In this article, we break down the top app development trends for 2024 and how you can use them to exceed your users’ expectations and deliver the right results for your business.

As we turn the page to 2024, we can look back on a year in app development dominated by one thing: the rise of artificial intelligence and with it an increase in what users have come to expect from your digital product.

Bubbling away for a while, 2023 was the year when AI – notably large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and generative AI like image creation – went mainstream.

But what does 2024 have in store for us? A continuation of the trends we saw in 2023 or something new? In this article, we break down the top app development trends for 2024 and, more importantly, what they mean for your digital product experience.

User Expectations from 2024 App Development Trends

1. Expanding AI

Almost every big player in the tech world made substantial investments in AI in the latter half of last year. Companies moved swiftly to incorporate AI into both business and consumer-facing products to take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

AI Everywhere, All At Once

Microsoft’s Office365 suite is now fitted out with ChatGPT-powered writing assistants. Google’s in-house Bard AI fulfils a similar role in G-Suite products, helping users draft documents and craft custom formulas in much less time.

Meanwhile, in the creative world, Adobe debuted its generative fill tool and graphic design app Canva put sophisticated generative AI imagery tools into the hands of its users – empowering individuals to achieve more without specialist knowledge.

At the same time, Meta looked to make AI fun and accessible for consumers with its Messenger integrations that allow users to talk to a variety of celebrity-voiced AI characters and figures as well as generate their own images and artwork.

The Impact of AI

The result is that in 2024 we will continue to see assistants and AI-powered features across our most familiar programs, tools and platforms. 

Recommendation engines will improve sharply. Searches and suggestions will be able to deliver increasingly personalised experiences as AI models crunch more data and predict tastes with startling accuracy.

Meanwhile, AI models will become better at understanding and categorising media making it much easier for companies to organise their catalogues and libraries. There are huge efficiencies that will be won in the transfer of physical media or manual processes to digital.

In the field of 3D mapping, the data-crunching power of artificial intelligence will improve LiDAR capabilities already available in many mobile devices. Industries like automotive, agriculture, construction and proptech will benefit from a far easier and more cost-effective way to capture a wealth of real-world data.

Image processing and recognition will have huge implications in many other technical fields. Already-sophisticated translation models will also improve further, allowing for live translation or transcription of content in real-time. This has huge implications for content and cross-language communications.

We’re not far away from a toggle in Teams or Zoom that translates international calls in real-time, using participants’ actual voices, and using deep fake animations to match people’s mouths to their new translated voices!

Impact Effort Matrix Diagram

Finding the Quick Wins

The key question for companies building or iterating upon their digital products is “Where do we start with AI?” In reality, it’s the same proven app development process that it was before – the new and shiny tech doesn’t change a thing.

Sure, we’re seeing an influx of off-the-shelf APIs that will allow product companies an easier way of integrating AI into their products – but often at a premium price. At the other end of the spectrum, custom AI models will explore the outer limits of what the tech can make possible.

But before you jump straight into the tech, you have to consider the strategy behind it. You have to focus on the outcome you want to achieve and the results you want to deliver. Only then can you prioritise what you should be doing and build a solution that delivers a return on your technology investment.

Make sure what you’re building delivers a return on technology investment?

Curators, Not Creators

Following the trend of new tech unlocking the potential of individuals everywhere, alongside the explosion of AI we’ve seen a rise in customisable and composable platforms. People want tailored solutions specific to their needs but without the hassle of building it themselves.

Attempts to empower non-design and development staff with no-code and prototyping tools to build apps to solve internal business problems has proven to be impractical and ineffective. Not only is it a waste of employees’ time spent building and tinkering, but very quickly you end up with a bunch of different DIY tools being used by different departments – none of which talk to one another.

If you’re building commercial products, you have to take into account how users will want to tailor their experience to meet their specific needs. If you’re building bespoke tools in-house, you need the right app development process in place and the right resources to take your key business challenges, ideate a solution, and test it with real users for rapid feedback.

Your employees are most valuable as experts in their fields. They need to act as curators and advisors, providing valuable feedback and input throughout the product development journey instead of creating, building, and maintaining a mess of temporary tools.

Frictionless UX Features

One of the biggest implications of AI is a rise in the expectation among users for a truly frictionless experience. Looking ahead, users will expect to be able to achieve more and more with less input.

Form fields should be necessary only and be predictive where possible. Back-end workflows will need to proactively tailor the experience to reduce friction and help users achieve their desired outcomes with as minimal effort as possible.

This will become the new floor for digital products. Without a contextual user experience and delightful micro-interactions, you run the risk of users abandoning your app before they’ve had the chance to experience its value for the first time.

To achieve this, you have to consider what each user wants to achieve and why. Product Discovery remains an essential ingredient if you want to delight your users while also exceeding your business targets.

Make sure your product exceeds all expectations.

New Hardware Opportunities

Except for concept phones like the Galaxy Fold, the world of hardware has been stagnant for far too long. Form factors for phones, tablets, and smartwatches have for the most part remained the same year-on-year. 

Outside of hobbyists and gamers, no VR/AR/MR headset has managed to take off in any meaningful way. Meta recently announced that it has sold over 20 million of their budget Quest headsets to date but admitted that user retention rates for the hardware are underwhelming.

2023, however, saw one big change in the hardware space that might see virtual and mixed reality move more into the mainstream in the coming years. Apple announced its premium $3000 Vision Pro headset at WWDC 2023 – with the goal of creating a seamless blend between the physical and virtual worlds using all the intuitive gesture control you would expect from Apple.

The success of the Vision Pro (and other headsets like it) hinges on the third-party apps that will decide whether visionOS and mixed reality can move from game, gimmick or concept to something that provides real value for users.

Yes, the new augmented reality form factor will allow users to interact with content (whether it’s entertaining, educational, or work-related) in a new way. Unless it’s the right technology that offers an advantage over traditional mobile apps however, then people won’t use it and you won’t see a return on your investment.

Get in Touch

Not all products are created equal. At Sonin, we care about the value that your product has to create. Our approach finds the perfect balance between the business case and what your users want. We’ve been doing this for over a decade.

If you’re looking to launch a new digital product in 2024 that exceeds users’ expectations or improve an existing one to take advantage of the emerging trends we’ve explored in this article, get in touch with us today.