According to forecasts, in 2022 the size of the global mobile application market will reach $420.7 billion and will continue to grow, reaching $542.8 billion in 2026 with a growth rate of 6.58%. With this potential growth of the mobile app industry comes huge opportunities. But the competition is also growing. Let’s take a look at the top 14 mobile app trends for 2022 and beyond:
Data privacy – special attention
Data privacy is becoming a top priority for mobile app users. Google searches for “data privacy” have grown by 146% in 5 years. Privacy is also one of the reasons why people opt out of some Google apps.
The web and mobile apps involved in this trend include:
1) End-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Telegram. Telegram is seeing explosive user growth thanks to its strong focus on privacy.
2) Privacy-oriented browsers like Firefox and Brave.
3) Cookie-free search engine DuckDuckGo (which also offers a tracker-blocking Chrome extension and a standalone mobile web browser). Plus, there are more advanced solutions like Pi-hole that work at the network level.
All in all, privacy is definitely a trend that any app user should keep an eye on this year.
Application Developers Use Low-Code and No-Code
The low-code/no-code movement is one of the most important software development trends going on right now. The search term for “low-code” has grown by 446% in the last 5 years. Now almost anyone can create a killer app. No coding skills are required.
For developers, low-code tools provide many new features.
- For example, Zapier offers plug-and-play integrations with other services and apps.
- The Bubble app allows non-technical designers and entrepreneurs to create complete web applications.
And in January 2021, Google acquired the code-free mobile app platform AppSheet. Even productivity apps like Airtable and Notion are used to build apps and websites without code.
The low-code trend won’t make manual coding obsolete. But its impact cannot be overestimated, as it opens up new opportunities for applications and businesses that would otherwise not exist.
More applications focused on the device’s camera
The mass telecommuting (working from home) trend has encouraged people to use video calls much more than before. In one week in March 2020, video conferencing apps were downloaded a record 62 million times.
The use of Google Meet, Zoom and even the old Skype app has skyrocketed. So are video-based social networks like YouTube and Facebook Watch.
Video streaming is on the rise
And now popular video apps like TikTok and others are keeping up with the old leaders in popularity. People just can’t get enough of apps that help them stream videos, connect with friends, and gain followers.
Video streaming applications are rapidly gaining popularity. It will be interesting to see how this video streaming space continues to evolve in 2023 and beyond.
Premium apps challenge Google and other search engines
It used to be that free Google apps were the default for everyone. Most users used Gmail, Yahoo, etc. And if people weren’t using Excel, they were using Google Sheets. But right now, people are actively ditching some of the most popular apps in the world.
Instead of relying on Google’s free solutions, they use paid apps that allow them to do the same thing, only better, faster, and more easily.
This trend started many years ago. But lately, it has accelerated. For example, Gmail users upgrade to Superhuman for $30 per month. Why? A promise to spend less time in their inboxes. (Superhuman bills itself as “the fastest email ever made.”)
Another example: Many Google Hangouts (now Google Meet) users have switched to Zoom.
In essence, Zoom has become the de facto standard video conferencing tool for business people. The number of participants in daily video meetings increased from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020.
Even Google Sheets is feeling the pain of this trend. More and more spreadsheet users are using Airtable to process data and complete tasks. And if you’ve been recently asked to fill out a survey, chances are you did it in Typeform, not Google Forms.
The emergence of new social media platforms focused on video and audio
Social networks natively support videos, but not direct audio clips. The Wavve app solves this problem by turning users’ audio clips into short, shareable videos. In this way, people can share their thoughts, music, or clips from podcasts on existing social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Of course, audio is also a meta-trend that goes way beyond social media. Podcasting is on the rise, with an estimated 356 million people listening to it at least once a month.
Apps like Anchor are emerging to help people create new podcasts more easily. And interest in audiobooks is also growing every year, as you can see from the search volume trends for the keyword “Audible” (Amazon’s audiobook service).
Banking goes mobile
Interest in “mobile banking” for 10 years around the world has grown by 251%. What was once a niche is now mainstream:
For example, 86% of US banks currently offer mobile bill payment services.
And a host of fintech startups are now competing for mobile banking customers, offering basic financial services at lower fees than traditional banks.
Mobile banking is a huge mobile app trend. And it’s global.
Examples: Indonesian fintech startup Payfazz is backed by Y Combinator. Germany has N26 fintech. In the UK, Starling Bank.
In China, one of the most popular forms of payment for years has been the fintech platform WeChat Pay. According to the data, 1 billion commercial transactions are made through the WeChat app daily.
There are also peer-to-peer payment networks such as Venmo, a digital wallet service owned by PayPal. Not to mention Apple Pay and Google Pay, each boasting tens of millions of US users. Even FB didn’t resist the trend and brought their apps into the mobile payment arena.
