The evolution of the mobile app industry can be somewhat random. At the same time however it’s not too difficult to predict what might be on the horizon if you look closely at what this market looks like today. The popularity and development of different technologies and types of apps gives us clear indications of what we might be seeing in the next year or two. With that in mind, these are some of my guesses as to what types of apps will either rise in popularity or continue to be popular in the next 12 to 24 months.
The easy answer to any question about the mobile apps of tomorrow is augmented reality. Still somewhat new, having only really been on the scene in a major way for about a year now, AR is becoming more familiar to users, and developers are starting to do more with the technology. Used in everything from gaming to retail, it’s a tech that has limitless potential, and which should only become more popular as our devices become better equipped for it. In particular, everyone is waiting on Apple’s long-rumored AR glasses, which would seem to have the potential to turn AR into one of the bigger tech stories of the decade if and when they’re ultimately released.
Subscription services cover a broad swath of apps, but they’re worth considering as one category for one reason. That is that if you look at the apps with the highest sales revenue across iOS and Android platforms alike, many of them have subscription models. Spotify, Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu are clear examples, but even services like Tinder (which is fourth on the list) have subscription models that a lot of people use. The general subscription model has proven to work beautifully for mobile apps, which means we’ll likely only see more of it.
Casino games can seem to many to be a little bit on the fringes of online and mobile entertainment. But the truth is that there are absolute droves of people who have long played these games online, and there’s a huge amount of evidence that suggests that mobile gaming is the future for casinos of all kinds. The games are getting more sophisticated and attractive (and dipping into AR and VR as well), payment methods are becoming more trusted, and there’s even some hope for the games to become legal in more areas in the near future. For these reasons, this category too appears poised for growth.
This is a category I’m mentioning simply in the hopes of catching it on the way up. While basic financial apps are nothing new, there’s a shift in how we’re using them. Services like PayPal and Square are essentially becoming digital, mobile banks, and others like Robinhood and Stash are helping people to invest in stock markets (and even the cryptocurrency market) with ease, and with minimal fees. These are all fairly new developments, and appear to be setting the stage for people, and perhaps younger people in particular, to use mobile apps more regularly to manage their finances.
Even a year ago, it was clear that there are all kinds of educational apps out there. They can teach science, make literature more accessible, teach art, provide visual assistance for teachers, and so much more. And while this category is already fairly full, there are two reasons to keep it in mind for the future. One is that there’s always room for more teaching tools and new lessons and programs. The other is that schools, teachers, and students are still in the process of adopting apps as regularly used tools. As this idea becomes more regularly accepted, these apps are going to be in even more demand.