There’s one highly disputing point limboing in tech and the business community for a while: is it worth investing into new apps, or is the app boom actually over? TechCrunch claims it is not over at all and gives stats and predictions to prove it. Business Insider, on its turn, provides alternative stats explaining why the peak downloads are gone.
And yet, every year IT companies, individual entrepreneurs and amateurs release better, more exquisite mobile applications, Apple adds thousands to the Store and later rates hundreds as the best ones. This doesn’t seem like an app oblivion to me.
We recently analyzed the apps that Apple rated the best in 2016. That wasn’t enough, so we decided to rack up the apps IT professionals consider outstanding and describe the technologies behind them. During these analyses we have made an interesting discovery worth sharing: all the remarkable apps that caught our attention are more or less focused on three basic concepts:
1.Outstanding apps are built on outstanding ideas and technologies
2.To become a customer-favorite, an app has to be personalized
3.Great apps open new communication channels between people and businesses
New Technologies in Apps
One revolutionary app of 2016, Pokémon Go, is the excellent proof of this point. A highly-buzzed game that got global engagement not only from its fans, but also from its haters, is actually a mock-up of how augmented reality can be mapped onto the real world.
Many have already named virtual and augmented reality as the trends for 2017. Yet, while the large scale availability of VR headsets and VR application in non-gaming environment are still doubtful, augmented reality is certainly here to stay.
In this context, Pokémon Go appears a sort of a simulator for every smartphone user to see and try how it works. In fact, it won’t take long for AR to get highly infused into our everyday life and shape online environment anew. IKEA, for example, has already shifted to AR catalogues.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
This is not a new technology. But the leaps made in AI and ML research and application over the last years are tremendous, and even a bit scary. Not surprisingly, mobile app development is now absorbing the results.
The Prisma app is a great example of how the application of neural networks and artificial intelligence may turn a photo editor into a unique self-educating visual content creator. Today it combines precise image recognition, complex data processing and alternative visual information recreation, which is completely unique. Imagine the possibilities such AI approach can have to other content forms, not only visual, but audio, text, and even code.
Another illustrative example of clever script and AI fusion is Google Photos. The “brain” of the app is extremely precise in image recognition, selective memory, data analysis, searching and matching, and filtering against the database of visual information stored by Google.
Not to mention the opportunities the system with such a sensitive visual content recognition has. Until recently Shazam, possibly, was the leader app among content analyzer, and was focused mostly on audio data. Today mobile apps based on high tech can already crack and recreate any form of content.
Focus on Personalization
Another focus some outstanding apps take is personalization. Here on MobilityTechzone we have already touched upon the value of personalization in education. However, this point is relevant for any field, since modern consumers have got used to achieving highly targeted services and offers. Organically, the best apps will be the ones that follow this trend too.
Analytics and Big Data
Consider Spotify’s Discover Weekly that puts personalization in the lead. The system combines multiple technologies such as natural language recognition, big data processing, AI based analyses and content recreation to compile unique hyper-personalized playlists for its users every week. Some wonder how Spotify can be so sensitive in guessing their tastes, while in reality what the app does is precise calculations and algorithms based on complex data analytics.
Entertainment field won’t take the leadership in highly personalized app development though. mHealth, Fitness, and Wellness will definitely do, mainly because the apps in this field, some award winning ones, rely on massive volumes of data with great amount of highly concentrated personal information. How you sleep, walk, eat, exercise, how your heart beats and your health has been changing over time today can be tracked, analyzed, structured and reported by force of one app.
Refined User Experience
Focusing on user experience is another way to make an app personalized. Take Slack app, for example. The way it allows users manipulate with notifications, adjust options not only to each device, but also to the time of the day and events, makes UX truly individual and customized.
Apps with million+ users engagement prove that personalization is and will be the sure way to retain customers and keep the download rate at the level. Besides, the web is already highly personalized thanks to Cookies and Big Data technologies. Mobile has nothing to do but to catch up.
Create New Communication Channels
A mobile app itself is an alternative form of communication between customers and brands. However, some of the most downloaded apps create a whole new form of interaction. In particular, uber-like apps and the apps that rely on non-traditional interfaces.
Consider the contribution that Uber itself and uber-like services and apps have made to the way businesses and customers connect. Today these are unified, global, self-moderated platforms that use sensitive geolocation, precise search-and-match mechanism, two-sided rating, secure full-cycle payment, adjustment to legal systems in each country.
In other words, these mobile apps are actually independent B2C ecosystems. This is why uber-like experience is expected to grow and diffuse across fields and industries, while more and more businesses, especially ecommerce, will shift to uber-like apps.
Adaptability, by the way, is one of the strongest sides of these apps. For example, once a startup idea YardHub - an uber-like app for outdoor services in New York area - last year has made seasonal adjustment and turned to SnoHub - an uber-like app for snow cleaning services.
Another example of the apps that question traditional user-to-system communication are the apps that rely on alternative interfaces. For example, a buzzed about Detour issued in 2016 applies hyper-sensitive geolocation and place recognition to activate fully audio interface for guided touring.
On one hand, it triggers competition with familiar visual interfaces, on the other hand - it creates opportunities for smoother user experiences that rely on the senses other than vision. Such alternative interfaces may appear more appropriate for certain apps functionality, if not the only exclusive. In fact, it’s not for nothing that Apple has been focused on audio interfaces with its Air Pods for a while already.
Now take all three focuses and apply them at once and you will get the vision of a new generation of apps we should expect to build in the foreseeable future. These are highly personalized and deeply customizable mobile systems that rely on high tech and are able to process massive data to provide the maximum of user experience via traditional and alternative communication channels across different industries and fields.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi