Without doubt the most significant trend in mobile app development in 2019 will be the introduction of 5G (yes that’s the one currently causing problems for Huawei in the UK). Vodafone has set their date for its introduction in the UK for 3rd July. What’s the big deal you might ask, after all, the difference between 3G and 4G wasn’t so earth shattering, connection speeds just got a bit faster. That’s fair comment, but the difference between 4G and 5G will be of a completely different magnitude.
You’ve probably already heard of “the internet of things” – you know, that’s when your refrigerator starts talking to your supermarket about your next grocery order – well things are about to get a whole lot more integrated: smart heating, lighting and security controls for your home will become commonplace, as will the prevalence of consuming entertainment on the move, along with a myriad of other developments which will become enabled by 5G technology.
And how will much of this new technology be controlled? You’ve guessed it, with ever increasing numbers of apps for mobile phones. So what’s the difference to the situation we’ve got now? One word – speed. As a comparison, the time taken to download a full HD film with 3G was hours, with 5G we are now talking seconds. Not only does 5G allow download and upload times to become approximately 100 times faster than for4G, convenient when you want to watch Netflix in UHD on your phone for example, but the user experience will become much slicker because of something called latency. Arguably more important than pure speed, latency is the time it takes for your mobile phone to connect with the server of whichever internet site you are interacting with. High latency means that web pages load slowly, your video calls can experience problems etc.
5G will mean that instead of the server taking half a second to respond, it will be for all intents and purposes, instant. A smoother, better user experience will, naturally, act as a driver for greater mobile app usage.
Another benefit is something called improved spectrum access. Simply put, this means that 5G won’t suffer when demand from lots of numbers of users in the same geographical location is high (think airport lounges, Starbucks etc.). Taken all together, all this becomes a virtuous circle leading to an even greater number of users wanting to interact with apps when on the move.
So where does this leave businesses who have not yet taken the plunge to introduce their own mobile apps? Quite simply, increasingly out in the cold.
The propensity for mobile phone users to want to engage with their phones to control and enrich all aspects of their everyday lives is only going in one direction – look at the people standing at the bus stop, waiting in a queue… (in fact anywhere where they don’t have anything better to do) what do they have in common? Probably, 8 out of ten of them will be looking at their phones.
The smart business has already got on board, established their footprint in the sand, arrived at base camp… you can choose your own metaphor, but the message should be clear – ignoring the trend for business mobile apps is no longer an option.
With the introduction of 5G, that message has just got a whole lot louder.