Experts Share 5 High-Priority Mobile App Development Trends For 2020
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Over the past year, the commercial mobile app market witnessed just over 28 billion downloads, which is a year-over-year increase of 11.5 percent. This industry growth trend proves that even after a decade, mobile app development is still very much in demand. However, enhanced mobility is driving an undeniable shift in how companies manage everyday work processes, but despite market growth, many organizations are prone to taking a “wait-and-see” approach when deciding to act on and implement new technologies. Instead, it’s critical to consider pertinent signals and trends when laying the groundwork for strategic mobility. 


In 2020, businesses will need to put a spotlight on mobility to match the pace of mobile app innovation and meet evolving customer demands. At any moment, there are millions of small shifts in technology; it’s essential to differentiate what advancements are “trendy” and what advancements carry consequences without action. This article explores several mobile technology trends that expose potential opportunities, challenges, and plausible scenarios for next-order impacts. 


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1. 5G networks will create mobile app development opportunities

5G networks will be a catalyst for substantial, societal change and trials are underway around the globe. With that said, it’s still too early to experience the complete advantages of 5G. There has been plenty of buzz surrounding the benefits of 5G and major carriers are continuing to hype up next-generation connectivity and services. Once the technology is fully released, smartphone users will have access to noticeably increased connectivity speeds of roughly 10 gigabits per second. 


The introduction of 4G connectivity accelerated the mobile app age, but we’ve reached an inflection point; existing networks aren’t capable of handling the next range of data-driven applications. As mobility matures, the amount of data moving in all directions will overload networks as they are currently. 


Motorola Product Vice President, Dan Dery, says in an interview with Digital Trends that “by 2025, 5G networks will strengthen mobile connectivity and radically improve the smartphone experience for billions of mobile devices. Overall, “5G will deliver lower latency, higher bandwidth, faster data sharing, and speeds up to 10 times faster than existing wireless technology.” 


With that said, the public can expect to see the proliferation of 5G networks in private settings before widespread general adoption. Private companies will abandon WiFi for 5G connectivity for the benefits of shortened transmission latency, which can create immediate connectivity between devices on a network. Additionally, private 5G networks are able to prioritize specific data transmissions over others. 


As 5G networks evolve, they forecast a considerable amount of future disruption, as well as multiple opportunities for innovation. Organizations will be able to automate more core processes and deliver improved mobility tools for presenting, capturing, and sharing essential data. High-speed data transfer will completely shift the way people communicate, creating business processes where the physical and digital are efficiently interconnected, in real-time. The 5G trend signals an enormous emerging market for every component, device, and software service necessary to facilitate the data-intensive environment 5G will create. 

2. OTT development is still growing

The OTT (over-the-top) market is showing huge consumer uptake via providers like Crave, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more. The U.S. OTT market alone is anticipated to reach $21 billion next year. The mobile app development market is ready for OTT. The infrastructure is already in place; the proliferation of 5G is set to overtake WiFi; and device interoperability is improving. As well, major broadcasters are introducing OTT options into their content lineup.


Attribution and analytics companies are developing advanced capabilities to harness the right data to keep pace with the OTT market. Targeting features are becoming more refined, and Grant Cohen, GM of the Kochava Collective says, “In 2019, the market witnessed increased cross-device attribution capabilities plus the ability to include a location in measurement.”


As well, the growth of newer OTT devices indicates there will be more opportunities in 2020 for publishers and advertisers. Cohen says “marketers will understand their users better and craft specific messaging that resonates with them. As OTT devices continue to evolve, media companies will be bringing more traditional content on these platforms.” 


The potential for reaching broader audiences and tapping new sources of revenue is massive, and companies that can evolve with the market will come out on top of the competition.


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3. Mobile app development is still only as good as its marketing campaign

Many businesses focus on developing an outstanding app, that functions well, and solves a real user pain point, but its marketing campaign is left as an afterthought. It’s easy to assume that user acquisition is the central metric for mobile app success, but the actual value lies in engaging and retaining users.


Joyce Solano, SVP of Global Marketing at Leanplum points out that “companies waste a lot of money acquiring mobile installs — currently $2.89 per install — only to see 79 percent of users never return after the first visit, and 2 percent of users ghost your app by day 90. But marketing campaigns play a key role in turning installs into loyal customers. In fact, engagement platforms help brands increase their share of highly engaged customers by 37 percent and the number of users who make in-app purchases in the first 30 days alone by five times.”


Achieving sufficient mobile app engagement and retention rates to keep your product from disappearing into the app store graveyard is a difficult task. Solano says, “given mobile’s impact on loyalty and revenue, I expect to see more brands invest in mobile engagement campaigns as the heart of their monetization strategy.”

Companies need to act now on “moment-marketing” 

Personalization has been a mobile experience mainstay for the past decade or so, increasing in its level of depth and one-to-one precision when it comes to understanding and mirroring app users.


As a baseline for interaction, it’s here to stay.


