Mobile App Trends in 2016: Development, Design, Marketing

It wouldn’t be the beginning of the year if we won’t do any predictions of mobile trends in 2016.

That’s why we dig through some experts opinions about mobile app development, design, and marketing trends – to see what we can expect to play a big role in mobile.

We believe – here at Whalla Labs – that those three fields combined can tell us the best way how to build and promote successful mobile apps this year.

To spice things up, let’s see how mobile grew last year.


Mobile App Growth In 2015

According to previous predictions, mobile app market was growing rapidly in 2015.

By 2016 it is expected to be 1.4 mobile devices per person globally, as we are going to reach 10 billion mobile internet devices in use.

This is going to generate $24,5 billion in revenue, compared to $11,4 billion in 2014.

The hottest app category in 2015 was personalization apps that grew 332% year-on-year. The overall average growth of time spent on mobile grew by 58% last year.

fastest growing app categories


Another milestone mobile reached in 2015 was exceeding the number of desktop-only internet users by mobile-only internet users.

single platform users


And m-commerce – which we’ve covered in our last article – finally gets mainstream, according to new GlobalWebIndex report Trends 2016: The Mobile Tipping Point.

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So what is that we can expect from mobile this year? Let’s break the news.


Mobile App Development Trends

1. Progressive Web Apps

Mobile websites are still too slow. That’s a fact.

In recent year few actions were taken to speed things up, but it’s getting obvious that what is called “hybrid” apps doesn’t solve the problem.

Dan Rowinski predicts that what might be the breakthrough is the idea of progressive web applications.


“Progressive Web apps are an idea first espoused by Google engineer Alex Russell in June 2015. In a nutshell, progressive Web apps start out as tabs in Chrome and become progressively more “app” like the more people use them, to the point where they can be pinned on the home screen of a phone or in the app drawer and have access to app-like properties such as notifications and offline use. Progressive Web apps are linkable with an URL, fully responsive and secure.” Dan Rowinski, Applause


2. Cloud Driven Apps

The variety of devices used every day and the growing use of apps across multiple platforms will for sure develop the need of the cloud-driven apps, according to the Jaykishan Panchal.

This benefits both developers and users:

  • Developers – reduction of the app size thanks to cloud support.
  • Users – synchronization of the app across many devices and wearables.


“Cloud technology played a major role in mobile app development throughout 2015 and this is likely to continue in the coming years as well.” Jaykishan Panchal, KEVY


3. Growing Significance of Swift

As Apple kept its promise and made Swift open-source, this can be a big thing in mobile app programming in 2016.

The benefits of using Swift are amongst others: ease of use, safety and the fact it’s faster than Xcode. Its public repositories can be found on Apple’s GitHub page.


“Going open source means that its potential audience will be far greater, as coders working on projects outside of the iOS and OS X ecosystem will now be able to implement the language.” Brad Jones, Digital Trends


4. Mobile App Security

At the end of 2014, Gartner predicted that in 2015 more than 75% of mobile apps will fail basic security tests.

And since more user data are stored in apps, security is one of the major issues developers should think about. Because failing user’s trust can make a huge damage to your brand’s reputation, this is something to solve in 2016.


“If the platforms do not implement strict security protocols, then the sensitive information of users like SSN or bank details become prone to hacking or leakage. Indeed, this is a major headache for the app developers!” Swarnendu De, Innofied


5. Further Growth of Internet of Things

Although the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue, we will have to rethink our approach to what we call IoT these days.

Andrew Tarantola from Engadget noticed that even there were few inventions in this field in 2015, we still haven’t seen a breakthrough.

As the further success of IoT will be based on apps, it’s going to be connected with the growth of app development. This leads to a new wave of mobile app development and dealing with issues like security and user experience that will have to be solved in the first place.


“Already, IOT is being adopted and integrated by various enterprises at a fast pace. In the future, enterprises will have more private cloud networks and work with a broad range of sensor-embedded systems and not just mobile devices or wearables.” Aanal Bhatt


Mobile App Design/UX Trends


Mobile ux design trends

6. More Personalized User Experience

With 8 in 10 internet users owning a smartphone and 1 in 10 using wearable devices, we will see growing focus on user experience this year – claims Jacob Cass, JUST Creative.

Moreover, we can expect the growth of custom user experience:


„User experience is going to see much more personalization, with customized experiences being the key for brands. This customized experience turns the consumers into co-creators of value, not just consumers.” Jacob Cass, JUST Creative


7. Micro-Interactions

Micro-moments have already been a hot topic in 2015 and in the following year it’s not going to slow down.

Mobile changed consumers’ behavior for good and now they want all experiences to be immediate, relevant and frictionless. Here is when micro-moments come in. And with micro-moments, there will be a lot of new micro-interactions.

