Credits : Shutterstock

Credits : Shutterstock

 

Mobile web sites are a growing design issue. According to StatCounter GS, mobile web access has risen to 36.54% in the United States as of January 2017. Internationally, according to the same set of statistics, mobile phones have overtaken desktops as the primary means of accessing the internet by approximately 4%.

This means that companies seeking to reach customers need their sites to be easily read and navigated by smaller screens and devices that may not support Java or cookies. But what works best? And what should IT departments focus on when improving or developing mobile sites? Experts on the Forbes Technology Council have this to say:

1. Put Priority Content At The Top

Place high-priority content, such as phone numbers, address or directions, at the top of the website page, so that users can quickly get to it without having to scroll. Don’t fall into the trap of “stacking” low-priority content over high-priority content. – Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic

2. Foster An Environment Of Continuous Experimentation And Improvement

Good UI/UX is hard. Don’t imagine you’re going to get it right the first time. Experiment with alternatives as much as you can during development. Consider A/B testing technology that lets you run experiments to evaluate interface alternatives and to respond quickly to the findings. Implement continuous integration and deployment techniques that let you release improvements regularly. – Manuel Vellon, Level 11

3. Ask Users About What Works And What Doesn’t

It helps to know from people using it every day what works and doesn’t, so go straight to users and get their feedback. After all, you want people to use it, and there’s no better perspective than those that already do. – Chalmers Brown, Due

4. Don’t Make Mobile An Afterthought

An increasing number of people use a phone or tablet as their primary way to interact with websites. You can’t slap together a mobile site as an afterthought and expect to be successful: Mobile should be a first-class citizen from the start. Also, resist the temptation to suppress certain content completely on mobile. It may be much easier, but some visitors may never come to your site on a computer. – Jay Oliver, GeekHive

As app developers, we are fortunate to often work with clients who are launching their first app. It’s a collaborative process that always leads to amazing products, built from the ground up. Then there are other times where we’re brought in after an attempt has been made… and usually not a moment too soon!

If you’ve ever tried to do your own plumbing, app development is like that: it can be way more complicated than you’d expect, and tiny details can be the difference between a flushing toilet and a rising tide of horror. So when do you know if your company is in over its head when it comes to making an app? Here are three red flags that will signal when it’s time to outsource your mobile development.

 

imac-606765_1280

Credits : Business2community

1. Your app development time table is too long.

According to a recent survey by outsystems.com of over 3200 IT professionals, 40% said that it took between 6 months to over a year to deliver a finished app. Did we read that right? By the time the app comes out, it’ll already be obsolete! That sort of lengthy development time for software can make or break a business, especially in our mobile-first world.

There are a slew of reasons why apps can stew in development hell, but it usually comes down to one thing: resources. A good app, like any good software, takes a lot of effort. You need a rock-solid design that can translate to rapid iterations of wireframe models, your backend team communicating well with your UX team, and a deep understanding of best practices at every step. Poor sprint management always leads to lengthy delays, so project management is also paramount to timely app development.

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All this can be nearly impossible for even enterprise-level companies to accomplish. If your app’s launch date is continually getting pushed another two weeks, it’s probably time to outsource development.

2. Your MVP is bad.

Lots of tech blogs say that get to your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and push it live, then iterate quickly. Although this has been repeated countless times, we don’t think this is great advice when it comes to mobile apps. The reason is that smartphone users just don’t give new apps much of a shot.

App downloads are slowing, perhaps by up to 20%. That means less people are downloading new apps altogether. Meanwhile, 77% of users don’t open a new app again after 72 hours, and it’s often because that initial experience is just not up to snuff. So we have a user base that is both reluctant to download new apps, and to give new apps much of a chance. And you want to release a half-baked MVP? Hmm.

 

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Credits : Business2community

When it comes to mobile software, first impressions matter more than businesses realize. After all, there are often many other similar apps to choose from. If your company is racing to put out a MVP that is just so-so, you might be setting yourself up for a situation where you won’t get a second chance. It’s important to put out the best app you can from the get-go, and outsourcing your app can ultimately nab higher ROI when loyalty is earned due to a better product.

3. You just don’t have the expertise.

Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many companies lack the skill set internally but still forge onward with a complicated app development. Almost half the IT professionals surveyed in the outsystems.com report said that there was a knowledge gap with mobile that slows development.

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of mobile app developers which is a growing problem for the industry as a whole, but also for individual companies that try to rely on unproven talent to build their apps. Remember, it’s not just the app itself; it’s integration with the backend, it’s integration with the cloud, it’s security, it’s speed of deployment, it’s scalability. It’s a lot, and even enterprise-level companies have stumbled at the scope of their mobile projects. Even if they technically have the resources (aka man-power), the lack of expertise will slow development to a crawl.

Look, not every company can quickly get up to speed on iOS’s latest changes or programming in Swift. If you’re spending more time (and money) on just learning the skill set instead of developing, it’s time to outsource your app.

 

Credits : Itproportal

Credits : Itproportal

 

When those sudden moments of genius strike, you could be onto the next big thing – the new Angry Birds or Snapchat might be around the corner. But the main practicality in converting an interesting idea into an application is deciding on your platform of choice.

Currently, iOS and Android are the main contenders for introducing a new app; both have advantages and disadvantages in certain areas, which can be a minefield for the new market entrant.

However, help is at hand in the shape of cross platform mobile development tools, which have become increasingly sophisticated of late as demand has risen. These help to reduce the development time of applications by enabling developers to re-use code across multiple platforms, resulting in less room for error as the same code is shared between multiple platforms, and also generating a codebase which is more easily maintained and updated. The tools can provide a side by side comparison which helps to maintain design consistency throughout each environment.

When it comes to stand alone consumer apps that target the Play Store and App Store, we at ByteSnap recommend that it’s best to choose one core platform to deliver on first, as the potential user base is in the multi-millions. Once established, then approaching alternative platforms with the learnings from the first is considerably easier.

However, there are cases where simultaneous development and release across multiple platforms are a key part of products feature set – such as apps that ‘talk’ and integrate with specific hardware for additional functionality. This could encompass IoT products or particularly ‘hot’ new hardware, for example.

Native vs cross platform?

It is important to note that cross development tools come in mainly two flavours – native cross development and Hybrid cross development.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but if you’re in any doubt, our software consultants at ByteSnap Design are expert in cross platform mobile development and are well placed to assist.

Once you’ve made your choice between native and hybrid cross platform app development, you’ll be needing one of these tools for cross platform mobile development:

Xamarin

Xamarin has become one of the leading solutions providers in the native cross platform application development market.  The tool allows developers to use a C# codebase to build Android, iOS, Mac and Windows apps.  There is native API access across the supported operating systems and also the ability to add “components” to an app for plugin functionality, such as barcode scanning, in-app billing and a multitude of custom controls.

Xamarin provides a plethora of reference material – API documentation, example code and even boast a “Xamarin University” to help support developers – and the vibrant development community means there are also a lot of new components and custom controls being developed.

After Microsoft acquired Xamarin it became free to use with versions of Visual Studio. The Xamarin Test Cloud is worthy of mention; a 2,000-strong real device testing suite in the cloud where users can setup tests and get comprehensive results including performance statistics, screenshots for the steps taken and compare for regression testing.

Appcelarator

Appcelerator Titanium boasts the ability to make “native” mobile applications on iOS, Android and Windows Phone using one JavaScript Codebase. If there is any functionality where the native API is not exposed through the Titanium API set, then the developer can make a “module” written in native code to expose this functionality. This makes this platform ideal for creating apps that are close to native in performance, especially where the developers are well versed in JavaScript.

Appcelerator recently announced Hyperloop – which vastly increases the power of this as a true cross platform mobile development tool, as Hyperloop exposes all native functionality for iOS and Apple – with planned support for Windows Phone in the future.

