In a hundred years’ time, when the world’s tech writers look back on our primitive technology and chart the rise of the smartphone, they’ll pinpoint three years as being crucial to the technology.
The first will be 1994, which saw the release of the IBM Simon, a prototype for the smartphones we recognize today.
The second will 2007, when the first iPhone went on sale.
The third will be 2019.
Why will the coming year be so momentous, you ask? Because of the myriad technological advances which are erupting at the same time, racing one another to reach maturity. Recent headlines in our space may have been dominated by Apple’s decision to launch three new iPhones in a single month, and the viral success of games such as Fortnite. But the real story is being written by engineers in their design labs, with a spate of amazing innovations which will fully blossom in 2019.
At Bugfender and our parent company, Mobile Jazz, we see these changes from the frontline and we’re hugely excited about them. The opportunity to be inside a revolution, and to play our own part in it as developers, is hugely invigorating. We wanted to share this excitement by giving you our predictions for 2019, offering our insight into the ways our industry will power forward this year.
We won’t just talk about the technologies that excite us the most (although that could be a blog in itself). We want to look at the wider picture, because this raft of glistening new tech is really just a small part of the overall story.
So, you’ll read about:
- The technologies we think are most promising
- The app sectors that will enjoy the sharpest growth
- The top trends in UX and UI for app developers
- The apps we think could take off
- The coolest events for industry insiders to hear about the latest trends
The Most Important Technologies of 2019
5G coverage. It might not have received as much coverage as some of the other innovations on our list, but fifth-gen coverage could power all of them.
Running up to 10 times faster than its predecessor, 5G has the potential to catalyze other innovations, such as virtual reality and robotics. Futurists predict it will underpin everything from self-driving cars to robotic surgery.
In the mobile space, the promise of 20 gigabit-per-second connection speeds will touch every corner of the app universe. Video and music apps will offer near-instantaneous downloads; games will no longer be held back by latency issues; apps incorporating bleeding-edge tech such as the Internet of Things (more on that shortly) won’t have to compete for bandwidth with neighboring devices. Across the entire spectrum, the UI will improve beyond recognition and revenues will soar, because users will be able to make in-app purchases at lightning speed.
With researchers suggesting the global media industry will earn $1.3 trillion from 5G by 2025, smartphone manufacturers are racing for first-mover advantage. Samsung’s upcoming release, the Galaxy S10, is likely to be 5G-compatible – but the gossip around Apple’s next iPhone suggests it may not. This particular battle is sure to be an intriguing sub-plot in itself.
Biometrics. Just a couple of years ago, biometric smartphone security was still a figment of futurists’ imaginations. Now, many of our favorite phones have biometric scanning built in, and the tech is getting more complex all the time.
This year Vivo rocked the mobile world by unveiling the first in-display fingerprint scanner, a touchpoint embedded in the screen itself – something which had captured smartphone enthusiasts’ imaginations for years. We can expect further game-changing innovation in 2019, with Apple poised to roll out ‘dual biometric’ devices combining facial and fingerprint recognition.
Artificial Intelligence. As developers, we’re seeing new possibilities in this area all the time. Apps such as Google Allo and Cortana have harnessed AI to provide effective voice-based control, and this is only scratching the surface.
Indeed AI is now being used for everything from ordering food to providing traffic alerts, and the manufacturers are pouring billions into further research. Samsung, for example, is backing AI projects that can tailor the tone of a voice call to the user’s hearing abilities, and pick the best shots from a video while it’s still being recorded.
We see particularly exciting opportunities for apps that are designed to help people suffering from physical or mental health conditions. If you want an example, check out Helpicto, a new app built for autism sufferers which uses AI to transform spoken language into pictograms.
Blockchain. The technology which underpins bitcoin provides an ideal transactional tool for pretty much everything. For those who don’t use virtual currencies, blockchain’s strength is its… well… strength. All the computers involved in a transaction are bound together in a permanent chain which can’t be hacked, and they use the power of consensus to validate each transaction, so there’s no need for a middleman.
Although it’s best-known for validating cryptocurrency trades, blockchain has the potential to regulate any type of exchange, from legal documents to medical records. The new app from the Irish Red Cross, which uses blockchain to validate donations, is a sign of things to come.
Internet of Things. By connecting apps up to physical devices via sensory technology, IoT lets you do everything from opening your front door to turning on your oven, and even watering your plants – all from your app.
The benefits are going to be particularly significant in the health and fitness industry, given the explosion in wearable devices we’ve seen over the past couple of years. But several other sectors will reap the same whirlwind, from farming to home appliances.
We’ve long been fascinated about IoT, and you can get further insight from our team here.
The Biggest App Sectors
With the app industry in a state of near-permanent flux, it’s extremely hard to predict which sectors will see the biggest gains in 2019. All it takes is one company to roll out a transformative app and a brand-new category is created overnight. But, based on what we see and hear in our day-to-day, this is Bugfender’s take.
Video-conferencing. This is an area which is practically guaranteed to see growth. The global workforce is undergoing a great migration towards remote and flexible working, which means video-conferencing has never been important. The global video-conferencing market is expected to hit $20 billion in 2024, so anyone who can develop a fast, reliable app is likely to strike gold.
Puzzles. When we were listing our ‘top 5 technologies’ earlier, we agonized over whether to include augmented reality. In the end we felt it wasn’t quite as transformative as the ones we chose, but it’s still got enormous potential, particularly in puzzle games. Pokémon Go went global largely because of its in-built AR, and, as the tech is refined, we can see plenty more apps emerging in its slipstream in 2019.
