App Development Trends in 2018: What’s the Next Big Thing?

Guest post from Dave Bell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube.

The app ecosystem is always changing thanks to technology and consumer behavior that leads to new trends. Keeping up with the latest advances is important for app development as well as App Store Optimization (ASO) – developers should always be working toward improving their app. Let’s review some of the latest growing trends in app development that developers will want to capitalize on.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) has been a hot topic for app developers, especially with Pokémon Go demonstrating the technology could be the basis for a profitable app. Hardware and software advances mean AR is becoming more widely supported, and developers are actively seeking new ways to integrate it into their apps.

Apple announced the ARKit 2 at WWDC 2018. This enables new ways to implement AR in apps, as well as the USDZ file format designed specifically for augmented reality. This came shortly after Google revealed new AR capabilities at Google I/O where users can access and interact with apps through AR.

Augmented reality is also seeing more use in apps and mobile games. Shopping and fashion apps can allow users to virtually try on clothes with AR. The Jurassic World AR game, released near the new movie’s box office debut, places dinosaurs in the world around the user. As the technology becomes easier to develop and implement, we’re looking forward to further progress and innovative applications of AR.

Instant Apps

Another key trend, which Google has devoted time and effort toward, is Instant Apps. Developers can create smaller versions of their apps that users can try without needing to fully install. Initially, these were only available for a select few mobile apps and games, but are now available for all developers.

In relation to the aforementioned Augmented Reality, Google has begun integrating ARCore into Instant Apps. Users can open shopping apps they might not have installed after viewing items they want to purchase thanks to AR. Many developers are viewing Instant Apps as a new way to market, advertise or provide a “free trial” to encourage full installs. So far, developers have seen an increase of up to 27% in installs as a result.

In a time where instant access and gratification is in high demand, users and developers can both benefit by taking advantage of Instant Apps to get what they want quickly.

Internet of Things

If it seems like everything is connected these days, it’s because they are. The Internet of Things (IoT) is what we get when devices of all sorts are connected to the Internet, thus allowing access from an app or mobile device.

For instance, there are apps that allow users to turn on and off their home lights remotely, unlock and start their car, or see how much they’ve been using their treadmills. These are all devices connected to the IoT, with associated apps that can be utilized to gain users while providing them with ease and convenience.

Any device that can be connected to the Internet can benefit from IoT, whether it’s to gather and report data to the user or to allow remote access. As such, not only are app developers finding new ways to utilize IoT in their apps, but other industries are in need of apps to connect with their products. It’s a growing trend that has a big impact on practically every industry, and app developers are at the forefront of it.

Virtual Assistant Compatibility

While phones and other mobile devices have been improving their virtual assistants steadily over time, third-party developers have had few opportunities to truly utilize the built-in assistants on their own. However, as virtual assistants grow in their capabilities, app developers are finding new ways to work with them.

Most notably, Apple recently announced SiriKit, which allows developers and users to create custom shortcuts to app functions through the Siri virtual assistant. Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa already work with third-party applications, and more virtual assistants are seeing added functionality across apps.

Providing the ease of use and access that virtual assistants offer allows apps to provide better service to their users, ensuring loyalty and consistent use. Now with Siri added to the mix of assistants that can access and utilize third-party apps, developers are bound to start capitalizing on this growing trend.

What’s Next?

Innovation is key to thriving in the app industry, and today’s trends will help shape the future of the app ecosystem. What we’re seeing developers advance now may not last forever, but there will certainly be new trends in the next half of the year. Developers should never stop thinking ahead and make the most of the latest advancements to ensure that their app is at the ahead of the curve.

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