How 5G Will Change Mobile Apps Forever
Joshua Davidson wrote this article
A decade in the making, the new 5G network is finally on the verge of becoming a reality.
With it, you can expect to see exponentially faster download and upload speeds from your mobile devices. We’re not kidding.
Experts are predicting download speeds could be about 10 to 20 times faster than levels we currently enjoy. And this is going to change the way we interact with our mobile devices and the technology that surrounds us in our daily lives.
Let’s dive into exactly why that is.
But first, what is 5G?
5G is an entirely new radio technology, and unlike with LTE, 5G operates on three different spectrums:
Low-Band – This is what LTE is currently on, and is quickly becoming overcrowded. Offers great coverage area and penetration through objects such as buildings.
Mid-Band – Provides faster coverage and lower latency, but doesn’t penetrate buildings as well as low-band.
High-Band – Offers the highest speeds and lowest latency; however, it has a small coverage area and doesn’t penetrate buildings as well. What most people think of when they think 5G.
By contrast, LTE operates in bandwidth blocks mostly in the low-band spectrum. Alarmingly, this bandwidth can quickly get depleted. You might have experienced this firsthand when you attended a large event. Large crowds with many people trying to use the LTE network at once typically leads to nobody having service. 5G’s utilization of three different spectrums will make this experience a thing of the past.
5G brings three significant improvements in its wake
–Greater speed to move more data
–Lower latency, better responsiveness
–The ability to connect more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices)
The reality is, the world is going mobile, and so we are creating, consuming, and recycling more data than ever before. Video and music streaming consumption continue to increase.
After the initial ramp-up period this year, when most carriers will use the new 5G infrastructure to augment the existing 4G LTE network, you’ll start to feel the effects of 5G in all the little things.
If you’re a gamer, you may notice less delay when you press a button on your console to see the effect on the screen.
This is what we’re talking about when we say you’ll enjoy less latency.
4G’s average latency of 50 milliseconds should (eventually) be sliced to just one measly millisecond by 5G.
In the same vein, lower latency will also positively impact IoT, or the ‘Internet of Things.’ By IoT, I mean the connectivity of multiple devices or ‘things’ in our daily lives. For this to work to people’s increasing standards, transferring data between devices will need to become a seamless experience.
5G will be instrumental to the rise of autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles will need to rapidly communicate with each other, quickly read live traffic data, constantly map out their surroundings, operate remotely across vast distances and do a lot more things all at once. This takes a network that can transfer data 10 to 20 times more powerfully than 4G.
The rollout just can’t be done at scale without 5G.
How 5G will change mobile apps forever
This is an exciting time for mobile apps.
When our app development teams work on client projects, right now there is a huge concern with an app’s overall performance.
The app’s features and network requirements are kept in mind and need to work properly while fulfilling users’ needs and expectations.
5G is about to drastically enhance these areas altogether, taking a lot of this worry off developers’ shoulders. Mobile videos will load near instantaneously. Video calls will become crisp and clear.
Augmented reality apps will load instantaneously and glitch-free. Wearable devices could monitor your health in real time. Smart apps, or connected apps, are the future of applications for businesses and consumers.
The inception of the 4G LTE network led to the rise of such illustrious apps as Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, Pokemon Go.
With 5G, we are going to see the rise of some incredible new apps that truly test the boundaries of what’s possible with video, streaming, augmented and virtual reality, and more. I could predict and dream of what kinds of apps will rise out of these new network capabilities.
We honestly just don’t know what’s possible yet.
Video Apps and Streaming
5G mobile apps will eventually make us forget the concept of ‘lagging’ was ever a thing. But for now, with most apps on 4G, lagging can still be a big problem. Speed is one of the biggest contributing factors to keeping people on your app. When an app’s streaming speed doesn’t hold up, many people jump the ship after trying to use it.
The next generation of video formats will be much more data-intensive than current standards such as HDR (High Dynamic Range), 4K and high frame rates of 90fps.
A better mobile network like 5G is a necessity moving forward.
5G will encourage video and music streaming apps to take things to the next level, making pinwheels and progress bars when it comes to downloading and streaming content a thing of the past.
Extremely Fast File Transfer
There’s an entire category of mobile apps based around the transfer of files, data or money from one account to another.
