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Last week DreamWalk founder Joseph Russell spoke about app development trends at Pause Fest Tech Trends 2020 meetup hosted by General Assembly. Here is his presentation and transcript.

Russell: Hi and thanks for being here. I founded DreamWalk back in 2008 when the app store was brand new. Since then I’ve seen many trends come and go.

For those of you who don’t know, DreamWalk is a results-driven app development agency based here in Melbourne. You’ll learn a bit more about us over the course of this presentation. But, I know time is limited so I’ll try to stay on topic.

Slide 1.

And tonight’s topic is – tech trends 2020. My industry is mobile so the trends I’ll talk about tonight are skewed towards mobile. Hopefully they are also relevant to tech more broadly though.

Slide 2-3.

So, to kick things off, does anyone know who this guy is?

He’s me in 30 years apparently, according to FaceApp. Judging by your reaction, many of you used FaceApp last year. A lot of people did. It was one of 2019’s most popular apps.

Now FaceApp wasn’t the first face aging app on the App Store. But, it was the first hyper-realistic aging app and it was released or re-released rather in 2019.

While its predecessors used simple filters and overlays to create pretty unconvincing images, FaceApp was the first to use AI to create incredibly realistic photos. Which brings me to trend number one.

Slide 4 – App Development Trend 1

Artificial intelligence has been around for decades, quietely working away behind the scenes, powering chat bots, predictive text keyboards and suggestion engines. In 2029 though, I feel like it finally stepped out from behind the curtain and became the main act.

We had FaceApp, of course we also had the deepfakes phenomenon. Google lens and Duplex. Last year was also when many of us heard about China’s social credit system, which sounded more like an episode of Black Mirror than real life. But we now know that it isn’t science fiction. The program has actually been in public trials for years now and is due to be fully implimented in 2020.

Slide 5.

While some of those advancements are actually quite concerning, AI is of course also being used for good.

Take Recycle Mate for example. An app we developed for the NSW EPA and launched by the state government in November last year.

The app enables you to scan any object and it will tell you which bin it goes in, based on your local council requirements. Every council actually has different requirements. Its quite complex and Recycle Mate aims to reduce recycling contamination, which is a big problem.

So far the app is available in NSW only but we are hoping for a national rollout this year.

So, my predcition is that we are going to see a lot more AI-powered apps coming out where the AI is the start fo the show.

Slide 6 – App Development Trend 2

Subscription overload.

Over the last year or so we’ve added Disney Plus subscriptions, Apple TV Plus, neura headphone subscriptions, Audi car subscriptions (not leases, subscriptions) and a bunch more to our ever growing list of direct-debits.

We already had Netflix, Spotify, Hello Fresh, iCloud, News Apps, GoDaddy domains, Gym Memberships, and Mobile phone plans helping themselves to our bank accounts every month.

I don’t have Australian stat but Average American spends $247 a month on subscription services and 84% of them have no idea they are spending that amount.

App subscriptions make up a large portion of this spend.

Slide 7.

Here’s a chart that shows how apps made money over the last three years.

In 2019 subscriptions became the most popular way to monetize an app. It is now cheaper for an app to acquire an ongoing subscriber than it is to get them to purchase an app or make an in-app purchase.

In 2020 everyone is predicting subscriptions to grow, and I agree, but at some point we’ll hit a peak and subscription fatigue will kick in. There’s only so many our bank accounts can handle so something’s going to have to give.

What is the next business model that’ll come along to rescue us from our subscription comas? I think we’ll find out in 2020.

Slide 8 – App Development Trend 3

The cost of living continues to increase, so more and more people are looking for ways to make extra income, heralding the recent explosion of sharing economy apps.

We already had Uber and Air BNB. Now we have Swimply for finding a backyard pool to swim in, Hipcamp for private camping spots and the list continues to grow and I predict the sharing economy will continue to grow in 2020 and beyond

I love this decentralization of services and I’m excited to see what else people will discover they can share for a profit in 2020?

Slide 9 – App Development Trend 4

So I mentioned Uber. We’ve also has apps like Deliveroo and On Demand Streaming TV for a while now but the on-demand industry, powered by mobile apps, is still relatively new.

In recent years we’ve added Air Taskers, Salon service apps, grocery and alcohol delivery apps, gym class apps and a range of others.

I’m predicting a ton of new on-demand apps in 2020.

Slide 10.

An example is a new app I’ve invested in and did creative direction on called Snackr. It enables users to get food delivered to their seats at sporting events and concerts.

Snackr is one of those ideas that I could believe didn’t exist already. Its just such a good idea but many have attempted it and failed due to logistical challenges.

Snackr has overcome those challenges and it launches at its first major event later this month.

It’s a good example of a niche on-demand service with huge potential. There will be more niches targeted in 2020.

Slide 11 – App Development Trend 5

And to my final prediction – a little one called social revolution.

People have been predicting a social media revolution for a while now and we are starting to see a bit of a backlash against Facebook with the Delete Facebook movement after years of user privacy and data scandals.

The problem is though, users delete Facebook and as alternative they turn to Instagram- also owned by Facebook. For this reason and others, I don’t see any real social media revolution happening any time soon.

But, I think we are going to see a different kind of social revolution and we are already seeing signs of it beginning.

You see, people are not only losing faith in big corporations like Facebook. Trust in governments is also at an all-time low

This creates the perfect environment for social impact startups. These are passionate entrepreneurs who are taking matters into their own hands and dealing with the issues that politicians refuse to.

Slide 12.

I help mentor social impact startups at ygap here in Melbourne. At ygap, startups are taking on Issues like Climate Change, Hunger, social isolation, water contamination, refugee integration and inequality, just to name a few.

More and more we’re seeing that the public is willing to get behind causes they believe in. Millions in donations to Australian bush fire relief charities recently is a great example of this.

And even more encouraging are all the case studies coming in that prove social impact can also be profitable.

It might be idealistic but I’m hoping and predicting that 2020 will be the year of the social impact startup.

Slide 13.

Thanks to everyone for listening and feel free to ask me any questions you might have during the panel or after the event later tonight.