Before mobile app development itself begins, a good developer should take many things into account. There are many things to consider that play a role in ensuring that the app fulfills its business purpose while impressing and subsequently satisfying users.

Here are 6 things developers should consider before commencing development.
 

Setting the goals

 
The first step is to identify a clear goal. What you want to achieve with the mobile application, how it can be monetized to generate revenue, the kind of experience a user gets while using the app etc. – these questions can help the development get a clear picture of the purpose of the application. This can give them an idea of where to start, and a direction to take the development work to.
 

Understanding the audience

 
User base is the most important factor a developer should consider as it determines whether the app would succeed or fail. For the app to satisfy its user base, the developers should be aware of the technologies that users utilize, and what they are expecting the application to do as well.

A proficient mobile application development company would have the development and testing team interact with users, understand them, and consolidate their findings about user expectations, user behavior etc. This will help the developers tailor an app that meets user expectations, and keep them engaged.
 

Getting early feedback from users

 
Getting feedback from users post-launch to improve the app with updates is necessary. But getting early feedback from users is just as important. This phase is when the developers build the first version of the application. When ‘version 1.0’ is ready, they can approach a few users to do a test run of the app.

Obviously, this feedback can help them plan the next step considering those aspects in the app that need improvement. What makes this different from standard testing is the fact that users tend to explore the app in unique ways, subsequently detecting bugs in the process that eluded testers, and finding areas that could be improved.

The result of getting early feedback?

A better experience for users in the final version of the app.
 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

 
Minimum Viable Product can be give great leverage for app developers. Fully developing the app take a lot of time and money. A better approach is to develop a base version of the app first, and test the market with it. This will give developers valuable insights on what a full build can potentially do in that same market.

It also allows them to release a full build faster and enter the market much quicker. The key is to build a version that has only the essential features necessary to gain access into the market. This strategy can in turn save money, and allows you to build agile mobile applications.
 

App Updates

 
Updating the features of an application frequently encourages users to re-engage the application. A lot of research back up this fact that many users who have chosen not to use the app much returns once an update adds more features. For developers, this strategy can be effective in retaining active users and keeping them engaged. Instead of releasing every new feature with a single update, it’s better to add them with smaller, more frequent updates.
 

Checking out other similar apps

 
It’s important to know of apps in the market that are similar to the one they are going to develop. Checking them out would give insights to the developers as to how other apps engage users, and what competitors are doing with their apps.

The difference in platforms can make things a bit complicated, as a feature that’s present in one platform may not be present in the same app in a different platform. Nevertheless, the developers will be aware of technological possibilities with this tactic.
 

Choosing the technology for the app

 
Mobile technologies keep evolving every year, and each new trend and technique open new doors to both the developers and the mobile market. Choosing the right technology for the application requires developers to go over the business goals.

The developers will have to figure out whether a native app would be a better choice instead of a cross-platform app, or if they need a web app, the screen sizes that the app should support, the language for the back end etc. Collaborating with the IT team and sharing pre-development phase findings with them can make it easier to shortlist the technologies that serve the business goals.
 

Determining key metrics

 
This step is crucial as it helps the developers measure the success of the app once it goes online. To begin, they can start by creating a list of key metrics. They can then consolidate, measure, and analyze app usage to determine if the goals are met.

If the app failed to meet the goals, there obviously has been a mistake at some point. Nevertheless, they can still rectify the issues with updates. Planning the update frequency early on can help a lot in such a situation.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan

It has always been a challenge to run android applications natively in a Linux system. A lot of research has been going on to figure this out. Many open source experts were trying to come up with a feasible solution that allows Android apps to run on a Linux environment without issues. Fortunately, one of them has finally done it. The open source project termed ‘Anbox’ could be the next big thing not just in the open source software development sector but also in Android development.

Simon Fels, the brain behind the project, has been working on it independently since 2015 and released a pre-alpha version of the new platform a few months ago. According to Fels, the idea was to put Android into a LXC-based container, linking only the relevant parts to the host Linux OS while restricting accessibility to user data and hardware. The Anbox platform is now ready for a wider audience.
 

Anbox in a nutshell

 
Fels said that the platform essentially isolates the Android system from the host by taking Linux namespaces (user, network etc.). Anbox also provides Open GL ES support by taking code parts from Android emulator implementation. Using these code parts, the platform can arrange the command stream serially before sending to the host.

