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The habitual use of mobile apps has become second nature to us. Apps complement our lives, designed to fulfil a real-world purpose, virtually – from communication, education, social networking, and shopping, to business, banking, entertainment and much more.

The mobile app development market has done well in addressing and capitalising on human need by providing instant and convenient digital solutions to a wide range of needs and real-world challenges. For instance, travelling to an unfamiliar location today is not so much of an issue with live navigation apps or e-hailing apps available.

It could be argued that apps are what makes a phone such a prized and personal possession, almost inseparable from the user. What good would a mobile phone be without the variety of apps that make it purposeful and enjoyable? It has transcended from being a mere communication tool to a companion we can’t do without.

Significance and impact of apps

On average, smartphone users spend three hours and 15 minutes on their phone daily, and check their phones at least 85 times, a 2019 RescueTime app study found. This much engagement with our smartphones is telling, revealing how much apps are an integral part of our lives, helping us fulfil our desires and carrying out activities.

App development can be purposeful and impactful on society, as is the case during the pandemic. During the height of Covid-19, health institutions collaborated with software developers to devise apps that would help the South African healthcare system mitigate the pandemic by way of enabling Covid-19 contact tracing, keeping track of coronavirus infections countrywide, and providing access to information such as symptoms and advice on exposure prevention measures. 

The power of mobile apps was further demonstrated in how normal daily routines such as having to go to work, attending school, and even shopping – which became restricted – could continue from the comfort of home while adhering to the enforced lockdown regulations. These apps could fulfil those purposes by enabling remote working, e-learning and online shopping.

As much as apps have been significant all along, their necessity and impact became most apparent this year, helping us navigate our day-to-day during the pandemic.

Trends in apps

Digital health promotion will grow in future, as it is convenient and efficient to look after one’s health virtually through doctor consultations via chats and video calls and conducting medicine orders and payments electronically, without having to visit a healthcare facility unnecessarily. Telehealth apps will create better healthcare access by offering health-related services and information through digital platforms.

In addition, selling products and rendering services electronically will grow e-commerce apps as people get to rely more on apps to bring products and services to their doorstep instead. Almost every big retailer, restaurant, and other kinds of businesses have digital platforms so people can access these remotely while observing social distancing measures.   

Another trend in apps will be remote work-enabling apps such as video conferencing, workspace, task management, document management and instant messaging apps, as several companies will make remote working a norm beyond Covid-19, with apps having provided seamless business continuity during the pandemic.

According to a Cisco South Africa study, Remote working in South Africa 2020, over a third (38%) of local businesses will allow working from home after the pandemic is over. Of course, this would not be possible without the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively through apps while working apart.

Opportunities for the app development market

As a result of the transformed way of life, dubbed the ‘new normal’, people will rely on digital platforms and apps even more going forward because they simply offer convenience and in a way, a shortcut to doing things. For instance, a document scanner app allows one to scan hardcopy pages without having to visit an internet café.

As the world further advances towards a digitised way of life, the local app development market has potential to grow even larger by creating parallel digital experiences for people. There is ample opportunity for developers as life’s demands, problems and technological challenges tend to evolve, needing new solutions and innovations. It will be up to developers to innovate and create apps which address the challenges and solve the problems society is facing.

Software development will have a high employment potential over the next decade and developers are said to be among the highest paying jobs of the future.  Investing in software development skills is key as app development is a viable career path that can help alleviate unemployment globally but also in South Africa.

HUAWEI supports the developer community

Global tech giant HUAWEI is constantly looking to tap into the wealth of developer creativity, innovation and skills by providing a Developer Programme with resources, training and events that nurture the developer community, empowering developers to leverage Huawei Mobile Services’ (HMS’) Core resources, which facilitate efficient development, fast growth, and flexible monetisation, in order for them to build and showcase their quality apps on the HUAWEI AppGallery app distribution platform.

HMS developers have increased significantly over the past few years. HUAWEI recently ran the global Apps UP competition, which encouraged local developers to innovate and build apps customised for HUAWEI AppGallery, thereby fostering a competitive and thriving app development market in South Africa.

With apps being a vital element of the smartphone user’s life, app development presents the opportunity to increase business visibility and promote growth for app developers. The future does indeed look promising for this industry.