What Is the Future of Mobile App Development?
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Nokia introduced what can arguably be called the first mobile app in 1997 when smartphones were just beginning to be considered “necessary”–a preprogrammed game called “Snake.” Following that, the first smartphones came with pre-loaded games or features like Sketch Pad and Solitaire. By 2021, mobile app trends changed drastically and consumers were downloading 230 billion apps a year, and by 2026 the mobile application industry is expected to be worth over $400B.
Mobile apps are an integral part of modern life, for work and leisure alike.
The future of mobile application development, however, is going to change to accommodate new technologies. These latest trends will make app development more affordable and accessible to smaller companies, but it will also open an entirely new field of development that will require greater specialization.
Estimating the Cost of Mobile App Development
Currently, estimating how much it costs to develop an app can be a difficult task.
First, you need to consider the type of mobile app. Are you building a dating app? A financial app? An app for customers and an internal app for employees? Do you need to integrate with a variety of platforms for transactions, chat functionality, and data storage? Does the app require custom design work, or will you be happy with using UX component libraries?
Then consider how fast you need the minimum viable product (MVP). Three months? A year?
Now add in where you want the app developed. An American-only team? An agency that outsources part of the development process? An agency in Europe?
Startups and app creators may only have budgeted enough money for the design and development process, but once an app is finished, maintenance, new features, and bug squashing will become ongoing concerns. After all, launching an MVP is a great way to get a product into the app store, but customers expect app updates and new features over time. Did you plan for maintenance and technical support when you decided on an app budget?
As you dig into an app project, what you thought was a nice-to-have feature may be essential after you conduct user research. All these factors will affect the total cost of design and development for a mobile app, making it hard to nail down an exact project estimate.
Mobile App Development Trends
Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress introduced drag-and-drop features that made website creation possible for anyone, even if they couldn’t code. Creating components that can be combined can decrease the time and cost associated with a project.
Low-Code/No-Code App Development
Rather than custom coding the entire project, low-code or no-code companies offer similar drag-and-drop features for app development that Wix did for websites. Low-code development only requires a rudimentary understanding of coding for creators to put together an app that solves their problem. For companies that don’t have a complicated problem, building an app with a drag-and-drop platform is a cost-effective solution.
UX/UI designers already use libraries to reduce decision fatigue and simplify design choices. Plus, using pre-existing UX/UI components and libraries decrease the cost of a project. Combined with low-code/no-code components, implementing components can speed a project through the design and development phases of mobile application development.
Instead of hosting an application on company servers, app development companies are moving over to cloud service providers like Amazon AWS. Cloud service providers offer pay-as-you-go services that allow users to scale up or down based on their needs. Cloud servers decrease latency, reduce the chances of a single point of failure and make it easier to deploy future app features for all types of gadgets and wireless technology.
This section is highlighting just a few of the newest technological advances that will make app development easier and more affordable. Because even though parts of app development are becoming more standardized, new technology is coming in to disrupt the standard mobile app market.
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Web 3.0 and Mobile App Development
You can see the edges of Web 3.0 starting to take shape right now. Built on blockchain technology, Web 3.0 intends to create more trust and security online by giving control back to creators. At this moment, its most visible manifestations are cryptocurrency and NFT marketplaces. Some of the new trends still feel like they exist in the theoretical realm, but already we’re seeing mobile app development companies searching for Web 3.0 developers who can build apps on new technology.
Current mobile app developers are starting to explore how new technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts can be used across a variety of industries, like supply chain logistics, real estate, and banking, to reduce middlemen and enhance app security. Machine learning also promises to improve mobile applications’ abilities to predict users’ behavior. In turn, this can improve the user experience. Over time, app developers can use predictive analytics to understand and apply the data they’ve collected from app users.
Right now, mobile app development companies should be creating divisions for Web3.0 development and gradually retraining their staff. Every resource can’t be expected to return to school to learn cutting-edge technologies, so it’s the responsibility of leaders to engage with their existing talent. The alternative is scrapping the whole dev team in 10 years and hiring the next generation with the freshest tech skills. But that’s not true leadership, nor does it make financial sense.
Custom Mobile Apps, Now and in the Future
There are going to be times when custom app software development is the only solution that makes sense. For example, a specialized developer will still be needed when building custom code to bridge the gap between old and new technology, like standardizing healthcare EDIs and integrating them with new payment processing services–especially with the rise in mobile wallets, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Companies that have disparate systems or siloed SaaS platforms will also need mobile app agencies to help them integrate APIs between all their systems. Despite components and low-code app builders, not all apps will be able to speak to each other. Connecting them will require developers that are experts in different kinds of integrations, like APIs or mobile front-end.
Companies should also consider a custom app solution when their app needs are too large and complex for an out-of-the-box solution. Quasi-customizable solutions that don’t solve problems for either the app users or the company are no real solutions.
Considering the future of mobile applications, is it worth building your custom application? In 25 short years, the mobile app development industry has gone from a pre-programmed game on a Nokia phone to an essential part of modern life. Mobile payments are replacing cash and credit cards, and Statista reports that 29% of consumers would prefer to pay with their mobile devices all of the time.
The app market may be changing, but companies, startups, entrepreneurs, and savvy business owners that want to partner with innovative mobile app development agencies are the perfect partners to take advantage of the future trends in this multi-billion-dollar business.
About the author
Jonathan Cardella is a proven internet entrepreneur and CEO with 22 years of experience creating online businesses that solve real problems by leveraging expertise in the rapid development of web and mobile applications. Jonathan has experience operating bootstrapped startups up to a $50M public subsidiary and over one hundred employees, management of enterprise hyper-growth in a profitable environment, as well as restoring profitability via implementation of turn-around strategies.