As 5G networks start rolling out let’s find out how it changes mobile app development?

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4G LTE, which is now available even in remote corners of the globe, has changed the way people consume data. It’s made watching movies, streaming high quality videos and games easy for anybody with a supported device. Much has been discussed about its successor 5G and a lot of questions still remain unanswered. However, what everyone does know is, 5G is going to be incredibly fast, creating new challenges for developers, telecom providers and everyone else involved.


Let us first take a look at the advantages of 5G before analyzing how it is going to influence mobile app development


a.) 5G is incredibly fast

While 4G has a speed of 20 Mbps on average, 5G could catapult data speed levels to anywhere between 10 Gbps and 50 Gbps. This means, 5G is nearly 65,000 times faster than 4G. Streaming delays and loading will become things of the past. Even when there is no internet connectivity, files can be downloaded in an instant for offline use.


b.) Data transfers will go through in the blink of an eye

With the exponential speed increase, we can expect file transfers and exchange of data to take place at speeds that are below the level of speed perception threshold. Implementing blockchain across locations will become much easier. In addition, cloud storage applications will begin to see more demand as well.


c.) Negligible latency

Latency refers to the time an application takes to react when a user makes a prompt. On lower speeds, applications take time to process what the user has prompted them to do. With negligible latency, applications will respond immediately regardless of how heavy they are. Gaming applications and AR/VR technology will benefit a lot from zero latency.




d.) Connection density to improve

4G is already problematic when it comes to connecting in crowded areas of large cities. For every 0.38 miles, only 2000 devices can connect to 4G. With 5G, everything is going to change for the better. In the same area, a million devices can connect to 5G, allowing technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) to be implemented more successfully.


e.) Consistent and reliable connectivity

One of the major hallmarks of 5G is that it enables telecom providers to ensure seamless connectivity in a uniform manner. Regardless of where the subscriber is located, they can take uninterrupted data connection for granted. This means, apps do not necessarily have to be able to work on slower networks anymore. Push notifications and updates reach users almost instantaneously all over the world.

What are the disadvantages that app developers should know?

While there are a number of advantages that come with the rollout of 5G networks, there are still many disadvantages that app developers should bear in mind.


  1. Most countries do not have the infrastructure to implement 5G networks uniformly. Rural areas may not have technological support that the implementation of 5G network requires. As 5G infrastructure requires considerable investment, some governments may find it difficult to implement it immediately, leading to delays in uniform and uninterrupted connectivity that 5G promises.


  1. 5G is a technology that is still in the process of development. This means, it is not quite perfect and research is being conducted continuously. Major changes to 5G technology are expected in the coming years, making app development a constant process of releasing updates and fixes.


  1. Most devices today are not compatible with 5G. Apple is expected to unveil its 5G-compatible device this year as will other companies. However, not many people will be able to afford them right away. As everyone will not be using 5G devices instantly, developing applications specifically for 5G networks is moot.


  1. There are many security and privacy concerns associated with 5G. Little is understood about the ramifications of subscriber supervision tools, which apparently is supported by 5G. This means, 5G may potentially expose user data to prying eyes in governments across the world. While this may help improve domestic security, minorities and oppressed groups may expose themselves to danger. This raises ethical questions to app developers.


5G’s influence on app development

5G promises uninterrupted, lightning-fast and reliable connectivity that will help app developers to create multimedia experiences that are out of this world. In addition, 5G will open up a whole new world of applications ranging from healthcare, telecommunications, and fully automated transport. These are the specific changes that developers need to keep an eye on:


  • 5G will help developers bring 360-degree videos, AR/VR experiences and 4K streaming to their users via Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).


  • Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) will help ensure instant communication with applications. This means, developers can expect to work on technologies such as remote surgeries, real-time virtual gaming and semi-autonomous vehicles.


  • Massive Machine Type Communication (MMTC) allows a number of devices to connect at the same time. This is part of the 5G infrastructure and is intended to help IoT devices connect better. Developers will likely see an increasing number of requests to integrate IoT during development.


Here are five important trends that developers will need to be mindful of, thanks to 5G roll out:


I.) Address privacy and security concerns

The massive transfer of data and astonishing speeds will necessitate app developers to take security loopholes more seriously. In addition, there may be a greater need to safeguard user data and protect users from possible instances of privacy infringement. Regulatory authorities are likely to notice the immense power that 5G gives to telecom providers and data handlers, leading to changes in existing data protection laws.


II.) Maintain multiple versions of applications

As mentioned previously, a large number of people will not immediately move to 5G. In fact, many people still use 3G devices and 4G devices are still considerably expensive for certain individuals. With this in mind, developers will need to release multiple versions of their app that function across devices and speeds. In addition, as 5G is an evolving technology, constant updates and bug fixes will need to be released as well.




III.) Deliberate on app monetization strategies

As 5G devices will be rooted in rich media experiences, AR/VR and IoT, developers will need to come up with novel app monetization strategies. Non-intrusive ad placement, interactive monetization and other strategies will need to be brainstormed. Ecommerce is likely going to change as well, as will applications in other industries such as healthcare, where remote consultations may become more common thanks to zero latency.


IV.) Invest in training and certifications

5G will require specialized skills in development and app developers will need to upgrade their skills constantly. It is not clear at the moment how things will pan out in the near future but developers will likely need to focus more on integrating IoT and AR/VR into existing applications. Certifications and training related to AR/VR and IoT will go a long way in adding substance to existing skill sets.


V.) Focus on emerging technologies

App development needs will change dramatically because of the speed that 5G enables. Online gaming and AR/VR based experiences will be in demand, and app developers will need to focus on these emerging technologies. In addition, artificial intelligence will influence app development in a big way. Financial transactions will depend on blockchain, and 5G speeds will make implementing these newer technologies easier.


Thanks to 5G, app developers are going to remain busy for a long time to come

As 5G will be rolled out soon, it is important for developers to be mindful of both its advantages and disadvantages. Along with exponential speed, 5G offers connection density, negligible latency and seamless connectivity. However, there are infrastructural and ethical challenges to 5G technology. Bearing these in mind, developers need to focus on gaining new skills related to AR/VR and IoT, while also considering security and privacy-related challenges that 5G poses. In addition, both android and iPhone app developers will need to learn about 5G and its evolution as it is a technology in progress and big changes are expected over the years.

Ready to Take the Next Step?


Rahul Singh

Sr. App Developer

Rahul has been associated with the apps industry for more than 9 years now. He has seen the apps economy grow from its nascent days to a full fledged industry with its complete ecosystem as of today. His interest lies in pursuing and getting to know the best app development technologies, processes and platforms. He is truly an app enthusiast. In his free time he loves playing console games and reading history.

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