It’s a new year, something inherently apparent in the proliferation of top trends lists for everything from health and romance to technology and travel. There really is something appealing about these summaries and predictions—we all love them, seek them out, and peruse each for the nuggets of insight that keep us in the know and ahead of the game. They are tradition. Why mess with that?
In that spirit, here’s ReachMobi’s ode to the sizzling take on mobile application trends in this year.
1) CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS KING
Everything begins with the user experience and journey. Your user interface (UI) is your virtual building, and your user experience (UX) is your service. What does your virtual building look like? Does it match your brand and mission? Baccarat customers don’t shop at Dollar Tree for their stemware, nor do these stores look or treat their customers the same. If a customer can’t find what they want or feels unwanted, your competitor is a click away. This year, pay attention to how your applications look, feel, and cater to your customers. In 2023, the customer experience is king.
What are the critical elements of an optimal customer experience?
- Navigation is how the user moves through the application. Successful navigation should be intuitive and straightforward to use. The layout for menus and buttons assists in navigation and is clear and consistent.
- Performance is about speed and responsiveness. How quickly does the application load? How smooth are the animations?
- Visual Design speaks to comfort, branding, and appropriateness. A well-designed app should be visually appealing and consistent. The layout should be elegantly intuitive. Typography, colors, and graphics enhance the app’s visual appeal and usability.
- User Input relates to information flow. The easier it is for users to supply the information necessary for the app to work, the more likely they’ll use it. Input includes typing, voice commands, or gestures.
- Accessibility relates to use. If a person is blind (or needs readers) or has a physical or cognitive limitation, will they still be able to use the app? Designing for accessibility includes using high-contrast colors, supporting screen readers, and providing alternative input methods.
2) SEEING IS BELIEVING
Now that shopping online is the norm, customers want to see, touch, and experience what they’re buying virtually before they buy it. This juncture is where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) come into play. Applications of each may be as simple as a sweater changing color on a model to a complex living experience in the metaverse. The point is, two-dimensional and static are so 2010s. If your mobile applications aren’t employing AR and VR, prepare to fall behind.
Here are three examples of how mobile applications use augmented and virtual reality to improve the customer shopping experience:
- Try-On and Sampling
Beauty and fashion retailers use augmented reality to allow customers to sample clothes or makeup virtually and see how they would look before making a purchase. For example, the Sephora app uses AR to let customers test makeup virtually on a digital representation of their skin.
- Interactive Product Demos
AR and VR are essential in creating interactive product demos that help customers better understand the features and benefits of a product. For instance, the IKEA Place app uses AR to allow customers to place virtual furniture in their homes and visualize where it will go before purchasing.
- Enhanced In-Store Experiences
Some mobile apps walk into stores. For instance, Walmart’s app uses AR to help customers navigate the store, find products, and get information about prices and deals. Similarly, the Lowe’s app deploys AR to help customers visualize how different paint colors would look in their homes.
3) COME TOGETHER
Think Walmart, Tesco, Costco, or even a mega mall. In the brick-and-mortar world, each began as a general retailer, and over time, each got into everything from insurance and building services to vacation and funeral planning. The mobile application world is at its “come together” moment, where mega applications host smaller applications in what is termed a “super app” to provide in-common customers expanded services, options and products, or in the old lexicon, “one-stop shopping.”
While super apps are most common in Asia (WeChat, Grab, Gojek, etcetera), North American companies are beginning to catch up. Here are three examples:
- Uber is a popular ride-hailing app that offers food delivery, freight delivery, and more. It has also recently launched a partnership with Walgreens to provide on-demand delivery of health and wellness products.
- DoorDash is a food delivery app that has expanded its offerings to include convenience and grocery store delivery, making it a one-stop shopping for its consumers, including alcohol and pet supplies delivery.
- Square is a financial services company that offers a range of B2B products, including payment processing, payroll and employee management, and marketing tools. It hit the super app stratosphere when it expanded its offerings to B2C, cornering the market, so to speak, on cash transfers, investments, and loans.
4) FORT KNOX
Spear phishing, breaches, malware, and malcontents, the mobile app world is brimming with malevolence, and even the biggest and brawniest aren’t safe. If you have a mobile app, your customer data needs to be as secure as a gold bar in Fort Knox within another Fort Knox. Some of these are easy to add, like two-factor authentication and identity verification, and others require a little tooling under the hood. The more secure your customers feel, the more time (and money) they’ll spend with you. Guard their data as if it were the gold in Fort Knox—because in the digital world, it is.
Here are three considerations to keep in mind when choosing security protocols for your app:
- Level of Security
The security protocol you choose should be strong enough to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security threats. Consider using protocols that offer advanced encryption, hashing algorithms, and multi-factor authentication to ensure your app is secure.
The security protocol must be compatible with the mobile platform for which you’re developing. Android and iOS have different security protocols, and you’ll need to choose protocols that work well with your platform.
- User Experience
To be effective, the security protocol you choose should add to rather than detract from the user experience. It needs to be transparent and not cause any significant delays or interruptions. Passwords should be easy to recover or reset, as well as any lost data.
Prioritizing the level of security, compatibility, and user experience when selecting security protocols for their apps ensures mobile developers that their apps are secure, efficient, and user-friendly.
5) TALK TO ME
Alexa and Siri have trained an entire generation to abandon their keyboards and use voice commands. In fact, with smart homes and such services, a growing percentage of customers are now reaching you via a voice rather than finger taps, and they’re begging you, “Talk to me,” or at least listen. Mobile apps of the future integrate and use voice technology in search, interaction, and communication. It’s also smart from an accessibility position, giving those with sight issues (including those over forty who have misplaced their reading glasses) even more reason to engage with your app.
- Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are each virtual assistants available on various smart devices, including smartphones, smart speakers, smart home devices, and third-party apps. Each uses voice commands to perform tasks. Common requests include playing music, setting alarms, making phone calls, and controlling smart home devices.
- Duolingo is another example of a voice commanded application. This language learning application captures the voice and accent of the user and assists the learning and pronunciation.
6) CAN WE CHAT?
Customers expect instant access to customer service, and much of this can be accomplished through AI-driven chatbots. Of course, there is a fine line. The quickest way to anger a frustrated customer is to loop them into the tenth circle of hell Dante forgot to mention—the Netherland of chatbots that never leads to a human or answers the question. Skillfully balancing the human with the chat is the key to 2023’s most successful apps.
Here are three examples of companies that use AI-driven chatbots to drive business and improve the customer experience.
- H&M, a fashion retailer, uses an AI-powered chatbot on its website and mobile app to assist customers with questions about sizing, returns, and product availability. The chatbot provides quick and helpful responses to customers’ inquiries, improving the overall customer experience.
- Sephora uses an AI-powered chatbot on its website and mobile app to help customers personalize their product choices. The chatbot answers questions about makeup application techniques, recommends products based on customers’ preferences, and even schedules in-store appointments.
- Domino’s Pizza uses an AI-powered chatbot to streamline the ordering process. Customers can use the chatbot to place an order, track their order status, and get answers to frequently asked questions, making ordering a pizza convenient and stress-free for customers.
7) WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Your app may be global, but your customers are local. Apps set for growth explosions in 2023 nestle into the neighborhood and provide products and services with that native touch, or at least they feel like they’re local. This trend will significantly benefit businesses, particularly local businesses that press neighborliness and their commitment to the neighborhood.
Here are three examples of mobile applications that enhance the local shopping experience and follow users into the neighborhood.
- Shopkick’s application rewards users with points (called “kicks”) for visiting participating stores, scanning select products, and making purchases. Users redeem their kicks for gift cards and other rewards, allowing the app to incentivize users to visit local stores and make purchases through an enjoyable shopping experience.
- RetailMeNot offers users discounts and deals on products and services, including those provided by local stores. Users can search for coupons and offers based on location, saving coupons to their accounts for later use. The app saves money and supports local businesses.
- Yelp is a popular review app that allows users to search for and review local businesses by category, location, and keyword. User-generated reviews and photos enable customers to get a feel for the company before they visit and find local businesses that meet their needs.
8) ENTERTAIN ME
The vast majority of people alive grew up with video games. Perhaps they are adults now. That doesn’t mean they don’t like having fun and engaging in a bit of competition. Whether it’s a language learning application or a financial services product, the apps that win are the apps that entertain while performing a task or at least don’t bore the user to death.
Many mobile apps use gamification to provide a service, but three standouts in the category are:
- Duolingo, the language learning app, uses gamification to make learning fun and engaging. The app provides a variety of game-like exercises, including word matching and multiple-choice questions, to help users learn, understand and practice over thirty languages.
- Habitica tracks daily tasks and goals and turns achieving each into a game. Users create avatars and earn rewards for completing tasks and building good habits. Social features allow users to join groups and compete with friends.
- Nike Run Club is a fitness app that uses gamification to motivate users to run and stay active. The app provides personalized coaching, customized training plans, virtual badges, and rewards for achieving goals and milestones. Users can also compete with friends and participate in virtual running challenges.
9) ABRACADABRA! INSTA-APPS
Insta-apps allow people to use an app first before installing it. Google Play Instant is pioneering this concept and technology for Android phones, effectively removing one of the significant steps to adoption, downloads. Gamified applications do best for this format, and in-app purchases can still be included within the insta-app.
Here are three examples of successful insta-apps:
- BuzzFeed, the popular news and entertainment website, uses an Instant App to allow users to browse their content without downloading the entire app. Through the insta-app, users can read articles, watch videos, and take quizzes from their browser.
- The New York Times Crossword Insta-app lets users solve crossword puzzles without downloading the whole app. Users can play the daily crossword and access a limited selection of past puzzles.
- Onefootball delivers soccer news and scores app via its Insta-app. Users view the latest soccer news, scores, and highlights and can set their favorite teams to receive personalized news and scores.
Using digital wallets to bypass entering credit card information or swiping at multiple vendors is increasingly the consumer’s preference online and offline. Everyone now carries a mobile phone or smartwatch, and digital wallets remove the need to carry a wallet with debit and credit cards. Everything is protected by biometrics and passwords, ready to be used and safely tucked away again without the danger of scanners intercepting or dishonest clerks swiping the numbers.
The popularity of digital wallets varies by region. Alipay and WeChat Pay are particularly popular in Asia. In North America, savvy mobile developers will want to integrate one or more of the three.
- PayPal is one of the oldest and most widely used digital wallets, with over 392 million active users worldwide. It allows users to send and receive money, make online purchases, and store payment information securely. The company also offers a physical debit card for use in stores.
- Apple Pay is a digital wallet developed by Apple that allows users to make in-store, online, and in-app purchases using their Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. It has gained popularity due to its ease of use and security features.
- Google Pay is a digital wallet developed by Google that allows users to send and receive money, make online purchases, and pay in-store using their Android phones. It offers additional features, including cashback rewards and the ability to store loyalty cards.
Technology and tools have significantly improved what apps can do, how they do it, and what they cost. Tailored experiences can be created on a budget, and a little app can quickly become the next big thing. That’s a wrap. Each will help new applications stand out.
Connecting users to fantastic mobile experiences that get them and give them what they want is exactly what we do! Explore our apps on the Google Play Store.