Predicting trends in the mobile app market isn’t always the easiest thing to do. While they’re always apparent after the fact, we just don’t always see them coming, and sometimes all it takes is one great app to popularize a whole new genre. Understanding this uncertainty though, and the difficulty of predicting mobile trends, we thought we’d take a shot early in this new decade at identifying a few types of apps that might be very popular in the near future.
The idea of sharing one’s personal content via mobile tools is one that it feels like we’re only just beginning to explore. Late in 2019, you may have seen an article here concerning how to screen record on the OnePlus 7t, and this indeed is one way more people are beginning to share their activity and generate content. But the bet here is that in a vaguely similar vein, personal podcasting will explode in popularity in the coming years.
Right now, podcasting can justifiably be called one of the biggest trends in the mobile world – but usually it’s about listening. More recently, it seems as if more people are beginning to give recording podcasts a chance, and this is inevitably going to lead to a surge in apps that are built for this very activity. We may also see more existing podcast listening apps simply adapting to include recording features (as some of them already do).
Basically, the theory here is that personal podcasting could just about become the new-age version of blogging. And if that’s going to happen, there are likely going to be at least a dozen or so very popular apps supporting the activity.
Augmented Reality Shopping Apps
As you may have read about at one point or another by now, one of the most promising applications for augmented reality is in altering the retail shopping experience. Specifically, this technology – which shows digital elements through a screen as if they’re appearing in the real, physical space on the other side of that screen – can be used to allow shoppers to “try” items at home. This is mostly pitched as a cool experience for shoppers, who can enjoy more trial and error. For instance, someone in need of new furniture can use a phone to see what a given couch might look like in a given room.
However, what may really drive a trend in AR shopping apps is the benefit they offer to the retailers themselves. As one article on the subject put it, AR can help online retailers significantly reduce returns, because people can try items virtually instead of ordering them, finding they don’t work, and then returning them. This will in turn save the retailers a great deal of money on handling returns and restocking inventory. It’s for this reason that there’s significant incentive for retail companies to work with developers to produce AR apps in the coming years, as some have already done.
This is actually a slightly more complicated prediction, because it’s based not just on an emerging technology, but rather on shifting gambling culture, specifically in the United States. As you may or may not know depending on your familiarity with sports in the U.S., the country has more or less been closed to major sports betting companies for quite some time – until recently, that is. Of late, parts of the country have welcomed sports betting with the help of new laws built to allow it.
The change started when sports gambling was legalized in New Jersey in 2018, and it’s only expanded since then. New Jersey specifically now hosts numerous major sports betting companies, and some of those same companies are setting up shop elsewhere in America, bringing betting to the masses slowly but surely. This is primarily happening online – and in some cases specifically through appealing, modern mobile apps.
Why this matters regarding more global app trends is that the U.S. already holds so much sway over both mobile development and the world of sports. So, while betting apps already exist far and wide – at least where laws allow access to them – we’d expect the U.S. industry specifically to bring about a whole new suite of them, with odds for sports played all around the world. Right now, there are betting apps that are known specifically to enthusiastic, regular bettors; in a few years’ time, we’re guessing there will be a few that are more widely known as must-have mobile tools for any sports fan.
3D Printing Design Apps
Lastly, it seems at least somewhat likely that we’ll begin to see more 3D printing apps in the next few years. Right now 3D printing is still making its way to the masses; it’s used more in industries, and consumer 3D printers are quite expensive. However, there are tools that help people make 3D designs, and more ways are slowly emerging for people to print out their own work relatively affordably.
In the years ahead, we’re likely to see more commercial printing companies, as well as more affordable personal printers. And to help people make use of these services and products, there will need to be apps that simplify the 3D design process, and allow full customization of a range of products from scratch.
Only time will tell just how accurate these predictions ultimately are. But as difficult as it can be to see mobile trends in advance, there are a lot of good reasons to expect expansion and innovation in these app categories.