23 Mobile Technology Waves for 2021
In order to be successful in any business, you’ve got to always keep your finger on the pulse.
Stay updated with industry trends in addition to researching your competitors. It’s no secret that our world is moving in a mobile direction.
That’s why every business, regardless of the industry, needs to stay updated with new mobile trends. This is especially important for companies with a mobile presence, such as an app or mobile site.
Whether you’re a mobile app developer or you run a local pizza shop, it’s important to stay educated in the mobile space.
This statement holds true for those of you who don’t have a mobile app as well. That’s because you should be thinking about mobile application development if you’re not already in the process.
But with so many channels of information at your fingertips, it can be difficult to determine what trends are legitimate and which ones are just a fad or fake news. That’s what inspired me to create this guide.
As an industry expert in the mobile space, I’ve narrowed down the top 17 mobile technology waves for the coming year. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Android Instant Apps are on the rise
Android app developers or people who have an app available on the Google Play Store have probably heard of Android Instant Apps.
These are native apps that don’t require installation and run instantly, hence the name.
This technology is now available to all developers. So whether you’re an existing Android developer or a new one, anyone has access to this type of development.
Android Instant apps are revolutionary for both developers and users. Now a user can run an app and test it out without needing to download it first.
This works on the newest Android devices. It’s supported by devices from Android 5.0 to Android 8.0, or API level 21 to API level 26.
Having a smooth Instant App will be necessary to get users to download your app. If they don’t have a good experience when they’re trying it out, they probably won’t install it.
This new technology also poses some new questions. Will Apple follow this trend and create a similar feature for there app store?
As of now, this feature is strictly for Android devices. But I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the next year. You should keep an eye on this as well.
2. Mobile artificial intelligence
In 2021, we are one step closer to robots taking over the world. I’m kidding, of course.
While we’re not quite there yet, we are seeing more and more advances in artificial intelligence, especially in the mobile industry.
Some AI software that you might be familiar with include:
- Google Assistant
But now regular mobile apps are using voice recognition software and AI to enhance the user experience. Voice recognition also improves hands-free use. Some mobile app accessibility is also linked to AI.
Artificial intelligence is used to bridge translation gaps with voice recognition. Understanding the user’s voice will help developers and marketers learn more about these people.
As a result, you’ll be able to target users better and generate more revenue with relevant advertisements.
3. Mobile security
Businesses need to start prioritizing mobile security to protect user information and make sure that all transactions are safe.
That’s because some users are hesitant to use payment apps for reasons related to security and distrust.
Businesses who rely on mobile payments need to put these concerns to rest in the coming year.
56% of consumers in the United States believe that mobile payments increase their chances of falling victim to theft and fraud.
Only 5% of these consumers believe that mobile payments reduce theft and fraud chances. An additional 13% of US consumers don’t think it makes a difference.
With so many companies going mobile and relying on mobile payments to turn a profit, I expect mobile security to be a top priority for these businesses.
Companies will come up with ways to ease the minds of their consumers. As a result, I’m expecting there to be a shift in the perception of mobile payments in the coming year.
Consumers will feel safer about making these transactions.
If you’re one of the companies that offers a mobile payment option, you need to address these security concerns ASAP.
4. Geofencing and location-based services
It’s no secret that mobile apps are tracking the location of their users. In fact, users are giving them permission to do so.
Whenever you download and use a new app, you’ll get a notification that requests permission to access your location. Here’s an example of what this notification looks like on iOS devices.
You can’t even use some apps unless you share your location with them. For example, if you’re using a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, you won’t be able to get connected with a driver unless the app knows exactly where you are.
But now location-based services are trending in a new direction. Companies that don’t need your location are still requesting it.
They are using it to improve their marketing efforts. In fact, 70% of apps share user data with third-party services.
It’s easier to target users from a marketing perspective if you know their location. For example, businesses are using geofencing to make more money.
If someone with an app downloaded to their device walks into a certain geofenced area, they’ll get a push notification from the app with some kind of promotion based on that location.
We’re going to see an increase in this type of marketing strategy in 2021.
