What is the current state of mobile app development? And what will mobile app development look like in five years?
To answer these questions you have to look at the trends that are likely to emerge in the mobile app industry in 2022.
In the general mobile market there has been plenty of buzz around the metaverse and the rise of blockchain integration for mobile apps. Equally, on both iOS and Android platforms there are exciting developments relating to augmented reality, chatbots and voice recognition. At the same time there have been noteworthy innovations emerging from Google’s Flutter, an open-source UI software development kit, and Facebook’s development tool, React Native.
In this post we wanted to talk about a few of the most pressing mobile app development trends and try to understand how they might impact the future of mobile app solutions and technology.
The general mobile market
The metaverse and blockchain are top two mobile app development trends. Here is some information about their impact on mobile app solutions.
Is the dominance of the metaverse imminent? This is a question many app developers should be asking themselves and considering as they design and develop in 2022.
On October 28 2021, Facebook announced that they would be changing their company name to Meta. As one of the biggest companies in the world signals their intention to focus on the metaverse, it is clear that mobile app developers will also need to shift their priorities.
The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. It is a possible iteration of the internet within which you can exist inside an almost endless variety of 3-D virtual environments.
There is already an emerging trend of metaverse games and it's reasonable to assume more and more mobile games will transition to that world.
In 2022, app developers will need to examine whether their app is ready for basic integration with different metaverses and whether there is room to pivot if the metaverse gains traction.
The metaverse is one of the newest trends in tech and mobile is likely to be the primary platform for the metaverse. According to recent research, metaverse mobile games are predicted to grow to over £3.1 billion in 2022. The metaverse holds plenty of potential for mobile game developers. And in an industry that drew in around $90.7 billion in consumer spending in 2021, mobile gaming and apps is also the ideal place for metaverse developers and companies to focus their attention.
As well as the metaverse, one of the trends likely to hit the general mobile market in 2022 is Blockchain. The estimates for 2024 is that the global market for Blockchain will be around $20 billion. And blockchain has already begun to make inroads into the mobile app development sector.
Blockchain, and cryptocurrencies in general, excels in a number of areas that are beneficial for mobile app development including data security, transparency, reliability, implementation and accessibility. The technology is open-sourced which means that developers can suggest changes that result in actual alterations to blockchain implementation and functions.
Equally, there is also a potentially exciting opportunity for Blockchain to be used to address in-app purchase issues.
The decentralized blockchain model means that mobile app developers will take a greater share of the profits and lose less to middlemen.
There are substantial financial and practical incentives for mobile app developers and users to engage with Blockchain.
However, in the current landscape it is likely that Blockchain usage for in-app purchases will be blocked by the major players like Apple and Google because it will dilute their power. The diversification of the store market is something that will probably happen some time in the near future but we don't see any major step towards it in 2022.
There have been a number of mobile app development highlights relating to Apple’s iOS platform in the last couple of years.
Swift is a powerful programming language for iOS. Apple introduced a new, modern and much clearer API for implanting concurrency in Swift applications.
They can be referred to as ‘async/await APIs’. They enable the ability to write safer and easier to follow concurrent code, which is a great improvement over previous, hard to use APIs. Apple have improved the ability for developers to work concurrently with these ‘async/await APIs’ and their evident effectiveness shows that they are likely to become the standard in years to come.
There have also been promising trends relating to Apple’s SwiftUI. Today there is more and more integration in legacy projects. And new projects are more often than not written in SwiftUI. SwiftUI is the UI framework for Swift and it has received a number of new features in the last year including asynchronous images, extended List views and support for pull to refresh.
In 2022, there is potential for even more features to be added to SwiftUI and this will be exciting news for app developers hoping to refine their work on the iOS platform.
Developments in the world of Augmented Reality (AR) and the metaverse have also sparked some excitement in the last year. Some metaverses may soon be capable of providing full immersive experiences using VR rigs.
Equally exciting, according to recent reports Apple’s AR Glasses could soon be hitting the market. The AR glasses have been rumoured for some time now and there have been indications that when they do release they could redefine wearable and personal computing. So far Smart Glasses have largely failed to attract much appreciation and for a time they were a comical oddity.However, there is potential in the idea and Apple’s AR Glasses could be the game changer in the next few years. There are reports indicating that the long game for this device is to replace the smartphone as a primary "computing" and communication device. As soon as the technology is mature enough to be fully featured and financially feasible for casual users this may become a reality.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) API, Jetpack Compose, Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM), and chatbots are main highlights for Android app development.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) API
Early in 2021, Google added an Ultra-wideband (UWB) API in Android. Ultra-wideband is generally regarded as the emerging technology in the world of wireless technology. For years smartphones have used and relied on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but UWB promises to offer something different.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) API enables high-speed peer-to-peer data sharing and precise indoor positioning of smart home devices. UWB technology can be used to control and organize smart home ecosystems.