Like similar tools, Appcelerator provides analytics and third party components to implement 3rd party modules. For enterprise customers there is also the option for using a virtual private cloud server for storing sensitive data.

Qt

The oldest cross platform development tool on our list, Qt had its initial release in 1990.  It has possibly the largest list of supported mediums, most notably Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows, however also reaching Mac OS, Linux, Sailfish, QNX and more.

The latest versions of Qt (5.6+) include a great amount of mobile application support, adding in functionality for high DPI, navigation and themed UI. Since then, more controls have been added to these styles which cover Material Design (Android), Universal Design (Microsoft) and Qt’s default style.

There are two current forms of Qt, open source and commercial. Each of them carries different licences that are applied to the generated application and this should be taken into consideration.

Adobe Phonegap/Apache Cordova

Adobe PhoneGap uses the open source project Apache Cordova as its engine and is one of the most popular, go-to, development environments for cross platform web applications. Because it is open source, PhoneGap is free to use and boasts the ability to interface with other Adobe technologies, as well as a large list of third party tools such as PayPal, Testing SDK’s, Analytics and Barcode decoders.

PhoneGap developers write applications as web apps. These leverage the WebKit installed on the target device using HTML, JavaScript and CSS as the language. This way, they trade performance and some level of native interfacing for portability and reusability.

PhoneGap also offers cloud services (PhoneGap Build) for building and distributing applications to the relevant app stores, removing the reliance for maintaining target native SDKs and to push systematic updates to target phones as part of the development cycle.

Sencha

Sencha, similar to PhoneGap, makes use of HTML5 to achieve cross device portability. Though it has many applications and tools available to developers, such as; Architect, Themer, and various IDE Plugins, the main offering for mobile applications development is Ext JS. Once the application has been built developers can use Sencha cmd or Cordova to use device specific API calls to achieve close to native functionality.

Sencha offers a library of prebuilt UI components and accompanying UI themes, with the ability to write custom modules to expose native functionality. They also have an automated test suite available which leverages the Jasmine framework for JavaScript. Standard licences start at a minimum of 5 developers and provide a good entry point.  However, the premium licence contains some crucial development tools such as debugging and analytical data.

Graeme Wintle, director, ByteSnap Design
Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock

Credits : Itproportal

Credits : Itproportal

There is definitely a struggle between supply and demand, and organisations seem to be losing this battle.

Business use of mobile apps is exploding, and with good reason. Mobile apps can offer substantial productivity benefits to organisations, cost reductions, and increased customer and staff satisfaction. Analysts also report that around two thirds of organisations are using three or more apps.  Therefore, many companies clearly see the need for apps and mobile development. However, their mobile app development teams face many challenges during the mobile app development process.

This includes the ability to scale teams in line with app development requirement, complex back-end integrations and faster release cycles.

App supply vs app demand

In addition to this, Gartner reports that the market demand for mobile application development services will grow five times faster than internal IT teams’ capacities to deliver apps.  Whereas another study found that nearly half of the organisations it surveyed have a backlog in mobile development that ranges between 10 to 20 apps.

So there is definitely a struggle between supply and demand, and organisations seem to be losing this battle. Part of the driver behind this mobile app development problem is because app development continues to be complex and challenging; which raises a serious question around how organisations can build apps faster and more efficiently?

Mobile app development obstacles

Further, aside from overcoming the time it takes to develop apps rapidly, there are several obstacles development teams face. For instance, being able to import apps from a single platform to all the major OSs is key. Otherwise, it can double or even triple the cost with each additional platform port costing an incremental 50 per cent – 70 per cent.

Native mobile app developers with strong skills can also be difficult to source; and, HTML5 mobile apps lack native features, perform poorly and consequently provide users with bad experiences, resulting in low adoption. Back-end or server side development can also contribute to terrible app performance, and substantially impact end-user experience, accounting for 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the effort and expense.

