The world’s largest app store has come a long way since its launch. Android fanboys (the name Android loyalists normally referred to as) may have seen the transformations unfolding before their eyes.
During the initial phase, most of the applications (even Facebook’s mobile app) on Google play store were hybrid (natively-installed and cross-platform apps written in web language). They were seriously lacking in the performance front and were definitely not known for delivering a good user-experience.
According to a study, 56% of users admitted that they encountered a problem while using an app, and 62% said that the mobile app crashed, froze, or displayed an error. It doesn’t take a wild guess to conclude that with every passing year the apps are getting better at user-experience parameter, which leads us to the first trend.
More Native Apps and More Emphasis on User Experience
It is easy to get away with minor bugs if the number of alternatives is limited, but this is no more a case. User experience is paramount to the success in the crowded android app market, and developers have realized this.
In 2012, 22% of users abandoned the app after using it just once; the percentage got reduced to 20% in the year 2014. Also, the percentage of users using an app for more than 11 times jumped from 31% to 39%.
The stat is quite remarkable seeing the big difference in the number of apps available in the year 2012 and 2014.
Everything points towards a more native experience and a better performance of applications in Google Play Store. . The year 2016 is expected to set the bar of user-experience even higher.
App Development for Wearbles and Android TV
Wearables and smart TVs have given new opportunities to developers. Although Android wearables were launched in 2014, it is only the year 2015 that really upped the game for wearables as both smartphone makers (such as Motorola and Asus) and traditional watch makers (such as Tag Heuer and Fossil) arrived at the scene and launched android-powered smartwatches.
In 2016, many brands and startups may consider developing their applications for Android TV and smartwatches. The app market for wearbles has expanded beyond a handful of fitness trackers and location apps.
More and more applications will supports the new mediums and early movers are destined to reap bigger rewards.
If wearables and IoT are the future, smartwatch and smartTVs are a nice start.
App Design Trends
The best part of native applications is their design as they allow heavy use of visually engaging elements without sacrificing much on performance.
Following design trends can become mainstream in android app development:
1. Context aware UI: Shows users the content as per their location, local time, and activity.
2. Screen-size responsiveness: There are still a considerable number of android applications that doesn’t support tablets or are just the blown-out version smartphone app. Given the growing popularity of android tablets and launch of Google Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets, developers may give a serious thought to app responsiveness for bigger screen sizes.
3. User Engaging Elements: Expect more applications to embrace push notifications to call back users. Designers, in an attempt to make an app compelling, will implement visually attractive elements such as a mascot, animation, clips etc.
4. Minimal Design: Less is more. Simple and clutter free design will rule the roost.
5. Bigger and Diffused Images: 2015 saw many emerging websites incorporating big (sometimes full-screen) images to make the interface more attractive. Apps can follow the same suit this year. Also, images with blurred background (diffused images) can be increasingly used for better clarity of text.
Transparency on App Permission
Android users have long voiced their concerns over app permissions. Reviews on Play Store are full of complaints like “why you need to access my phonebook, I just need an image editor”.
Well, Android Marshmellow finally (and partially) solved the privacy issue as users don’t need to give all the permissions at the time of installing an app. In Android M, an app will ask for the permission to use resources when it actually wants to access those resources and users can accept or decline the request.
It is imperative for developers to justify the use of resources that their app requests. Too many permissions may come across as intrusive. Users are growing more cautious with their privacy, and the application developers will have the task to convince the users about their privacy and security of data.
Be assured that future iterations of Android OS will likely be more concerned about the privacy issues. As a matter of fact, Google has started testing applications manually. 2016 may not bring any positive news for developers rolling out free crapware.
2016 is destined to be an exciting year for developers. As per the Nielsen’s report, a user on an average uses 26 to 27 apps in a month. The digital onslaught of content has terribly reduced the attention span of people and in order to engage a user, applications have to be impeccable in every aspect.
This year will see some more fine example of apps cutting through the clutter and emerging as winner in almost every department imaginable.
Stay tuned to this space. Next week we will publish a new post, “5 Reasons Why One Should Invest in an Android App”, in the series of Android App Development posts. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please leave a comment. We’re listening.