It is no secret that mobile technology is rapidly becoming one of the dominant influences in our lives. You only need to hop on a train or bus to see that virtually every passenger will have their heads buried deep in their screens to gain an idea of the power of our addictive devices. With so much of our attention devoted to our phones and tablets, app developers are constantly searching for the next trends that will give the edge in the market. Here are some of the emerging directions in the mobile app world and how they will affect our lives:
The holy grail for app developers is retention. The majority of apps are deleted after opening once, and in excess of 80% will not make it to three months before the user hits that little “X”, consigning it to the digital junk yard. In an effort to become more “sticky” app developers are aiming to enmesh technologies within our daily lifestyles so that they become indispensable. The Weather Channel, for example, realized that a sizeable subset of their users utilize the app to check conditions before exercising. Seeing an opportunity, they developed a jogging app that incorporates weather information, so users will have everything that they need at their fingertips. This kind of innovative integration looks likely to become more commonplace.
Who Wears It Best
Google Glass may be one of the decade’s most high profile fizzers. However, it would be a brave pundit that predicted the end for wearable technology. Apple watch continues to slowly eke out a market for itself, and earlier this year, Google re-released Glass, albeit repositioned as an “Enterprise Edition” for commercial applications. It is likely just a matter of time until someone hits the sweet spot with a wearable device that consumers will truly warm to and apps will need to adapt to this reality.
Navigating the Terrain
Obviously, screen sizes limit the amount of information and functionality that users can comfortable process at one time. Crowded screens are a UX nightmare and will have people turning off in no time. The challenge for app creators is to build simple, intuitive navigation structures that guide users through the app experience in a balanced and efficient way. Designers know that a smooth journey is a key factor for user satisfaction and will continue to devise innovative approaches.
Blending In With The Crowd
The ability of apps to provide a shared, interactive experience is only now just beginning to be explored. Crowdshaping is a concept that essentially taps into the collective consciousness of a group of users, particularly at large scale events, allowing them to provide instant feedback that molds the shared experience. Corporations and event organisers are continuing to explore ways to harness Crowdshaping to deliver an amazing experience that feeds off the emotions, thoughts or even biometric data of people using the technology.
It might sound like an innocuous consideration, however, how people hold their devices is a major consideration when it comes to app design. The very nature of mobile apps is that people use them on the go and are frequently multitasking. Ever tried to hit a button on your screen while holding a bunch of shopping bags in the other hand and trying to open the car door, only to find your thumb agonizingly short of its destination? If so, you know what I mean. The “Thumb Zone” might sound like a sci-fi novel, but it’s a very real practical consideration for achieving great UX.
What do you think is the next big trend in mobile? We’d love to hear your thoughts!