Last month the Radical team predicted 6 UI trends we expect to see in 2017. This month, we’re looking at what to expect from mobile apps this year.

1. Android Instant Apps

Announced at Google’s developer conference last year and now in a live trial phase, Android Instant Apps represent a significant change in how customers first interact with a new app by removing the requirement to download it before accessing functionality.

Users can access specific content within Android Instant enabled apps by tapping on a shared link. The example given by Google showed a recipe being shared from an app. The receiver didn’t have the app installed but was able to open the recipe via the share link and view it in the app without downloading the full APK file.

If the user wants the full app, it can be downloaded in the background. If they don’t, no problem, they can still view the content that was shared with them and move on without the app taking up space on their device.

This is a positive change to the app on-boarding process, as it doesn’t require a file download or free space on the device, and works quickly and intuitively.


2. Internet of Things

IoT products have been a particular success in the ‘smart homes’ space, with brands such as Hive and Nest now well established and instantly recognisable. IoT shows no signs of slowing down and is actually predicted to grow even faster in 2017, as users become more trusting of its capabilities and expectant of new innovations.

Researchers have predicted that the number of connected devices will exceed 50 billion by 2020 and the value of the IoT market will increase by around 33% each year until 2021.

Google’s release of Android Things, a version of Android to run on connected products, in December was a big moment for developers and product houses alike. With this, Google is making IoT development and production more accessible and encouraging new innovation.


3. Artificial Intelligence

AI is predicted to be the main growth area as a result of software becoming more sophisticated, with technology research specialists Gartner suggesting that investment in AI will increase by more than 300% this year.

Expect to see more personalised experiences across the board, as apps learn more about your needs and wants the more you use them. Early success stories have been in retail, where AI can play the role of personal shopper but there is also great potential in enterprise products and education.

4. Use of the Cloud

Cloud computing has been commonplace for some time now but in 2017 it will make a huge impact in the world of mobile apps. Developers have always been cautious about how much space an app takes up on a user’s phone, conscious that these devices are used for music and file storage by a large proportion of the market.

There have also been questions around best practice for infrastructure when integrating IoT and AI, both of which are becoming more prominent.

Cloud technologies provide a seamless solution for all of the above, allowing developers to sync data with a server and other devices instantly. For this reason, cloud based apps will become a key theme of 2017.


5. Augmented and Virtual Reality

AR and VR seem to be on this type of list every year, either as an upcoming fad or the next big thing. While both have definitely been used for plenty of gimmicks, AR’s credibility was proven with the huge success of Pokemon Go in 2016 and VR became more accessible through PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and, not least, Google Cardboard.

Most success stories have been in gaming so far and while we expect to see more hit AR and VR games, we also predict that the technologies will find a place across other areas, particularly with big data and analysis.