Mobile apps use AI and get smarter
Search volume for “machine learning” has grown by 880% in 10 years. You can see that AI has been featured in every list of technology trends published over the past decade. But in 2022, AI has become even more applied across all technologies. One clear indicator of the trend is the number of investments and acquisitions of new AI startups.
Here are some AI startup deals from last year:
- Apple acquired Xnor.ai for $200 million, as well as Inductive, adding to more than a dozen AI acquisitions they have recently made.
- Snap acquires AIFactory, the backbone of Snapchat’s “Cameos” feature, for $166 million.
- Freshworks bought AnsweriQ to speed up the creation of its machine learning-based Freddy AI bot.
- And even Ikea recently acquired AI startup Geomagical labs to improve its augmented reality visualization capabilities.
Artificial intelligence is being used to drive everything from smart assistants to journalism to Netflix recommendations and more. And this trend is not going to stop.
Augmented reality becomes the new reality
Ask people what they think about augmented reality (AR). If they are familiar with this term, they will name one of the main problems – “Deep fakes”. Lately, “Deep fakes” have made the news for their use to spread misinformation and to add celebrity faces to obscene images, etc.
The Russian FaceApp is a recent example of the augmented reality trend. Before FaceApp was criticized as a potential threat to intelligence and intelligence agencies, people uploaded tens of millions of photos to see what they might look like in the future.
But there are many legitimate uses for augmented reality in mobile apps. Speaking of the AI trend we’ve been discussing, the SketchAR app gives iOS and Android users the ability to “take” drawings off a piece of paper and apply them to another surface using augmented reality.
Zoom virtual backgrounds allow people to report their video conferences from anywhere. And if you do a Google search for “tiger” on an augmented reality phone, you’ll see the option to view it in 3D. This also works with other animals such as wolves, pandas, and ducks.
Google Maps is also part of this trend with Google Maps AR. This feature displays augmented reality directions when you use Google Maps to navigate while walking.
Development of medical applications focused on people’s health
In recent years, there has been concentrated growth in the development of special mobile applications in medicine and healthcare. Earlier in 2016, the medical app market was valued at just $2.17 billion.
The market grew to nearly $18 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow by 45% through 2027.
Today, over 350,000 medical applications are available for download. This includes general health apps, such as those that track calorie intake or offer workout recommendations. But there are also applications for more specific medical services, offering telemedicine services or remote monitoring of a patient’s health.
But the quality and usability of many medical apps vary greatly.
Some of them have a terrible user interface. Others offer recommendations or treatments that are not based on evidence. Some of them are inaccurate or worse, dangerous.
In recent years, the industry has taken concrete steps to encourage medical control in the development of medical applications and take advantage of AI technology to create truly beneficial applications for patients’ health.
As an example, Ada is a patient symptom checker application that was developed using a combination of a massive library of medical information and artificial intelligence technology. The result is a medical app that thinks like a doctor.
In one study, the app was presented with 200 real medical scenarios and showed 99% disease coverage, being able to diagnose rare and common medical problems, as well as mental disorders. The app is available in 11 languages and has 12 million users worldwide. It also has financial backing from major companies such as Bayer and Samsung.
Mobile apps take advantage of cloud computing
Cloud computing is dominating the business world with over 94% of companies reporting using cloud computing and most of them are planning to increase spending on cloud solutions in the coming years.
Based on this trend, we expect to see an increased focus on cloud-based mobile applications in the near future. In fact, the mobile cloud market is expected to grow at 25.28% per annum until 2026.
The principle of operation of cloud mobile applications is the same as when using cloud computing in the office. The application lives on virtual servers, and the data is stored in the cloud. Any user can access the application in the cloud through a browser and an internet connection.
Currently, most applications are downloaded and installed on the user’s smartphone. This means developers have to create different versions of the same app if they want it to work well on both iOS and Android devices.
Cloud mobile apps solve this problem because they are compatible with multiple platforms. This provides cost and time savings—a big benefit for developers and companies.
It also makes it much easier for companies to release updates and scale their apps. Users never need to worry about updates. Because the app is in the cloud, the company releases an update to the app and users just see it the next time they log in.
Users also see faster app performance and better storage because they are not limited by the capabilities of their smartphones. One example of a cloud-based mobile application is iCloud. Users can manage their email, contacts, calendar, and more.
Dropbox is another popular cloud app. Users can upload documents up to 2TB and collaborate with other users through the mobile app. All content is hosted in the cloud, so users can access their files from any device without worrying about the available storage space on their smartphones.
