What does 2015 hold for the iOS apps market (and the businesses that rely on them to market and sell products and services)?
It is possibly one of the most prevalent topics among organizations (and the iOS app development community). Competition among app development firms is at a peak; there are more than 1.4 million apps on the Apple store today, alone.
Every tech-savvy consumer and business is keeping an eye on updated trends that impact the mobile app market (specifically, there is a focus on iOS app development). It’s predicted that applications will become both complex and luxurious, at the same time.
So, here’s a look at the trends to watch and how small and large firms, alike, can leverage them.
iOS or Android?
To understand the industry’s growth and competitive market share, it’s important to take note of development trends. “The worldwide smartphone market grew 13.0% year over year in 2015 Q2, with 341.5 million shipments, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.”
The battle between iOS and android ensues, but Andriod takes the lion share. According to reports, “Android shipments lead the global smartphone market, with 283 million units shipped and over 84% of the market share in the third quarter of 2014 (ITKeyMedia).” While, “iOS continues to drop in market share, down to just 11.7% from 12.8% in the same quarter last year, representing the growing shift of demand toward low-cost smartphones.”
However, when it comes to revenue for developers, “Apple’s mobile platform still stands supreme (BGR).” The reason is that Android phones are low-cost devices, in comparison. And “iOS users tend to spend up to four times as much on apps than Android users.” For perspective, “, iOS apps drew in more bucks last year than the movie business (ReadWrite).”
Even critics attest to the fact that Apple is updating its operating system more frequently. The major redesign of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with incorporation between iOS 8 (mobile) and OS X Yosemite (desktop operating systems) earned high marks for Apple in 2014, along with the advent of the Apple Watch, iPad and iPhone lineup.
But Google has changed its Google Play services (the gatekeeper to all Google services on your mobile device) functionality from the core OS. They have also taken a giant step to unite Android variations. This, coupled with Google’s welcoming of cloud application development with web and desktop apps, broaden the user experience.
Essentially, as Android Central contributor Alex Dobie notes, “Rather than devs having to worry about targeting each of these Google features differently across OS versions, the heavy lifting is done by Play Services. What’s more, users aren’t left in the lurch if they’re not running the latest version of Android.”
With the launch of Apple’s first wearable tech product, the Apple Watch – now iPhone app developers are fast at work creating apps for the iPhone, iPad and wearables.
“Developers can make apps for the Apple Watch using WatchKit. Currently WatchKit supports looks (notifications), glances (widgets), and WatchKit apps (remote views), with native apps coming later this year. Apple has also made several other unique apps for the Apple Watch, including Fitness, Activity, and Workout for health and fitness, a remote viewfinder for the iPhone’s camera, and more (iMore)!”
In past many wearable device apps were limited to health care or fitness, but capabilities are evolving and even organizations are leaning towards wearable devices to track and measure productivity and efficiency.
Speculations are on the rise, suggesting that the next-generation Apple TV (digital media player and a microconsole) will offer “a more open developer platform with app distribution.” “Unlike its developer program and vast ecosystem of apps on iOS and Mac, there’s not much we know about Apple’s strategy for content on the Apple TV (9to5).”
These developments suggest that iPhone app development firms will need to address the needs of not only smartphones and wearables, but smart devices in the future as well.
IT research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc., forecasts that “through 2015, more than 75 percent of mobile applications will fail basic security tests.” This is a primary concern that mobile application development companies must understand and address.
Mobile app misconfigurations can create serious security issues as many mobile device users are shifting personal and confidential business data into smart devices.
Today companies and consumers expect heightened security measures to guard their data. Major hacking threats seek to exploit security gaps of unsophisticated and poorly designed apps. To protect sensitive information, every mobile app development company will need to take major steps to improve app security; and the companies that hire them will need to make it a key business priority.
All credit goes to beacon technology, “Apple’s technology standard, which allows mobile apps (running on both iOS and Android devices) to listen for signals from beacons in the physical world and react accordingly. In essence, iBeacon technology allows Mobile Apps to understand their position on a micro-local scale, and deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on location (iBeacon Insider).”
These developments are minimizing the gap between online and offline interaction; especially in advertising and retail sectors. Apple initiated the integration of this technology into its operating system, extending location-based services with Bluetooth low energy (BLE).
Essentially, every iPhone app development company (and retailers) can target customers on a micro level. You can immediately “understand exactly where a customer is in the brick and mortar environment. This provides an opportunity to send customers highly contextual, hyper-local, meaningful messages and advertisements on their smartphones.” A large number of establishments (e.g., airports, sports arenas, etc.) are integrating iBeacons to share information and connect with Apple devices.
Beacon technology will be at a peak this year, making geofencing a momentous feature. Practical application for geofencing includes, “For example, a network administrator can set up alerts so when a hospital-owned iPad leaves the hospital grounds, the administrator can disable the device. A marketer can geo-fence a retail store in a mall and send a coupon to a customer who has downloaded a particular mobile app when the customer (and his smartphone) crosses the boundary (Tech Target).”
Likewise, Wi-Fi will follow the same pattern with apps using location-based Wi-Fi service. This will continue to help business determine the locations of their customers and going to provide specific marketing content on their smart devices.
The rise of Wi-Fi and Beacon services will pave the way for more mobile application development companies will have to provide hyper-local and smart content to consumers.
One thing is clear, more so now than ever: app development companies (and businesses that rely on mobile apps) will need to focus on platform-optimized and exploitative apps to compete in a fast-paced and ever-changing market.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Shoaib Shoukat is the Owner and Founder of Amaxza Digital, a website design and mobile application development company that provides application development services to all mobile devices such as Android, iPhone, iPad and Facebook application development. Connect with @amaxzadigital on Twitter.