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Mobile App Trends for 2016

Published January 2, 2016

Ericsson’s Mobility Report for 2015 put figures into what we already know. The mobile industry is rising now more than ever. Mobile broadband subscriptions using smartphones hit 3.4 billion in 2015 and the figure is forecasted to reach 6.5 billion by 2021. In a report from Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of the American population owns a smartphone.

This year, we see a steady boost of mobile apps released to cater to the even bigger market. It’s time to review the trends that we think will make it big this 2016. Don’t be surprised to see last year’s developments stretching out to this year.

  • Minimalist, sophisticated design

Gone are the days of cluttered design and intrusive messages. This year is all about keeping last year’s style of sleek, simple, and efficient design. Apple has long been an advocate of the clean and clutter-free design while Google is seen to be catching up on the app trend.

Think of hidden menus and diffused backgrounds. These designs made it big on websites last year because of clean interfaces that emphasizes call-to-action buttons and banners. It focuses on the message, which is really, the most important part of your app or website.

Even design colors will take a subtler turn this year, perhaps taking a cue from Pantone’s colors of the year. This year’s app trend in design will be all about softer and muted hues, cleaner, and sophisticated interfaces.

  • Continued growth of location-based apps

We’ve seen massive success in the use of beacon technology last year for stores and retail businesses. Beacon technology allows retailers to know which users are near the area and enables them to push targeted notifications, rewards, and other marketing programs based on location.

In a study conducted by BI Intelligence last year, beacon technology is estimated to contribute $4.1 billion of retail sales in the US. This figure is projected to grow 10X in 2016. This is a fact that most retail apps have quickly caught on – Apple, Target, Macy’s, Walmart, and Sephora are some of the early experimenters in the US. We see the use beacon technology as a big app trend to continue and evolve next year.

  • The use of gestures

 We’ve seen gestures make it big such as double-tap to like in Instagram and pinch-to-zoom in Google Chrome. Gestures add to the quality of the user experience and interaction.

In 2016, we expect to see more gesture-driven interfaces. Check out this article from UX Mag expounding on the many different ways you can use gestures and animation to create great designs.

  • More apps for wearable devices

With the launch of Apple Watch, it’s clear to see that wearable devices will stay on for the years to come. Here are several apps that have already been released as listed out by wareable.com. Aside from the usual health, fitness, and sports apps, the daily essentials and productivity apps have made their way into the small screen.

Since we are seeing a variety of smartwatches in the market (even traditional watch brands have joined in), we expect to see more apps in this space in the coming year.

  • Video will lead the way

By 2021, almost 70% of mobile data traffic will be from video. (Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2015). Businesses can take advantage of the fact that more users watch videos on their phone on a daily basis.

In YouTube’s own statistics, they declared that more than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices. BI Intelligence report has confirmed that more than 50 million viewers in the US watch videos on their mobile phone.

Apps capitalizing on video such as Vine and SnapChat will continue to make it big in 2016.

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That’s our list of the top app trends to make it this 2016. As with all other trends, some fizzle out while some stay and turn into a classic. Let’s see which ones will make it through this year.

Think we missed a trend? Let us know in the comments section.

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