Mobile application trends of 2021

2021/ 06/09

In our latest article you can find out 2021's greatest mobile app trends, and how you can improve your mobile app to a more user-friendly, modern interface.



5G technology  

Did you know that by 2021 the number of 5G smartphones have more than doubled to 600 million? And by 2022, nearly half of all mobile phones will be 5G-enabled. The most anticipated mobile application development trend for 5G is clearly demonstrated by Apple's announcement that with the start of the iPhone 12 series, all their devices will be able to connect to 5G network. 

There will be roughly 3.5 times more 5G connections in 2021 than in 2020. These connections will nearly triple by 2022. 

What does this mean for mobile app development? 

Speed and efficiency will improve dramatically. In fact, 5G is expected to reduce latency by 10x while increasing network efficiency and traffic capacity. 5G will be up to 100 times faster than 4G, depending on the mobile network operator. This high speed could revolutionise video streaming applications, in particular 4K video streaming, VR and AR 3D object handling, and better connectivity for IoT devices and services. 

The spread of 5G will also boost the functionality of mobile applications. This will allow developers to add new features to applications without negatively affecting its performance. 

Beacon technology  

Suppose a customer finds a pair of shoes online but wants to try them on physically. On his/her way to find that pair of shoes in stores, an app on his/her mobile phone shows the stores that sell the desired products, along with prices and specifications.  

Well, this is no longer just utopia, as beacon technology can make it possible now. Beacon technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals, so when the phone enters a beacon zone, the app picks up the signal and provides users with appropriate notifications and guidance.   

This technology has huge potential in the marketing industry as it can reduce the gap between users and businesses. Industries such as hotels, museums or healthcare therefore have already started to use beacons for their services. Beacons can also help track customer behaviour in stores by detecting when a user spends a significant amount of time in an aisle, and then the app can automatically trigger push notifications to encourage a sale on a particular product at a later time. 

Internet of things (IoT)  

People are used to using technology to improve their daily lives. The IoT describes a growing network of devices connected to the internet that provide convenience and automated control to consumers. Smart home technology is a perfect example of the rise of IoT and mobile app development.   

It has relevance in many different areas, such as connected appliances, smart home security systems, autonomous agricultural equipment, wearable health monitors, smart factory equipment, wireless inventory trackers, biometric cybersecurity scanners, etc. Some examples of IoT products are the Amazon Dash button, the Phillips lighting system, the August doorbell camera, or the August Smart lock. 

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)   

Augmented and virtual reality is something most of us have already experienced, beyond Instagram and Snapchat, in the PokemonGo app or perhaps in the "Live View" feature of Google Maps. AR & VR technology is also impacting mobile apps for camera, video and gaming, as VR technology can be combined with phones, apps and wearable devices to enhance the gaming experience of mobile apps.   

In terms of virtual reality and AR, these mobile app development trends cannot be ignored. In 2021, we could see AR & VR emerge with features such as motion tracking or people masking. Many AR-based app ideas will also become fully functional mobile apps, so industries such as healthcare, tourism, education, e-commerce, etc. will reap many benefits.   

Future trends in AR and VR include AR-based virtual user manuals, virtual training simulations and destination navigators, VR-based exploration activities, live music festivals and concerts, visual learning using AR and VR technology together. 

Animations and dynamic visual experience  

GIFs, illustrations or moving design elements continue to be popular and this trend is only set to grow. Static graphics are not as engaging as animated graphics for the users. Animated buttons, for example, can visually show the user what action should be performed, whereas pop-ups and banners do not have the same effect and may even discourage the user from performing the intended action. 

As well as being visually appealing, they can simplify navigation for users and create micro-interactions. This is a good tool to make digital products more attractive and advanced in the context of mobile design. However, it is important to remember that any animated object must have a purpose and do not appear randomly on the screen. 

3D elements and bright, futuristic colours  

3D elements are not new and unusual in mobile design, since they do interact well with users. 3D elements are particularly important for e-commerce brands to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of their users. Today, many graphic designers are trying to combine parallax 3D elements, which has proven to be a good design highlight. This can therefore be seen as the emergence of a new trend in modern mobile app design.   