Many of the complexities associated with mobile application development can also be attributed to the vast fragmentation of technologies available. Building your own back-end, using custom frameworks from niche point products, or using an array of open source tools and plug-ins can enhance  both complexity and costs.

Typically these tactics make sense and are cheaper initially for simple applications, or for extending a web application to mobile; however, they can quickly become complex custom mobile application development projects. With these quick-fix choices often resulting in a high total cost of ownership that have the potential to increase over time.

This isn’t a new problem for large enterprise to deal with too.  They have been solving software development issues for many years. But, it is an expensive way of building apps, especially when you throw development for mobile into the mix; which now requires specific development processes and methodologies to be factored in so that the development process can be saved from chaos.

Developing for mobile moments

The answer to this problem, therefore, lies in identifying ways to continue delivering great mobile experiences by using predictable and repeatable mobile app development processes, that free up agile development teams, enable parallel work streams, maximise reuse and which are cost effective in the long term.

Additionally, mobility has fundamentally changed the application development model that is being used by developers.  Now, developers focus on breaking a business process into multiple small task-oriented user interactions, sometimes referred to as “mobile moments”. They favour this approach over the traditional monolithic one. Proven elsewhere, this more modern approach allows teams to develop in a reliable, repeatable and sustainable fashion that does not require the creation of a brand-new approach.

What is the model-driven approach?

So, the better path to consider is one that adopts this model-driven approach. Meaning, the adoption of a methodology that enables rapid development of applications from architectural models that make use of smaller, discrete objects. Ultimately, many organisations have found that they can streamline development with this approach.

In addition, by using model-driven development and combining it with a microservices architectural approach to assemble and deploy self-contained independent components into a complete solution, it is possible to develop applications faster and reuse components across multiple applications.

What Java developers teach us

To see this in action, you only have to consider how Java-based development teams, with frameworks like Spring and Struts are adopting model-driven development.   They use object-based models to abstract low-level programming complexities and provide a standardised programming approach that enables any developer to immediately understand the application structure and change it with confidence.

Importantly, too, the wide adoption of Java-based model-driven development demonstrates the advantages that model-driven development can deliver.

However, currently, there is also no similar standardised enabler for a model-driven approach across mobile. So, globally, mobile application developers are suffering from many of the growing pains that the early Java development community came up against; which included slow and costly application development, shortage of development skills, low level of code reuse, and high costs for application changes and updates.

But, by using a model-driven development approach, optimised for the unique challenges and requirements of the mobile space, companies can apply this path to better address the rapid pace of changes required on the front-end mobile app interface, while bridging to less frequent but equally important changes in the mobile back-end and core business infrastructure.

Conclusion

Mobile app usage is only set to continue exploding. It is also likely to evolve to include application development across multiple other connected devices (M2M/IoT/wearables) too. As it continues to grow, so must software development teams’ capabilities to rapidly, accurately and cost effectively handle development for these and newer platforms.

The gains available from adopting a model-driven development approach are undisputable. The sooner teams start to adopt them, the faster they can reap the vast array of benefits offered to their teams, customers and the wider business.

Burley Kawasaki, SVP, Products, Kony

Credits : Itworldcanada

Credits : Itworldcanada

 

IT professionals are at a crisis point when it comes to digital transformation and application development, according to a new report by OutSystems on the state of application development.

As mobile apps become increasingly important – and necessary – for successful businesses, the challenges in developing them have also grown, says the low-code platform company’s fourth annual report, App Dev in the Age of Digital Transformation, Low-Cost Platforms and Citizen Developers.

The report surveyed over 3,200 IT professionals from 40 countries and 28 industries and found that mobility – or the ability for an app to function on a mobile device – was the most common business requirement for apps, up from sixth place in the company’s 2015 survey. In particular, “88 per cent of respondents noted that it was either a requirement or very important to incorporate mobile functionality into their current and future applications.”

