Mobile Development Technologies 2021

The future of mobile is bright and the market seems resistant to saturation. In 2021, almost 1.4 billion smartphones are expected to be sold worldwide. In this blog post, we look at the trends in mobile technologies in 2021 and what they have to offer for mobile app developers and smartphone users.

person carrying a phone with different hardware addons
Technologies in Mobile Development 2021

What Major Trends Are Occurring in Mobile Apps?

In 2020 alone, it's estimated there were 218 billion mobile application downloads worldwide. The growing number of app downloads — and a steady demand trend — opens the door for many innovations in the world of mobile technologies.

a graph showing the number of global downloads of mobile applications from 2016 to 2020
The number of mobile app downloads worldwide is increasing rapidly with each year. Source: Statista

Here are some of the top mobile app development trends.

Beacon technology

A beacon is an inexpensive wireless transmitter that uses Low Energy (BLE) technology to send signals to nearby smart devices.

The beacons are battery-powered and located via Bluetooth — mobile devices can communicate with them even without an internet connection.

For example, Safetify was designed to turn down the volume on mobile devices of people who listen to music while crossing the street, until they safely reach the other side.

The global beacon technology market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 86% from 2017 to 2024. Beacon technology has transformed various industries, primarily retail and e-commerce, and it will play an integral part in increasing customer awareness by delivering location-specific alerts and notifications.

In marketing, using beacon technology is called proximity marketing. Companies such as Macy’s, McDonald’s, Woolworths, or Amazon Go are already using this tech in their on-site marketing efforts and to boost in-store customer experience.

The beacon technology can also be used to create the infrastructure for smart cities.

Enterprise mobile apps

Enterprise applications operate in a corporate environment, and their primary purpose is to solve complex processes within an organization. Because how well a company performs often depends on these critical software assets, enterprise apps have to be built using reliable and scalable technologies.

Mobile cloud computing enables enterprises to store large amounts of data in one place securely. With the use of cloud services, employees can access this information quickly, which results in enhanced communication and more efficient work.

According to a recent study, the demand for these mobile applications has increased dramatically, and enterprise mobility is a top priority for one-third of organizations

Geolocation-based apps

From default apps like Find My iPhone or Weather to Instagram, Uber, and Yelp, most apps today use geolocation. Many messenger applications let you share your current location directly in the chat. Even photos on your phone camera can be stored by the place they were taken.

Google Maps location-based services
The rise of location-based applications has changed the way people navigate through their daily lives. Source: Unsplash

Geolocation can be used as a way to deliver more personalized and localized content. Location-based services provide a better user experience, plus they can give companies insight into user demographics.

Folding display phones and apps

If you had one in the early 2000s, you were definitely the coolest kid on the block. Although in a different form, It’s no surprise these are making a comeback. Folding phones were among the major announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2020.

a foldable phone made by LG Electronics
Are foldable mobile phones the future? Source: Let’s Go Digital

The emergence of foldable smartphones has created a new challenge for app developers. Dynamic adjustment of app content to fit the screen properly with the right amount of data requires careful planning. Foldables create an entirely new segment for developers to explore, one where plenty of opportunities for disruption await to be explored.

In 2019, global foldable smartphone shipments represented only a tiny fraction of the overall smartphone sales in 2019, but they are projected to increase 100 times by 2025.

Mobile wallets

The global shift from using cash as your primary form of payment has been happening for years now, and it appears we’re reaching a critical tipping point. Recent global payment reports show that mobile wallet payments are likely to exceed the use of cash in four years.

A wallet in your phone allows you to store all of your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty card information, and more. In addition, mobile apps like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay have revolutionized how we pay for merchandise at the checkout line.

paying with a mobile wallet
In the near future, mobile wallets might as well replace all other forms of payment, at least in some transactions. Source: Unsplash

Integrating mobile wallets into apps enables users to checkout quickly and seamlessly, with just a single tap. 

M-commerce

The goal of an online retailer is to make their products available to buyers no matter where they are. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is the buying and selling of goods and services through a mobile device, which helps online retailers reach their customers. M-commerce already accounts for over half of global online retail, which comes as no surprise given that mobile usage and searches are steadily taking over desktop.

Looking at these statistics, we might posit that m-commerce will dominate online retail in the nearest future. This calls for retailers to either optimize their websites to work on mobile devices or release m-commerce apps that offer much more in terms of customer engagement and experience.

Biometric authentication

In recent years, biometrics has become an increasingly popular form of identification due to its accuracy and reliability. Biometric systems use physical attributes like fingerprints or retinal scans to identify individuals. These are considered safer and more reliable than passwords because they cannot be easily shared or forged. 

Biometric technology can be used in financial transactions, government agencies, healthcare facilities, and more. The cost of developing apps that feature this technology has dropped considerably in recent years. Hardware-wise, face recognition and fingerprint scanning have become a staple for many smartphone manufacturers, with Apple being one of the first companies to have implemented Face ID in their phones.

On-demand mobile apps

On-demand mobile apps let users order anything from food to laundry service, with just a few taps or swipes. They can be found in different places and formats: as standalone apps like Lyft, TaskRabbit, Postmates; inside other established services like Uber and Amazon Prime Now; or even embedded into social networks like Facebook messenger.

a phone with the uber on-demand app open
On-demand apps like Uber have revolutionized our lives. Source: Unsplash

One thing these companies have in common is that they're all gearing up for an increasingly on-demand-driven world where consumers find it easier to find reviews and order a service directly from an app rather than browse through scattered reviews and make phone calls to order services.

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What Is the Future of Mobile App Development?

Mobile tech is a booming field and will be even more so in the future. The mobile app economy has gone from $1.3 trillion to over $4.5 trillion since 2016. By the end of 2021, it's projected it'll reach an astonishing $6.3 trillion or higher.

One of the likely reasons for this growth is that people turn to mobile devices for an increasing number of activities.  

With new advances in mobile tech and other areas that can be incorporated into mobile environments such as 3D printing, machine learning, or ARM-based systems, there’s still plenty of disruption to be observed.

Are mobile developers in demand in 2021?

The demand for mobile app developers is expected to increase from 17% to 24% by 2026, which means that there will be a significant need for new talent.

Is there anything that can threaten this projected demand for mobile app developers?

Low-code and no-code software might.

Low-code and no-code platforms give less experienced users a chance to quickly build mobile applications using, for example, a simple drag-and-drop method. However, more advanced apps still require the presence of a mobile developer with experience in creating the app’s architecture.

So even though low- and no-code mobile development software has been steadily gaining ground in recent years, the relatively low sophistication of these tools doesn’t yet let creators build complex applications.

Which technology is best for mobile app development?

The world of mobile app development tools is quite big, and it would be difficult to objectively name one mobile dev technology best. The choice depends on your business needs and the requirements of your project.

While native mobile development is still superior to other approaches in many areas, cross-platform tools such as Flutter or React Native are catching up quite fast.

Flutter is a mobile app development SDK from Google that has been getting rave reviews and is steadily growing in popularity. React Native, on the other hand, has been around since 2015 and boasts an extensive community of users and developers. 

When choosing a technology, you’ve got to have a deep understanding of your company’s needs. Do you want something that will help you reach more users faster? Which platform (iOS or Android) does your target audience use more? How complex will your app be (i.e., how many platform-specific features will it be dependent on)? All these questions determine which technology fits your project better.

Mobile Tech in 2021 and Beyond

While this blog has outlined many different technological advancements, there are plenty more exciting things coming up. We’re excited to see new mobile technologies crop up practically every day. To stay up to date, sign up for our weekly release of tech news on Revue. You can also check out our other blog post on technology trends in 2021.

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