Top Mobile App Development Trends for 2021 – Addressing Challenges Of The New World

2020 did more for global digital transformation than all of last decade. Technology acquired a whole new relevance in daily lives setting the tone for a whole new set of mobile app development trends for 2021.

While every new year brings with it new trends and predictions, including some trends that always remain new in the charts, 2021 is different. The inflictions of coronavirus on all our lives are still entirely raw. The threat is still real and the world is still a little precarious.

While every other year, tech advancement and consumer preferences determined the trends, mobile app development trends for 2021 have more at stake. A global health crisis and an extremely exaggerated dependence on mobile apps for every smallest and largest need of man is a key driver for these new trends. Adding to that are factors like the launch of 5G spectrum, new foldable phones, better wearables and a whole lot more that will lead to the development of better apps.

So let’s take a look at how the digital landscape is shifting and what do mobile apps have in store for us in the new year. Here are the top mobile app development trends for 2021 that will spark innovation and push the boundaries of man-machine interaction.

1. Native apps will see renewed adoption

While hybrid apps and cross platform apps are great at what they do and a wise investment for a majority of businesses, many companies are beginning to gravitate to native app development.

Many businesses have had to scale back or even completely shut down their brick-n-mortar ventures to focus solely on digital. Mobile apps are no longer an add-on functionality now but the very spine their business stands on. This calls for an extremely rich user experience with flawless execution.

So for those who can afford it, native app development will be in focus in 2021. Android, iOS and other platforms will see increased use of native apps.

Apps that are coded in a language designed for the platform they’re being made on are known as native apps. Essentially, an Android app would be coded in Java or Kotlin and an iOS app would be built in Objective-C or Swift. For a business to have a successful native app for both iOS and Android, it would actually have to build two different apps that do the same thing, but on different devices.

Cumbersome as that may sound, it is the most authentic way to go about building mobile applications.

Native apps, being coded in 100% compatibility with the platform, are faster, smoother and more authentic looking. They offer an immersive experience and unmatched device integration. When using external APIs, device integration features and other functionalities, they work without a hitch offering an unparalleled user experience.

Native apps have a longer life and can hence catch up with a long line of updates before they need to be rebuilt with new code.

Native apps offer a much higher scalability and customization.

Owing to this rich functionality, native app development is already being adopted with renewed vigour by businesses that do not want to skip a beat

This is not to say that cross platform app development is in a downswing. Up and coming businesses, SMBs and startups that are tight on cash-flow but still know that they absolutely need a mobile app in the current business landscape, will opt for cross platform development. In fact, in the wake of the knowledge that digital is the way forward in business and apps are an essential commodity, an increasing number of smaller businesses will jump into mobile app development and as a result, cross-platform and hybrid apps too will see increased adoption.

The noticeable and defining app development trend for 2021 though, will be a return to native apps.

2. More Sophisticated AI applications

Another defining app development trend for 2021 will be better AI apps. Artificial intelligence has already enabled businesses to provide better customer personalization, better predictive analytics and increased revenues.

In 2021, with economies recovering from enforced lockdowns and abysmal effects of the pandemic, providing human-like experiences despite minimal human contact will call for heavy reliance on AI.

In an expert roundup post on, Kimberly Nevala, AI Strategic Advisor, SAS says:

The focus will remain on applying AI to automating and augmenting core business processes where the problem space is relatively stable and desired outcomes are well-bounded. While this may seem reactionary, this continues a 2020 trend in which AI adopters at all levels reported that enhancing existing products and services was their number one AI priority

I must admit that AI remains an item on the list every time we write about the dominating mobile app development trends for a new year. But that only goes on to show what a crucial area this is. Every year, there are innovations and disruptions being made, and every new development supersedes the last one.

That’s the sheer power of AI – constantly building on itself to make things better, more productive and better that ever before.

In 2020, there was a mass exodus to digital alternatives for every possible service under the sun. From online classes and work from home to commerce, fitness and recreation, everything was online.

This pushed competing businesses way too close together for comfort. Services like Zoom, Google Meet and BlueJeans etc. fiercely competed for adoption. In 2021, the winners will need to double down on AI to make their user experience more productive and pleasant.

Artificial intelligence or AI will therefore be a key app development trend in 2021.

ai and cognitive systems

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3. AR and VR apps to mediate the woes of staying in

With the new strain of Coronavirus inflicting a new wave of lockdowns and panic, the troubles of staying indoor and strictly minimizing outdoor trips will continue through at least the first months of 2021 and possibly longer. Either way, activities like shopping and travelling for leisure will remain precautiously restrained for most of us for a long while.
In this scenario, AR and VR apps will play a monumental role in a wide range of use cases, making for a dominating app development trend in 2021.

global ar vr revenues

2020 brought with is a number of unique needs. With people spending an all their time at home, home improvement and renovations soared in popularity like never before. To ward of the consequent feelings of confinement and boredom, people laid great impetus on making their homes smarter and cozier.

Doing this however requires a great deal of shopping and that, unfortunately, was the challenging aspect. Visiting stores was out of the question, and buying products like furniture, fabrics and décor online comes with an elaborate set of worries involving issues like size, color, aesthetics and more.

Augmented Reality came to the rescue of all these consumers as well as businesses.
All major homeware businesses including Ikea, Wayfair, Amazon and others, who have dabbled in AR and VR technology since a few years, made tremendous progress in 2020. Using AR and VR to visualize a piece of furniture or accessory in their space to see how well it’d fit and look.

In 2021, this technology will see wider adoption with not just big brands but even smaller retailers using AR/VR to sell products.

