By Ernst WittmannAfter years of industry investment, 5G is becoming a mainstream reality for South African consumers and businesses. 5G penetration is ramping up fast nationwide.

According to the GSMA, 5G coverage reached more than 41% of the population by late last year, with the pool of 5G subscribers in South Africa expected to reach 58 million by 2030.

As importantly as the infrastructure investment, handset manufacturers are delivering 5G handsets that are affordable to the mass market. Android application developers are also coming to the party, looking at ways to use the higher data transfer speeds and lower latencies of 5G to create richer, smoother and more compelling experiences.

Here are some ways that 5G promises to change Android application development for the better:


General enhancements to end-user experience

With real-world speeds that can be 10 or 20 times better than 5G as well as lower latencies, forward-thinking app developers are looking at ways to use the network standard to improve the general end-user experience.

Faster and more reliable 5G connections will enable developers to integrate cloud services into apps, enabling more powerful and resource-intensive applications without overburdening the device.

This means you should see benefits such as faster loading of your content, quicker downloads, and snappier response times, leading to smoother performance from most applications.


Game-changing performance

Games are among the application types that should benefit most from 5G optimisations. 5G offers a dramatic improvement in latency, which means that there is less delay between your actions and the response from a server or another device at the other end of the connection. That means you should experience less lag in online gaming.

5G will also offer smoother performance from streaming games in the same way as you stream video from Netflix and music from Spotify. This means that developers will be able to offer you access to console-level gaming worlds and graphics across the cloud, potentially opening up whole new gaming experiences.


Enriched media streaming

5G will offer you a far crisper experience in downloading and streaming ultra-HD content, including 4K and 8K videos. You should be able to enjoy 8K quality videos with minimal buffering.

In future, we could see media and app companies use 5G to create interactive media applications that require high bandwidth, such as live sports, concerts, and interactive storytelling.


Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

While there are some exciting business and entertainment applications for AR and VR already, the technologies haven’t yet taken off in a big way.

One of the major barriers lies in how data-intensive these applications are, especially when accessed via the cloud.

5G will enable app developers to take AR to the next level with richer, more responsive and more collaborative experiences such as interactive AR shopping or rich VR worlds for games.


Internet of Things integration

5G’s ability to support a large number of connected devices enhances the integration of IoT features in Android apps, making it easier to develop apps for smart homes, wearables, and connected cars.

Your Android smartphone will become the remote control for dozens of devices and sensors in your home, including smart appliances, thermostats, lighting, speakers, security systems and much more.


New location-based and navigation services

Precise positioning technology in 5G could vastly improve navigation and location-based services. More precise positioning allows for improved navigation services, including turn-by-turn directions for large buildings.

Precise positioning could help ridesharing and deliver services pinpoint exact pick-up and drop-off locations, reducing wait times and confusion. Fitness apps and wearables could provide more accurate tracking of activities like running, cycling, and hiking.


Ernst Wittmann is TCL regional manager for southern and East Africa, and global operator account manager for Africa