5. Mobile applications for small businesses
Mobile applications are no longer just for the giant companies anymore. Any business in any industry needs to have a mobile app. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is.
Small business owners are recognizing this trend and starting to develop.
In 2017, roughly 50% of small business owners were planning to have a mobile app. So in 2021, we should expect to see more of these apps available for download.
55% of small businesses say that they’re developing an app to increase sales. While other businesses site an improvement in the customer experience and staying competitive in a specific market as the reasons for development.
Regardless of the reason, small business apps are still on the rise.
6. Augmented reality will be incorporated into more apps
More mobile apps will adapt to augmented reality in 2021.
These types of apps incorporate the real world with the app. Pokemon Go is a perfect example of an augmented reality app. Here’s an example of the game.
The sidewalk, grass, benches, trees, sky, people, and power lines all exist in reality for the image above. If you were to take out your camera, you’d see all of this on the screen.
But this type of mobile tech adds elements to your device that aren’t actually there, like the fictional Pokemon character above.
Pokemon Go was downloaded 752 million times and generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue. There are more than 5 million daily active users playing this game across the globe.
It’s safe to say that this was a huge success. Because of this, more companies are going to try and use augmented reality apps to drive downloads, engagement, and revenue for their business.
7. Apps built for transportation are evolving
Transportation apps are changing.
We’re already familiar with mobile tech like Uber and Lyft. People even use car sharing apps like Turo or Zipcar to get around.
There are apps for train schedules, buses, and planes. Everything that I’ve just mentioned is something that we have grown accustomed to in the past several years.
With Bird, users who download the app can locate electric scooters in their area. The scooter is unlocked and started by using the app.
Then a user can go for a ride and leave it anywhere when they’re finished by locking it through the app and completing the ride. Once the ride is completed, another user has the option to use that same scooter and pick it up exactly where it was left.
People don’t need to bring the scooters to a specific location or charging station, which makes it really appealing to the users.
Bird raised more than $15 million to start their business. With so much money being invested into this new technology, I anticipate this company to expand and for other businesses to replicate their business model in the coming year.
8. Mobile app revenue is on the rise
In 2017, the global mobile app revenue saw a 35% increase.
The Google Play Store and the Apple App Store both saw a major increase. What caused this?
For starters, there was a 13.5% increase in global app downloads. There was a 6.7% increase and 16.7% increase from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, respectively.
There is no sign of this trend slowing down in 2021. In fact, experts predict that markets like India and Brazil alone will see a 30% to 50% increase in total hours spent using a mobile application.
According to Statista, the global app revenue is expected to reach $935 billion by 2023. That’s roughly 2.5x the figures from 2018.
How can your company get a piece of that massive share?
9. Wearable technology being paired with mobile apps
In 2021 we’ll see an increase of wearable mobile tech. I’m talking about things like:
- smart watches
- fitness bracelets
- healthcare monitors
All of these devices, and more, will be paired and used with mobile apps. For example, look at a company like Fitbit.
Their wearable mobile tech can be monitored and accessed through their app. Users can see things like how many steps they took in a day, their heart rate, and other trackable information.
The idea behind this concept is for the consumer to track and monitor their fitness and health journey. With the app, it’s easy to compare data and how you’re improving over the course of a day, week, month, or even year.
By 2019, experts are predicting 125 million units of wearable technology to be shipped. That’s two and a half times the amount of units shipped in 2015.
The lion’s share of these devices will be used in conjunction with mobile apps.
10. People will control their homes with a mobile app
More consumers are going to use mobile tech to improve their experience in their homes.
For example, Honeywell has a wide range of products in this space.
Here’s one of their thermostats that connects to the Wifi network in a home. Users can control the temperature and adjust the thermostat from their devices, even if they aren’t home.
Honeywell, along with other companies, also has products for home security and home appliances. They all operate a similar way and can be controlled from mobile devices.
More companies and more consumers will adapt to this trend in the coming year.
This is a space where machine learning will also come into play in the near future.
11. Cross platform mobile development
Mobile app developers who want to launch their app for Android and iOS devices will start to take advantage of cross platform mobile application development tools.
