In the year 2013, the mobile technology sector has grown immensely. More people than ever own smartphones, and just by September, tablet sales soared 83 percent. Most of the technology trends Gartner compiled involved mobile as well, including HTML 5 / hybrid app development, enterprise app stores, cloud computing, and big data.

We asked our own developers about what app development trends they’ve seen in the past year when working on client projects. Here’s what they said is most in demand.

1. Social Media Integration

social media integration

Integrating apps with social media like Facebook and Twitter has become a necessity for just about every mobile application. It’s an essential marketing strategy to popularize apps and help them spread virally.

In the most effective integrations, the user can sign in using Facebook or Twitter credentials and share information without ever leaving the app. Posting a high score from a game, a picture made in a creative app, or the amount of time saved using a productivity app not only sparks conversation among the users’ friends, it essentially displays a trusted recommendation for the app.

Social media integration also enables businesses to get direct feedback from consumers, as well as more information on how their apps are being used.

2. Enterprise Apps

Enterprise app development

The app store installed on every smartphone and tablet is really only half the story when it comes to mobile app development. A growing number of projects at Zco are for enterprise apps, which are deployed internally by businesses and other organizations. They might connect to existing company databases or store documents so that sales, marketing, HR, engineering, or other teams have quick access to information.

Frequently, enterprise apps must accommodate the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement. As employees use their personal mobile devices to get work done, companies are providing their own apps to ensure that sensitive information is secure and that business processes are followed. With less control over what

3. Hybrid Apps

Hybrid mobile app development

Releasing on a single platform isn’t as attractive an option as it used to be. Reaching more users right away, whether for a consumer or enterprise app, helps build momentum and establish a critical mass that spurs even more adoption.

Cost effectiveness and development speed are major driving factors in the rising popularity of hybrid apps. Because most of the code is written on a universal level and then placed in platform-specific wrappers, apps can be developed for Android, iOS and Windows simultaneously. Tools like Xamarin and Titanium make hybrid apps simpler to develop, maintain, and update, ultimately reducing cost.

4. Better User Experience (UX)

Mobile user experience

Users have come to insist upon not just functional, but beautiful and intuitive apps for their mobile devices. To get users, then, app creators try to build those aspects in. Often, that can mean delaying one or two functional features so that the initial release can be dead simple. Fewer buttons and instant response helps users understand and enjoy an app right away, and that makes them more comfortable recommending it. New functions can then be added later on, rewarding early adopters and enticing more technical users.

We expect these trends to continue into 2014. We’re also looking forward to doing more development for wearable devices like Google Glass and smartwatches, connected appliances and products on the Internet of Things, and Smart TVs, as well as augmented reality apps. Have a happy new year, and let us know what you expect in the days to come!

Tags: app development trends in 2013, Cost of hybrid apps development, essential marketing strategy to popularize apps, social media integration, enterprise apps, Better User Experience