Happy Tuesday, folks – and let’s dive right into yet another edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT), your weekly dose of all things related to apps. Today, we will we look at the entire concept of mobile app development from a futuristic perspective.
Making successful mobile apps is all about moving with the times, keeping pace with the evolution of technology, and knowing the pulse of targeted final users. We are well into 2015, and sticking with the methods that worked well five years back simply won’t cut it any longer. In this week’s ABT, we list a few challenges that contemporary app developers must fulfill, to achieve professional success:
- Level of data access – Over the last few quarters, there has been a tremendous increase in the volume of data storage and transfer via mobile apps. That, in turn, has heightened the importance of determining the right data access level. Developers need to determine whether browser-level or device-level data access would be suitable for any particular app (depending on, of course, its nature). For certain iOS applications, allowing database-level data access might also be required.
- Developing for wearable gadgets – Google Glass might have bit the dust, but wearable technology is still the new in-thing. The big release in the first half of 2015 is, of course, Apple Watch (scheduled to hit the markets in April). Earlier this month, Pebble started an app store for its smartwatch, with well over a thousand applications. Developers need to start learning how to make apps for Apple Watch and other Android Wear devices. For iOS experts, getting a grip over the WatchKit tool is vital.
- Native apps or Web apps? – If you have the budget and a proper team of developers, native apps should be the way to go. Recent surveys have shown that, mobile web apps tend to be comparatively slower, and there can be accessibility-related glitches in them too. However, you can always start off with a simple web app (to be displayed in the browser of mobile devices), and move on to native app development later. Hybrid apps (a mix of native and web applications) can also be made.
- Keeping track of new devices – Sony Xperia Z4, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4, Asus Zenfone 2 – there’s a lot of new handsets likely to be released during this year (ah well, this has been the trend over the last few years). Google’s Project Ara has been a hot topic of discussion among Android enthusiasts, and iPhone 6S (or will it be iPhone 7?) might be coming along in September. The onus is on mobile app companies to keep track of all the popular smartphones and phablets in the markets, and test their apps on each of them. If an app works well only on a small set of devices, its chances of success automatically get stunted.
- Implementing data encryption, authentication and general security support – Be it for enterprise apps or general applications, mobile device management has emerged as a vital issue. Personal data of various types (names, passwords, account numbers, confidential official data, card details, etc.) are sent via apps – and people are naturally wary of the ones which do not promise secure mobile data encryption and protection from unauthorized access. With the arrival of Apple Pay, the demand for additional data security has gone up further. App developers have to ensure that users will be able to place complete trust on their products. Or else, there will always be alternatives.
- HTML5 for mobile apps – Setting aside the native vs hybrid apps debate for a moment, HTML5 is going to be the technology that will rule the roost for enterprise apps in 2015. A Gartner survey has already predicted that, 9 out of every 10 enterprise applications this year will be created by using HTML5. If you plan to dive into enterprise app-making big-time, this is the time to learn the nitty-gritty of how to work with HTML5. If you lack this skill, you will lose out on good opportunities.
- Relevant is no longer effective – Is a calendar app relevant? Absolutely. Is yet another social networking app or IM app relevant? If well-made, yes. But do they serve any purpose that has not been already catered for? No and no. Android and iPhone app developers will have to understand that, making a relevant app would no longer matter – if the latter does not have new, innovative features and utilities. In 2015 and beyond, apps have to be ‘effective’ to be a hit…being ‘relevant’ will not be enough.
- Making full use of phone features – Any app development expert worth his/her salt will need to know how to get optimum cooperative capabilities from each application. In simpler terms, if an app has the scope of including the camera, the audio, the keyboard (virtual), the QR scanner, or any other built-in feature of the device it is installed on – it should be able to do so seamlessly. What’s more, reactive capabilities are likely to come into focus. Location detection (via satellite or network) and motion control/gesture control are classic examples of reactive features that can be present in an app. It will all be about delivering more value to users by making smart devices smarter.
- Most apps would require multi-platform versions – At least enterprise apps would certainly need to have separate, cross-platform versions. Many organizations are falling in line with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, and there is no saying which mobile platform any particular employee might be using. The smart way out would be cross-platform development, ensuring that everyone who needs access to a professional app gets it. The different app versions need to be customized for the different platforms. A great iPhone app can be horribly slow and/or prone to crashes on Android devices (this is true for the other way round too). Be familiar with the app development SDK of each platform – and work accordingly.
- Validations need to be server-side – The reason, you ask? Because server-side validations ensure that users do not experience any distractions/disruptions while using the concerned mobile applications. Since all the complicated codes required for validation are stored in the app server, there are no adverse effects on the speed and overall performance of the app either. Client-side validations are plain annoying, and developers who persist with them in 2015 are likely to face problems.
- More emphasis on connectivity issues – Ensuring that there are no problems in the wi-fi connectivity of mobile apps is necessary, but will no longer be sufficient, for developers. NFC (near field communication) has been around on Android since a couple of years, and it has finally arrived on Apple – and new apps will need to be compatible with this technology too. Infrared LED and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity of applications also have to be strong, reliable and secure. Better connectivity would rev up the overall usability quotient of any app.
The importance of intuitive UI/UX designing is, at present, greater than ever before. Mobile app companies (even the small ones and startups) must have separate, proficient teams of animators and graphic designers. With increase in the average number of apps on a device, as well as the advent of new-age smart devices (e.g., smartwatches) – the average user-interaction period with any single application is also going down. This is another factor developers have to keep under consideration. It has been predicted that total global spending on mobile apps will reach a whopping $35 billion by the end of 2015. App development will become even more financially rewarding – but only if you know how to make a mark in this domain.
So, that’s that for this week’s AppBoard Tuesday. If you are planning get your feet wet in the field of iOS or Android app development, do write in. In case you feel that there are further challenges for developers we have missed out on, get in touch and send us your lists. We will be more than happy to take a look and add your points.
ABT will return…(when else?)…next Tuesday. Till the next time, stay well, keep learning about mobile technology, and love thy apps!
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