The latest trends mobile app developers need to know

By Will Kelly

A man using his smartphone to view augmented reality made by mobile app developers, with the text mobile apps development projected from the device


It can feel like a full-time job for many app developers to follow app development trends, but staying up-to-date is essential. Developers need to track these trends to stay in front of what customers, employers and users want in their next mobile initiatives.

Right now, the role of the mobile app developer is becoming increasingly agile as enterprises measure how fast users can consume new features in their corporate mobile apps. Mobile app developers play significant roles in digital transformation and cloud migrations as more organizations look to mobile devices as the primary interface to their enterprise resources.

In a recent article, TechTarget reported that mobile app developer skills currently in high demand include agile, DevOps, cross-platform development and test-driven development. The site further states that Swift and Kotlin are the current sought-after programming languages.

Additionally, the 2018 Think Conference — which was held in March — and its sessions can give developers insight into upcoming mobile development trends.

Here are some mobile app development trends you should be tracking right now:

Cloud back ends for mobile apps

Moving mobile apps to the cloud enables you to take advantage of consumption-based pricing. The cloud also frees mobile users from some traditional end-point security and infrastructure concerns.

Digital transformation has become a driver for migrating to the cloud, with mobile apps becoming the new front end to legacy apps. There are a lot of decisions to make around workloads, storage, security and other concerns, just like with other cloud migrations. Likewise, mobile app startups benefit from economies of scale by putting their mobile app back ends in the cloud.

The 2018 Think conference had a session called “Moving Mobile Apps to the Cloud” that explored the experience of clients struggling with decisions around which workloads to move to the cloud. The presentation described top reasons for moving to the cloud and offered guidance and architecture patterns for success.

Superior mobile experience

A move to mobile apps sets user expectations that they’ll get the same level of user experience (UX) with corporate apps that they get with the apps they use on their own personal devices. Mobile experience becomes a key imperative for engaging with users.

Developers need to be well versed in mobile analytics to track how mobile users interact with apps. They’ll also need to have the tools and processes in place to use that data to respond to issues and feedback in future iterations of the mobile app with new features and bug fixes.

Think 2018 offered a session titled “Delivering Exceptional Mobile Experiences” that delved into how best-in-class mobile back-end technologies such as push services, mobile analytics and authentication security enable developers to achieve the right balance of rapid innovation and operational control to create exceptional experiences.

Augmented reality in the enterprise

The release of iOS 11 and the ARKit brought augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream for both enterprise and consumer apps. Enterprise-level AR application initiatives will require strong pitches and use cases, according to TechTarget.

Mobile app developers supporting engineering and healthcare operations might be among the people leading the pack here as their customers seek new mobile tools for the visualization and rendering of information. Examples include a healthcare AR app helping surgeons become more efficient in the operating room by creating 3-D models of tumors. Field salespeople can use AR to render a 3-D model of a piece of equipment for a customer rather than bringing such hardware on sales calls.

A Think 2018 session titled “The New Reality for Connected Workers: Augmented Reality with Maximo Field Service Management” showed a real-life field services use case that IBM built for one of their early-adopter clients, seizing on the promise of AR and inspiring organizations to consider applications of this technology.

Rise of mobile APIs

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are key building blocks for digital transformation, and they play an integral role for connecting mobile apps to back-end corporate data. Mobile app developers with API skills can work with cloud teams as they move legacy corporate applications to the cloud that require access from corporate and BYO devices.

Think 2018 didn’t miss the API trend. The session “Meet the Experts: API Design for Mobile Applications” explored the various approaches to designing an API that can satisfy the data requirements of a mobile app from back-end systems of record in the most efficient manner.

Mobile app developers and DevOps

For mobile app developers to win the loyalty of mobile users, the right applications must ship to the right customer at the right time. According to, “One has to continuously ship high-quality software and continuously listen [to] and learn from users, providing them features before they know that they want them.”

The mobile DevOps trend means app development needs to be aligned closer with the business than ever before because it requires business and technology decisions to come together in order to deliver mobile apps that satisfy the user community.

The Think 2018 session titled “User Experience: Mobile DevOps — Step on It” brought together some IBM developers together to unpack some of the challenges around mobile DevOps and how developers can evaluate ways to improve their mobile development team pipelines.

Collaboration to improve customer experience

It’s no longer about mobile developers building an app and tossing it out to users. Instead, mobile app developers need to be able to collaborate effectively with business stakeholders, product managers, UX designers and other team members to develop and launch a mobile app.

Building great mobile apps that delight and satisfy clients, employers and end users requires a level of insight that comes from using a mix of the right technology and personal contact to learn their business. This list of trends will help developers prepare to meet customer demand for innovative apps.

Written By

Will Kelly

Technical Writer & Content Creator

Will Kelly is a technical writer and content creator focusing on cloud computing, software-as-a-service, and enterprise mobility. He started his writing career writing technical documentation for commercial and federal government clients but now focuses on thought leadership content.…

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