It’s no longer a viable business model for an app to only be available on one platform and not the other. In the past, businesses were hesitant to launch on both platforms simultaneously because of the high costs.
They would need to build two completely separate apps. But now, with cross platform mobile development trending upward, it’s easier and more realistic for companies to do so.
That’s why we’ll also see an increase in the number of total apps available for download across both stores. This number is directly related to the total global app revenue, which we’ve previously discussed.
12. Mobile payments are on the rise
With an increase in global app revenue as well as a more positive outlook on mobile security, mobile payments will be on the rise in 2021.
I’m talking about mobile tech payment methods like:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Even bank apps and mobile apps that allow users to pay for products or services directly within the app.
Take a look at how these alternative payment options have been trending over the last three years.
With such a massive jump between 2016 and 2017, I don’t expect to see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
2021 should be another huge year for mobile payments.
13. Virtual reality apps
Earlier we discussed augmented reality apps. But virtual reality will continue to grow in 2021 as well.
These are apps that require more than just a smartphone or tablet to operate.
Users will also wear some form of goggles or helmet. They may even have separate controllers or joysticks paired with mobile tech as well.
According to Zion Market Research, the global virtual reality market valuation will be worth more than $26 billion by 2022.
Biometrics are officially part of the mobile application world.
Mobile devices and apps are using this mobile tech as a security measure for their users. I’m referring to things like:
- voice recognition
- signature recognition
- facial recognition
The newest iPhone model uses facial recognition software to unlock the device.
Other apps are enabling fingerprints and other biometrics in conjunction with two-factor authentication to improve security.
You can expect to see more devices and more mobile apps using biometrics technology in 2021.
15. Cloud-based technology
Based on research and expert predictions, the cloud market is growing at a rate of 22% CAGR.
76% of all revenue from cloud platforms are controlled by Google, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services.
Cloud-based technology is also penetrating the world of mobile apps.
Take a look at how apps with cloud software have been trending and how they are expected to grow in the next two years.
As you can see, although it may seem marginal, cloud-based mobile tech is still on the rise and will continue to be prominently used in apps and mobile devices throughout 2021.
16. Personalization is still king
One thing that won’t change in 2021 is personalization.
Mobile users still want a personalized experience, regardless of what they’re doing.
New apps and new technology will help focus on the user’s personal experience. Refer back to some of the trends that we previously discussed.
Geofencing will focus on personalization based on a user’s location.
In order to pay for things with a mobile device, users will have their personal information stored in their profiles. They may even use biometrics to access these.
Apps are starting to use machine learning to learn more about users. Machine learning technology makes it much easier to automatically personalize in-app content.
With so many trends to keep up with in the coming year, just make sure that your company doesn’t lose focus when it comes to optimizing the user experience.
You’ve still got to make your mobile app as unique as possible for each user.
In the past, businesses didn’t want employees to use their own computers, laptops, phones, tablets, and other mobile devices for work. In 2016, here’s why businesses were hesitant to adapt to the bring your own device concept.
But today with new mobile tech and security, more and more companies are considering BYOD to be safe.
That’s why 87% of businesses today rely on employees using their personal devices to access work-related material.
59% of companies allow their staff to use personal devices directly for work. An additional 13% plan to allow this within the next year.
As you can see from the data, although companies in the past have had security concerns about BYOD, its presence in the workplace is still trending upward. I expect that trend to continue in 2021.
Allowing BYOD saves businesses money and also boosts productivity. Studies show that employees who use personal devices for work have a 34% increase in productivity.
18. In-App Gestures
Touch has now become a norm in the mobile app space.
Therefore, gestures like taps, double taps, swipes and scrolls have taken over. Actions like sharing or deleting a particular in app activity or content is now commonly being done with the help of a swipe. Gestures can vary from industry to industry and new and innovative gestures are becoming a prominent part of any mobile application customer experience.
Reasons Why Gestures are Preferred Over Buttons
- Gestures make the user-experience very lively and real. They ensure that the app interface remains clean and pleasing. The user finds no obstructions while taking an action.