If you’re not familiar with them yet, here’s how Jerry Cao describes them:


“A micro-interaction is any single task-based engagement with a device. Most of these engagements are barely noticeable, provided the flow feels smooth.” Jerry Cao, Designmodo


Micro-interactions are definitely a thing to consider designing a mobile app if you want to keep a high level of consumers’ engagement.


8. Touch-Free Navigation and Mobile Haptic Technology

Apple’s 3D Touch and Google’s Now on Tap are just the beginning of a mobile haptic technology that we will see on our devices. It will influence both apps and games, enriching user experience and navigation.

Alon Even from Appsee even predicts that we will be able to pause videos with our eyes.


“We’ll see more ways to input data into mobile devices and other sophisticated touch-free ways to interact with mobile devices.” Alon Even, Appsee


9. Horizontal Sideways Scrolling

Scrolling sideways instead of downward becomes more and more popular. It is that because of the way we hold our devices – for our thumb it is a lot easier to swipe right or left – not up and down!

Take Tinder as an example – how natural it is to swipe sideways and how popular it became.

Other examples are slideshows and product photos in some mobile commerce apps.


“Scrolling sideways is more user-friendly it allows more ergonomic control in navigation.” Keval Padia, FromDev


10. Animation-Heavy Designs

Static mobile app design is being replaced by animations. There are two reasons for that:

  • Animations are more visually compelling.
  • They can improve navigation and user experience.

This trend is going to grow and we will see more and more animated elements in mobile apps.


“Although animations do improve the experience visually, they also serve a functional user experience purpose.” AppIt Ventures


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Mobile App Marketing Trends



mobile marketing trends

11. More Data-driven Customer Approach

As we develop more ways to track our customers, the decisions we make as marketers can be more data driven.

No more guessing – 2015 already was a year of big data and now it’s time to implement it in every strategy we take to build and promote brands – including mobile.


“Mobile devices are an essential part of our everyday lives, and this shift is only becoming more significant as the years go by. One significant conclusion from this review of 2015 mobile usage is that consumer engagement and two-way business-customer relationships are vital. It is imperative that mobile marketers consult with data-driven partners to help them better understand their consumers and how to transition them into long-term customers. It will be increasingly more important to understand your customers and how they engage with their devices in order to create a marketing strategy that will successfully reach and retain them.” Mark Ghermezian, CEO of Appboy


12. The Take-off of Mobile Payments

With growing e-commerce and mobile commerce markets, we still haven’t seen a big revolution in mobile payments.

Still, the majority of transactions happening in brick-and-mortars don’t include mobile.

This is of course changing and we see more systems like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay being accepted. It’s not going to replace customers’ habits yet, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t change in 2016:


“Connecting more of the retail commerce experience to mobile wallets, especially when it comes to offers, coupons, rewards and loyalty, will be critical to getting more people to pay with their phones.” eMarketer


13. More Mobile-first Users

According to ZenithOptimedia, mobile-first users are those who spend more than 90% of their internet time on mobile.

And the number of population matching this term will grow in 2016. This is a sign for marketers and advertisers, who haven’t thought about mobile yet or considered mobile as a sideway marketing strategy.

It’s time to reconsider mobile as a core of how we communicate to our customers these days because more of them will expect us to be on mobile – because they are already there.


“If you want to reach a youth audience, mobile is going to be your most important marketing platform.” Marketing Insider Group


14. The Expansion of Branded Apps

In 2016 more brands will not only focus on how to advertise or communicate to their customers via mobile – they will actually consider making their own app.

This will lead to an increase in marketers’ focus on App Store Optimization and app promotion.


„2016 is the year for Mobile (or any device that isn’t a fixed desktop) to transition to Apps. With the cost of app development coming down, and the increase in people using brands apps, it’s a perfect storm for brands to release their own app. An app provides a much richer experience than a web browser. Searching on app stores in improving and data speeds mean the apps can be loaded with just a data connection.

Developing a well-designed app with a great experience for the user, brands will move beyond the browser and engage with people’s lives more deeply.” Richard Bundock, Cohaesus


15. Video Ads on Mobile

This was huge in 2015 and will grow even more – according to BI Intelligence video advertising will reach $5 billion in revenue in 2016.

Especially short, catchy video ads can help brands to stand up through the noise and build brand’s visibility and engagement.


“According to AOL, mobile video ad spend saw a whopping 75% growth in just one year—skyrocketing from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion.” Amanda Walgrove, Sprinklr


Video – including mobile channels – is not something you can avoid in your marketing strategy this year.



This is not just a wish-list.

Many of those trends have already happened in 2015 and based on data we can expect that they will grow even further.

If so, following those mobile app trends will help to develop better apps and promote them successfully.


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