the same — underlying operating systems and core frameworks provided by those operating systems are so different that true cross-platform development remains troublesome. Even so, cross-platform development may be the way to go in many cases.
There are some interesting technologies to keep an eye on in 2019. Most notably Flutter (https://flutter.io). Flutter is the new kid in town that everyone now talks about. It started as a project by Google, but is now an open- source development SDK. Flutter promises us fast development times, declarative UI building and fast performance. Will Flutter be able to compete with more established players like React Native, Cordova, Xamarin, Angular and others? They all have their pros and cons.
Android instant apps
The traditional way of downloading and installing apps from App Store or Google Play may not be the way of the future. What if apps could be used without pre-installing, just by clicking on a link that can be placed anywhere? That is how Google’s instant apps work. Not permanently installing apps will save device storage space. Instant apps will probably gain popularity on Android ecosystem in 2019. Will Apple offer similar technology on their platform, we don’t know yet. What is sure, is that boundaries between device and the cloud will become more blurred.
3. Devices and networks
Next year 5G networks and devices will start becoming available. Extremely high bandwidth up to 10Gbps and low latency are the main features. For app development this means that apps or data can be loaded from the cloud practically as fast as from the device memory. This will magnify the trends toward cloud-based apps and 360 videos, for example. On device side, 2019 will provide us with curiosities like foldable screens along with usual developments of more power, better screen resolutions, etc. Most likely we will see more IoT and wearable devices such as door locks, watches and fitness gear connected to smartphone apps.
The world will keep on turning and mobile business will keep on growing. For mobile development, 2019 seems to become a year of gradual evolution rather than revolution. For BCaster, we expect it to be a breakthrough year. There are so many good things happening, we can hardly wait. Before that, Happy Holidays and may all your wishes come true!