The new year always brings a sense bit of excitement with it. Here in Scotland, the locals get VERY excited about the New Year. We’re all familiar with the song Auld Lang Syne, of course. But did you know that both the poem and the tune it’s based on are Scottish? Over here they love the New Year so much that they even have their own name for it – Hogmanay.
All of us here at Kumulos hope you had a great Hogmanay and ready for the challenges and opportunities that 2018 is going to bring. With that in mind, we wanted to point out a few of the news, features and top mobile app trends for 2018.
About halfway through 2017, we got good and bad news from the 2017 U.S. Mobile Apps Report. The good? 57% of consumers time using digital media is now spent in apps. The bad? Users aren’t downloading apps any more. In fact, a majority of users (51%) don’t even download one paltry app a month. Grim news, right? But then, in January of 2018, Apple announced that iOS developers made $26.5 billion in 2017 – a sales increase of 30% from 2016. Want some perspective? That’s more than the annual revenues of big players like DuPont, Kraft Heinz, Starbucks or – yes – McDonald’s.
Mobile Application Performance Management (mAPM) creates value
This is the year when mobile app developers start to leverage the full value chain of mobile apps and deliver services that help their clients drive both commercial and technical performance. For too long the technical performance of the app has sat separately from the commercial performance. One being the domain of the developer, the other owned by the commercial team. As the app landscape continues to mature and evolve app users will become ever less tolerant of poor UI or slow, crashy apps. Never before has it been more important to deliver apps that are technically sound AND stable, while at the same time drive demand. In addition, apps will have to deliver right user experience to keep users fully engaged and using the app. The technology platforms available to developers to manage the full life-cycle Mobile App Performance will come of age in 2018. And if you want to know who is leading this charge… just watch this space.
With the meteoric rise of blockchain powered cryptocurrency Bitcoin, it seemed like everyone wanted to get in on the blockchain bandwagon action towards the end of 2017. We don’t expect 2018 to be any different. One way we see mobile app developers to be looking at blockchain technologies is as an alternative to traditional mBaaS systems, especially to solve the unique challenges around HIPAA. The problem lies in determining if blockchain is right for an app, rather than a traditional SQL database. Then there’s the challenge of synchronizing transaction records among disparate mobile users. Some see it as a way to solve problems on how to manage user authentication. What is clear though is that blockchain has huge momentum right now. There’s a lot of buzz and hype around blockchain right now but its clear that not everything is going to be as easy as it seems for blockchain development in 2018 – unless you’re just looking to jump on the bandwagon by renaming your soft drink company.
THE RISE OF MACHINE LEARNING
Another of the buzzwords of 2017, Machine Learning, got a boost when Apple announced their CoreML library, a Machine Learning platform designed specifically for iOS11. The CoreML package comes complete with a number of in-place ML models, such as object tracking, text detection, and image recognition and registration. This gives iOS developers a simple, built in way to include ML technologies into their apps, which hopefully we’ll start seeing in 2018. You can read about some of our first impressions of the announcement, the CoreML package and where we think it’s headed in this article we wrote shortly after WWDC17.
CHATBOTS REPLACING MOBILE APPS?
Believe it or not, the popularity of the chatbot is relatively new and can be traced back to 2016. Between April and October of that year, Facebook, Samsung, Amazon, and Apple, among others, all launched a bot, created a messaging platform using bots or did BOTH. In 2017, the global conquest of chatbots continued, and they began springing up on just about every website. But chatbots weren’t just destined to sit in the browser. They began making their way to mobile and in 2018 you’ll start seeing them everywhere. And it’s easy to see why – It’s relatively easy for developers to code a chatbot, since they don’t have to worry about complex UI design and, for the same reason, users love bots because there is no complicated interface to learn. Beyond that, there’s no need to develop native mobile apps that need to be updated constantly for iOS and and Android. What’s not to love about bots? Except when they achieve consciousness and turn against us. But we expect that to be a few years off.
ANDROID INSTANT APPS
Introduced at Google I/O 2016 and first rolled out in 2016, we expect to see Android Instant Apps start to become ubiquitous (at least on Android devices, of course) in 2018. With Instant Apps, users can access apps from just about anywhere without having to go through the hassle of app installation. What’s even better, Android Instant apps are compatible with all Android versions from Jelly Bean on up. Instant apps can even be embedded into Google search engine results,
AUGMENTED REALITY COMES OF AGE – MAYBE
Wearables that work and dont make you look like a complete dork is one of the biggest things holding back augmented reality adoption. In 2017 Google Glass made a comeback, with Google Glass 2. Turning its back on the “Glass-holes” it focuses, sensibly, on industrial users. With a number of other hardware producers likely to join this space in 2018/19, like Magic Leap this could be the year that the hardware finally makes Augmented Reality, a reality.
The Accellerated Mobile Pages project is an open source initiative, led by Google to optimize pages for mobile to make the web even faster on mobile devices. AMP optimized pages first started appearing in Google search results in Febrary 2016. A year after their launch, Adobe was reporting that AMP pages accounted for 7% of web traffic for the top publishers in the United States. By May 2017, Google reported that almost one million web domains were now using AMP. So if you’re writing apps that haven’t been converted to AMP – you’d better get on it.
The Cloud is Back
You remember the cloud? Sure, it was kind of big for a while, but now it’s back baby! In fact, according to Cisco VNI Global Mobile Forecast (2015-2020), cloud apps will account for 89% of total mobile traffic in 2018. Storing data in the cloud is great for everyone involved – from users who are mindful of storage space and memory usage on their mobile phone, to businesses who want to keep their confidential data away from prying eyes and in a secure, centralized location. The increasing rise of Mobile Backend as a Service (mBaaS) has also made it easier than ever to quickly transfer data back and forth from mobile devices to the cloud.
The Debut of 5G
5G is coming! 5G is coming! At least that’s what we’ve been told. But this time the hype is real. 5G is the big brother to the current wireless networking standard, appropriately called 4G. The main benefit to 5G is going to be speed – a whole lot of it. We’re talking about gigabit networking – up to 4GB/sec. That’s about SIXTY times as fast as current 4G networks. Although most parts of the world won’t see widespread 5G coverage until 2020, companies like Verizon and AT&T are already planning limited rollouts in the United States. Check out some of the press releases that came out of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which ran from January 8 – 12.
What Are Your Trends?
OK – so we told you what our picks for some of the top mobile app trends for 2018 are – but what about yours? Any of the big news stories or features that we missed out on? Be sure to leave us a comment below or reach out to us on social media to let us know!