App Predictions for 2020


7 minute read
Calvium Team

Calvium Team

Digital Insights

2019 saw app development continue to grow as well as the advancement of development platforms that allow app development with no prior coding experience. In this article we take a look through some app predictions for 2020.

Brain-to-computer interfaces saw continued annual growth, while AR, VR and mixed-reality tech flourished not just on gaming platforms but even in corporate settings. We also saw more accessible services through digital technology on a city-wide scale—an innovation that greatly benefits people with disabilities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was also put in the spotlight. While it does have its advantages and progressed significantly this year, the learning curve involved has proven to be a major roadblock for easy adoption. Controversies also hounded this sector, with big players like Facebook and Google embroiled in legal battles over their AI products.

With burgeoning technologies like these, the burning question of digital ethics cannot be avoided, with the European Commission publishing its 7-point guideline on developing ethical AI this year.

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time that we look forward and see what the Calvium team believes to be in store for us in app development this 2020:


Fewer screens

We will continue to see a gradual shift away from device screens to more screen-less experiences. The combination of developments in connected objects (the Internet of Things, or IoT), AI, and 5G should give a perfect foundation for more services and actions to become automated based on an individual’s preferences. 

Devices can already talk to each other more easily and more efficiently than a user could input commands (e.g. tap or swipe). All we are waiting for, in theory, is the infrastructure, wider availability of connected objects, and mass adoption at price points that aren’t too prohibitive (like Phillip’s Hue bluetooth light bulbs at only £24.99 apiece).

Although mass adoption may not be possible in 2020, we do believe that we’ll see a few key innovations that will capture the public’s imagination.


New social media platforms with less emphasis on identity

In 2019, TikTok saw the biggest increase in app downloads in the US. It’s also the third most downloaded app of the year, behind Facebook and Messenger.

What this tells us is that more social media startups will come out with platforms that require even less IRL identity in 2020. People (especially teenagers) will keep migrating to new systems that make it progressively less and less likely that their parents (or anyone in their lives) will find them online.

Better AI, machine learning, and voice-enabled personalisation integration in apps and devices

We’re seeing a massive shift in user preference over the years, as people continue to demand more personalised experiences from their mobile devices. In 2020, more applications will take advantage of AI and voice-enabled technologies to provide users interactive, intuitive, and truly personalised experiences.

Voice-enabled apps will also grow to be more understanding of context, even when consumers use natural language, thereby limiting their effort and decreasing the amount of time it takes to accomplish tasks.

We’ll also see small-screen devices that will push for apps to guess what the user wants or allow users to interact just with voice. There will also be more advancements in Siri integration for third parties, as well as the Google Assistant, plus improvements on how to be more aware of context (similar to how Gmail can anticipate and help people type their replies).


No-code apps

No-code app development platforms allow even those who don’t have prior coding knowledge to start developing their own apps.

No-code platforms have been around for many years, and 2018 in particular saw notable success in this space with the launch of GoodBarber and We expect to see more developments in this technology by 2020 given the myriad of benefits it brings to businesses:

  • Quicker turnaround times when building apps, thanks to its pre-built modules
  • Reduced overhead costs as it eliminates the need to have a full developer team on hand
  • Better productivity as it reduces the workload of IT staff members
  • Easier to change and update apps as there will be no more need to understand any foreign code


Apps that promote positive change

The devastating effects of climate change cannot be overstated, with 2019 alone seeing record-breaking temperature levels and the rise of protest movements like the Youth Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion. 2019 has also seen Greta Thunberg become a household name and the poster girl of the climate emergency movement.

In response to this, we believe 2020 will see more apps that can help people make changes in their lifestyles to slow down the effects of climate change. Although there are several eco-friendly apps available today, we’ll continue to see a rise of platforms that encourage recycling, provide guidance and support to use less plastic or volunteer to clean up plastic waste, facilitate greener travel options, and help people do their bit.


Folding phones

The hype around foldable phones continues to stir the excitement of tech enthusiasts worldwide. Although rumours on the grapevine said that Samsung already had foldable tablets as early as 2011, it wasn’t until the launch of the Galaxy Fold prototype in 2018 that this innovation was put on the map. 

Although the initial release of the Galaxy Fold was a disaster, we continued to see multiple companies like Huawei, Oppo, Motorola, and LG trying to make foldable phones happen. This 2020, at least one or two will succeed in making a folding phone that is not bad and doesn’t fall to bits unreasonably quickly. 

Once this rolls out to the market, apps optimised for foldable screens will follow. Google has, in fact, announced its foldable support for Android apps back in 2018. These apps will mostly work smoothly on folding phones without needing big rewrites. This is just another possible reason why the current screen size could change at runtime (which apps already have to handle in order to work well with split-screen multitasking). 

Digital Ethics

Similar to 2019, ethics will continue to be an important and controversial topic for 2020—one that companies, both big and small, need to address.

There will be an increase in interest and action regarding ethical inputs and outputs. Think  fairness and transparency, inclusion and diversity, privacy, safety, surveillance, and security. The EU’s guidelines on ethical AI development is just the beginning. 

While big companies like Google and Microsoft have come out with their own set of guidelines, there will be an increase in regulation and governance regarding the pervasiveness of digital technologies and the overall implications of the collection of data on society.

There will also be more awareness of the need to scrutinise the digital systems that are being designed, developed, deployed, and used. Hopefully, this will lead to more regulation to allow systems to be used without putting people’s personal data at risk.


Apps Developing at a Rapid Pace

Similar to previous years, apps (with the help of more digital innovations) will continue to develop at a rapid pace. In Q3 2019 alone, consumers spent $21.9 billion (£17 billion) on App Store and Google Play apps. By 2023, this industry is predicted to balloon to $156 billion (£120 billion). Since the trend we’re seeing is geared towards more integration of technology with customer experience, it’s therefore crucial to stay updated to generate market success in 2020 and be compliant with possible new regulations. 

What do you think of our team’s app predictions? What would you like you to add to this list? Let us know.

Calvium circle logo