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Mobile development trends in 2022


The mobile app development space, while still young when compared with other tech sectors, is becoming more mature and lucrative with each passing year. In 2022, Statista research predicts mobile app revenue will reach $465.70 billion for the year, representing year-over-year growth of 17%.

Some of the defining features of the app development space in 2022 are the same forces that impacted the market in 2021. Comparing the report from 2021 with this overview of 2022 shows how much progress can occur in a short span and spotlights the ideas that have captured the attention of developers and end-users alike.

Below, we’ll reveal the ideas that will drive app development in 2022 and beyond.

The Rise of 5G

Some of the most advanced potential app capabilities — including the streaming of virtual reality and augmented reality content or ultra-high-definition video — have been held back by mobile networking limitations. With 5G becoming more widespread, this trend is set to change.

Since 5G availability is dependent on mobile carriers’ network upgrades, it’s important to note how much progress these companies have made. TechTarget reported that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon had each expanded their 5G networks to several dozen U.S. cities by the end of 2021, with plans to keep growing through 2022.

Once developers can count on users having 5G access, that will open exciting new possibilities for their apps. Using these ultra-low-latency networks, software will be able to perform more business logic on the server side, meaning apps will complete more powerful calculations than if they were solely using devices’ onboard processors.

In the long-term, 5G could change whole industries, powering some of the processing load for resource-intensive computing use cases such as driverless car navigation systems, 3D games with cloud rendering and real-time media content processing in the cloud. Ambitious developers are already drawing up plans for what they could accomplish with 5G-specific app features.

AI and Machine Learning

While machine learning and AI were already topics of interest in 2021, a year has only added to the power of these technologies. Now, applications are rolling out with capabilities that would have been inconceivable in the past, such as translation software’s ability to turn speech input in one language into a clear and useful output in another.

AI is designed to apply human-like logic to the analytics process, sensing patterns and providing useful insight from varied data sets. When augmented with machine learning capabilities, these algorithms are able to improve automatically over time.

The potential usefulness of powerful, AI-driven calculations was clear in 2021. What’s changed in 2022 is that there are more affordable mobile devices on the market that have the computing horsepower to run AI applications. Soon, a much larger user base will be able to make use of these apps.

Major software and hardware players — Google, Amazon and Microsoft among them — have made AI part of their developer tool kits for mobile application development. This means mobile developers who haven’t previously dabbled in AI can now start working with these powerful algorithms.

Progressive Web Apps

Another technology holdover from 2021, progressive web apps (PWAs), are continuing their rise in 2022. These straddle the line between mobile websites and apps and, in some ways, they provide the best of both worlds, remaining usable offline and appearing on device desktops as icons but not requiring downloads through app stores.

This is an especially powerful model for applications with very specific use cases, in which users may not want to download a new app. For example, a consumer paying for parking while on vacation could find it inconvenient to install an app from an app store (especially in an area with poor wireless connectivity). A PWA is much smaller and quicker and doesn’t take up permanent storage space on the phone.

Google and Apple have both created technologies similar in function to PWAs — Google Instant Apps and Apple App Clips — designed to act as previews for full apps. Developers can experiment with generating limited-functionality, no-download versions of their software by using these platforms, whether to entice users to try their products or as a more comprehensive part of their release strategies.

Cross-Platform Native Development

Developing apps for multiple platforms simultaneously has been a viable strategy for years. What has changed in recent months is that there are now two market-leading frameworks from which developers can choose, rather than one clear leader.

React Native, despite stiff competition, remains the most popular toolset for developing cross-platform apps that make use of native UI functionality. This framework uses JavaScript (JS), meaning a wide variety of developers will feel at home working with it, even if they come from a web development rather than a mobile development background. In recent years, toolsets such as the Reanimated2 library of screen element animations have allowed developers to close the functionality gaps between true native development and React Native.

While React Native remains the top choice today, Google’s Flutter is on the rise. Largely by taking market share away from other, less popular (but still quite old and mature libraries), Flutter has come to prominence due to its streamlined user experience, its large amount of useful libraries out of the box and its performance delivery commensurate with true native apps.

Whether developers pick one of these frameworks or go with an alternative such as running Svelte Native on Native Script, it’s clear that cross-platform native development is going strong in 2022 and beyond.

No-Code and Low-Code Platforms

A potential sleeper trend to watch is the rise of no-code and low-code platforms, which could empower individuals who don’t possess developer or engineer skill sets to create their own software. These platforms are ideal for situations in which companies want to quickly build a prototype for a new app without getting their development teams involved.

Not only are these platforms simple by design, but they also require very little investment. It should be noted that the apps created this way have limits on their functionality and developers will eventually be needed to create more customized, powerful and accessible versions.

For years, no-code and low-code web development platforms such as Wix and Webflow have allowed users to build out website content without engineering skills. Now, the same concept is expanding to the mobile realm. It is worth watching as it grows in uptake.

E-commerce’s Transformation into M-commerce

While 2021 was the true breakthrough year for mobile commerce and financial transactions carried out via apps, that momentum hasn’t slackened in 2022. Social platforms such as Instagram now sport commerce features, and more brick-and-mortar stores accept app payments.

Cutting-edge financial institutions are taking m-commerce seriously, with branchless banks using their web and mobile experiences as selling points, as Forbes Advisor noted.

With the groundwork laid for secure financial app performance, developers are expanding their capabilities to launch peer-to-peer payments, digital wallets and tools for managing cryptocurrencies and blockchain assets. The development of m-commerce apps has taken these forms and more, with new use cases emerging regularly.

Cross-Platform Hybrid Development

While some developers swear by either native development or the cross-platform version of native coding enabled by React Native and Flutter, there is also strong appeal associated with the simplicity and efficiency benefits of hybrid development.

Companies hoping to roll out their apps and updates more quickly are likely to gravitate to hybrid development. When there’s only a single codebase for all versions of an app, it’s possible to ideate at a rapid pace, suiting the agile and DevOps methodologies.

Another benefit associated with hybrid development is the lower cost of maintenance for apps. When a fix is needed, developers only have to implement the changes once. This is an even more efficient system than the React Native model, in which JS is connected to an app’s native UI. Expect hybrid development to grow in prominence in 2022 and beyond.

2022 in Summary

The overall pattern of the mobile development space in 2022 involves trends from 2021 reaching critical mass and becoming impossible for app creators to ignore. The sheer scale and prominence of the mobile market indicate that there is plenty of room for ambitious companies to grow, as long as they embrace trends that work for their particular objectives.

Many of the 2022 trends only stand to grow in importance in 2023 and beyond. Concepts such as widespread 5G availability and the untapped potential of AI only stand to grow in importance in the years ahead. Developers that pay attention to these trends now may find themselves ahead of the market and ideally poised to compete.

Transcenda’s Experience with Mobile Apps

Working with companies of all kinds, including industry-leading firms across fields, Transcenda has had a hand in crafting both internal and public-facing mobile app experiences. Depending on the client’s need, Transcenda has provided design and engineering assistance, as well as consulting, to define and execute product roadmaps, as well as put apps into production quickly and effectively.

To ensure your organization makes the most of the 2022 tech trends and thrives in the years ahead, connect with Transcenda for your mobile app development journey. View our case studies to learn what we’ve accomplished for businesses like yours and reach out to our team directly to discuss where mobile development can take you.

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