Mobile app development tech stacks are a tricky subject. The range of available solutions, tools as well as the structural complexity of the development process will make your head spin. Talking about design patterns, SDKs, frameworks, libraries and layers will probably put you to sleep in a matter of minutes. Diving too deep into it makes no real sense (until it does, but that’s a whole different story), so instead, I will talk about the top trends in app development.
Table of contents
- Top 4 technologies to develop your app in 2020 – Plenty of options
- React Native
– Who is it for?
- Quality and speed
– Bang for your buck
– Why is Flutter a top choice for 2020?
– Widgets and own language
– Official support
- Native development
- iOS native development
– Blockchain in iOS apps
– Mobile wallet
– What else does native iOS offer?
- AI smarts
- Android native app development
– Sweet OS
– Endless possibilities
- Beacons technology
– No technological debt
- Top mobile app development trends to follow in 2020 – conclusions
Plenty of options
If your 2020 growth plans include creating a mobile app (as they should, if you don’t have one yet), as soon as you start looking for someone to make it for you, it will turn out there are about as many ways of going about it as there are people to talk to. Freelancers will (most likely) offer quick and simple solutions like PWAs, hybrid, or other browser-based apps. Software houses big and small will present you with options ranging from native iOS and Android, cross-platform Flutter, React Native and a huge number of others.
If we’re talking serious mobile app development – quality, performance and top-of-the-line User Experience, then the real choice is narrowed down (IMHO) to four options. I’m sure there are plenty more possibilities, and I’m not saying they won’t do the job, but this piece is about this year’s trends, so let’s get straight to it.
Praising native mobile app development is the easy bit, so we’ll leave that for later, and start with what everyone is talking about – cross-platform development. If an explanation is at all required (in the unlikely event you missed millions of publications about it) cross-platform app development is using one tech stack to produce mobile apps for (two) different mobile platforms. In 2020, iOS and Android are the only two left. Don’t think anyone remembers Blackberry anymore, and Windows Phone is dead.
This framework has been around for a while now and keeps drawing a lot of interest from all kinds of businesses. Startups, established brands, and anyone looking to cut the development costs will find something good in picking the framework. Facebook created it, so obviously they would be the first to start using it. Although it doesn’t quite cut it in sustaining the whole platform, the social media giant is using React Native for Instagram and Ads Manager.
Who is it for?
We’ve been seeing a huge growth in demand for React Native development in the last 2-3 years. So much so, that developers with experience in the field are becoming increasingly harder to find and most medium and large software houses have set up and are growing their React Native teams, training programmers in-house.
We’ve seen a huge demand for React Native development in the last 2-3 years. So much so, that developers with experience in the field are becoming increasingly harder to find and most medium and large software houses have set up and are growing their React Native teams, training programmers in-house.
So why would you go with this framework for your application? Why is it so trendy? Does it deliver on the promises?
In terms of market interest, inquiries for React Native development are currently on top of the list. For anyone with a modest budget, which in mobile app development is anything under 100K, will not pass on a chance to get more bang for their buck. Bigger projects don’t shy away from it either. Ubereats, Pinterest, Walmart, Bloomberg and quite a few other big brands utilize React Native and it’s proving to be adequate for their needs
Application development trends set for 2020 continue on 2019 tendencies and companies big and small, regardless of industry are including chatbots in their customer service offer. If you’re strapped for cash and in need of a quality custom automatic chat feature, React Native offers its own react-native-chatbot library – a highly configurable, feature-full solution to enrich User interaction with your brand.
Quality and speed
With React Native, you can build really good quality apps. You can’t just approach a developer and tell them you want your app in React Native and hear them say “Sure bud, whatever you like, let’s get straight to it”. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think.
Bang for your buck
The real advantage here is the fact that you only need one React Native team to build both Android and iOS implementations. This translates to savings in project management, faster implementation, less maintenance work and a much quicker path from zero to e.g. your React Native MVP app. All in all, going with React Native will get the app’s price tag down by around 20%, or let you fit in more features within budget. The latter, IMO is a better choice. After all, you do want to give your users the best possible product. The initial craze around the framework gave rise to a lot of misconceptions about it, so to make it easier to work out how you can actually save money with React native we have written about 7 React Native myths that are doing the rounds.
Flutter is a formidable newcomer. Google only released a stable version (v1.12.13+hotfix.5) on December 11, 2019, and the UI SDK has been in existence since 2017. In less than 2 years, the framework made a lot of noise on the web and continues to go head to head with React Native in online search popularity.
Being newer and having some imperfections hasn’t stopped it from delivering, as per its makers’ words, “beautiful native apps in record time”. In its short history, Flutter has managed to appeal to some big names – eBay, Alibaba Group, BMW and none other than Tencent – China’s tech giant, to name a few.
Why is Flutter a top choice for 2020?
Mainly it’s delivering on the promises. Its C++ written engine in combination with Google’s Skia library supports low-level rendering support. This is where the “beautiful” happens. According to the makers, apps developed with Flutter are able to consistently render at 120 frames per second. More than enough for smooth interaction with the UI.
Widgets and own language
Flutter, unlike React Native, works with its own libraries and programming language – Dart. Flutter uses Widgets as base UI building blocks, making programmers’ work fairly straightforward. “Everything is a Widget” in the framework. When creating an app the coders can either utilize elements from a huge library of Widgets or create custom ones with Dart. Introducing a new language in the app development landscape might’ve seemed like a risky move, but for Flutter it proved to be the right one. Dart is fairly easy to learn and is fully compatible with the framework. Full implementation can be done with just Widgets and Dart.
