3 mobile app development trends for 2016

Whilst working with brands on a range of app development projects, we often get asked to research and explore future trends in the app industry. Although we don’t profess to be able to see 100% into the future, we certainly have enough experience and knowledge to understand and flex with the fast moving world of mobile apps for the benefit of our clients.

So, rather than keeping it to ourselves, we thought we’d share 3 mobile app development trends that we’re seeing on the horizon; app trends that we expect to have an impact on our day to day mobile worlds in 2016.

Before you read on, there’s also a bit of a disclaimer. This is a shortlist of three from what are numerous and complex trends and innovations within the mobile app industry. Not a top three, not the only three but three app development trends of many for 2016. These particular app development trends also happen to be directly related to three very different app development projects that we are currently working on so feel free to enjoy, discuss and get inspired.

1. Context aware

From Nearable stickers that can deliver information to your mobile based on your precise location, through to the evolution of Google Now that uses various web services to provide users with the right information at just the right time, context aware apps and experiences are set to be a big part of our mobile ecosystem in 2016.

This isn’t necessarily a new trend although the emergence of technology (augmented reality, location aware, etc) combined with the fact that brands are finally starting to get to grips with all of the available data at their fingertips is leading to a perfect storm for context aware experiences.

mobile app development trends - location aware

This is going to see a new breed of data driven experiences with charm; apps which prompt you to think about leaving early because of traffic rather than telling you, apps that provide relevant services and information at the exact point of need.

2. Simplicity and focus

With well over a 1 million apps in the App Store it’s often difficult for us users to make decisions about which app is the best tool for our needs. Added to this, the growing feature creep on many legacy apps and 2016 should certainly be a time when brand owners take stock of their mobile app strategy.

The original app term itself was a neat reference to small applications available on mobile devices. However, the growing sophistication of the hardware since the mainstream introduction of apps in 2008 hasn’t necessarily been matched by a growing sophistication of a majority of apps.

Too many apps are just not fit for purpose or over-bloated in terms of features. Too many others are just badly designed. Thankfully, app developers have already started taking the visual design trends (material design et al) of 2015 and applying similar thinking and rationalisation to the functionality of apps.

Igor Chebotarev - Lead Brand & UI Designer

We believe that 2016 will see a lot of the big boys (global brands) undertake serious audits of their mobile app strategy and reduce the complexity and increase the relevance of them to improve engagement.

3. Mobile public services

Our final app development trend for 2016 picked at random (please see the disclaimer above) is around the continuing digital transformation of Government services. We’re pleased to see that the UK government is well and truly on the ball in this area with a proactive and innovative Government Digital Services team leading the way.

app development trends - mobile public services

As well as central Government initiatives, this ongoing digital transformation is finally trickling down to local government where councils are being tasked with delivering more for less, from improving health and well being to reducing beauracracy. With digital solutions often (but not always) providing means to achieve these transformative efficiencies, public services will inevitably ‘go mobile’ to re-focus on the needs of the public.

Alongside this trend are the emergence of apps for social good. Apps designed and developed by the public for the public to try and make our world a better place. Apps such as One Today, a simple mobile app that asks users to donate $1 if they get moved by the particular cause if the day. Or Pozify, a self-styled social network for social good.

Pozify - mobile app development trends - mobile public services

Aligned to these changes are opportunities for brands to partner with the public sector to deliver complementary services to the public. In 2016 we expect to see a growing movement of such collaborations as the Government looks to explore new and better ways of delivering public services.


There we go then, 3 mobile app development trends for 2016 from the heart of Engine Creative HQ. If you’re interested in finding out more of the research behind these insights or would like to discuss your own brand’s mobile app strategy for 2016 then get in touch now or sign up to our Ignition newsletter for a regular dose of digital innovation inspiration.

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