Hello World, I am Prince Pal – UX strategist and Creative Director at Think360 Studio.

For you. With you. Not just a device, but an aide. Just a click and you are sorted. No prizes for guessing- Yes, our very own smartphone. Want to book a cab? Want to order a pizza? Want to know where is the fort located? Well, you don’t have to think twice. There is an app for everything you want. Absolutely everything! No doubt, smartphones have become the new buzzword and have taken so much of our mindshare.

According to a survey by Comscore, the number of desktop-only users is less as compared to the mobile-only users, with around 54 percent of the consumers spending their digital time on mobile apps. It has also been noted that the smartphone users spend near about 2 hours and 42 minutes on mobile devices on an average, out of which app usage denotes around 2 hours and 19 minutes of time. There has never been an end to the exploration and nor will be.

The users are living, working and practically thriving out of the digital bliss. As 2016 is just around the corner, the year brings forth prospects of tremendous digital glory. With some powerful developments in the mobile marketing space, the products will outreach and give the customers excellent branded experiences that will be all the more meaningful. Let us look at some of the trends that will shine through 2016 and pave the way for long-term relationships in this smart era.

1. The Ecommerce Engine

Mobiles have become our new found love. So has ecommerce. The Indian ecommerce market leaders- Myntra and Flipkart have jumped onto the app-only mode and have shut their websites, looking at the popularity and demand of the users. As per the numbers, around 90% of the traffic was recorded on the smartphones or tablet. The apps witnessed great sales proportion. According to the predictions by the digital analysts, this trend will pop up more in the coming years as the consumers get hooked to e-commerce and make the most of the scenario.

2. Mobile Payment On The Go

Apple Pay that was launched in October 2014 did not get much of a response. Now, we have seen many new channels that are resulting in the financial transactions in the digital world. Samsung joined the race with its product Samsung Pay and further other mobile payment apps such as Wal-Mart’s CurrentC and Android’s Android Pay are in the line for the launch in 2016. These advanced technologies and valuable lessons will surely make mobile payments more swift and easy till the time a ‘standard’ comes into role.

3. Messaging Apps Climb Up

Currently, there is a huge war between mobile messaging apps and social networks. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber have widespread popularity with a record of 2.2125 billion active users globally. The figure equals to the combined sum of users of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Hence, we can say that the messaging apps have high influence as compared to the social networking sites and have great chances of being the winner. Also, the research figures of a survey conducted by Pew Research Centre indicate that 36% of smartphone users use messaging apps. The future will witness the same scenario and the tussle will continue.

4. Beacon and Location-based Wi-Fi On a Roll

GPS has become our automatic command for in-door mapping. This gives rise to beacon and location-based Wi-Fi. These services have been of great aid and are becoming popular owing to their active connectivity. Users want to know more about the working of Wi-Fi and beacons in indoor locations. Beacon services will widen the possibilities for location awareness and will provide various chances for interaction with prospective customers.

5. iOS v/s Android Battlefield

Apple and Android are the big giants in the mobile OS market. As per the research figures of Firm IDC, Android marks 82.8% of the market share at Q2 of 2015, after which comes iOS at 13.9% and Windows at 2.6%. Strangely, the 2% lost by Android during the same period last year has been taken into profit by iOS. The rest of the 0.7% market share is divided among all the other smartphones OSs. Thus, it can be said that both the mobile giants iOS and Android will rule not only the mobile markets, but the minds of the users as well. This rising war is actually good news for both –developers and users.

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6. Step Up Wearable Technology

The high-tech wearables itself gives rise to various trends. With wearables taking a dynamic turn towards fashionware, we have lots to look forward to. As we know, wearables have always been a thing of fashion, but interestingly, now it has somewhat become a conventional accessory. Yes, technology has joined hands with fashion and completely taken it into its advantage. For instance- smartwatches, they look like our usual watches, but are so much more than them.

Well, let’s just say, such advanced wearables make them more desirable by the users. Also, an evolution can be seen in the apps that are meant for wearable devices. So, as an example, it is much likely that the fitness trackers devices will be replaced by fitness tracking apps in a watch as it can fulfill all other purposes very well. No doubt, wearable devices have been the talk of the digital world for quite some time and have moved beyond Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear and Apple Watch.

The big leaders like Apple, Samsung are trying to attain a benchmark in wearable technology so that they can allure the users and make it their most sort after choice.

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7. Internet Of Things In Power

It is in fact a year-on-year trend that has no looking back and will grow with the passing time. Okay, so your smartphones will not just merely be a phone. It will have multiple connectivity options and will smoothly replace other devices such as remote controls. In the world of app development, lot more apps will mark their arrival as the demand for such usage increases. Apps will witness an increase in functionality as smartphones will widen in their reach and power.

It is predicted that the internet of things will be the largest device market in the world. By 2019, it will widen to a great extent and will double the size of smartphones, PC, wearables etc.

