Change comes quickly in the world of mobile. From developing new immersive mobile experiences to reacting to global economic trends, smartphone manufacturers and app developers are consistently innovating to meet users’ expectations. With this in mind, I wanted to speak to some of our industry’s best-known experts to get their view on what we can expect from mobile in the near future.

Device Evolution: Delivering a Next-Level Mobile Experience

Before delving into the newest and most exciting app developments, it is worth considering how mobile devices themselves are going to evolve. Leading smartphone manufacturers are at the forefront of app progress by enhancing devices so they are capable of facilitating the most cutting-edge app experiences.

Charleen Fang, the Managing Director of leading smartphone brand OPPO UK, said a major focus for many brands will be improving smartphone battery life. “If, for example, a gamer uses an app for 6 hours a day without needing to charge, they want that same experience after a few years of usage,” she explained. “One example of innovation in this area is our Battery Health Engine (BHE) which delivers faster, safer, longer-lasting charging and battery performance, and it’s an area where we’re seeing growing demand. Not only is this great for the consumer experience as it means they can continue to enjoy the same usage levels of the apps they love for longer periods of time, but it also means the batteries are more sustainable.”

Fang also forecasts a surge in demand for lithium-ion batteries over the eight years, so much so they will reach over two terawatt-hours in 2030. “Whether we start to see AI-based apps or more of those that enable synchronicity and compatibility between devices – the challenge for manufacturers in 2023 will be ensuring the longevity of the batteries that sit within consumer devices,” she added.

According to recent findings from data analytics and brand consulting firm Kantar Group, Android has experienced stable growth in the third quarter of 2022 across all markets other than Italy and mainland China, which is reportedly the result of stalled Huawei growth. Across Europe, Samsung’s Galaxy A Series remains one of the most popular devices, while the flagship S Series dominates the US market. As many will know, Huawei has experienced a disastrous year that the company blamed on a weak economy, as well as ongoing COVID-19 disruption and supply chain problems. Huawei’s rapid decline in Europe has helped other Chinese brands gain a much stronger foothold, particularly Xiaomi and Oppo.

Appealing to Diversity: Developing Apps for All Consumers

A big focus over the next year for many companies, is looking at how they can make their apps more accessible to all customers. For telecommunications giant BT Group, that means helping to foster a closer relationship between designers and engineers to make new and existing apps more usable for disabled users. Ronise Nepomuceno, Accessibility Manager at BT Group, said developers are presently falling short in this area. “You’d think all popular apps would offer, for example, support to both portrait and landscape positioning, dynamic text, effective screen readers, improved means of navigation and enhanced colour contrasting. The reality is that more work needs to be done to make sure the right support is commonplace, whether it’s optimising screen readers for blind customers or making it easier for those with dexterity issues to navigate content,” she explained.

App developers should be reactive when it comes to global health trends too, said James Sanders, Principal Analyst, Cloud and Infrastructure at CCS Insight, who pointed to the rise in people seeking mental health support following the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Sanders believes smartphones are critical tools for providing mental health support and wellness advices to customers. “Given challenges with mental health care accessibility, and the use of wearables such as Apple Watch to track physical activity and health, using smartphone apps for mental health management is a natural next step in app-based healthcare. Leveraging existing data from physical wellness apps and sensors such as exercise, sleep, weight, and menstrual cycle with user input about their mood throughout the day and use of alcohol or tobacco, smartphone apps can use analytics to identify what external factors affect your mood,” he said.

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Inside the Verticals: Gaming, Shopping & Social Media

What can we look forward to with regard to trends affecting specific verticals? Lexi Sydow, the Head of Insights at data.ai, has predicted more and more users gravitating towards different social media habits, particularly sharing visual content. She said the data shows that users are “no longer satisfied with communicating solely through text” as evidenced by the growing popularity of apps such as BeReal, which encourages users to post photos of what they are doing during a select two-minute window every day.

In the m-commerce sphere, data from analytics platform Adjust shows just how bright the future for these apps. The first half of 2022 saw e-commerce usage was 8% than the average of 2021 and 6% higher than the first half of 2021. Adjust has noted this is indicative of mobile shopping being more than a temporary trend — it is a mainstay. Furthermore, Adjust has predicted more shoppable ads on CTV in the future. Shoppable CTV gives rise to a more impulsive purchasing, with customers experiencing fewer barriers to buying and a shorter consideration period. E-commerce giants such as Amazon are widely expected to follow this trend and pave the way for smaller e-commerce businesses in the process.

Next year looks also set to bring the most immersive mobile gaming experiences to date. Maneet Khaira, the CEO of Backbone, which develops mobile gaming controllers for iPhones and Androids, said there is going to be a sharp uptick in the availability of AAA titles on devices as publishers capitalize on the consistent growth of mobile gaming. He said: “People are looking to game much more on their mobiles rather than their consoles and it’s something we’re going to see more of in 2023. Cloud gaming is allowing for high-fidelity games to be played anytime, anywhere, and on any device. That means console owners can now take their console experience outside the confines of their living room or gaming setup and play Xbox, PlayStation, and PC games anywhere on their mobile devices.”

The Economy Bites: How Apps Will Help

The world is also facing growing economic challenges, with inflation a particular concern for many. Lexi Sydow, of data.ai, warned the looming recession will impact the app market in the coming months. She observed that while we are seeing increasing downloads across verticals, there has also been a decrease in consumer spending in the third quarter of 2022. However, Sydow said the decrease in disposable income among consumers presents an opportunity for apps offering affordable services. “In the US, Temu, an eCommerce site which brings more affordable wholesale prices to the retail market, has seen meteoric growth with 1.37million downloads, since its app launched in September 2022,” she said.

Samsung has led the way in developing new services to help its customers deal with the cost of living crisis. For example, the brand successfully launched its SmartThings Energy App to allow consumers to track their energy usage and set spending caps. Teg Dosanjh, the Director of Content and Services for Samsung Europe, commented: “As the cost of living continues to bite with rising food prices and soaring gas and electricity bills, household budgets continue to be squeezed. With winter upon us, consumers will feel anxious about turning on their heating. There is something people can do to help mitigate this and take back some control – right from their smartphone app.”

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