“Not surprisingly, large organizations generally plan to build more apps than smaller ones,” the report continues. “In fact, 34 per cent of companies with more than 5,000 employees said that they intend to build at least 25 apps in 2017. In many cases, these are indeed very lofty goals that not only demonstrate high levels of demand, but also put tremendous pressure on today’s IT teams.”

Challenges of app development

However, barriers to successful app development have become “overwhelming,” the study finds. Time and budget constraints were the biggest cited, followed by a gap in skills, an onslaught of competing priorities, and a shortage of mobile developers.

In fact, the report quotes an October 2015 Gartner study that predicts market demand for app development “will grow at least five times faster than IT’s capacity to deliver it through 2021, and that one out of every three new B2E [business-to-employee] mobile apps will fail within six months of launch by 2019.”

OutSystems’ report finds that well over half of IT professionals (62 percent) reported having a backlog of mobile apps, some of whom have more than 10 apps waiting to be developed.

“Our 2017 survey clearly shows that many IT professionals are at a crisis point when it comes to digital transformation and application development,” said Steve Rotter, CMO for OutSystems. “Project backlogs are growing, there are more systems to integrate with, the demands for mobile and IoT are increasing, and the scarcity of skilled developers are top concerns.”

The length of time it takes to develop a mobile app is one of the main factors of this backlog. According to the report, more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of IT professionals say it takes “over three months, on average, to develop a mobile app.” One out of 10 respondents take even longer, with their required time going beyond a year.

“Not surprisingly, this is leading to considerable dissatisfaction, with nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents saying that they’re not happy with the current velocity of their application development team,” OutSystems reports.

But a shortage of people capable of creating these mobile apps has also been a major problem in the IT sector. More than a third (37 per cent) of organizations reported that they are already facing a shortage of mobile developers, and 44 per cent reported that they are experiencing a knowledge gap in the skills needed to undertake mobile development.

Developer skill requirements are changing

Interestingly, part of the survey explored what skills companies are looking for in app developers and found that those who experiment with newer and less technical approaches, such as HTML, user interface design and JavaScript, are more sought-after. These creators are easier to find and tend to focus on front-end development – or the look and feel of the app – instead of just functionality.

However, many companies are turning to non-professional “citizen” developers as a cheaper, easier to find, and often faster, alternative. According to the report, 43 per cent of those surveyed support citizen developers already or are considering doing so, and this number will only increase going forward.

According to 2015 Gartner research, “by 2020 at least 70 per cent of large enterprises will have established successful citizen development policies,” although in general, “the smaller the size of an organization, the more likely it is to take advantage of citizen developers.”

Experimentation is on the rise

OutSystems’ report found that in the wake of expanding challenges, organizations are increasingly experimenting with their approach to app development. A popular option is using low-code or no-code platforms, which is defined by U.S.-based market research company Forrester as solutions that “enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand coding and minimal up-front investment in setup, training, and deployment.”

Low-code platforms “dramatically increase” productivity and speed of a development team, and 43 per cent of those surveyed say they use such technology. Forrester expects the market for low-code software platforms “will increase by a factor of nine to over $15 billion [USD] over the next five years.”

 

Credits : Abc3340

Credits : Abc3340

 

Birmingham-based r360 Consulting has entered into a three-year agreement with the City of Northport.

According to the firm, Northport will pay r360 $25,000 per year to collect economic data and lure retailers to the city.

The consulting firm plans to use “mobile mapping”, which is a popular tool in the retail industry. The technology tracks the locations of shopper’s phones.

“It allows us to know where the mobile device is during the evening, during the day and where it was two hours prior to visiting a specific [retail] location,” said r360 CEO Chuck Branch.

Branch said r360 receives the mobile information from UberRetail, a company that provides location data for retail site selection.

“We use their software solutions and their data collection to create a polygon area around a specific retailer, and look at the location points that are both animized and aggregated, to identify that daytime, nighttime, and two-hour time frame,” Branch explained.

