Feb 2013

“through the last quarter <Q1 2012>, I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones.” – Tim Cook, CEO Apple

Not just iPads, tablets in general have become such an important part of our lives today. From tiny tots to people in their 60s and 70s, almost everyone knows how to use tablets and many of them prefer tablets over other devices like mobile phones of PCs. Looking at the diversity in the type of people using tablets these days, app development for tablets is gaining more popularity and giants like Google are taking this very seriously. Google recently released a checklist to encourage developers to develop quality apps for tablets. Given the recent rise in the number of apps for tablet PCs, let’s have a look at the top 10 trends in app development for tablets.

Trend #1: Reducing Dependency on PCs

It’s a busy world out there and people will prefer anything that is mobile and lets them work on the go. While laptops used to be popular for enabling mobility, tablets are now replacing them very fast. Hence we can see that many apps that are being developed these days try and reduce our dependency on our PCs. Tablets are becoming increasingly powerful and we now have tablets with quad core and 4G technology. This is just going to increase the number of PC apps that have a tablet versions.  Apps like CloudOn, QuickOfficePro are good examples of apps that let us optimize our time by letting us work on the go and also reduce our dependency on desktop applications like MS Office.

Trend #2: Responsive Design

Responsive Design “is an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones)”. App developers focus a lot on Responsive Design these days in order to ensure that their app is suitable for viewing on any kind of device including tablets. With responsive design, they have the flexibility to just vary the amount of content for each kind of device. Responsive Design involves the use of HTML 5, CSS frameworks and specialized JavaScript libraries, in order to modify the user experience according to the resolution of the device.

Trend #3: Easy Social Sharing

We share almost everything on Social Media these days, be it the points we scored in a game or some project related document. Given our obsession to being connected via to the online world, it is obvious that app developers will try to include a “Social” element in their apps. It is also not surprising to see that tablet apps that allows easy sharing with Facebook or Twitter, are more popular than ones that are more cumbersome when it comes to social sharing. The ease of sharing photos on Google+ is something that I believe each individual wants on Facebook as well. You can effortlessly upload all your photos from your Android phone to Google+, but for Facebook you need a second app like “Power Album” to do that which might not be very convenient. Integration with Social Media is a trend that started from Mobile Apps and is now being increasingly seen in Tablet Apps as well.

Trend #4: Connecting to Cloud Storage Apps

Even though we prefer using tablets, there is still a lot of data that we might have on our other devices that we would like to access using our tablet. One of the many reasons the concept of cloud storage became popular among people is because of the ease with which we can access our data. Since we tend to work a lot more using our tablets now, it makes sense for apps to have the ability to connect to our Dropbox or Google Drive or other such services. CloudOn is again a good example

Trend #5: Second Screen Apps

Multi-tasking is very common these days and we tend to multi-task while using tablets as well. What we do while using our tablets varies based on our age and the purpose of owning a tablets. A very common habit is to use tablets while watching TV. It is found that about 70% of the tablets are used while watching TV. Hence we can see that a lot of tablet apps act like “second screens” for the TV. Such apps compliment what we watch on TV. For example, if you are watching a Cricket match, the app will give you extra stats about the game.

This also has interesting applications in the field of marketing. The concept of marketing using a combination of TV and mobile/tablet apps has been used by companies like Coca-Cola in their recent campaign in Hong Kong called Chok! Chok! Chok! and we will maybe see an increase in tablet apps also made specifically for marketing campaigns.

Trend #6: Native Apps

App developers are moving towards building native apps i.e an app that can run on any kind of device and is not built only for a specific platform. This is possible using HTML5 App Platforms like PhoneGap which allow you to create native apps using open source code. This makes it easier for developers to make the apps compatible with all kinds of devices available.

Trend #7: Merging Applications for Tablets and e-Readers

e-Readers are soon going to have games, social sharing apps etc and Tablets are also becoming “better e-Readers”. Hence we can see a convergence in the applications that are built for e-Readers and tablets.

Trend #8: In-app Analytics

Analytics is something that is gaining importance in the world of business. Be it an a multi-national company or a start-up, analysis and reports about a company’s product is something everyone desires in order to measure performance and find ways of improvement. Apps that can have in-app analytics are slowly increasing in numbers because such apps provide “intelligence” to the owner of the app about the app’s usage and performance.

Trend #9: Good UI Design

With technological advancements like Retina Display, apps are now expected to have amazing user-interface design. For example, Flipboard has an amazing magazine like feel to it which makes reading a more enjoyable experience on an iPad.  Similarly apps like Paper make drawing and sketching so much more fun and life-like. With many of the real-life activities becoming more virtual, good UI design is something every tablet app will be striving for.

Trend #10: Security

“With power comes responsibility”. The same analogy can be used when it comes to apps. Tablet apps now require a lot of personal information. Some apps used in enterprises also have important information stored in them. Hence we see that tablet apps are trying to become more secure in order to protect their user’s privacy. According to Digital Ad Agency Vertic: “Enterprise tablet adoption is estimated to grow by almost 50% per year”. Therefore, we will find tablet apps becoming more secure day by day.

With the popularity of tablets increasing everyday, I am excited to see many more interesting trends in the app development for tablet PCs. These trends are a result of the changing needs and expectations of people from technology and it’s amazing to see how changes in one type of product affects all the products/applications it supports. 


Khyathi Nirmal Kumar

Khyathi is the Lead for the Technology & Education verticals at Happy Marketer.