Mobile app development is no longer a brand new domain. Although mobile market share is growing at a faster pace compared to web, the mobile development space has matured, influenced in a large part by end users’ demands.

Because of the increasing dependance , users are more demanding with mobile apps than with any other piece of technology. They want cutting edge user experience, bulletproof security, and they constantly expect new functionalities and new features to be added to mobile apps. Given these expectations, here are our predictions concerning mobile app development trends for this year.

1. Swift Will Become the Number One iOS App Building Language

Swift is an open source programming language created by Apple for native iOS apps. It is currently attracting a large and enthusiastic community of contributors after recently going open-source. Two key reasons why Swift is becoming more widely used are its easy, JavaScript-like syntax and its terrific native performance.

Additionally, in 2015, IBM has launched Swift Sandbox which allows Linux-based programmers to work in Swift from this popular operating system. Another useful feature of Swift is the ability to run it from the cloud, not just Apple devices. All in all, its simplicity and flexibility make Swift a formidable competitor to Objective-C for Apple App programming language market share.

2. React Native Holds Its Position as Best Language for Hybrid Apps

React Native still reigns over the hybrid mobile development scene. There are many arguments in its favor, and these are among the most valid ones:

  • increased performance and reduced memory usage leading to smoother user experience both on Android and iOS devices;
  • the ability to easily plug into the native frameworks and deliver native performance;
  • ease of development enables web teams to use virtually the same stack as the mobile teams with React and Redux;
  • it is one of the best JavaScript frameworks for mobile development, essentially allowing anyone with solid JS web developing skills to become a hybrid app developer;
  • superior compatibility for third party plugins with the React Native Bridge.

3. New Challenges for Hybrid Developers

2017 will pose new challenges for hybrid developers and one of the key ones is the need to rethink the way they package subsequent app changes into coding. Apple has already started sending warning messages to developers that their usage of SDKs such as Rollout may get their apps removed from the App Store.

Rollout is a very popular hot code push SDK which allows programmers to perform updates on the code of an app after it has been analyzed and approved by Apple. This move by Apple is not surprising, given the increased demand for mitigating vulnerability and data protection risks.

4. Augmented Reality Becomes More In-Demand

Pokémon Go created the hype around augmented reality mobile apps and this trend is here to stay. There are many practical applications for augmented reality beyond an interactive game. Fashion and hair styling companies can offer their customers the possibility of virtually trying on clothes or new hair styles and colors; home improvement retailers can help customers envision the new look of their home in the most realistic manner.

The concept of “virtually trying out” any new product will be more and more in demand, and developers need to be able to create apps which offer exceptional augmented reality functionalities. Companies and projects like Vuforia and ARToolKit make augmented reality development accessible to developers without specialized knowledge. React VR, WebVR and AFrame open up the virtual reality market to JavaScript developers in the same way.

5. Increased Demand for Serverless Computing

Overall, the mobile application market is becoming saturated. App developers will turn to voice (via Google Assistant or Alexa Skills) or text (via Facebook Messenger, Slack or HipChat) to drive engagement with their applications. In order to add these features to an app and manage the unpredictable interactions of the users with the app, the bulk of the application interface needs to be developed using serverless computing services.

Serverless computing, or Function as a Service (FaaS) means that each function of an app is uploaded independently, as a modular code snippet. Each function is event-triggered, meaning a variety of external sources: user interactions, streams, databases and storage containers. As a core example, movie streaming service Netflix relies heavily on serverless computing. Key suppliers of this service are AWS Lambda, Azure and IBM Bluemix.

Overall, 2017 is the year when mobile apps need to become smarter, offer more personal and direct interactions than ever before and deliver superior guarantees for personal data protection. With VR and AR soon competing for attention, the bar is raised on companies hoping to capture mind share from users who are inundated with mobile applications to choose from.