Depending on which pundits you follow, you might have heard that advances in cloud storage technologies or 5G networking stacks are among the most important app development trends. However, many of the biggest changes are happening in the world of back-end development and aren’t necessarily related to these major IT industry showstoppers.
While there’s undoubtedly a huge amount of news in these sectors, the industry isn’t just built on a few platforms. Take a look at these lesser-known app development trends. While they might not be making the biggest headlines in the tech media, they’re certainly going to make some pretty big waves in the computer industry as a whole.
1. Technologists are Focusing on the Healthcare Market
One of the fastest-growing industry segments is the healthcare app development sector. It’s estimated that there are now almost 46,000 medical apps on the App Store and another 43,000 on the Play Store. The mHealth sector was valued at just less than $14 billion in 2019, and it should continue to grow for the foreseeable future. That’s ensured that more companies are striving to put out their mHealth apps than ever before.
As developers rush to meet this increased demand, some specialists say that only around 11 percent of all patients ever actually use apps recommended by hospital staff. Established mHealth firms are trying to improve this percentage by providing better documentation and focusing more on UX features that would make it easier for individual patients to use apps recommended to them by their doctors.
Legal restrictions on information collection also help shape how developers write code for mHealth applications. As laws change, programmers have had to be increasingly careful to prevent inadvertent data leaks and other maladies. Many companies are in the process of deploying new encryption algorithms as a result.
2. Engineers are Rolling Out New Security Protocols
Due in part to healthcare industry regulations, engineers have developed ways to reduce the risk of a cyberattack even if someone is working with quantum computing hardware to deploy brute force password sniffers.
While you might think that this kind of scenario is based more in science fiction than anything, there’s always a risk that someone will develop a way of commercializing this kind of technology and make it more accessible to those who would use it to attempt to capture password data and log into people’s accounts uninvited.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore demonstrated quantum key distribution technology last year, and other engineers are likely working on similar projects. As a result, app developers are increasingly using 512-bit encryption systems and other new security protocols as a way to dramatically reduce the security risks associated with the widespread deployment of this kind of hardware.
Different areas will likely come up with different types of regulations for those who make mHealth or online banking apps. Companies that adopt these new networking protocols right now won’t have to worry, because it’s a good possibility that something this strong will exceed even the most stringent guidelines.
Keep in mind that engineers claim 5G networks will be over 100 times faster than 4G ones. While that should be promising for those, who want to deliver high-resolution video over a back-end feed into an app that end-users download from the Play Store, it’s also appealing to crackers who want to overload people’s mobile devices with tons of bogus requests. These developments should help to stop those problems before they start.
It might even help to open up some exciting possibilities in the field of voice recognition.
3. Voice Recognition Bots are Getting More Secure & Smarter
Cortana, Google Assistant, and all of the various other voice recognition systems on the market have been plagued with security and privacy issues since they first got on the market. However, these services are quickly taking advantage of newer security protocols like elliptic curve encryption, which means that app developers are increasingly willing to interface their software with them.
On top of that, they’re free to browse the web anonymously, so you can expect that the results they return will be a good bit smarter than before.
They’re likely going to work with more than one platform as well, which should be good news for those following other industry trends.
4. Swift is Becoming a Cross-platform Development Language
Ask any Swift developer while they decided to specialize in the language and there’s a really good chance that they’ll tell you that they originally learned it to write iOS apps. Apple has invested heavily in its Swift-based ecosystem, and it’s essentially become a prerequisite to master Swift before you start making apps for any of their devices.
However, the Swift community makes a majority of their decisions democratically and the underlying code has been released as a series of open-source packages. That means you can write Swift programs for Linux and Windows-based devices, which should help to popularize Swift-based development tools across the entire industry. Programmers could theoretically even use it to make new z/OS apps, if they have any reason to.
Considering that Flash is due to be completely phased out, some developers might soon be looking for a new way to create and deploy apps. That should help newer languages like Swift, which might have some dramatic consequences for the industry going forward.
5. Programmers are Being Forced to Move Away from Some Tools
While Swift’s rise has been great for those who found it nearly impossible to write a smartphone app using Objective-C, it’s also encouraged Apple’s engineers to phase out certain tools. You can expect that newer versions of UIKit to edge out several traditional Cocoa Touch products over time.
Larger app developers probably won’t have any problems retraining their existing engineers, but this might be a big deal for smaller shops with only one or two programmers working on a project at any given time. Those who run their own business and self-publish apps on the app store will probably run into the biggest problems, since they’ll have to take time away from their projects to relearn some of their existing skills.
On the other hand, there’s a great deal of third-party support for many of these changes as well. Some developers have created their own custom pod files, which has allowed them to exchange code in ways that Silicon Valley firms could never have imagined. While some of these tools might be unofficial, they’re likely to see a healthy amount of support from those who manage various app store resources.
Since the industry tends to follow some of the big players, the same kind of treatment is likely to come to Google’s Android ecosystem as well. In fact, Google might soon try to promote their own alternative platforms in the hope of unifying the many different products they have on the market. Once again, this could mean app developers will have to adjust to a different paradigm.
6. Developers are Starting to Write Fuchsia Apps
People continue to debate if Google’s new Fuchsia operating system will ever actually get a release. Still, some forward-thinking app developers have decided to get the jump on the rest of the industry. Assuming the platform ever does ship, it probably won’t appear on mobile devices and smart home gadgets much before 2024.
Nevertheless, you can write and distribute packages for the platform using a new updater widget. Several smaller developers that are focused on getting their apps onto as many different services as possible have already started to port some of their software over.
They’re also finding that it’s a great platform for AI research, changing the industry in another surprising way.
7. Offbeat Uses for Artificial Intelligence are Turning Up Everywhere
You’ve probably heard plenty of talk about how AI-based apps are changing the financial and scientific world, but you might not be as familiar with some of the other ways that developers are finding they can utilize AI. Much of the attention has been on how artificially intelligent bots can trade cryptocurrency much faster than humans would ever be able to. However, they’re also helping to keep people from losing out on their investments.
Attacks on blockchain apps have increased by more than 50 percent, but AI-based agents are working behind the scenes to detect these attacks and alert computer professionals before they get out of hand.
Mobile app developers will likely find other ways to implement similar AI-based subroutines into their existing apps to keep them safer. Over time, you might notice that even social media and instant messaging apps might start to adopt this sort of technology.
Mobile app developers are always looking for the next big thing, but sometimes it isn’t the flashiest of solutions that generate the biggest waves. Keep your eyes peeled and you might be surprised at what new trends you find coming down the pipeline.
Interesting related article: “What is an Application?“