Chat and messaging. This field is seeing a huge amount of activity right now, with apps such as Slack, Fleep, Rocket and Facebook Workspace shooting up to meet the ever-growing need for instant, reliable communication across teams. We see this trend increasing in the coming year. Once again, the global shift towards remote working will prove the father of innovation.
Parental security. As more and more kids get their own mobile devices, parents will be fretting about how to monitor their online activity. At present there is no definitive market leader in the parental security field; many of the apps are clunky, over-complicated and badly designed. Someone who can harness leading-edge tech to create an app that’s smart and simple could dominate this sector.
Fitness and exercise. Strava has earned global success by taking Facebook’s design feel and adapting it for the gym-bunny generation. We can see plenty more apps going down the same route, creating social networks for niche health and fitness communities. We’re particularly big fans of Social Steps, an app built using Bugfender which helps people track and compare their daily walking activity.
Top UI/UX Trends in 2019
If your app doesn’t look and feel great in today’s market, it’ll fail. Simple as. Apps such as Netflix, Skype and Patreon have raised the bar: they’re super-simple to use, they look amazing and they give the user the options they need in a slick, accessible format. Now every app is expected to meet this gold standard.
At both Bugfender and Mobile Jazz, we work tirelessly to ensure our UI and UX design is on-point, and we spend hours researching the market to find areas to improve. These are the five most important trends we’re seeing right now.
Self-explanatory illustrations. Content is still king, but the way we present it is more important than ever. Developers need to guide users round their app with friendly, attractive illustrations, displaying the content in a friendly, memorable way. We’re increasingly seeing design teams do this through the use of human-like characters, designed to embody their brand and explain their key messages to the audience.
Full-Screen backgrounds. Apps in the social fitness sector, such as Strava, are great at this; embedding a single image in the background of the screen, with the key user options sitting on top of it. It looks simple, it looks attractive and, if several different images are provided in the same app, it offers real variety to the end user.
Functional animations. Moving objects are a great way to call someone’s attention and provide the sort of fluid, user-friendly experience that can make an app stand out. Functional animations (such as the one shown in this handy guide) provide all these benefits, and they make the interface feel more human, and responsive, into the bargain.
Interactive layering. In their search for motion and mobility, designers have also adopted another trick: breaking down the interface into several moveable, overlapping layers. When the user scrolls through the app, the layer moves with them – making the app feel warm, responsive, and empathetic.
Color gradients. This one is simple, fast and highly engaging. By replacing the standard single-color background with a gradient, sliding down or across the page, the designer can significantly improve the aesthetic appeal of their app while keeping the design clean and simple. Little wonder that more and more developers are pushing this particular envelope.
The Coolest Apps Which Could Take Off
We’ve tested loads of different apps over the last few months, and here we’ve tried to pick out a select few which that really impressed us, but haven’t had too much mainstream coverage. As Bugfender and Mobile Jazz are platform-agnostic, we felt it only right to include both iOS apps and Android apps in our final choice..
easyUp. As we said earlier, the video-conferencing market is booming and this app is specifically designed to capitalize. Created for busy professionals, easyUp provides a video chat service which enables team members to post visual check-ins from anywhere. It’s great for ensuring team unity and co-ordination across various locations – a key requirement of remote organizations such as Bugfender and Mobile Jazz.
Harvest. Again, this is an app we rely on at Bugfender, and we can see it going global very soon. It’s a time-tracking app that allows you to log your hours and create custom invoices, so it’s ideal for freelancers. As more and more companies go remote, apps like Harvest will assume ever-more importance.
Endel. This offers an array of beautiful sound environments to help you sleep, relax, or focus on the job you’re doing. Similar to existing favorites such as Headspace, it is ideal for busy professionals and those who struggle to achieve a good work-life balance.
iTranslate Converse. If you’re learning a new language and are sick of the available options, this is great. It works across 38 different languages and is seriously accurate – not to mention fast.
PocketCasts. Designed to snare the burgeoning generation of podcast addicts, PocketCasts isn’t as famous as rivals such as iVoox, but it could become the market leader. It’s got a brilliant discovery feature, and the cross-device syncing is a lovely bonus.
The Most Exciting iOS and Android Conferences
After telling you about the biggest trends in our space, now we want to focus on the places these trends are being set. The mobile industry calendar is bulging with events, but we wanted to mention five summits which will be particularly influential in 2019.
January: iOS Conf SG. Drawing around 300 attendees to the global tech nucleus of Singapore, this event features two full days of talks dedicated purely to iOS and the Swift programming language which underpins it.
March: App Dev Con. Taking place in the cool city of Amsterdam, the conference last five days and is designed for developers of all specialties.
June: Devoxx. The Polish city of Krakow welcomes 15,000 developers at the height of summer for this marquee event, combining a hackathon with a gala networking bonanza. There are other Devoxx events later in the year but, well, we just love Krakow.
July: 360|AnDev. Taking place in the U.S. skiing haven of Denver, 360 AnDev includes talks on everything from initial design to debugging in a lively, community-focused atmosphere.
November: Mobile Era. Organized by developers, for developers, Mobile Era covers everything from iOS to IoT. The event really stands out for the enthusiasm of the people who’ve created it, and for the beauty of Norway, the country which plays host.
If you want a full list of conferences in the mobile dev space, you should visit our comprehensive annual guide here.
2019 will be a huge year for Bugfender. We’ve recently added an array of tools to our core remote logging services, including in-app feedback and react native support. This year we’re going to be adding new-and-improved filters, so users can drill down to target individual devices even more effectively, as well as url intents.
As we continue to push forward, Bugfender clients will continue to receive the same essential features: a 24-7 debugging service that works even when the user’s device is offline; a remote web console that allows unparalleled analysis of the overall user base; and an in-built crash reporting function.
For more details, please visit the Bugfender website here.