Full-featured apps come to smartwatches
In recent years, the popularity of wearable devices in the world has increased dramatically. Between 2016 and 2019, the number of wearable devices in the world doubled. It is expected to reach a billion this year.
Companies such as Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin frequently update their smartwatches to provide the best user experience. For example, Apple recently updated the watchOS with fall detection for people on bikes and the ability to track breathing rates while they sleep.
Tech experts say that these updates will become more and more advanced in the near future. In mid-2021, Google announced the release of Wear OS (formerly Android Wear). They work with Samsung’s Tizen platform to optimize the wearable consumer experience. As a result, app loading times are 30% faster.
In addition, they make several apps such as YouTube Music and LifeSum accessible through smartwatches. Only Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 can already use the new OS. Some other Android watches will get access at the end of 2022.
One popular app that is already making headway on wearables is Calm. Users can do breathing exercises, play meditation, or listen to Sleep Story through their smartwatch. Glide is an app that offers smartwatch users the ability to receive video messages directly to their watch. Users can respond to them with text or emojis.
Tailor-made apps for foldable devices
The Samsung Galaxy Fold was introduced in 2019 as the first foldable smartphone. Motorola followed suit a few months later with the foldable RAZR. Apple owns several patents related to foldable smartphones but has yet to release any.
Consumer demand is pushing this market segment in 2022. According to statistics, global shipments of foldable smartphones will reach 50 million units this year.
IDC predicts that the market value of foldable phones will be $29 billion by 2025.
Foldable smartphones present a unique opportunity for app developers.
With larger screens and the ability to open multiple windows at the same time, developers have never seen before opportunities.
- For example, the productivity app TickTick takes advantage of the folding screen to offer users a tablet-like experience.
TickTick is clearly optimized for foldable devices and is fast becoming one of the most popular productivity apps. The app has over 15,000 reviews in the App Store and an average rating of 4.9 stars.
However, app developers face challenges when building apps that work on foldable screens. When users switch between screens (minimized screen, maximized screen, or flexible mode), some applications have trouble adapting to the screen configuration.
- For example, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a 22.5:18 aspect ratio when unfolded, but most YouTube videos are shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
This means that users viewing videos on the folding screen will not see the video itself fill the entire screen.
Developers are also having trouble balancing desktop-like design with mobile-friendly functionality. Users want to take advantage of screen size, but all too often an app becomes cumbersome to use because it’s not optimized for a foldable design.
Maintaining a seamless user experience and app functionality is critical. As you know, the wrong decision can lead to the fact that users deleting the application altogether.
Several solutions for non-contact user interface
Smartphone users touch, double-tap, swipe, tap, and pinch the screen while using the app. But in the coming years, the touchless user interface (UI) is set to change all that.
According to Gartner, by 2023, 50% of all major business applications will include at least one type of contactless interaction.
We are all very familiar with one form of contactless user interface: the use of biometrics to sign in to a mobile application. In many applications, especially those where security is concerned, biometrics is used to verify the user’s identity. Applications related to finance, storing passwords, and sharing documents are just a few examples.
But more recently, smartphones and apps have come up with ways to control all interactions with an app without a single touch. Gesture controls are one-sided smartphones and apps change the user interface.
- On the Galaxy Note 10, users can control the camera with a simple flick of the stylus.
- Google Pixel 4 owners can take advantage of Soli technology.
It is a radar-based traffic control technology. Users simply wave their hands to control music apps and turn off interruptions such as alarms and ringtones.
New apps will also be able to track your eyes. This is called “gaze tracking” and developers are starting to use it in apps.
- Tobii is a company with a history of developing eye-tracking technology. They recently developed a technical solution that allows people to control applications with just a glance.
There are several apps specifically designed to work with eye tracking on the FB, Instagram, Google Calendar, and Netflix platforms. Currently, this technology only works on Tobii tablets, which are designed specifically for people with disabilities, but it is expected to become available to the general public in the coming years.
- The Android 12 update in 2021 launched the eye tracker in accessibility settings. The iPhone has a similar app.
Again, both of these technical solutions are aimed at helping people with disabilities work with applications, but the technology exists. We expect it’s only a matter of time before we see this convenience in applications across all industries.
App developers are expected to integrate more voice user interfaces (VUIs) into apps in the coming years. Yes, we all know about Siri and Alexa, but VUI technology is making headway, offering a new level of convenience and accessibility through apps.
There’s SideChef, a popular cooking app that integrates with Samsung’s Bixby to provide voice-activated recipes for cooking videos. The app will speak each step of the recipe while the person is cooking. It waits for the person to say “Next” before moving on to the next step.
The world of mobile app development is changing rapidly. But these trends will not lose their strength due to the global growth of mobile technologies and devices, and most likely will continue in the coming years.