The 5G revolution is going to give these apps a major boost in functionality and capability.
We can expect to see new apps with more storage and the ability to send larger files instantaneously than ever before.
Heightened User Experience
While all of the features mentioned above contribute to the user experience, the most significant impact will be heightened visual clarity.
Apps will connect with devices at lightning speed. Screens will load instantaneously. And these screens will be lifelike.
-The User Interface of any given app will simply look better
–Apps will grow up in their ability to immerse you. We’ll be seeing a massive upgrade in the visual experience of apps
–Decreased latency or responsiveness between an app and a device will just improve the feel of the user experience
Simply put: with a better, stronger, and faster 5G network to support it, mobile app developers will be able to push the boundaries on features and functionality in any given app.
IoT (Internet of Things)
Many consider IoT to be the most promising mobile app market in 2019.
With 5G, more ‘things’ in our lives will continue to get smarter, sharing data more reliably and quickly. Think about a world where all of your appliances, electronics, and devices are voice-controlled or interconnected in their functionalities. Your world will become connected in many enhanced ways.
Applications will become true digital assistants that have their hand in everything you do.
–4G currently supports around 2,000 connected devices per .38 square miles.
-But 5G will be able to support up to a million different devices in the same area
This is great news for IoT (Internet of Things) developers. We’ve already seen the beginning of this wave, with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home interacting with smart appliances, thermostats, lights, etc.
-The idea of the “Smart City” is something that is gathering a lot of steam.
-Since 5G will have 10x less latency and response time between devices, a lot can be accomplished in IoT development
Smart homes will become the norm as 5G is in full swing and the initial kinks are worked out.
It’s estimated there will be over 29 billion connected devices in play by 2021.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
AR and VR haven’t quite made the mainstream breakthrough in the mobile app world that many people had predicted.
I believe that in reality, 4G LTE and it’s preceding networks were never quite suitable for creating a seamless AR/ VR experience. 5G can offer a 100X improvement in traffic capacity compared to 4G connectivity., and can leverage more spectral bands and broader bandwidths.
-The AR/VR experience will become more life-like
-AR/VR experiences will become more reliable, less jerky
-Much stronger performance when using your phone in and around buildings
Consistent and reliable immersion is critical to AR and VR experiences, so a laggy or unreliable connection can be disastrous. In the worst case scenario, a jerky VR experience can even make the user feel physically sick.
AR and VR will become a massive part of our daily lives. In fact, ABI Research expects the total AR market will reach $114 billion by 2021, while the entire VR market will reach $65 billion within the same time frame.
-Today’s VR only allows for a single stream of video on mobile
–5G’s VR will incorporate multiple 4K and HD video streams
Imagine standing on the street wearing smart glasses and entering a world that is fully integrated with your surroundings. You could be receiving directions in real time. Maybe you see multiple real-time videos that integrate with your environment.
Or maybe you’re strolling around the city one night and get depressed about the light pollution preventing you from seeing stars. Imagine that an app that could show you in real time what your view without light pollution could look like. Now imagine being able to pop on a VR headset do the same thing. The 5G network will usher in a new era of AR and VR in the mobile apps and technology that surrounds us, finally bringing them into the mainstream.
How 5G will affect the world
Not only will mobile apps perform better, but 5G wireless networks will create a massive revenue opportunity for those who can ride the initial wave. We’re talking approximately $12.3 Trillion globally – across a wide spectrum of industries, according to IHS Economics.
The mobile app industry is at the forefront of those who will benefit, alongside content and infrastructure providers. But there is not a single industry that will be untouched by the 5G revolution.
-Truth be told, our very surroundings may look very different than they do today
–5G operates on a high-band spectrum, which offers the best speed and clarity, but over a poor coverage area
-Network providers will compensate by installing small cells, or low-power base stations in large quantities in communities
This will help to amplify the distance high-band 5G can cover. We don’t truly know what these small cells will look like, but it will involve changing our existing telecom infrastructure on a structural level. And yes, once 5G is in full swing, you’ll need to get a new mobile device that is compatible.
But fret not: any changes will be slow at first, as many network providers will mostly use 5G to supplement the existing 4G LTE connection to ensure a smooth transition for its customers.
But once 5G is in full swing, nothing will be “mobile” anymore because everything will be mobile.
And we can’t wait.