Howdy, dear readers! It’s another fine Tuesday, and we are back with yet another edition of your favorite free weekly newsletter – AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). Last week, one of our junior developers (who also happens to be a mobile gaming addict!) downloaded a new Android game from the Google Play Store. As it turned out, the only good thing about that gaming app was that it was free – since it crashed repeatedly, high scores could not be saved, and playing the game (it was a bike racing thing, if you were wondering) for a tick more than 15 minutes caused his brand new Moto E to appreciably slow down. And that, folks, got us thinking.
It’s all very well that companies offer free app quotes to high-profile clients, but what about the average user – who innocently downloads new apps from stores, only to find they are buggy? In this edition of ABT, we will guide you through a few pointers which will help you get a hint as to whether the app you are planning to download/have already downloaded is a good or a bad one:
- Read the app reviews – Thanks to the hundreds of ‘free app review exchange’ sites and Facebook communities, store reviews are no longer as authentic as they used to be. Even the lousiest of apps have at least a few 5-star ratings. Check out the negative reviews (if any) more carefully, and find out which features of an app are drawing the maximum flak. The lesser the negativity around an iPhone/Android app, the more suitable it is for trying out. At least once.
- Check the featured apps – Coming up on the ‘featured apps’ list (after fighting it out with 1.3-million odd other applications at Play Store/Apple iTunes) is no mean feat. You can pick the ones that are featured at the stores with zero qualms, for they have been downloaded, tested, and liked by many other fellow-users. That, of course, does not mean that every other app is ‘bad’ though. It’s just that, you have to be more careful while considering whether to get them.
- Size of the app – Good apps take up minimal phone memory – bad ones are memory hogs, it’s as simple as that. Be wary of Android apps (in particular) that are more than 55-60 MB in size. Ideally, you should adjust your phone settings so that the device decides where a new app would be stored (phone memory or external microSD card). Larger apps might boast of more features, but their usability is generally poor.
- Bandwidth usage – Ask any mobile app developer, and (s)he will confirm that this is one of the key attributes of any new application. Our colleague, who had downloaded that troublesome racing game, had finally found out that it was taking up well over 70% of the total available mobile bandwidth. Once you have installed a new app, make sure that it is not taking up too much of the mobile bandwidth. If it is, get rid of it immediately. You certainly do not want a painfully slow smartphone/tablet!
- Battery drain – On the latest iOS and Android devices, you have the option of checking the amount of battery drain caused by each installed application. Now, all mobile app companies claim that their software do not put any extra pressure on the phone battery – but you should not entirely go by that. Many people make the mistake of thinking that abnormally fast battery outage is occurring due to some problems in the device. Check whether any of your apps is causing the problem instead. Never keep applications that are, in effect, ‘battery-killers’.
- What’s in the background? – A classic example of a ‘bad’ app would be one that remains active in the background, even after you have closed it. That, in turn, leads to poorer battery performance, and at times, screen freezes. The processor speed of your phone/tablet can also be affected. Find out what an app ‘does’ when you are not using it (and do not plan to use it for some time). If it remains active somewhere in the background, you would be better off without it.
- Crashes and screen freezes – The total crash-count of that ridiculously bad mobile racing game was 16, that too in a 2-day period! If that apparently ‘cool-n-snazzy’ newly-released app crashes repeatedly, you can rest assured that there is something wrong with it. A buggy app can also cause troublesome screen freezes – and at times, doing a hard reboot is the only option to get your handset functional again. Not every indie developer/company places equal emphasis on mobile app testing, which makes the presence of bugs in apps a distinct possibility. Of course, this threat is more for Android apps.
- Security – Right from digital storybooks in mobile apps for kids, to important passwords, credit card information and the like – a vast range of data is stored by users in their phone applications. The problem is, not all apps are trustworthy enough – and there are many which do not provide adequate security against unauthorized access and misuse of data. With WatchKit having released last month, the spotlight is more than ever on mobile app security. If an application does not come with proper security certifications, you should never go for it. Not even if it’s free and the better ones are paid!
- Splash screen duration – UI/UX designers pull out all stops to make attractive splash screens for their apps. Sadly, many of them forget the basic fact that – a splash screen is nothing more than something to be displayed as the app is being loaded. To be classified as ‘good’, the duration of an Android or iOS app should never be more than 8-10 seconds (even that is a stretch). Ask yourself – do you really want to stare at a splash screen – however colorful it might be – for minutes on end? Find out more about splash screen designing guidelines here.
- Compatibility with the latest mobile OS versions – iPhone fans are more than eager to upgrade their devices to the iOS 8 platform. Android-users cannot wait for the day when they would get the notification for upgrading to Android 5.0 Lollipop. In such a scenario, it is of essence that the new apps churned out by mobile application companies should be customized for these platforms. Older version apps can, and often do, perform erroneously on devices running on the latest platforms.
- Number of features in the introductory version – Or Version 1.0, as some app developers prefer to call them. A ‘good’ app should have a limited number of features and functions, and one clear purpose (i.e., it should solve a single requirement of users). In subsequent versions, the range of features should gradually increase. There are many apps that try to pack in too many features – and the only thing they succeed in doing is confusing the users.
- Frequency of upgrades – This one is basically a follow-up from the earlier point. Leading mobile app agencies as a rule announce the release of new, improved versions of their best-performing apps. On the other hand, shady companies treat the release of apps as a one-shot game, and do not bother spending time, money or manpower on further upgrades. As a result, user-satisfaction levels take a backseat. It would be advisable to check how frequently an app is upgraded, before you download it. For a new app, you can try finding out from the developer regarding the future upgrade plans.
- In-app navigation – Again, this is easy to explain. A common trait of every user-friendly mobile app is that they have simple, easy-to-understand in-app navigation schemes. Graphic designers make sure that not only do these apps have visually appealing layouts, but checking out all the tabs and sections of the application is a breeze too. At certain companies, specialized designers are either not present, or are not competent enough. Not surprisingly, they come up with apps which people have a tough time understanding, let alone using. The very definition of a ‘bad app’!
Good Android or iPhone apps for kids should come with properly working parental controls. The popularity of freemium apps is spiralling at present – and you need to make sure that such paid download options on a free app are reliable enough. If you create mobile apps yourself, keep in mind the above parameters, to make sure that your products always have plenty of takers. Mobile app making is a lucrative line of business, and substandard products are being released in the lure of making quick money – but you can avoid bad apps rather easily.
With the hope that all of you have only the best apps on your smart devices, we would bring this week’s AppBoard (ABT) to a close. In case you have ever downloaded troublesome apps, do share their names, and the issues you faced with them. Write to us about anything else you might want to know, before downloading apps from the stores.
A little bit about ourselves here. These are exciting times at our iPhone app development company. After the launch of our Australian chapter – Teks Mobile Australia – in August, we are now all set for the opening of another foreign branch, this time in Sweden. Teks Sweden would, in addition to developing iOS and Android apps for clients, offer professional translation services and manpower consultancy solutions for businesses. Do pray for our success.
Stay well, each one of you. We will be back next week, with another dose of AppBoard Tuesday. What topic will be under discussion in the next edition? Well, for that, you have to wait till Tuesday!
Latest posts by Hussain Fakhruddin (see all)
- How do mobile apps help small businesses? - October 10, 2019
- Top 15 Mobile App Ideas For 2020 - October 1, 2019
- Top 15 Software Development Trends To Watch Out For In 2020 - September 18, 2019