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Mobile App Trends: What does the Future Hold?

Aug 17, 2017 - Blog

After seeing the Apple App Store launched all the way back in 2008, it’s incredible to look back and see how far we’ve progressed in those nine years. Mobile app trends are constantly evolving, and with tastes becoming ever more sophisticated, users are demanding more from the hottest new apps.

Exciting new features soon become commonplace though, so it’s important as app designers to keep an eye on what will be happening in future just as much as what’s popular right now. With that in mind, here are our thoughts on some of the most interesting mobile app trends at the moment, and what we might see in the future.

Haptic Feedback Dominates

Haptic feedback gives the user a sensory touch experience when they interact with their device. Subtle vibration patterns can be used to provide both tactile feedback to the user for their actions, and to guide and encourage certain behaviours.

Thanks to the decreasing costs of electro-active polymer actuators (the technology behind haptic feedback), the use of haptics within devices is only going to become more and more common, so app designers should consider adding haptics to their list of possible UX interactions.

The Rise of Wearables

Why carry your tech with you when you can wear it? The wearables market is expanding rapidly, so when considering which devices to target, be sure to include wearable devices (such as the Apple Watch and Huawei Watch) if you want your app to reach its full potential – and audience.

Wearables aren’t limited to your wrist though. Thanks to the increasing use of smart textiles and sensors embedded into jewellery, clothing and tools, this mobile app trend means that it might not be long before you’re looking at your coat sleeve to see who just messaged you.

Card Design is Here to Stay

Cards are a great way of grouping information and making it more accessible and digestible for the user. Found in both web and mobile app design, cards allow for responsive designs that are clear and easy to use.

Cards can be used in various ways: card-based feeds in social media like Twitter and Facebook, boards like in Pinterest and Trello, and interactive stacks as seen in Tinder.

With such a reliance on this style of design, and especially given that Apple’s editorial team will begin using cards to promote various apps with the new App Store update coming with iOS 11 in the autumn, the use of this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Subtle Design and Sophisticated Colour Palettes

Modest and minimalist design has been a massive trend over the last 12 months, and this looks set to continue far into the future.

Stripped back colour palettes and a simple, yet sophisticated user interface (UI) is key – in other words, let your content do the talking. From AirBnB to Instagram, it’s clear that white space dominates, complemented by sleek iconography and well-considered colour.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

Following a big year for Sony’s PSVR, hot on the heels of the success of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, mobile is the next place we’ll see VR explode. Simple headsets you can drop your phone into have been around for a while, but over the next year, new phones will have more of the processing power needed to deliver a great VR experience.

Similarly, augmented reality – where a real-world view is overlaid with interactive graphical elements in real-time – is an exciting technology to consider. It has been shown to be useful in sectors such as retail, where you can try on clothing virtually or see how a coffee table will look in your lounge. Or travel, where foreign language signs can be translated in real-time just by pointing your phone’s camera at them.

Credit: Google 2017 I/O keynote

Bespoke Imagery and Illustration

Boring and obvious stock imagery has had its day. In 2017, the rise of custom illustrations, typefaces and brand-led photography within apps allow for a comprehensive and unique visual language, helping to effectively capture and convey the tone and personality of a brand.

Mobile app trends of this kind will allow designers to have more creative freedom when it comes to creating great animations, leading to a much more immersive and engaging brand experience.