In addition to homewares, AR/VR in travel and tourism could also to a large extent help people make up in part for the lack of travel. Virtual reality tours of major tourist attractions are already becoming widely popular. Educational virtual field trips for children are also slowly making their presence felt in the online schooling systems.

In 2021, the increased need for these technological escapades will be felt rather strongly. With the technology already marking the potential, consumers are actively seeking improved virtual reality experiences and tech companies that can truly create AR/VR apps with quality renditions stand to woo a lot of customers.

4. 5G, Finally

2021 will be the year 5G will definitively enter our lives for real. Although we have been anticipating the advent of 5G in app development for a while now, 2021 will be the year that mobile app developers can go all out with 5G and build faster, sharper and richer apps.

global 5g adotion

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With far too many people working online, way too many students studying online and a number of people depending on tech to ‘meet’ their families, the pressure on mobile apps to provide better connectivity, richer user experience and more efficient apps is mounting.
5G will become a key factor in app development trends in 2021, giving developers the legroom to develop batter apps that stand true to all the aforementioned customer expectations.

With 5G, developers will be able to build apps that work faster than ever before, this means quicker file transfer, improved video quality, better audio in business or conference calls and a lot more. Video calls will be smoother and more intimate.

Live classes and group sessions will be a lot more productive. Apps that can excel at these parameters will emerge on top.

With movie theatres and multiplexes out cold, video streaming will depend on 5G for richer movie experiences.

5G will in fact improve all the other services that are trends on their own, like AR/VR, IoT, Instant Apps, and more. With 5G’s improved precision, GPS enabled internet of things will perform more effectively. Performance and responsiveness of apps will be enhanced thanks to reduced load times.

5. Mobile Finance

fintech trends

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Fintech has made remarkable progress in the last couple of years. In 2021 too, this technology will continue to grow and become simpler and more accessible by the masses.
Using cash is set to become passé for more reasons than one. First of all, going to ATM’s is a major no-no. If you did manage that feat, exchanging cash between hands is grossly in violence of the avoid-contact practice and currency notes are notoriously hard to sanitize.
Expecting general public to just walk around completely cashless and pay the hotdog stand with their smartphone is quickly becoming a mundane activity.

Mobile apps that make this process as low-friction as possible are probably the most sought after technology in the back of all our minds. An app that reduces (even further) the steps involved in scanning a QR code, entering the amount and processing the payment within seconds every single time, would be a definitive winner.

PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Paytm, PhonePe and even WhatsApp pay – the competition in this space is fierce. Companies offering the smoothest, safest and easiest services will usher in complete cashless lives.

Digital banking too is a growing area as people avoid going to banks and yet, feel the need to manage their finances better in times of distress. Guidance on investment and wealth management is highly sought after and making it reliably available on phones will be another app development trend to look out for in 2021.

When it comes to mobile finance though, a fine balance of speed and security is of utmost importance. The incumbent fintech leaders are already offering great services. Developing even better apps in 2021 is an innovator’s challenge. Malware and phishing attacks are on a continual rise. Cybercrime gets more sophisticated by the day. Fintech apps in 2021 will need to be a lot more effective against all these miscreants and yet provide seamless and superfast experiences in realtime.

6. Wearable technology to be more mainstream

Wearable gadgets and apps designed for them aren’t new to 2021. However, up until so far they’ve only been adopted by the adventurous few users.

Things are changing though, and wearables are becoming more mainstream as well as kinder to the budget customers. With prices becoming more affordable, wearables will see wider adoption in 2021, thus spiking the demand for wearable apps.

These wearable apps could be in a number of genres. Fitness is obviously the top category. various other categories too will emerge contenders in 2021. Lots of people cutting down on their screentime would attempt to distance themselves from phones. They do still need to be connected though and will hence need comminiction apps like email and texting on their wearables.

With covid-19 having made health a priority for every customer on this planet, wearable health apps of an advanced cadre such as pulse oximeter, oxygen saturation and heart monitor apps will be highly sought after. Covid tracing apps, social distancing apps, mobile payment apps and a tonne more have wide ranging applications in the wearable space, making them an important mobile app development trend in 2021.

7. Apps for Foldable Phones

With Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Huawei Mate Xs, Motorola Razr and other foldable phones making a grand entry, smartphones are doing a classic ‘old wine in shiny new bottle’ act and we’re loving it. Enjoying a larger screen that takes up no extra room in your pocket is definitely an alluring prospect.

What’s even more exciting is the massive creative appeal this holds for app developers. The larger screen makes room for much more immersive experiences. In phones like Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, the dual screens offer multitasking like never before. Now’s the time to build apps that work in the background, so that the users don’t skip a beat.

Wrapping Up

So that’s our list of the top mobile app development trends for 2021. App development is an exciting world where the thrills that keep on coming. 2020 was a rather gloomy year with unprecedented challenges of all levels. The mobile app industry however stood up to the challenge and delivered solutions that helped people stay connected, stay indoors and stay sane throughout this pandemic.

We hope 2021 brings with it better health and much needed healing for the world. For any challenges that persist though, mobile app developers will continue to innovate and find solutions for the most burning problems. The biggest mobile app development trends for 2021 stem from this very need to solve some old and some new problems facing the new post-Covid world. Mobile apps take on a whole new meaning in the new normal, often becoming the only way to get things done. To that end, we continue to stay on top of the trends and bring you better, faster, safer apps that help solve your problems and save more of your time, money and sanity.

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Hiral Atha is the Founder and CEO of Moveoapps. With a decade of proficiency in building digital platforms that drive innovation and user engagement, Hiral has helped businesses outshine competitors and captivate audiences. Armed with a deep understanding of market dynamics and emerging trends, Hiral has implemented strategic initiatives that have positioned businesses as market leaders, capitalizing on emerging opportunities.

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