8. Cloud Driven Apps

Cloud technology was a star in the mobile app development arena throughout 2015 and will dominate the market in the coming years as well. There are two reasons behind the growth and advent of cloud-based applications. Firstly, developers can keep their mobile apps handy, just because of this cloud support. Giving an edge, it further helps to co-ordinate the bandwidth and prospective memory issues better. Also, it is because of cloud compatibility that the users can sync their apps across multiple devices.

In fact, this has become the need of the hour, owing to the growing use of multiple smart devices and wearable technology. It is because of cloud compatibility that the developers can now make apps that have same features, functions and data across multiple devices. The latest game has been cross-functionality between platforms like iOS and OS X and further, Android and PCs are also following the league.

9. Free Apps On A Surge

Currently, the app store amounts to 75% of the free apps. According to the predictions, this figure will rise up to 93% by the end of the next year. The main source of revenue for both Android and iOS developers will be in-app purchases and thereby the amount of total apps will rise to 310 billion. Also, it is estimated that the hybrid apps will see lot of popularity. Rest time will reveal the actual.

10. Enterprise App Take On The Grip

Mobile apps have seen quite a dramatic rise on the app stores. Figures in July 2015 showed Google Play Store with 1.6 million apps whereas Apple’s App Store with 1.5 million apps. As compared to the other apps, enterprise apps pull a large segment of audience because of its monetary benefits. Even studies show that the enterprise app developers are earning $10K in a month; on the other hand, 19 percent of consumer app developers earn the same amount. Thus, comes the craze for enterprise apps.

This trend will be on the go in the coming year. It is predicted that almost 35 percent of corporate companies will have their own mobile app development platforms by 2016.

11. Swift- Language To Take Over

The high-end programming language by Apple-Swift is proving its mettle in the development process. Taking in both as an application language as well as systems language, it is comprised of modern compiler infrastructure and gives developers a chance to write more reliable and solid code right from the beginning. Integrated in Xcode, Swift will definitely not replace Objective C , but will be way faster than it. Although it is in its early stages and will take time to grow, developers are learning the nuances of the language so that they can integrate it in iOS, OS X, watchOS etc.

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12. App Development Cycles Get Brief

As the competition widens, mobile app companies will take into focus rapid development, which basically includes ideas-to-apps development cycle. Technologies like just-in-time will be the catch accompanied with quick iterations that takes a quick headway to development. The rapid app development cycle will give an edge to the companies making them sustain this competition. The absence of delays will be a bonus to the clients as well.

13. Security Says It All

During the beginning of 2015, failure of 3 out of 4 mobile applications in security tests were predicted in a Gartner report. This is a problem that the developers have survived and strived throughout the year and the same will be the goal in 2016. As is the rule with Apple, its new iOS 9 platform takes security altogether to a new level and caught in the race is Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow who will also be strengthening its security protocols in the coming year. As apps are permitting the storage of highly confidential information, developers can not afford any security glitches and gaps.

14. Cross-Platform Takes Spotlight

Single platform has become a thing of the past. With demanding functionalities and advanced features, multiple platforms have become the need of the devices. Even cloud computing proves that cross platform app development will prove pivotal in enhancing user experience. Developers, thus, depend on specific tools and technologies that will help them to build apps across multiple platforms. They already know some tools such as Sencha, PhoneGap, Titanium etc. and so, these can come handy to develop cross-platform apps.

15. User Experience Takes Centre Stage

User experience will dominate big time in 2016. The developers must constantly analyse big mobile analytics data so as to match the expectations. Be it tiny display of Apple Watch to the big screen sizes of iPhones and Android handsets, an app must be in high order of efficiency and functionality across all devices. This also implies that cross-platform app development will gain more importance in 2016 and developers who are expert in this aspect will be more successful.

16. Marketing, Advertising And Purchasing- The Smooth Flow

Mobile apps are a great source of revenue and even 2016 predict high expenditure levels on in-app purchases. Monetary governed apps will broaden its zone of channels with advertisements being more elaborate and including formats of image, text and video. App developers will bring forth amazing stuff by working hard on mobile app advertisements and purchases, diverting from paid download models.

App in All

Some of these mobile app development trends have changed the scene already and will certainly be the main drivers of the app developers in 2016 also. Around 53% of app developers are already making use of Internet of Things in some form and in 2016 too, a surge will be seen in iOS and Android app development. Mobile commerce applications will also get the spotlight next year.

The interest in mobile game development will rise further as it amounts to great returns and excellent download figures. Developing mobile apps will amount to a large proportion and have significant impact. Embracing these trends will undoubtedly bring digital growth and result in an ultimate user experience. So, this year be app high and let your smartphone make you all the more smart!

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Prince Pal

UX/UI Strategist & Usability Tester at Think360 Studio
For 15+ years I have designed, developed and marketed websites/apps startups in New York, California, Florida and in India. Always focused on great User Interface is key.