Fels also stated that the source code is wholly open source. Most features are licensed under the GPLv3 terms. However, a few are Apache 2.0 for compatibility. Fels added that the pre-alpha version may still experience crashes and instability issues, and the next phase will rectify and stabilize the release while adding new features that improve integration with the host OS.
 

Anbox and its promise

 
Earlier efforts, like Shashlik, to run Android apps on a Linux environment were not successful. But Anbox shows promise and potential, and may not fall short like its predecessors. The platform can attract more developers to the already large Android developer community, and can make it easier to create innovative apps as well, according to Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Teich also added that the platform supports network access, input, audio, and display interfaces even in its early phase. However, the developers will still have to rely on current tools if they require access to accelerometers, radios, and cameras. Reportedly, Anbox runs smooth thanks to snaps and LXC containers.

The next version might have more interfaces implemented for the major classes of sensors, making Anbox an easy alternative for mobile application development.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan

Over 5000 developers attended Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month while the rest of the world waited patiently to see what the tech giant has in store for mobile application development and its future.

Apple started the conference with a video that showed a world without apps, and why the world needs apps. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook later emphasized the importance of mobile technologies in an app-driven world before an announcement of sensational innovations, officially kicking off the conference.

iOS 11 was the biggest announcement on the mobile front. The OS comes packed with new native features one of which includes the ability to send money to friends and family using Apple Pay. They have upgraded Siri and redesigned the App Store.

Apple announced a bunch of other updates for iOS 11 that will be released later this year. Here are a few of them worth checking out.
 

iOS 11 Updates

 
Augmented Reality with Apple’s ARKit

Augmented Reality has been gaining a lot of traction lately, evident from a rapid increase in AR integrated applications after the success of PokemonGO. AR can provide great, meaningful customer engagement in many ways. With Apple’s ARKit, developers can do just that. ARKit could be the game changer for the tech giant this year, as it will help developers figure out and create innovative ways to provide immersive experience to customers.

Very soon, iPhones and iPads will have AR capabilities essentially making Apple the largest AR platform on a global scale.

A more intelligent Siri

The upgraded Siri now learns from the user’s search patterns, and will attempt to accommodate their needs based on searches. Apple also revealed that they have used machine learning to make the Siri voice (both male and female) sound more natural. The tech giant’s finally made Siri capable of understanding context better, making it more useful than ever.

Customer Service via Business Chat

Business Chat is Apple’s new unique feature to improve customer service options for businesses. Unlike the existing AI chatbot systems, Business Chat allows customer care executives to directly communicate with users via chat.

This feature allows the customer to directly begin a chat session, via iMessages, with the representative of a business they have been looking up on the internet.

Drag & Drop

iOS 11 will come with the drag & drop functionality that can be used both within an app and across many apps. Users will now also be able to tap select multiple items at once with the multi-touch functionality.

iMessage Money Transfer

The iOS 11 upgrade also improves the Apple Pay feature, expanding it to include person-to-person payment features. Using iMessages or by commanding Siri, users will be able to make and receive payments with friends and family instantly.

Core NFC

iOS 11 features Core NFC which allows developers to read NFC tags to types 1 through 5, and read data in the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF). In addition, the new OS will also include apps that utilize NFC technology. Just like ARKit, Core NFC allows developers to try out innovative ways to use NFC.

Redesigned App Store

The App Store has been redesigned to provide users with a better experience to find the newest apps. The ‘Today’ tab addition showcases apps users would be interested in on a daily basis. The new upgrade to the Search option added a new UI. It now features more filters in search results including developers, in-app purchases, categories etc.

The store layout will now have tabs at the bottom serving as filters to categorize Games, Apps, and ‘Today’ feed.
 

Impact on Mobile App Development

 
Apple intends to make app downloading exciting again with the redesign of App Store. App Store ratings are lifetime ratings now, and developers will also be able to perform a phased roll-out of applications releasing them slowly to customers or for a specific demographic.

