Hand holding foldable phone with two flip phones on a table below
16th Apr 2021

3 mobile app trends for 2021

The latest mobile app trends are focused on improving usability and creating new digital experiences. These trends are set to change the way users consume content and interact with apps. Adapting your app to accommodate these trends will ensure you’re exceeding user expectations. Here are the three mobile app trends you need to watch out for in 2021.

1. Foldable smartphone apps

Foldable devices, specifically smartphones, are making a come-back after their heyday in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It’s estimated that in 2025, there’ll be around 100 million shipments of foldable phones globally. With new technology and sleek designs, smartphone giants like Samsung and Huawei have both released multiple models of foldable smartphones. Even Motorola, the original ‘flip phone’ creator, strode onto the scene with their Razr and Razr 5G models. These new foldable smartphones boast dual window functionality, transforming your smartphone into a tablet with a flip of a screen. A multi-window interface allows users to switch between screens, layer apps on top of each other and pause and resume apps for increased productivity. These phones add a new dimension to the mobile app market, but what impact can this have on your business?

For businesses that offer an app or digital experience, the foldable market could reap dividends in the long-term. These revamped devices provide more on-screen real estate for businesses to showcase their offering, features and additional technologies. Ultimately, the businesses who will get the most value from creating foldable device apps are the ones that use the extra space to improve user experience (UX).

In terms of development, creating an app for a foldable device uses commonplace practices. In most cases, apps are already designed to work on smartphones and tablets. To re-engineer an app for foldable devices you simply need to combine both those experiences, creating a single experience that seamlessly transitions between the two.

As with all trends, there are considerations that any business should review before looking to move into the market. Any apps for foldable devices need to consistently provide good UX, regardless of screen size or aspect ratio. For example, the app would need to accommodate the user switching from one window to another without any issues. Adapting for multi-windows is more than just development, it takes dedicated UX and UI design to construct an effective user journey and experience.

The foldable device market is in its infancy, and the devices themselves are priced higher than most smartphones. Whilst this currently isn’t accessible for the majority of the market, the foldable device trend should stay on the radar of any business who owns an app or digital solution.

2. Mobile wallets

A mobile wallet is a digital app that links passwords, bank cards and loyalty cards to your phone, so you can complete digital transactions without needing physical cards. Mobile wallets can be used to pay in-store, for example using near field communication (NFC) to use ‘contactless’ payment in a shop. However, aside from physical shops, the digital landscape has created a large market for mobile wallets. Tech giants like Apple, Google and Samsung all have their own mobile wallet apps pre-installed on their smartphones. With over 779 billion digital transactions completed worldwide in 2020, mobile wallet integration is now vital for ecommerce businesses.

By using a mobile wallet, you can store loyalty card information, discount codes and even pay bills. For individuals who are low on time, bill alerts can be set up to ensure a timely payment, reducing the chances of receiving late payment charges. Alternatively, you can automate your finances, enabling auto-payments from your mobile wallet so your bills are paid on a set day every month.

With a vast amount of sensitive information in a smartphone, security is a major priority for individuals, retailers and banks alike. There are various approaches mobile wallet app developers take to ensure users and their money stays safe. Aside from encryption and other standard security features, biometric authentication can also be used. This is where an individual’s fingerprint, face, iris or even heartbeat is scanned to verify an action or transaction. It’s estimated around 2.5 million biometric cards will be issued in 2021 alone, reducing the need for pins and passwords. These advanced security measures also reduce the likelihood of fraud, indirectly promoting consumer trust between retailers and their customers.

In the banking world, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used globally to detect fraud quicker and more accurately. The more transactions their systems analyse, the quicker the systems will get at detecting fraud. This intense monitoring of physical and digital transactions showcases how banks have adapted to the changing methods of payment.

As a business, integrating with mobile wallets is an important step forward. These wallets are moving outside of in-app and contactless payments to merge with revolutionary technology. For example, product QR codes can be scanned through a customer’s smartphone camera, syncing to a mobile wallet. This could change the way high-street retailers operate in the future, potentially reducing the need for tills and payment points. Instead, customers can scan QR codes, pay with their mobile wallets and walk out with their newly purchased items. A similar approach is being used in the US across stores like Walmart and Target, who use their own apps for QR code and barcode scanning respectively.

Mobile wallets can even be used with currencies such as crypto. Crypto wallets that hold Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular due to the rise in these alternative investment and payment methods. Blockchain.com’s statistics show the upward growth of blockchain wallet users, which has reached just under 70 million as of March 2021.

If your business processes transactions, mobile wallet integration is a must-have to stay up to date with consumer expectations and industry standards. Mobile wallets are easy to use, convenient and secure, allowing consumers to complete transactions faster than ever before.

3. Instant apps & App clips

Instant apps (Android) and app clips (Apple) are a mobile trend that allow users to try an app without installing it onto their device. Instant apps and app clips are common within gaming apps during the ‘ad breaks’. Rather than watching a 10 second video, the user can play another app’s game and is prompted to either install the app or move on. These app previews showcase the very best an app has to offer.

These types of app previews aren’t solely bound to in-app ads; they can be used to help old and new users on the go. If you need a taxi after a long day out, but you don’t have the time or data to download an app, you can simply follow an instant app link. This link will take you to the main features of the app so you can, in this case, request a taxi from the comfort of your browser. This accessible, easy-to-use functionality increases conversion rates and promotes repeat business. For users trying out your products or services for the first time, it’s a great way to increase brand exposure.

From a development viewpoint, it’s fairly easy to adapt your business’ app for this feature. The app’s code is modular, so users only see what you want them to see: the very best of the app’s functionality. Creating an instant app or app clip for your business’ app will allow users across both operating systems to engage with and download it after sampling the best it has to offer. Using instant apps alone, Hollar, a discount platform, experienced a 20% increase in conversions, showing how powerful this mobile trend can be for business growth.

Mobile app trends that stick

Regardless of your industry or niche, there are principles and technologies behind each of the trends we’ve mentioned that can be used for your business’ digital growth. Regularly reviewing how your competitors are using these emerging trends to their advantage, or reflecting how your business could pave the way, will keep you ahead of the game.

We’ve been creating digital solutions for businesses across multiple platforms since 2009, so we know our mobile apps from our web apps. If you’re looking to create an app for your business, or need help with a digital project, get in touch with our expert team for data-driven guidance.

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