According to Branch, the mobile data his office receives does not include personal information.

“I can’t tell you if it’s Jane Doe, John Doe. I can’t tell you their cell phone number,” the CEO added.

ABC 33/40 News spoke with several Northport shoppers who were surprised mobile mapping will used in their city.

“I understand they’re coming from a business perspective to build up the city, but it is a bit scary,” Lisa Melems said.

“I don’t really have a problem with it. It’s still kind of invasive, because you don’t want everybody knowing everywhere you go,” Stephanie Sullivan told ABC 33/40 News.

According to Matthew Hudnall at The University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, there are two ways cell phones are mapped. One is through “location services” under your phone’s privacy settings.

“So that is actually apps on a person’s cell phone where people allow the app manufacturer to track their location,” Hudnall said.

The other way retailers track your location is through your phone’s Bluetooth.

“..by Bluetooth beacons that are deployed in stores. These Bluetooth beacons track the Bluetooth transmissions on an individual’s cell phone if they have Bluetooth enabled on their phone,” Hudnall explained.

The CEO of r360 will soon share mobile mapping information to area developers and tenant reps looking for retail opportunities in the City of Northport.

“We’re excited to work with the City of Northport. We believe there are some opportunities and we’re looking forward to getting started,” Branch said.

Credits : Techrepublic

 

Mobile apps are like living organisms: they require care and feeding in the form of updates to keep them relevant and useful. However, the process can be tricky at times, depending on the type of app, the features it offers, the security details involved and the information the app processes or stores.

In my last article I wrote about ways to build reactive mobile apps which focused on tips for designing apps which react to user needs and actions. As a follow-up to this piece, now let’s talk about how to keep those apps updated for the maximum benefit for your users.

I chatted with Erez Rusovsky at Rollout, a company which provides a native iOS solution that helps organizations fix bugs and push live updates on the fly to deployed applications, as well as ensure developers are able to retain the control of their apps after they deploy them to the App Store.

“The mobile app market has become a $51 billion industry and 79% of U.S. companies say mobile apps are a factor in their success,” said Rusovsky. “Yet the distribution model for mobile apps is completely out of the control of the creator once in the hands of the user. As more companies rely on mobile as a critical business driver, it is not only frustrating but costly if your app experiences a bug or hiccup and waiting hours, let alone days, this can bleed revenue or customer trust from your business.”

Web and SaaS solutions can continuously deliver and deploy apps with plenty of open-source and commercial solutions. Mobility doesn’t offer the same diversity. Only widespread apps such as Facebook and Airbnb have their own in-house deployment solutions. However, we’re seeing increased options for mobile development solutions now; third party tools can allow companies to make remote changes without releasing new versions. Examples include mobile testing solutions like Optimizely, which allows companies to tweak the user interface remotely, and remote configuration solutions such as Firebase Config which can change app configurations remotely. Another example would be marketing automation solutions such as AppBoy which allow adding in-app messages on the fly.

Given these challenges, here are some tips on how to formulate a reliable workflow for your mobile app update process. I devised the first four based upon my experience as a system administrator, the next six are Rusovsky’s recommendations from a software development perspective.

Mobile apps are like living organisms: they require care and feeding in the form of updates to keep them relevant and useful. However, the process can be tricky at times, depending on the type of app, the features it offers, the security details involved and the information the app processes or stores.

In my last article I wrote about ways to build reactive mobile apps which focused on tips for designing apps which react to user needs and actions. As a follow-up to this piece, now let’s talk about how to keep those apps updated for the maximum benefit for your users.

I chatted with Erez Rusovsky at Rollout, a company which provides a native iOS solution that helps organizations fix bugs and push live updates on the fly to deployed applications, as well as ensure developers are able to retain the control of their apps after they deploy them to the App Store.