In addition to iOS 11, new APIs and innovative features, Apple also unveiled TVOS, macOS, and WatchOS. This means developers will now be able to build more personalized and relevant apps to users, essentially taking the company higher in the app-driven ecosystem we live in.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan

When someone says something about mobile technologies, Android is one of the first things that come to mind. That’s how big it has grown. A recent report from StatCounter, an analytical company, stated that Google’s OS has surpassed Microsoft Windows as the most popular operating system when it comes to overall internet usage through desktop, laptop, mobile, and handheld devices collectively.

Android is also dominating the mobile application development sector. Google releasing updates to the OS further accelerates the growth of Android development. It hasn’t been long since the current version of Android, Nougat, was released. It brought many changes to the OS’s functionality, and added interesting features. But apparently Google doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Android O is on its way, and from what we could gather from the developer preview, it would be bringing some noticeable changes in the Android realm.
 

Developer Preview 1

 
Google is reportedly still working on a title with the initial O for the new version of their flagship OS. The first developer preview was made available for Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel XL, Pixel C, and a few other variants of Pixel smartphones.

Notifications shade

You will notice visual changes when you swipe down the notifications shade. The toggles at the top have been reordered, and now takes a little more space on-screen. The font for data and time is now more concise, adding more visibility to status bar icons.

Handling notifications

Long-pressing on a notification gives you the option to disable all notifications from that app. Swiping the notification to the side a little gives you an icon for accessing Notifications toggle, and an icon to snooze the notification.

Quick settings

Google made some changes in the quick settings, now with a line underneath. The Quick Settings now have a double function. Tap the word underneath the toggle to open the mini settings menu. You can turn the setting on or off by tapping the icon.

Settings menu

Most of the visual changes in the new OS version is in the settings menu. The Settings menu is shorter compared to that in Nougat. Umbrella categories like “device”, “personal”, “wireless and networks”, and “system” have been replaced by descriptive sections like “connected devices”, “apps and notifications”, “networks and internet”, and “security and screen lock”.

System UI Tuner

The System UI Tuner lets you tune various things according to your preferences. You can enable the UI tuner by swiping down the notifications shade, and long-pressing the gear icon. The device vibrates when the option is added to the Settings menu.

The UI Tuner has four areas now.

  • Status bar – You can still find the toggles to enable or disable icons that appear in the status bar.
  • Do not disturb – You will find the option to enable ‘Do not disturb’ mode under the volume slider. Another option lets you add a volume button shortcut to toggle ‘Do not disturb’ when you press the volume down button.
  • Navigation bar – Android O now comes with a layout option that lets you choose between normal, compact, left-leaning, and right-leaning. It’s also possible to add more buttons on the left and right side of the on-screen navigation buttons.
  • Lock screen – The lock screen appears the same as in Nougat, but you can use the System UI Tuner to change the shortcuts in the bottom left and bottom right corners to anything you like.

Picture-in-picture support

The update will come with full support for picture-in-picture mode. With this feature, app developers will now be able to keep playing videos with video apps in a small window while navigating other areas or even other apps.

Audio

Sony’s LDAC Codec has now been included in Android O, which means LDAC-equipped Bluetooth headphones will have a much better quality in the OS. Android O also supports:

  • aptX
  • aptX HD
  • SBC
  • AAC

Notification channels

With notification channels, you can split app notifications into various themes you choose to block individually or allow. You can manage this by long-pressing an app notification in the notification shade or by accessing app notification settings.

Background process limits

Google has, as always, optimized Android O as well apparently, as the OS will limit background processes significantly.

Autofill API

Android O introduces Autofill APIs making it easier for apps to manage passwords better than in the previous versions of the OS. The autofill app stores form data such as usernames, passwords, and addresses.

Wide color gamut for apps support

App developers will now be able to use a larger palette of colors in Android O. According to Google, ‘Android developers of imaging apps can now take advantage of new devices that have a wide-gamut color capable display. To display wide gamut images, apps will need to enable a flag in their manifest (per activity) and load bitmaps with an embedded wide color profile (AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, DCI-P3, etc.)’.
 

Developer Preview 2

 
Fluid Experiences

Like the name suggests, Fluid Experiences (announced at Google I/O 2017) makes managing multi-tasking tools fluid and enjoyable. Google’s machine learning tool, TensorFlow, got scaled down for Android O, and is named TensorFlow Lite. The new framework of Android O will provide the required hardware acceleration to neural network features.

