We’re more than halfway through 2018, and the mobile market continues to grow and change. However, some trends have remained consistent and strong throughout the year. Near the end of 2017, we looked at new and growing trends. Now we’re looking at how they’ve affected today’s app ecosystem and if they’ve lasted. What are they, and how have they changed since the start of the year? App Store Optimization To call ASO a trend does little service to the importance of optimizing apps. Good ASO requires keeping up with all user trends and changes in the App Stores. There have been many changes to both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and the best practices for ASO have changed accordingly. Apple Search Ads now include creative sets, Google Play is testing the feature graphic impacts and frequently updates the Play Store while the Apple App Store now allows up to ten screenshots – all these changes and more cause seismic shifts in the ASO ecosystem. It is because of ASO that apps can maintain high rankings and relevance within the app stores whenever changes and shifts occur. It's the key to maintaining installs and views on the App Stores throughout every trend, making it essential in an ever-shifting ecosystem.Throughout all the changes, ASO remains not just a trend, but a necessity for app developers and marketers.
Augmented Reality (AR) has continued to progress and grow since it first went mainstream with Pokémon GO in 2016. The advancements in AR technology have taken the concept beyond games, and AR has steadily been integrated into shopping apps, navigation, and more. Its presence in mobile games has also been growing, especially with games such as Jurassic World(TM) Alive. AR has reached the point where both Apple and Google are making a concentrated effort to improve Augmented Reality on their devices. Apple revealed the ARKit 2 at WWDC 2018, while Google announced at their annual conference, Google I/O, that they would be adding further ARCore support to their devices. The number of apps using AR has been steadily increasing as well, with a growth from 1,950 ARKit-enabled apps in the first quarter of 2018 to 2,200 apps and over 60 million users in Q2. The potential and users for AR continues to grow, and it does not seem to be slowing.
Business and Shopping Apps
It seems that no matter where you shop, there’s an app for that business. This extends beyond online shopping, although there are plenty of those, and encompasses stores of all shapes and sizes. Successful shopping apps are seeing anywhere from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of users each month, with Amazon as the leader of the pack by far. The variety of shopping apps continues to grow, as it includes sellers such as Amazon, resellers such as Craigslist, individual stores like Best Buy or Target and even individual creatives like Etsy. Shopping apps are currently seeing increasing profits, following a 54% growth in 2017. Mobile shopping is growing across devices and demographics and is poised for another successful year of growth as well. Apps for specific businesses are on the rise, not just in terms of purchases online, but for membership perks such as discounts for recurring customers or being able to order food for pickup. Small businesses are also benefitting from having their own apps, joining in on the e-commerce market and the growing value it provides. Regardless of the size of the business or the kind of commerce, shopping and business apps are a trend that is only going to keep growing.
The growth of Android’s Instant Apps has been slow until now but has taken off in recent months. While previously limited to a few games, Instant Apps have been expanding to more apps since 2018’s Google I/O conference. Instant Apps are essentially free demos offered on Android devices, allowing users to try apps before properly buying/installing them. They’re already seeing great success in increasing conversion rates - such as a 27% conversion increase for Jet and a 55% engagement increase for Onefootball - so more apps will begin utilizing instant apps as the trend continues to grow. However, the growth of Instant Apps is also tied to the first two ongoing trends: AR and shopping. With Google’s integration of ARCore to instant apps, the company created new possibilities for finding and launching apps during one’s everyday life. Google has enabled people to view items such as clothes or accessories with their camera through augmented reality and launch a shopping app as an Instant App to purchase them. Thus, we get a blend of AR, e-commerce and Instant Apps, accelerating and improving all three trends.
Wearable tech has found a nice niche and remains a solid trend in the app world. In addition to apps for devices like the Apple Watch, fitness apps have been embracing wearables for fitness wristwear and activity trackers. The revenue and users for wearables have been steadily climbing, bringing in billions in profits and over 341 million users in 2018. Projections from Gartner suggest that the market will only continue to grow, expecting over 504 million sales of units by 2021. So not only is wearable tech an ongoing trend, but the future looks bright for it as well.
What Else? What’s Next?
As apps and technology advance, the trends will always shift and change accordingly. However, we can follow the trends to see which ones continue to grow and which are passing fads. It’s clear that these trends are still on the rise, and we’ll continue to see them evolve through the rest of the year and into 2019.