2021 has also become a time of bright and bold colour schemes. Such colour schemes have become attractive to users, as the design has recently been dominated by minimalist trends with more subdued colour tones. Vibrant colour schemes offer a good opportunity for an application to stand out from its minimalist counterparts and remain in the memory of users. It is also possible to experiment with bright colours or even neon colour combinations in mobile app design. However, it is important to consider that bright colours should harmonise with each other. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been making their penetration into mobile app development for years, yet we've only just begun to scratch the surface of how to truly leverage these advanced technologies.  

When we first think of AI, virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa come to mind. But the potential applications go far beyond that in app development. In addition to existing technology, AI trends such as AI-based cameras, voice translation, user predictions could also find a new place in smartphones.  

Released last year by Apple, the latest version of Core ML, the machine learning framework for iOS, is designed to help developers embed AI technology into their apps.   

AI features that can be implemented into mobile apps include image recognition, facial recognition, text and image classification, emotion recognition and classification, among others. Apps can also be extended with speech recognition features, such as the easy integration of the Alrite speech recognition solution.  

The combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning can make applications smarter and improve performance at all levels. From the backend development process to the frontend user experience, AI will change the way applications are built in 2021. Whether it's Android or iOS mobile app development, it can learn from historical data, identify problems and fix them in real time. 

Chatbots/Voice-based user interface  

Chatbots have been around for more than a decade now and have evolved significantly over the years, since consumer demand for chatbots on websites has risen significantly, that became the new standard for customer service. Clearly, the coming year promises a rise in popularity of virtual assistants and voice chatbots.  

Actually only a small percent use chatbots from the millions of apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This is expected to change in 2021 and the near future.  

As chatbots are driven by artificial intelligence technology, their responses have become increasingly human-like. We have already talked about how AI continues to be on an upward trend, and the background to this is that the global market for chatbots is growing at 24% per year.   

An analysis predicts that by 2021, almost half of internet searches will be done without a screen or keyboard. This means brands will have to pay increasing attention to voice user interface technology. Now is the best time to engage customers with this design element, rather than waiting until this trend becomes a mandatory and familiar feature.Implementing this feature is now much easier than we think, as several speech recognition solutions can be easily implemented and integrated, such as Alrite.  

However, before you start developing a voice user interface, be sure to carefully study the behavioural patterns of your target audience. How do they search? What questions do they ask? How can you make your voice UI as user-friendly as possible? Does your audience really need it? 

Folding phones (Folding Display)  

Folding Display is one of the key mobile app development trends that mobile app developer companies should focus on. Samsung Galaxy Fold, Motorola Razr and Huawei Mate X are the first smartphones with Folding Display. These phones can be folded to compress or expand the screen size based on the user's preferences. For example, the user can make a call with the device closed, but watch video on a larger screen when the device is unfolded.   

This trend could continue to prevail in the coming years - while foldable devices currently account only for a slice of the total smartphone market share, we can expect a big change in the coming years, since 17% of iPhone users and 19% of Android users are excited to buy a phone with a foldable design, according to a 2019 study by USA Today. According to Statista, roughly 3.2 million foldable phones were shipped in 2019 and this is forecasted to reach 50 million units by 2022. 2021 will be a special year for foldable phones, which means app developers will need to plan accordingly.  

Foldable display opens up new challenges for mobile app developers. Mobile apps will need to adapt to the new display size so the app can adapt smoothly to the display as the screen folds or unfolds. 

Biometric authentication  

Biometric authentication has become part of mobile applications, especially in industries such as banking, finance and payments. Previously limited to unlocking mobile phones, it has now become a fast and convenient way to authenticate and log in to applications.  

The most significant factor influencing this trend in mobile app development is ease of use, as the user does not need to enter any login details or draw any patterns, just touch.  

In 2021, all mobile apps should work towards providing fingerprint or face unlock for users. In addition to facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, biometric authentication could include iris scanning, voice recognition and hand geometry.  

Cloud-based biometric solutions, online banking and mobile payments will be the futuristic trends of biometric authentication. 

Sources: Buildfire,, Statista, Business of Apps, Design your Way

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