As Web3 moves ahead, metaverse is also becoming a more mainstream concept that businesses want to embrace, particularly in digital marketing strategy. Customers want a more immersive online experience. They want to try on shoes and clothing using AR. They want to change their hairstyle or make-up using a realistic avatar. Consumers are exploring the options big brands are presenting, and the consensus is that they want more.
With the rise of blockchain integration for mobile apps, the metaverse is starting to take shape as more than just a concept. On iOS and Android platforms, developers are working on chatbots, voice recognition and search as well as augmented reality capabilities. Google’s Flutter, an open-source UI software development kit and Facebook’s React Native development tool are proving exciting developments, but their branded and centralized ownership is converse to the values of Web3 and metaverse principles.
However, for mobile app development, the future of mobile app solutions and technology likely rests with these big companies. Let’s take a closer look at the trends in app development, and the technology that is essential to extending the lifetime of your app should the metaverse fulfil its promise of becoming a reality by 2030.
On October 28 2021, Facebook rebranded as Meta. The company CEO made a horrendous pitch using low-quality avatars and bizarre creatures to promote his idea of metaverse. Thankfully, this lonely Meta world does not have to be the reality for all internet users, especially those who understand the power of Web3 and metaverse.
The metaverse will be an online space that allows users to interact in a computer-generated environment. The spaces would be linked with blockchain, making the metaverse part of decentralized platforms using encryption and hashing to validate online transactions, with users able to dictate the terms of their interactions through smart contracts.
The desire of social media developer Mark Zukerberg to privatize a metaverse space is the anthesis of the concept. Internet users may well find themselves pulled in by the offer of a ‘free’ platform as they were with Facebook. Hopefully, internet users have learned the value of their data and will push back against the privatization of the technology.
In terms of app developers, it will be important to understand if their app is ready for integration with different metaverses and whether there is room to pivot when metaverse technology gains traction.
The metaverse is likely to be primarily accessed using mobile phones. Research indicates that ‘metaverse’ mobile games, those hosted in open-worlds such as Genshin Impact and Oceanhorn, are predicted to grow to more than US$4 billion this year. As app developers create new ways for consumers to engage, it is important that they consider how gaming might create a space for users, and how creations need to be adaptable, but still secure.
Blockchain technology has been reshaping the internet for more than 10 years now. Most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, and while this is the branch of technology that has an easily monetized value, it is only one of the many developments that blockchain offers. Smart contracts, logistics management, immutable record creation and a hash system that requires agreement are done by computers.
When app developers are creating new experiences for users, they need to consider how their creation could link to blockchain technology for users. Whether it is through registration services, wallets or user-friendly interfaces, apps should be made adaptable to metaverse.
Apple’s iOS platform has always strived to be at the forefront of development. While the brand attempts to monopolise its products and services, a recent change to competition requirements in the EU has seen the brand be required to make changes to its marketplace accessibility.
Swift is a powerful programming language for iOS. Apple introduced a much cleaner API for implanting concurrency in Swift applications. They are referred to as ‘async/await APIs’. The language makes it easier to write safe concurrent code, making these APIs more accessible to developers.
Apple’s SwiftUI has made it easier for legacy project integration. SwiftUI has been upgraded in the past few years with features that include asynchronous images, extended List views and pull-to-refresh support options. With developments in AR, VR and other immersive technology, this simplified code should make it easier for smooth integration.
According to reports, Apple’s AR glasses are still in development. Such glasses have been prototyped in the past, and the public reaction was less than lukewarm. Concerns about privacy, such as people taking photos while wearing the glasses without the consent of the subject, and even simple issues like usability.
However, changing some of the features of the wearable, such as headphone features, screen options and even the style of the glasses with improved nanotechnology so the device can be smaller and streamlined, could see a rapid uptake in the market if they make it easier for users to enter the metaverse using the technology.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) API, Jetpack Compose, Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM), and chatbots are the main highlights of Android app development.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) API
In 2021, Google added an Ultra-wideband (UWB) API to Android. Ultra-wideband is an emerging wireless technology. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have been the foundational wireless connective technology for many years now. While they have improved, they have changed very little. Now UWB is entering the market with a new connectivity solution.
UWB API enables high-speed peer-to-peer data sharing and best-positioning of indoor smart home devices. UWB technology can be used to control and organize smart home ecosystems.
The only Android device using UWB hardware is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Samsung’s SmartThings app is the only app to use the hardware. However, it is expected that the technology will expand and be used by more Andriod manufacturers as the technology improves. Google is to add APIs to support UWB for third-party apps, and developers need to consider configuring apps to support UWB as it expands.
Android’s toolkit for building native UI, called Jetpack Compose, has been released in a stable version this year. The aim of the software is to simplify the app development process and improve efficiency. Developer uptake of the software is expected to increase rapidly as it makes app creation for Android devices intuitive, simple and powerful.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM)
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM) technology enables developers to write code once and then apply the code to multiple platforms using iOS or Android. The unifying technology makes sharing code easier and means that platform-specific code only sometimes needs to be written. KMM supports Android applications and libraries, and Android NDK on ARM32 and ARM64 platforms.
Android chatbots are becoming central to mobile app development. As chatbots become smarter and more advanced, businesses are seeking their addition to their apps as a core feature to customer contact with 58% of B2B businesses using chatbots. Chatbots save time and money, providing an instant first point of contact for common enquires and minor issues.
Coding that allows for the easy integration of chatbots as they improve is also essential to the extended shelf life of your product, making updates fast and easy for users.
Facebook’s open-source UI software framework, called React Native (RN), gives develops tools to create applications. The framework is easy to use and is a good addition for those new to app development.
React Native Gesture Handler
React Native Gesture Handler version 2 is a native touch and gesture system. It allows app developers to build touch-based experiences, and the gesture handler enables gesture tracking to be smooth and dependable. This is crucial to future developments in metaverse technology and would benefit any app preparing to expand into AR, VR and metaverse technology.
Reanimated is a React Native library that enables the creation of smooth animations and interactions. Its minimal layout animations and transitions are loved by developers. This comprehensive library provides all the tools needed to create exciting and innovative apps and features fast.
This multiplatform programming support helps to reduce necessary code replication while retaining the flexibility of native programming. The majority of the React Native APIs are cross-platform and code reuse across two platforms like iOS and Android is common.
This saves developers time and money, as one program can be written and then tweaked for functionality on multiple platforms.
Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit created by Google. Like React Native, Flutter is a powerful and popular framework for building cross-platform mobile applications.
The software has a major advantage. Coming from Google, the software makes apps exceptional and with the boost of Flutter native Google ads, more marketable.
Flutter is a great option for businesses wanting to create online enterprise applications fast. Food delivery apps, online retail apps, communication apps and travel services apps have all used Flutter as a basis for building apps that are high quality and functional.
The software includes a variety of built-in animations to enhance app features easily. Many startups use Flutter to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The quality of the finished product is high, and outlay is small, However, there is a generic element to the animations, which means some apps, although they are branded, can appear similar to that of another company.
The future of mobile app development
There is a multitude of tools and software to help support the swift development of apps, especially those that can support eCommerce functionality. However, as Web3 and metaverse become closer to reality, it is important that developers understand how to write code that can easily integrate new technologies.
Machine learning, cloud computing integration, augmented reality, chatbots, crypto acceptance and other features that extend the shelf life of an application are important considerations for developers.