- What you can experience now is that you just need to swipe to delete an unwanted email in your inbox. Gestures bring in useful shortcuts in each and everything we are doing in the app, hastening and simplifying the process.
More Importance To Visual Cues In Gestures
Many a times it has been observed that gestures are inconsistent across apps and devices. The situation can at times, become slightly confusing for the user. A user may get used to a certain gesture which may not perform the same way in another app or device.
Visual cues about gestures are helpful in making it easier for the user. Progressive gestures are thus an upcoming trend in this space.
19. Minimalistic Interface
A faster, easy to load app must be easy on the users’ eyes as well.
Too many design elements in any app makes a user get confused. A minimal UI design ensures that the users can understand and use the application with ease.
With shorter attention span of users and the need for a speedy app, a minimal UI is surely the way forward.
20. User On-boarding
The impression that the app users get, the first time they use an app, decides its fate with that user. An out-of-the box on-boarding experience is crucial for the success of the app. When the user comes on-board, it is their first tryst with the app and if you can sell the application at this time, the task is done.
A progressive on-boarding works well to get the user to become comfortable with the application while understanding it better.
Improving the Initial Experience
As soon as the visitor opens your app for the first time, you need to communicate about some of the unique features of the application.
An introductory video can be quite effective in building a relationship with the users while telling them what’s in store for them.
Provide them with a walk through of the app and some basic tips on using its core features.
Helping the users to personalize the app experience by adding their preferences is quite common as well.
Make The Users Feel Positive
App gamification is a trend that’s fast catching up. Once the user knows how to use the app, you need to make sure that the interaction is consistent. Praise them on having completed a step or thank them at completion of a particular activity like a sign up. You can add these simple messages to keep them motivated and interested at each step.
21. User Off-boarding
Every story has an ending that should be equally inviting. Provide your users with a happy passage while exiting the app. For example, if it’s a gaming application, you can tell them about the points they have accumulated in the completed session. You can congratulate them and motivate them to come back again for more action. A pleasant off-boarding experience will surely get the user to talk about the app and get you word-of-mouth publicity.
User off-boarding is fast catching up as a trend and more and more apps and UX professionals are joining in the bandwagon. This is one of the key trends to watch out for in the coming year.
22. Internet of Things
The Internet of Things technology has been around for a while and has added tremendous value to businesses globally.
With sensor technology becoming cheaper, IoT will continue to grow in the coming times. The UX of an IoT app plays a very important role in its success. The key challenge the UX designers of IoT apps face is to provide the precise information to the user so they do not get confused and overwhelmed with extra stuff.
In an IoT app the information flows between service providers, apps, things and people and one has to ensure that this information is clear, concise and engaging for the user.
One of the key concerns of the UX professionals and business owners is the security of this information. Another important aspect of an app UX built for IoT is the level of customization that can be done for different groups of users. Personal users of an IoT app require a different experience from that of the business users. One has to clearly understand app functionality in each of the cases while doing the app UX.
23. Animated and Motion Based Design
Motion based design adds to the delight of the users. Animations are used to communicate the story behind each feature and functionality.
Relevance of Animation
Animation works when relevant. You need to understand your audience to create stories that connect with your audience. Talk to your prospective users and understand their expectations of the app. The next step is to understand the user journey and the context in which the user action will be taken.
There are situations in the app’s user journey where the user is looking for answers to stuff like:
- What’s happening next?
- Have I completed this action?
- What does this mean?
These are opportunities to add animation and ensure it helps the users to complete the action and move to the next one.
No matter what type of business you’re in, you’ve got to stay updated on the newest technology trends.
More specifically, you need to know what’s happening in the mobile world because that’s where your current and prospective customers are living.
Understanding the latest mobile technology trends of the coming year will help your company prepare and make any adjustments to stay up to date. Whether it’s machine learning, VR, or AR, you may want to consider applying some of these trends to your own app.
Based on the data that I’ve outlined above, these are the mobile technology waves that I expect to see on the rise in 2021.
How is your company adapting to the newest trends in mobile technology?