Currently, the only Android device to have UWB hardware is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Samsung’s SmartThings app is the only app to use the hardware. Even though UWB is still in its infancy there is plenty of potential for mobile app developers to make the most of this technology in the future. At some point in 2022 Google will add APIs to support UWB that will also be available for third-party apps.
Jetpack Compose, Android’s toolkit for building native UI, is set to receive it’s first stable version in 2022. The software is supposed to simplify the app development process and improve efficiency. We expect more and more mobile app developers will start building with Jetpack Compose for Android devices in the near future because it enables app creation that is intuitive, simple and powerful.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM)
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM) technology allows you to write code once and then use this code on multiple platforms such as iOS or Android. It is a unifying technology that makes sharing code easier and ensures that you only need to write platform-specific code where it’s necessary. KMM supports a number of mobile targets including Android applications and libraries, and Android NDK on ARM32 and ARM64 platforms.
Lastly, we also expect Android chatbots to be important for mobile app development in 2022. Chatbots are smarter and more advanced and therefore more useful to both users and app developers. 58% of businesses using chatbots belong to the B2B field. Integrating your online retail or food delivery app with chatbots can save you a lot of time.
Moreover, it is easier than ever for developers to build and get creative with chatbots and we expect this to be one of the key app development trends in the years to come.
React Native (RN), Facebook’s open-source UI software framework, is facing stiff competition from the likes of Flutter, but is still showing that it is capable of producing first-class applications. It is a much loved framework by developers and is still growing at a rapid pace.
React Native Gesture Handler
React Native Gesture Handler version 2, released in 2022, is a native touch and gesture system that allows app developers to build the best possible touch-based experiences using React Native. The gesture handler enables gesture tracking to be smooth and dependable and can be used by developers at various levels of expertise.
Similarly, Reanimated, a React Native library that enables the creation of smooth animations and interactions, looks set to assist app developers for many years with layout animations and transitions. This comprehensive library provides developers with all the tools they need to create exciting and innovative apps and features.
Another area where React Native in 2022 may grow is in its multi-platform functionality. The support for multiplatform programming helps to reduce time spent writing the same code over and over again but it also ensures you can retain the flexibility of native programming.
The majority of the React Native APIs are cross-platform and code reuse across two platforms like iOS and Android is common.
For developers and creators this cross-platform functionality can be a vital money-saver as tons of time and resources don’t have to be devoted to building two completely different apps for two different platforms.
There is no limit to the growth potential of React Native in the mobile app market. The React Native framework is ideal for sophisticated multi-platform app development and with mobile app revenues expected to reach $935 billion 2023, RN is primed for growth.
Flutter, the open-source UI software development kit created by Google, may also have some exciting new trends for 2022. Like React Native, Flutter is a supremely useful and powerful framework for building cross-platform mobile applications.
Flutter will be setting trends in mobile app development in 2022 for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are plenty of advantages of using an app created by Google, namely the powerful support, the exceptional performance and the boost of Flutter native Google ads.
Secondly, Flutter has become a great option for businesses to create small to medium sized enterprise applications within a short time frame.
Food delivery apps, communication apps and services can all benefit from the wide support and intuitive features of the Flutter framework.
Thirdly, Flutter offers a variety of built-in animations which mobile application developers can use to enhance the features of the app with ease. For this reason and many others, Flutter is also a great technology to adopt for startups looking to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With Flutter the development costs will be low and the potential for exciting features will be high.
Flutter Web support
Flutter for the web has also developed significantly in recent years. Flutter Web support hit the stable milestone in early 2021 and looks set to deliver an array of fantastic web-specific features in the near future. Currently, the Flutter team also organizes a global hackathon about developing Flutter for the web.
One of the main benefits of Flutter for the web is that everything will look 100% as designers imagined it on all platforms in terms of UI, UX and animations. This is ideal for branded apps that have a defined style guide. Additionally, another benefit of Flutter for the web is the possibility to port all of the components used in mobile to the web at some point for consumers.
There is a potential field to scale-up platforms as the brand grows. Flutter also has support to develop apps to desktop platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux. In many ways, the accessibility and flexibility of the Flutter framework indicate that Flutter is finely poised to succeed in 2022.
The future of mobile app development
There has been a lot of exciting and promising progress in the last couple years in the world of mobile app development. Designers, creators and developers continue to come up with innovative, forward-thinking solutions to everyday problems. Equally, they continue to iterate and incrementally improve on established ideas to improve the user experience of mobile owners.
Whether it’s machine learning, cloud computing integration or augmented reality, the trends of today seem set to influence the growth of mobile app development for the next ten years to come. Across iOS and Android devices app developers are making the most of the most cutting-edge advancements in voice recognition, blockchain technology and beacon technology to create engaging mobile apps and solutions.
It’s clear to us that the future of mobile app development is in good hands!