The Mobile App Development Landscape In 2017

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

Research firm Forrester predicts by the end of 2016, fully 46% of the global population will utilize smartphones. Users currently spend 58% of their digital time in mobile applications. Whether we like it or not, mobile apps have fundamentally changed the way that smartphone users interact with the web. Instagram, one of the most popular social media apps on the market, has amassed over 500 million monthly active users—and more importantly, 90% of those users are under 35. The current mobile landscape is all about connection, and in 2017, more developers will begin to take advantage of this through the continued expansion of social media, further development of mobile commerce, and creation of new technology to display and run these apps.

Mobile App Development In 2017

As mobile app developers continue to prioritize UX and UI, it’s no surprise that flat design and simplified user interactions will continue into 2017. The emphasis will become focus in on usability and less on aesthetics, resulting in exquisitely simple and sleek designs. As Google reports that 26% of installed apps are only used once, developers will take advantage of visual overhauls to breathe life into pre-existing projects that may have gotten off to a rocky start.

In terms of mobile app development, social media continues to reign king. Hootsuite reports that social media advertising budgets have doubled over the last two years to $31 million in 2016. As everything begins to point towards social media as the future of advertising, we will see no shortage of social media in mobile application development in 2017. This means that developers will be taking advantage of existing social media platforms as well as working on creating brand new services catered towards the interests of users today.

Mobile commerce will also continue to grow stronger. Widespace predicts that 45% of online shopping will take place on a mobile device by 2020.       For 2017, this means m-commerce will continue to expand. Apps incorporating social shopping platforms like Facebook and Instagram will do particularly well, and it will be important for marketers to utilize apps as a new ad space.

mobile app

Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog reports that the average Android app loses 77% of its initial user base within three days of installing. With so many apps failing due to their lack of user retention, the big takeaway for 2017 should be maintaining user interest. No amount of increase in smartphone usage can protect you from users becoming disinterested. However, by taking the time to read articles like this, you’re already making the right move when it comes to staying on top of current trends and creating a lasting mobile application.

The big social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have one thing in common: they capitalized on society’s strong desire to become more connected at the time. While connectivity remains the overarching theme in app development, the big theme for 2017 is going to be speed: after a few years of refining social media platforms, shopping experiences, and games, users know what they want, and they want it streamlined and fast. To be successful in the coming years, prioritizing the application’s user experience will be vital.


By 2018, wearable technology is predicted to generate $100 billion in global sales. Wearable technology both expands opportunity for development on existing platforms and simultaneously creates new platforms and screen sizes for developers to up the interactivity between users and their technology.

The bigger picture with wearables is movement towards technology integration. Mainstream wearables will continue to bring humans closer to the technology they use, inherently changing the way we will use mobile applications. Just as wearables created initial hype in the health tracking app market, the emerging technology has limitless potential for developers to take advantage of in 2017.

mobile app

As the last few years have shown, users predominantly like to wear technology on their wrists and on their heads in the form of glasses, VR headsets, and even earbuds. For 2017, this shouldn’t change: Statista reports wristwear will see 101.4 million units shipped in 2019 while the next biggest category, modular wearables, will only see 6.7 million units shipped in the same year. This hints again at the greater trend of the mobile app market for 2017: speed and accessibility. Users want speedy access to their content and notifications. Since users are generally satisfied with this technology sitting on their wrists, we should see producers of the wearables themselves and the accompanying app developers all working to create a further streamlined medium for users to interact with.

Virtual Reality

mobile appVR presents a massive opportunity for new content marketing. VR is an emerging space that both the biggest companies and smallest startups are beginning to develop in. With Samsung’s introduction of Gear VR, users are able to use their Galaxy smartphones to power a VR headset. This means that for 2017, the big theme in VR will be accessibility. With the normalization of virtual reality, content viewed in apps will begin to take different forms. YouTube’s 360 Channel has already amassed 1.9 million subscribers – and as the general public becomes increasingly aware and interested in the emerging technology, we should see lots of content services and games beginning to incorporate VR into their existig ecosystems. This year will also bring a lot of experimentation as other apps will begin to adopt the technology in unconventional ways and push the limits of VR application.

2017 will be a defining year for VR—it will be very interesting to see how developers begin to take advantage of the widespread service as it becomes increasingly more accessible. Statista forecasts the total number of active VR users to rise to 90 million by the end of 2017. Despite the fact that the technology is still emerging, The Motley Fool reports that 200,000 developers are currently registered to build games for the Oculus Rift. 2017 is going to be a year of massive growth for VR and its accompanying applications.

In Summary

Next year will largely be about refining recent emergences in technology and making them accessible to everyone. With essentially every aspect of mobile development becoming more lucrative thanks to the massive increase in general smartphone ownership and social media interest among young adults, there’s really no reason for anything to change. Approaching the new year, social media continues to grow, wearable technology is becoming mainstream, and virtual reality is becoming accessible at reasonable price points—all culminating in a big year for all of the associated developers.