The flutter.dev site is nothing short of amazing. Google’s official support goes above and beyond to deliver thorough information on the latest developments and news, gives a thorough and complete introduction to the framework, provides all the necessary tools and solutions for programmers.
The final two top trends I want to bring up are iOS and Android developments. Why split them into two? There are several reasons. Android and iOS hold the duopoly in the mobile systems landscape. Worldwide, Android tops the market with over 2.5 billion active devices in use. Conversely, Apple boasts around a 1.3 billion base. While Apple only supports proprietary devices, you will find Android systems in anything from phones, through to TVs, gym equipment and much, much more. While iOS offers the best, Android gives you the most. Read on.
If you’re after cutting edge mobile technology, no compromise innovation and superb quality and performance, iOS has it all. If on top of that, your target market is the U.S., Canada, Australia then you just can’t miss the opportunities native iOS development provides. Customer satisfaction, top-of-the-line equipment, support and most importantly, users who are happy to pay for all that. These are the reasons for going with native iOS.
Blockchain in iOS apps
If you’re into blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the latest version of Apple’s system – iOS 13 includes a brand new CryptoKit to enable building crypto wallets for mobile apps. A definite must have if you want to get an edge over competition providing a all purpose crypto payment feature in your app.
Another cool feature Apple keeps on improving is their wallet and ID capability. iOS 13 introduced the Core NFC framework which is a significant improvement from NDEF technology, allowing reading of far more complex NFC tags, thus providing app developers with a tool for creating more feature rich e-wallet applications.
What else does native iOS offer?
Choosing native technology gives you access to the latest, and when it comes to the latest in iOS, it is no light thing. Super Retina XDR display, A13 Bionic chip, Triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, 4K video recording, all kinds of sensors – the latest iPhone is packed with features asking to be utilized in app development. If you want access to all that, and full-on use of native modules, no shortcuts, no compromise, then you won’t think twice. Native development it is.
Since iPhone X, Apple introduced a new AI chip in their top of the range mobile hardware, opening the pathway for developers to develop apps utilizing Machine Learning. This makes native iOS mobile apps the only ones able to “understand” the world around them, recognize contents of photos or videos, and use ML algorithms for augmented reality and a multitude of other features.
In the last 5 years, traditional Objective-C development has been replaced with Swift, iOS programming language. The technologies, tools and solutions supporting it, paved the path for developing state-of-the-art apps for the most demanding users. The possibilities when choosing native iOS implementation are limited only by your mobile device’s capabilities.
If you’re in the business of delivering innovation wrapped in beauty, quality and best-achievable performance, then native iOS is the way to go. If your app is to be the next must-have, most downloaded app – you’re hiring native iOS developers for sure.
Native development is more than just delivering the latest. If you’re playing the long game, going for a big, complex mobile service with a bunch of features for starters and a plan to build a long-lasting, top-notch experience for your Users, native is the name of the game.
Why leave the best for last? Personal preference I guess. Why call Android the best, if I just said iOS delivers the latest? Mainly it’s about the variety. With iOS native things are relatively simple. Few lines of products, streamlined sizes, fairly similar capabilities, same hardware manufacturer, etc. Now, Android is basically a mess when it comes to devices. You get dozens of manufacturers, a variety of devices, all sorts of onboard hardware – everything supported by one system and basically interoperable.
The variety is exactly what makes Android development so attractive. If you’re thinking IOT, home automation, all types of Android portables, cross-device communication, you can’t pick better than Android. Google has been developing its sweet (Cupcake, Donut, Oreo, Pie…) OS since 2008 and it’s been getting better and better each year. In 2019, things seemed to get a bit more serious with the search giant giving up on sugar in favor of simple and classic Android 10.
Creating your Android app natively provides you with the widest palette of possibilities. With Android SDK you get complete, low-level access to the device modules – phone’s camera, Bluetooth, microphone and all kinds of other hardware features. This allows implementing complex app functionalities without issues, and with a guarantee that your app will be able to utilize all the latest developments in mobile hardware.
The wide variety of Android peripheral devices will come especially useful for applications in beacons based location systems. If you are looking to develop an indoor positioning or mapping infrastructure integrating Bluetooth beacons and mobile devices, native Android development will quickly transpire as the most cost-effective and issue free technology.
No technological debt
Apart from the latest innovations, in terms of quality, speed and performance, truly native Android apps beat hybrid, cross-platform or PWA software hands down. With Kotlin – Android’s preferred programming language you can create applications of the highest achievable standard. Fully working across all types of hardware, regardless of manufacturer, screen resolution, Android version, Kotlin-made applications provide the best possible User Experience. Google provides ongoing and full official support of the Android platform and gives you unlimited possibilities in terms of building the coolest and most feature-rich UIs. Both official and community support, and the fact of Android being open source add to making the platform one of the top choices for 2020.
Top mobile app development trends to follow in 2020
The mobile market is teeming with new solutions, technologies and frameworks. PWA, HTML5 and other hybrid solutions still hold strong positions in the mobile landscape and will be more than applicable for (probably) years to come. We are seeing the emergence of DIY app solutions, codeless tools and other interesting, more or less valuable options. All worth looking at IMO and applicable in certain circumstances.
If your aim for 2020 is to deliver high (or highest) quality, top performance, beauty, style and top-notch User Experience, then you need look no further than Flutter or React Native, Swift for iOS, and my personal favorite – Kotlin for Android. Satisfaction, yours and that of your Users, absolutely guaranteed.
Would you like to know more about differences between cross-platform and native app development? Download our ebook! It is the ultimate guide to Cross-Platform vs Native development. You will find out more about native applications, cross-platform applications and technologies used to build them.
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