“The mobile app market has become a $51 billion industry and 79% of U.S. companies say mobile apps are a factor in their success,” said Rusovsky. “Yet the distribution model for mobile apps is completely out of the control of the creator once in the hands of the user. As more companies rely on mobile as a critical business driver, it is not only frustrating but costly if your app experiences a bug or hiccup and waiting hours, let alone days, this can bleed revenue or customer trust from your business.”

Web and SaaS solutions can continuously deliver and deploy apps with plenty of open-source and commercial solutions. Mobility doesn’t offer the same diversity. Only widespread apps such as Facebook and Airbnb have their own in-house deployment solutions. However, we’re seeing increased options for mobile development solutions now; third party tools can allow companies to make remote changes without releasing new versions. Examples include mobile testing solutions like Optimizely, which allows companies to tweak the user interface remotely, and remote configuration solutions such as Firebase Config which can change app configurations remotely. Another example would be marketing automation solutions such as AppBoy which allow adding in-app messages on the fly.

Given these challenges, here are some tips on how to formulate a reliable workflow for your mobile app update process. I devised the first four based upon my experience as a system administrator, the next six are Rusovsky’s recommendations from a software development perspective.

1. Have a dedicated app update release schedule

Releasing updates in a haphazard or random fashion is a recipe for disaster. Updating an app twice in one month then not at all for six months looks unprofessional and sloppy. Decide how many feature revisions or additions should trigger an update – whether 2, 5 or more, and devise a standard schedule such as releasing updates on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Security-related updates may necessitate more frequent or “one-off” releases. It’s more important to push out a code change which protects confidential data than adding new fonts or a new icon, so ensure users understand the difference between security fixes and standard app revisions – and the urgency of installing the former as soon as possible.

2. Develop a deeper understanding of issues and areas of improvement

To get the best analysis of what issues your app faces and where it needs to be toned, utilize functions such as screen recording, smarter bug diagnostics with the ability to examine error logs on the fly, analytics of app usage and crash reporting functionality. You need a mechanism to review where the pain points lie as well as the high-traffic areas within your app.

3. Devise a standard method of app update notifications

Formulate a plan for notifying users of app updates and providing them with options; is it an alert within the app, an e-mail announcement, a text message or some other mechanism? Avoid the possibility of repetitive or unwanted alerts, but make sure to include a list of some of the advantages the update entails; new features or options, better performance or stability, etc. Make sure to include contact information for support if needed to help users navigate problems with app updates.

4. Monitor app update statistics and feedback

Check to see how rapidly users are updating your mobile app and revise the above steps if needed based upon results. Are security updates not being applied as quickly as they should? Do you need to be more aggressive (or less so) with your announcements? Is user feedback reporting too many problems, or an overly cumbersome update cadence? See what, if anything, needs to change to improve the process.

Dynamic analytics can also be helpful. Some of the analytics platforms today (such as Mixpanel) allow you to dynamically change/add analytics allowing you to gain more flexibility and avoid another release just to fix/change a minor issue.

5. Conduct thorough app testing when preparing updates

You should conduct internal QA, beta testing and distribution testing to ensure successful delivery of the app updates on an internal basis, with app users familiar with the code and functions who can spot potential issues or complications. Ensure you have the right toolset to make beta testing more efficient and automated.

6. Take advantage of remote configuration

With this model the data in your app is no longer hard-coded and you can use remote configuration components to set it up or change it depending on user need and options. For instance, altering the welcome message, controlling how many times an ad is being presented (if at all), or implementing parameter values that affect the app such as game complexity level, the color of the screen, etc.

7. Deploy new features without immediate activation

Don’t hard code a feature activation into the updated app (meaning this change does not take immediate effect until you’re ready). Then you can decide when to activate the feature remotely and to whom, so you can now release a new version and test new features gradually. Furthermore, you can roll back a misbehaving feature with minimal impact.

8. Use feature flagging

Feature flagging means you remotely decide or test who gets what experience; users may have different needs or preferences and this allows a focus on particular features based on who may gain the most benefit. For instance, a sales executive can utilize a sales-related component of an app, or a marketing analyst can focus on the social media aspect to spread awareness of a product.