Notification dots

Till now, we had to use custom Launchers to have a notification icon on top of the app icon on the homescreen. Android O has this feature now. You can notice a small dot over the app icons now with active notifications. Long-pressing the icon with the notification dot gives you access to a list of actions that include viewing notifications in a small pop-up window. However, the long-press action will supposedly come only in a future beta release.

Smart text selection

Android O will provide more options in addition to cut, copy, and paste once a text is highlighted. Google’s AI will determine exactly what you highlighted – a phone number, an address etc. and give you options accordingly.

Auto-Fill

The new OS version will remember your usernames and passwords letting you access apps quickly.

Vitals

Android O will feature several features collectively termed Vitals. Vitals will include security enhancements, OS optimizations, and developer tools. Google Play Protect that was announced by the tech giant’s Android team at Google I/O 2017 will also be included, visible as an entry in Google Play app update window. Google Play Protect will perform scans on apps, and inform you if it detects any issues.
 

Conclusion

 
Not all new features and enhancements revealed in the previews have been included in this article. The bottom-line is that Android O comes packed with so many cool features, continuing what Nougat started and giving more control to users. The OS will finally deliver many things we’ve been waiting for, like adaptive icons and app badges, not to mention support for next-gen Android peripherals.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan

Mobile application development is a collaborative process that generally results in products that fascinate users. However, doing it in-house is way more complicated than you can imagine. Even the tiniest mistake during development can end up being disastrous for the business.

Fortunately, there are signs that indicate that you are doing it the wrong way. The next best option in such a situation is to outsource the development to a mobile application development company equipped to plough through the mess and deliver a polished, robust product that your business can rely on.

Here are 3 signs that indicate that you need to outsource your mobile application development.
 

Lengthy Development Time

 
Many recent surveys claim that, generally, for a company to build a mobile app in-house and deploy it for their business, it may take 6 months to a year or more on average. A year is a long time if you consider the fast paced evolution of this mobile-first world. If the business takes too long to develop and deploy the app, by the time the app does get deployed, it may be obsolete.

Among the many obstacles in app development, resource limitations would be the most common. A few other major factors include:

  • Lack of a solid design
  • Lack of proper communication between the UX team and the backend team
  • Lack of knowledge of the best practices of application development
  • Poor project management

Accomplishing all of this during the development phase can be challenging even for enterprise-level firms. Even one of these factors can delay the delivery of the application. If you ever have to keep pushing your app’s launch date, consider it a sign to outsource the development.
 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

 
Pushing your MVP live and then finishing the app with iterations is an advice you get from various tech blogs. It’s quite effective too. However, when it comes to mobile applications, releasing MVP is a bad idea. The reason is evident from the present behavior of smartphone users.

Hundreds of thousands of mobile applications come out every month. However, once users get comfortable with an app, they wouldn’t generally bother to give new apps a shot. Why download a new app and spend time getting used to it when you can use a perfectly functioning app that you are already used to?

This could be one of the reasons. If you take a look at the figures, you will see that app downloads have slowed down considerably at present. People don’t download new apps like they used to. Considering such a situation, releasing a half-baked mobile app promising to fix it with updates certainly does more harm than good for your business.

First impressions do count for something these days. An MVP may not give your business a second chance if it fails to impress users. You should deliver a fully functioning app with an impressive interface to have a lasting impression on users. Outsourcing app development to a reliable developer actually increases ROI with a better product.
 

Lack of Expertise

 
Knowledge-gap in the development team does delay the delivery of the application. Many companies make the mistake of going forward with developing a sophisticated application despite the lack of skill set. We have to take into account the fact there’s a shortage of mobile app developers which forces individual companies to rely on rather unpopular talents to build their apps.

Their end-goal is to deploy an app that impresses users. Most of them tend to neglect other aspects of the app like integration with the backend, with the cloud, scalability, security etc. Even if the companies have resources, they don’t always have the expertise, which consequently delays the delivery of the application.

Companies may have to invest a lot of time on learning the skill set rather than developing the app; yet another sign for those companies to start outsourcing.
 

Conclusion

 
Even if you decide to outsource mobile app development, there is yet another challenge to overcome – finding the right developer to outsource to. If you manage to find the right developer, you can have your app deployed in no time, and at a quarter of the cost you would’ve incurred had you developed the app in-house.

Written by: Rikhil Mohan
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