With more apps than ever before for people to choose from, how can developers make their apps stand out in the crowd?
Apps today are raising the bar with better design, more capabilities and rethinking old capabilities to offer the best possible experience. As the number of people accessing the internet through mobile devices catches up with those on laptops and desktop computers, what can this snowballing customer base expect?
Could 2013 finally be the year that puts an end to skeuomorphic design?
This is actually a complicated word for a very simple concept. Skeuomorphism is an approach to software design which makes interfaces look like their real-world counterparts; as an example, an address book function on a mobile device which is designed to look like a tangible address book, or Apple’s current "Notes" application, which comes with torn off pages and leather binding to make it feel just like the real deal.
The problem with skeuomorphic design is that the functionality of these applications does not mimic the physical object, so while they look the part, they do not operate in the same way as the physical object, causing frustration and confusion for users. Such design is being phased out in favour of more functional and intuitive flat-style designs.
Location and Push
There is certainly nothing new about the GPS and push notifications for smartphones, but it is only recently that mobile app developers are figuring out just how sophisticated they can be.
Push notifications are those that alert the user with a sound or vibration when something has happened on an app, even without the app being open. An example is a notification informing you that a friend has challenged you to a game on a particular app. Location services use smartphones to figure out exactly where you are in a bid to provide a more targeted service. For example, if you live in Cardiff and want to know the cinema times, an app that knows your location will be able to provide you the localised information.
Push and location apps in particular can provide additional insight and add value to mobile apps for companies and advertisers alike.
While the mobile app button is far from dead, it will have to get used to sharing it’s ubiquity with a number of novel app interfaces which are cascading from the minds of an increasingly creative breed of mobile app developers. The user experience now comprises of pinches, swipes and a host of other movements, which are designed to make interacting with an app feel not only natural, but also more fun.
With more and more enterprises discovering the power of apps, the market is becoming progressively crowded, to the extent that just being found in the App Store is a challenge in itself. In a bid to differentiate themselves from the masses, leading companies are willing to spend top dollar on apps designed by some of the industry’s leading lights, with the effect of raising the overall standard of the mobile apps on offer. Simply having an app is no longer enough.
Every mobile app developer worth their salt has one eye on connectivity, as even the smallest progression can bring with it a wealth of opportunities for the innovative mind. Smart televisions are one of the latest developments to hit the market, while cars are expected to offer new levels of integration over the coming year. Fitness devices have been a boom area in the past, but where will we see the next flurry of activity?
Title image courtesy of Ravshevskyi Viacheslav (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: To read more about mobile app development, see In Koo Kim's Building Smarter Mobile Apps to Fuel User Engagement