The excitement sparked by wearables, the prospect of Google AMP, the fear of mobile ad blockers and the endless list of hardware releases…who can forget the developments we witnessed in mobile in 2016?

Well, as January comes to a close, the question of what this year will bring hangs in the air. There are a few things (5 to be specific) we think are worth looking out for in mobile in 2017.

1. Google’s mobile-first index

With majority of Google queries now executed on mobile devices, it is no surprise that Google has announced that they’re going to create a mobile-first index. This integral shift in their indexing will principally consider content from mobile pages ahead of desktop pages. Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from sites, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in Google results.

What happens next is very much dependant on the build of your website. Google assure that if your site is responsive or a dynamic serving site that nothing should change regarding your indexing as the mark-up remains consistent across mobile and desktop.

For sites that are not, the importance of implementing mobile-friendly design and a general mobile-first strategy to keep your content as discoverable as possible has been highlighted.

2. Mobile adblockers on the rise

Over 419 million people of smartphone users use mobile adblockers today and that number is on the rise. We saw a rapid increase in adblock use with a 90% increase from 2015 to 2016 and many brands were worried about the future of their advertisement reach.

Mobile and industry experts took heed that users weren’t satisfied with the online ad experience. Weve’s commercial director, Tom Pearman, made a statement during Ad Week vocalising that need for the industry to clean up in 2017 and that industry bodies need to do more to tackle the issue of ad blocking.

Even so, we believe that mobile adblockers aren’t as big of a big threat as they may appear, they don’t affect in-app advertisement to the same extent as web and definitely not the same as desktop. Despite its undeniable growth, the global digital ad spend will still continue to accelerate this year, and this could be a good opportunity for advertisers to invest in creating a better user experience in advertisement for mobile users.

3. Augmented reality apps

Unless you were living under a rock last year, you’ll know about Pokémon Go’s brief global takeover. In the UK alone, 13% of the country’s population downloaded the app within the first month of launch. The most interesting part of this phenomenon to us was seeing the widespread AR app in practice.

Augmented Reality has grown within the confines of the gaming world and mixed reality mobile experiences are set to receive mainstream traction in 2017 with larger corporations considering VR/AR as part of their mobile strategies. Digi-Capital’s Augmented/Virtual Reality Report 2017 base case states that Mobile AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion market by 2021.

As a result, we expect to see a rise in the number of apps using AR, especially within the games category. Although there’s a lot of talk around AR and VR at the moment, we suspect AR will see more widespread adoption. VR, while more immersive, comes with the requirement for extra equipment, which will become a significant barrier as brands progress past the early adopters.

4. Apps in the growing device ecosystem

The idea behind the ever-growing buzzword ‘cross-device’ is that a more holistic view of a user is gained by associating multiple devices to one individual by tracking their activity. Understanding the behaviour patterns will create a more seamless online experience.

However, cross-device goes beyond the connection between a desktop machine and your mobile phone. There has been considerable development in interface modalities, especially with augmented/mixed reality and voice command. This, alongside hardware releases like Google Home and Amazon Echo that also connect to domestic smart objects (have a read of our IoT blog here!), makes it undeniable that we are deepening the technologies we interact with and the way we interact with them.

With the connectivity of our device ecosystem growing, we still think it is a no-brainer that mobile (especially through the use of apps) will remain at its centre. Technologies such as Personal Assistants, wearables and bigger devices such as TVs, function through accompaniment apps. This is going to give apps a whole new meaning and really change the way marketers deal with apps too.

5. Rich push notifications

With the launch of iOS 10 in September, we’ve seen the introduction of rich push notifications. App marketers can now include images, GIFs and videos, all visible from the homescreen. On top of this, users can 3D touch the notification to view and click custom actions, all without even opening the app.

It’ll be interesting to see how marketers utilise the interactive buttons, and how this will affect key behaviour metrics – for example, if a user likes a tweet every day without even opening the app, are they still an engaged user?

Either way, the new feature opens up a whole host of new possibilities for mCRM and content strategies, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be raring to try them! Although adoption is still in early stages, an initial study from Urban Airship found 56% higher direct open rates from rich notifications – which is encouraging to say the least. This year we expect to see much more of these types of notification as mCRM tools rollout capabilities and marketers begin to shape their strategies.

We’re excited to see how these things develop and also for new trends to emerge in mobile this year!

Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #mobilemarketingUK LinkedIn group.