11 min readDec 19, 2020


10 Mobile UX Trends for 2021

When 2020 is almost over (fortunately), it’s a perfect moment to explore what we will have in 2021. Here is a list of 10 mobile UX design trends that will shape 2021.

1. The rise of superapps

For the past two decades, the mobile app development model remained the same — one app, one purpose. But recently, the industry started to moving quickly from single-purpose apps to superapps. Superapp is a multi-purpose app (one app that is capable of doing many different things). Such apps strive to create ecosystems that cover all users needs so that users don’t have to switch to another app to solve their problems. This trend originated in Asia. One notable example of such apps is WeChat, which combines a messenger, social media and mobile payment app.

WeChat is a multi-purpose app. Image by WeChat

Gojek is another great example of a superapp popular in Indonesia. This app combines online transportation, food delivery, logistics, payment, and daily services.

Gojek is multi-purpose app. Image by Gojek

But in 2021, a trend for creating superapps will start to get traction in other parts of the world. We already have a few interesting examples in the USA, including Natural AI, which promises to revolutionize the way people interact with mobile devices.

Natural.AI combines shopping, food delivery, and other services. Image by Natural.AI

When it comes to UX design, superapps are a very challenging concept. Since the app offers many different functions, it’s essential to invest in good discoverability and in-app navigation.

2. Video interactions

The Covid-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on our life. “Stay home, stay safe” became our basic instruction for the whole 2020 year. Hopefully, in 2021 after the vaccination, we will start to get back to our normal life. At the same time, this pandemic changed the way we work and communicate. Video conferencing software became one of the most in-demand tools in 2020.

Video conferencing in Zoom. Image by Zoom

Zoom Video Communications stock price. The stock price has gone by 500% in a year. Image by Google

And, as we found out, it’s possible to do many things remotely without sacrificing efficiency.

In 2021 we will see more and more cases of video interactions integrated naturally into our daily routine. Telemedicine and video shopping will be the two most popular areas. Even when the Covid-19 pandemic ends (hopefully), many people will still prefer to rely on remote communications to solve their problems, especially when it comes to their health. It’s much safer to talk to doctors over the internet than visit a clinic.

Video visit of a doctor. Image by Zocdoc

Today, many people are rethinking their shopping behaviors and choosing to support local retailers. Video shopping allows small- and medium-size companies to interact with customers (either directly or via influencers). We already have a few excellent apps in this niche, including DROPD, which merges online shopping and live video shows hosted by social media influencers.

Video shopping experience. Image by businessinsider.co

3. 3D graphics with a functional purpose

3D designs have been used in apps and websites for years, so you can hardly call it a novel design trend. However, the role of 3D objects in design is changing — 3D objects are no longer only for the sake of decoration; they can serve a clear functional purpose. The latest hardware of mobile devices opened a door for more sophisticated graphic effects. As a result, 3D objects have an opportunity to become a central part of the mobile experience.

3D graphics, first and foremost, should improve the efficiency of the interaction process and only then create a wow effect.

For example, here is 3D model of a car that users can interact with to control real vehicle settings.

Car health report. Image by Gleb Kuznetsov✈

The sector of eCommerce apps can also benefit from integrating 3D graphics. 3D attracts attention and makes products look more appealing. This technique allows designers to integrate a 360 view of a particular product.

3D App Experience. Image by Roman Klčo

4. Fight with misinformation and disinformation

Manipulation of truth is a huge problem of the 21-century media, and without any doubt, 2020 is the year of misinformation and disinformation. Users face manipulation of truth both on news websites and, especially, in social media. The content on social media can be misleading but presented in a very compelling way so you start to believe that it’s true. After all, not many people have time to research facts, especially when they’re on mobile.

Media platforms like Twitter introduce algorithms that conduct content analysis and hide information that might be misleading.

Twitter hides misleading information.

5. Sophisticated voice-based assistant

Voice-based AI assistant, really? It’s a 2016 trend!” You right, voice-based assistants aren’t something new. We already have Apple Siri, Google Now, Amazon Alexa, and a dozen other assistants. Yet, most of them work more like voice-based shortcuts for common operations (i.e., “Alexa, what’s the weather” or “Siri, set the alarm to 8:00 am”), rather than powerful AI-based solutions.

