The “world of apps” is ever-evolving, with corporations pumping millions into new concepts and ideas to encourage consumers to spend more time and money engaging with brands.

As a small business, it can feel pretty overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest trends.

From integrating with digital wallets to tracking e-commerce order deliveries through APIs and introducing chatbots to automate your customer service, the chances are that the app you’re offering customers today is very different from the one you designed five years ago.

And in the years ahead, expect even greater changes. Consumers spend more of their time on their phones and tablets than ever before, demanding more from brands big and small.

By 2021, more than 352.9 billion apps will be downloaded every year, generating an eye-watering $131 billion in revenue (£103 billion) through the App Store and Google Play Store, so there’s no point burying your head in the sand, thinking you can get by without one.

Though we can’t see into the future, we can offer our predictions on the app development trends for 2020 that UK businesses need to think about – and incorporate into their software.


Embracing 5G technology

5G promises speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G, meaning consumers can download a movie in a couple of seconds and stream live content without any interruptions or delays.

In the UK, all of the major networks – Vodafone, EE, Three, and O2 – have begun to roll out their 5G technology in select cities for testing purposes, and that rollout will continue through 2020 as more towns and cities are “switched on” to new frequencies with super-fast speeds.

What’s good news for developers is that the 5G rollout is expected to be a long, drawn-out process, and it might take up to five years before there’s reliable coverage across the UK.

In some parts of the UK, consumers still can’t get a reliable 4G signal, and it’s expected 5G will be similar, though the government has promised £30 million to bring 5G to rural areas.

Samsung has already revealed its first 5G-enabled smartphone and Apple is widely tipped to release iPhones with 5G modems in 2020, so prepare for a wave of data-hungry devices that are more capable than ever before. So what does that mean for your apps? Well, the potential benefits are endless, and being one of the first to take advantage will reward you.

Your apps can be bigger, bolder, and brighter than ever before. You can offer consumers more engaging, interactive, and vibrant content – think video, live streaming, and augmented reality concepts that require lots of data to work at their best. 5G will make that possible.

Latency will be cut to almost zero, great if you’ve built an app that makes critical decisions in real-time. 5G will also offer increased connection density, allowing one million devices to be supported per .38 square miles, compared with 2,000 for 4G – that’s great for IoT technology and high-traffic areas such as concerts and transport hubs, unlocking exciting possibilities.


Building on artificial intelligence

Over the past couple of years, there’s been a dramatic explosion in new artificial intelligence tools and platforms, designed to improve the lives of consumers and make businesses more intelligent and agile. Expect that to continue in 2020 as new innovations from the likes of Google, IBM and Facebook are made available to app developers and firms through APIs.

In 2020, it’s expected that firms like NVIDIA, ARM, Intel and Qualcomm will deliver AI-focused chips, perfect for natural language processing, speech recognition, and computer vision, and those chips will no doubt make their way into the next iPhones and Androids.

Facial recognition, despite being controversial, will continue to evolve and be used for payments, healthcare, and law enforcement, whilst the blending of AI with Blockchain and the Cloud will make apps more intelligent and powerful, combining multiple technologies.

That’s without thinking about cost efficiencies, data manipulation, speech recognition, analytics, and cybersecurity, all offering potential for B2B and B2C apps. We’re hearing a lot about automation and the future of work – integrating AI into your enterprise apps in 2020 will no doubt help you to streamline your firm and deliver a more efficient service to consumers.


Harnessing the convenience of instant apps

Though once considered a fad or passing trend, there’s no getting away from the power or value of instant apps – and in 2020, they’ll become even more important for businesses.

See also: An introduction to Android Instant Apps

As well as building an app for Android and iOS devices, offering instant apps – apps that users can open via a link without having to download anything – is a great way to increase engagement, capture data and ultimately sell more products or services to your end-users.

Whether you offer consumers a trial of your core app, allow shoppers to buy a product via a “temporary” e-commerce store or replace your standard apps with cloud-based alternatives that are essentially web apps, there are so many ways to take advantage of the technology.

Not only do instant apps offer the functionality of an app without taking up memory, but they’re cheap to produce, can be updated without app store restrictions, and eliminate the need for downloading or installing – a common friction point for businesses.

Developers are blurring the lines between native apps and web apps and there are so many exciting opportunities.


Personalising mobile experiences

If you want users to engage with your app and deliver an ROI, you’ve got to offer the best possible user experience. And that goes beyond some A/B testing and a fancy splash page.

In 2020, personalisation will become even more important for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Throw away your static design and experiences and allow users to navigate their own journey through your app based on their needs, requirements, and individual circumstances.

An e-commerce app, for example, might recommend products based on a users’ location, whilst a career development app might offer personalised job suggestions based on their CV or professional network, whilst allowing users to build a profile and feed the app information.

The deeper the personalisation, the more engaging the app, though there’s a fine line between appearing stalker-like or asking new users for too much information on day one.

A good example is the Starbucks app, which displays information it has on its customers, like the time of day they usually grab a coffee or whether they prefer a Flat White over a Caffè Misto, to offer a more personalised experience and encourage engagement.

From there, the app offers discounts, coupons, and limited-time offers to encourage repeat sales. If a user has never tried a Starbucks cake, for example, they might be offered one for free via the app. If that’s not redeemed, they’ll know to promote healthier options.

Use data to offer something similar on your own app, and remember that the closer you get to becoming a “friend” offering advice and support rather than a brand, the more likely you are to build life-long customers who return to you whenever they’re looking to buy a product.


Piggybacking off of voice technology

The chances are that you’re sick and tired of hearing about voice technology, but it’s important to embrace the trend rather than see it as something outside of your remit.

In 2020, voice technology will become even more sophisticated and users will expect more from their favourite brands – including yours.

If you don’t already have an Alexa Skill or a Google Home App, make it a priority, and experiment with technologies and APIs to see what works.

And don’t think that Google, Amazon, and Apple will pick up the slack – if you’re not embracing their technology, then you simply won’t be found when users search for you.

E-commerce businesses should be able to offer their customers a voice-only method of buying a product, whilst service-based businesses should offer customer service via voice apps. The best part is the majority of your content can be converted into voice-friendly material without too much time and expense, so integrate now to avoid being left behind.


There you have it – five app development trends for 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, reach out to Zudu, mobile app developers in Dundee. To find out more and discuss your project in detail, give the team a call today on 01382 690 080 for a no-obligation chat.

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