In today’s mobile-first world, it’s difficult to imagine a life without a smartphone. There is an app for everything: shopping, booking tickets, hiring a cab, ordering your favorite cuisine, etc. Ericsson expects the number of smartphone subscriptions to reach 4 billion in the year 2016.

In 2015, mobile technology has already started migrating from smartphones and tablets to wearable devices and the Internet of Things. Consumers are syncing their smart devices with wearables and home appliances through apps. For developers, keeping up to date with changing mobile technology has become an essential standard rather than an option. What mobile app development trends will we see in 2016?

1. Enterprise app development will expand

Icons of businesspeople

Developers love enterprise apps, owing to the monetary benefits attached. Currently 43% of app developers who make enterprise apps earn above $10K per month as compared to developers of consumer apps.

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017, the market demand for enterprise mobile apps will outpace IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them by five to one. As enterprise apps gain more traction, developers will move toward development jobs that pay the bills.

2. More emphasis will be on app security

Smartphone with padlocks on screen

With the growing number of smart apps and exchange of information over the web, data security has become essential. Network World reports that Veracode found “cryptographic issues” in more than 80 percent of the Android and iOS apps it analyzed. As this issue needs to be resolved, emphasis on data security will remain high in 2016 as well.

For developers, 2016 will be a year of big security challenges. Using one-time keys in NFC apps, for example, protects highly sensitive personal information like bank details and social security numbers, but that’s just the start. Developers have to use security measures like two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Updates in Apple’s iOS 9 and Android Marshmallow provide high-end security protocols for developers, so mobile payments are expected to become safer in the coming days.

3. Cloud-based app development will continue to grow

Technology icons in clouds

In 2015, cloud technology has played a significant role in mobile app development. The biggest advantage with cloud-based application development is that it allows developers to build apps that can be accessed on different devices with the same features, functions, and data.

With the growing usage of smart devices and wearables, more enterprises are now moving to cloud technology to build their applications. App developers will have to meet the challenge of designing cloud-based mobile applications that can be synced over multiple devices without compromising features, functionalities, or security.

4. The Internet of Things will take center stage

Internet-enabled devices connected via Wi-Fi

The Internet of Things includes appliances, sensors, and many other connected devices. In 2016, app developers will focus on building more apps to make these products useful. The World Economic Forum has predicted that more than 5 billion people and 50 billion things will be connected by 2020.

With IoT, smartphones are becoming the controlling hub for smart devices and vehicles. Mobile applications offer development opportunities for IoT apps like home automation, healthcare, integrated security control systems, energy efficiency, and more.

5. Apple Watch apps to get more exposure

Icons of Apple Watch functions

In 2015, Apple released the Apple Watch and launched watchOS 2. The update, allowing apps to run directly on the device, significantly boosted application development for Apple Watch. As of September, the number of Apple watch apps available has crossed 10,000 and this figure is only expected to increase in 2016. App developers will shift their emphasis to app development for Apple Watch and wearable device apps for enterprise and other industries in the next year.

6. User Experience will be the highest priority

Tablet and phones in use

With the availability of countless smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, end users will meet more experiences across different environments in the coming years. In 2016, developers will give more emphasis to building apps that look and perform well on all devices - from the small display of Apple Watch to the rapidly increasing screen size of the new smartphones and even giant desktop monitors.

For developers, more challenges will come in the way of bringing advanced design. App analytics will help developers to predict present and upcoming the trends in user interaction.

7. Cross-platform app development tools will rise in use

Icons of Android, iOS, and Windows devices

2016 is going to be a year of hybrid apps and the emphasis on native apps is expected to decline. With the plethora of mobile devices with advanced features and functionalities, developers have no choice but to support multiple platforms. In 2016, cross-platform tools will gain more demand and popularity in mobile app development services. Developers will increasingly rely on different cross-platform tools like Xamarin, Appcelerator, and PhoneGap to develop powerful hybrid apps in the coming year.

What do you think?

As you look ahead to the new year, what trends do you see continuing or changing? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: Mobile app development, Enterprise mobile app development, Mobile app security, Cloud app development, Cross-platform mobile app development tools, Apps for Apple Watch, Internet of Things devices