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VR Changes the Landscape for Mobile App Development
November 16, 2019 | By Isabell Gaylord
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We are pleased to share with you all an interesting article contributed by Isabell Gaylord


Isabell Gaylord

Isabell Gaylord is a journalist and content marketing specialist



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Virtual reality has been gaining popularity for the last five years running and the momentum doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. VR is expected to effect changes in marketing, gaming and even the media industry. The latter should be especially apparent with the launch of the world’s first IPTV VR service. 

Of all the industries that will feel the effect of the burgeoning popularity of virtual reality, however, few will be forced into adopting news sets of technology and practices as mobile app development. 

The new revolution will enable companies to offer new immersive experiences of their products, in addition to virtual perceptions of the same products and services to attract new interactions and drive purchases.

How will VR change customer experiences?

The main advantage VR brings to the table is immersiveness. This allows people to interact with virtual objects as if they are real. We may not yet be able to replicate all five basic senses just yet, but sound and vision are well nailed-down.

Some ways in which this immersiveness can be put to use include:

First-hand experiences: Offline shopping still triumphs over e-commerce today because real-life purchases give buyers a chance to experience a product before the actual purchase. Seeing, feeling and touching a product are all common ways of judging its quality.

Since VR allows developers to create visual experiences that mimic real life, we have already taken the first step towards a future of more immersive and interactive solutions.

Engagement and interactivity: More immersiveness means there is a greater chance for engagement and entertainment. By nature, VR encourages people to interact. This need for interaction could be pushed towards the environment or the products.

This could be useful for businesses that offer custom-made products, for instance. The ability to change the material or the design of a product on-the-fly could have serious implications in driving sales.
For other businesses, the sales process could be gamified to make it even more interactive and entertaining. A customer that enjoyed the process is more likely to return, after all.

How will VR affect app development?

The customer is at the forefront of app development. Apps need to be designed and created such that the core functionality that they offer is as simple as possible while still providing enough utility to be useful. With that, various aspects of the app development cycle are going to change as a result of the increased adoption of VR.

Increased team efficiency

If asked a few years ago what people thought about how VR would affect their jobs, most people would likely give you a shoulder shrug and tell you it wouldn’t change anything. VR has evolved quite a lot since then and, today, it can be used in the workplace to improve team productivity.

Businesses can now set up meetings from remote locations and have every other person feel almost physical. In addition to this, several studies have found that training using VR is up to 26% more effective than traditional methods.

The price tag

One of the major changes teams are likely to see as a result of increased adoption of VR is an increased cost of projects. Developing a simple app can cost anything from $8,000 to $100,000 for mid-sized apps. For more complex apps like e-commerce applications or in the real-estate industry, that price could shoot up to as much as $25K. It all depends on the requirements that the client is going to have.

Businesses will also have to consider the fact that customers need to own their own VR headsets. These are quite expensive, with the most popular options - Oculus Rift and HTC Vive costing $599 and $799, respectively. Granted, the technology is quite young, so we might have to give it a few more years before making solid conclusions.

Interactive Marketing

Part of making an app successful is creating an effective marketing campaign. With the increased adoption of VR, changes are bound to creep that far into the app development cycle, too.

Virtual reality is going to facilitate more interactive marketing. A rich customer experience is one of the most valuable things you can have in your pipeline to make this easier. By using the right combination of graphics, design, and photography, developers could help their apps stand out from the rest by providing unique and creative experiences on a physical 3D space.

Increased focus on engagement

Engagement is already an important aspect considered when developing mobile apps, but with VR, its importance is expected to grow even more. User interfaces are going to be developed in ways that encourage more obvious interactions, and developers are going to be expected to find new creative ways of engaging with the user interface.

Jacob Daniels, a VR expert, and writer at a popular assignment service says that developers should expect to write a lot more tests and configure a lot more user-interfaces until they find something that sticks with their target audience. On the plus side, this is also going to encourage many more customers to stick around.

Overhauled design systems

Mobile apps are used in every industry imaginable today. Even in industries where it would seem unlikely, like the fossil fuel industry, there are probably apps developed and maintained internally that the public never gets to see.

Traditional apps and VR apps provide vastly different ways to interact with the environment and physical objects. You’re probably used to using a touchscreen, but VR threatens to overhaul that whole system in favor of strapping a phone to your face (at least for now). 

The absence of a touchscreen means that developers have to figure out how to design pieces of their mobile apps to make sure audiences aren’t turned off. One of the current solutions we have for the problem is the gamification of experiences.

To begin with, expect many more natural transitions, colors, and interfaces designed to fit the visual perception users would expect from the real world. The more consistent, in terms of both graphics and interactions, the app is with standards established by large companies like Facebook, the wider adoption companies should expect.

Better Tracking and Monitoring

Currently, most apps track users using interactions that people make with them. The most common type of tracking is taps made on the screen and measuring how users flow through the app. More complex apps could use audio-recording functionality, location-tracking, and geofencing, but most people don’t need such data.

The current methods we use serve their purpose well, but they are far from the most effective way metrics could be collected. 
VR provides the chance to track a lot more metrics. Using sensors within both the phone and the VR headset, VR can collect information such as eye movement that most traditional methods of tracking can’t hope to get close to. Such information could be used to inform design systems, ad positioning, interface design and other crucial parts of the app.

What industries will be affected?

Admittedly, VR is not going to have as major an effect on every industry in the world. The following are some sectors that should expect to face the biggest changes.

E-commerce: As mentioned before, one of the problems e-commerce industries face today is the lack of an actual physical representation of the product. It’s easy for anyone to set up a shop, steal images off Twitter and claim them for their own. A lot less for a 360-degree-rendered product. This can be marketed as a ‘try before you buy’ experience.

To make the experience more personal, imagine the number of people that buy products daily, only to find out they are either the wrong size or fake, and the retailer doesn’t offer refunds or worse, exchanges. VR takes away all these concerns.

Manufacturing: In the manufacturing industry, developers will be hired to create virtual working prototypes before the actual system is implemented in real life. This technology is already in use by companies like Airbus in their airplane-manufacturing business. It’s a lot more effective than designing huge clunky prototypes, after all.

Real estate: Architects can now offer a walkthrough of a potential building before it’s even constructed, thanks to the power of VR. The same goes for potential homebuyers too far away to be in physical contact with the houses. Most people are surprised by how realistic models can get.


The hype around virtual reality is a lot more muted than three years ago when Facebook bought out Oculus. However, new applications of the technology turn up every other day and its popularity remains strong in industries like real estate.

As even more new ways to use the technology emerge, companies need to explore the ways it can improve the effectiveness with which business decisions are made, how apps are developed and the potential for improvement of the customer’s experience with the brand. Companies involved in e-commerce, real estate, and manufacturing, where the potential is virtually unlimited should be the first in line to try.


Isabell Gaylord is a journalist and content marketing specialist. She specializes in such spheres as technology, marketing and business. She contributes a lot to proofreading services AssignmentGeek.


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