According to Plot Projects, building user-profiles and surfacing content just based on online or in-app behavior is no longer enough to engage users and keep them around. In fact, this year, the open-rate of messages which are sent based on where someone is (and what they’re doing) generated twice the engagement of personalized messages.


In 2015, Google coined a movement called ‘micro-moments’ and right-time marketing, opening up a discussion about harnessing real-world consumer intent, with mobile as a natural gateway. More and more, businesses need to harness the value of choosing the right context to interact with users, sending place-based coupon redemptions and dynamic offers to increase engagement, reduce UX friction and jump sales uplift.


It doesn’t stop there. Businesses need to consider creating audiences of train commuters, store shoppers, local brand loyalists, and frequent travelers — qualifying their relevance for campaigns, offers or membership through their daily habits and life choices — across any channel or technology. 2020 is the right time to take steps into this new way of working and connecting.

4. People genuinely care about digital addiction 

It’s no secret that mobile products are intentionally designed to be sticky, which is a slightly more friendly way of saying addictive. In the past few years, mass amounts of literature has been dedicated to shedding light on how excessive mobile use impacts health and wellbeing. In today’s mobile-first world, digital addiction has become a global, mainstream trend. 


Research indicates that time spent browsing social media can cause anxiety and depression. As well, using tablets and e-readers for long periods of time has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles and lessen productivity. Two years ago, Facebook admitted that interacting with the platform can make people feel bad about themselves and in response, both Google and Apple released system updates to accommodate the growing demand for digital wellbeing tracking. More than ever, user experience is a central driver for trust.


Consumers have come to expect more and more from the brand they know and love. Better user experiences start at the beginning of a new development project with exceptional user-centric app design. Now more than ever, there are multiple companies that essentially do the same thing. Plus, consumers are starting to shy away from brand loyalty as the number one purchasing power. One will have a leg up on the other if they take care of their customers.


“It’s not enough anymore to just offer a pretty design, it has to work the way users want it to. That means we have to get into the mind of the target consumer and understand their habits and expectations throughout the development and design process.” – Bridget Poetker, Tech writer at G2


When you put users first, you’re telling them that you care about their wants, needs, and even struggles. In gathering that knowledge ahead of building your app, you allow their thoughts to seep into every aspect of a project, from ideation and wireframing to MVPs and post-launch marketing efforts. In the end, you create a better product that truly wows your users. The trick now is continuing that discussion and transparency throughout the app’s life when rolling out updates and new features.


In short, if your app isn’t up to your users’ expectations you’ll get left behind. 

5. Deep linking everywhere 

Although mobile app deep linking is certainly not a new trend, it shows no signs of losing relevance. Personalized site-to-app, app-to-app, and even things-to-app experiences will certainly become more ubiquitous in the coming years, and perhaps even undetectable. There are three kinds of deep linking: traditional, deferred, and contextual. Contextual deep linking will likely become the go-to practice for sharing data across interfaces in 2020, especially as ambient interfaces become more popular.  


Ambient interfaces, sometimes referred to as “zero-UIs” are allowing people to interact with technology more freely and with fewer direct actions. Digital assistants and voice technology delivers information in real-time, rather than adding friction with input screens. As digital assistants improve, people will continue to interact with them both actively and passively through our connected home appliances, smartphones, smart cars, wearable devices, and many other interaction points. Digital assistants will listen and observe in the backgrounds of our lives and offer text, audio, and video information to supplement human search behaviors. These technological advancements will require more personalized and relevant deep linking practices. 


For example, if your business has an established customer base accustomed to your mobile website, some users may be reluctant to switch to a mobile app even if you make the benefits clear. It’s important to capitalize as many opportunities as possible to send users to your desired interface. 3dcart COO, Jimmy Rodriguez has some advice to help prevent a low rate of adoption among your users. “Customers often don’t like change, and if they’ve been successfully using your website for a long time, they may dismiss your app as unnecessary,” he says. “The key is to create a seamless experience between your mobile app and your website while still taking advantage of all the benefits of an app.”


The seamless experience will continue to advance 2020. Contextual deep linking offers full-bodied information transfer and it will be essential to understand the situations users want information from you and how. Whether your business’ omnichannel experience takes users from site-to-app, app-to-site, or app-to-app will entirely depend on the user’s search behavior and context. A well-converting mobile presence provides valuable information in the sense that you’re already giving customers what they want. By basing your app on your users’ confirmed preferences, you’ll see higher, long-lasting engagement. 

A New Year In Mobile App Development

Ten years ago, the mobile application came into existence, since then it has evolved into a mainstream necessity for everyday life. The 2020 trend is clear: users want access to hyper-personalized, real-time, contextual content seamlessly connected across each of their devices. On top of that, users are looking for new and creative ways to create and share experiences with their mobile devices. Mobile apps will still be in high demand in the new year, and the best way for businesses to deliver value to customers is to focus on the appropriate marketing tactics to deliver real user value


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