The ultimate goal is to create a technology that will be capable of solving complex problems (i.e., “Should I buy a house now?” or “What college should I select for my kids?”) and be user-friendly at the same time. The next-gen of AI assistant will have:

  • Advanced personalization. The main goal of personalized design is to make the user feel that the content is created especially for them. Voice-based assistants will learn to understand who is interacting with them by analyzing voice and face.
  • Touchless interactions. Voice-first interfaces will help designers to reduce the number of steps a user has to take to reach the desired result.

Voice file manager. Image by Gleb Kuznetsov✈

  • User mood analysis. The next generation of AI assistants will understand user intention and analyze user speech to understand the current mood.

Artificial intelligence recognizes human emotion. Image by Gleb Kuznetsov✈

6. Focus on cross-platform app optimization

With the release of the M1 chip, Apple breaks the borders between desktop and mobile and opens a new chapter in cross-platform solutions. The fact that M1 is based on ARM technology allows us to run iOS apps on the macOS.

MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1 chip run iOS apps. Image by Apple

What does it mean for product designers? It means that in 2021 we can (and should) optimize iOS apps not only for mobile devices but also for a desktop experience. Why? Because it gives you access to a larger audience and allows you to create a seamless transition between platforms. Finally, users will decide what platform they want to use at each given moment.

7. Useful data visualization

Communicating information through visual representations is a great way to make data engaging and easy to understand.

Data visualization can turn cold numbers into real stories, and stories can provoke emotion.

A visualization of the 2020 US elections. Image by karim_douieb

Data visualization can be useful in almost any type of mobile app — from eCommerce to healthcare. For example, data visualization can help us better understand how we spend our money:

Spending stats for a banking app. Image credit by Anton Falkovskyy

Or what device we use to browse the internet:

Data usage mobile app. Image by Riko Sapto Dimo

But always remember that

“The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures.”

(Ben Shneiderman)

Data visualization is a lot more than beautiful visuals; it’s about a thorough understanding of the target audience and their needs, and finding the best way to communicate valuable information to them.

8. Subtle neomorphic details

Flat UI paired with minimalisms is the de facto industry standard. To create something fresh and unexpected, designers try new approaches in the attempt to go away from the Flat UI. One of the techniques popular in 2020 is neu-skeuomorphism (or neomorphism). This visual style uses design elements and textures that mimic the physical world. Neomorphism has one key difference from skeuomorphism: designers who apply neomorphism mimic the physical world for purely aesthetic purposes.

Similar to skeuomorphism, neomorphism makes it difficult to scale a design. So it’s better to avoid creating full-neomorph UIs.

Simple Music Player. Image by Filip Legierski

However, it’s possible to introduce subtle neomorphic details such as icons or pseudo-3D-buttons in design. By doing that, you can add “human touch” to the overall UX of our products and make products stand out from the crowd.

Airbnb icon created in neumorphism. Image by Webshocker — Matjaz Valentar

Functional controls designed using neomorphic style give users an impression that they can touch the controls with their hands (thanks to realistic textures). It creates a feeling of connection between user and products.

Tracker mobile app has flat aesthetics but uses elements of neumorphism (buttons). Image by Outcrowd

9. The next-gen of Augmented reality apps

In September 2020, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would launch “the next step on the road to augmented reality glasses” next year.

Facebook glasses AR experience. Image by Facebook

Facebook glasses AR experience. Image by Facebook

Apple is rumored to have a secret team of hundreds of employees working on augmented reality projects. These are clear indicators that the industry is moving towards AR glasses. At the same time, both companies don’t have a product yet to share with customers, but they will invest in AR technologies. And the best platform to pilot the AR tech is mobile.

Biggest industries for AR, by potential revenue. Image by lumusvision

Improved airport experience through AR. Image by Adrian Reznicek

10. Data security and privacy

Many users are concerned that large IT giants are profiling their activities. Most of us being in a situation when we browse for something on the web, for the next few weeks we see adverts for the same thing. Plus, massive data leaks made users reluctant to share their personal data.


Industry leaders aim to find a solution to some of these problems. For example, registration and log-in processes are steps in the user flow, where we typically share our personal data. In 2020 Apple introduced Sign in with Apple feature, a private way to sign into apps and websites. Displaying a Sign in with Apple button in your app or website means that people can sign in or sign up with just a tap using the Apple ID. In cases where you choose to ask for a name and email address, people have the option to share a unique, random email address that automatically relays messages to their personal email address.

Sign in with Apple. Image by Apple.

Also, Apple have updated the App Store to include a new badge that shows what data liked to your identity the app collects.

Private data that WhatsApp collects.

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