9. Identify how to work with bugs/issues in production

Decide how to engage in damage control and fix bugs remotely, whether through new app versions or remote configuration changes. This is essentially what Rollout does; it allows you to deploy a hotfix / patch the app remotely to help contain issues and notify users about quality issues, and you can deploy a change without a version release.

10. Work with Native vs Hybrid or JavaScript based solutions

Native language solutions are straightforward. Hybrid based solutions (which usually use both JavaScript and a native language) can update the JavaScript code from the backend without a new app version release, adding some agility. Some companies are willing to pay the price of decreased app performance to gain the agility of javascript updates.

React Native by Facebook takes a different approach as a hybrid solution that does allow for JavaScript updates (which means remote code update) and it has almost no performance penalties when compared to a native language app. Microsoft also has a solution called CodePush to streamline the process of JavaScript remote updates.

Credits : Timesofindia.indiatimes

Credits : Timesofindia.indiatimes

 

The first part of ‘Baahubali’ tasted stupendous success and ahead of the release of the second installment, a game based on the magnum opus is in development.

Mark Skaggs, who is the creator of ‘FarmVille’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ games is in talks with director SS Rajamouli.

 “Mark Skaggs (from Moonfrog Labs) creator of FarmVille and Lord of the Rings games (among others) discussing the creation of Baahubali mobile game with SS Rajamouli.”
 “Exciting stuff coming your way… Stay tuned!” a post on the official page of “Baahaubalui” read. ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ released in 2015 and its starred Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah.

 

Credits : Iamwire

Credits : Iamwire

 

When it comes to mobile app development, every step of the process is as vital as the next. Cutting corners anywhere can cost the final product stability and user interest. As mobile app developers, it is important to maintain an understanding of each step of the mobile app development lifecycle. This will provide you with the ability to maintain focus on the task at hand while not missing key aspects of the development process.

Below we list the mobile app development lifecycle for your use while coding and developing your apps. Whether you are developing the app yourself or are hiring a mobile application development company to do it for you, this will help you make a schedule.

Phase 1: Envision

Prior to any wireframing or design, a concept for the app must be created. Take the time to envision the purpose of the app and what need will be met when the user interacts with your product. Rushing through this process will undoubtedly impact the quality of your app in the end. Compile a list of all possible mobile app ideas. Brainstorm and research by looking at other successful mobile apps. Often looking at what other companies have done inspires an idea for an improved product. Begin filtering out lower quality ideas with the desire to end with just one great idea. Complete market research as you focus in on the app you plan to build. Understand the market gaps and what the consumer base is requesting from their products. Do not be surprised if the market research births a new or revised mobile app idea. Be sure to be flexible during this time.

By this point, you will want to have reduced your list of ideas to one. If you have completed the required research and still have two or three, then make a confident choice on one and save the rest for later. The final step in this first stage is to develop a mission plan for the app. Take the time to write out who the app is for, what the app does, and why they need it. This will help your team of mobile app developers navigate the development process, keeping the original idea clear in their minds.

Phase 2: Design

It’s very easy to focus simply on the engineering of the mobile app, but you must think like a user during this stage. It may get the job done, but if it is not user-friendly, the app will struggle to catch on. Keep the UX design crisp and easy to follow. Humans have recently been found to have an attention span of 8 seconds. So if your UX takes more than 8 seconds to understand in any way, then you can make improvements. Also, be sure to fully utilize the features of each operating system. If your target customer base uses Galaxy phones with the split screen feature, then be sure to code that feature into your app. Do not take these features lightly, as they can provide an opportunity to make your app truly great.

Once you have created an acceptable wireframe concept, begin the graphic design step. Take the wireframe and flesh out each page of the app. This is the main aspect of your product that will keep users interested, so do not cut corners on the design. Use tools, such as Adobe Kuler, to create a color palate that is pleasing and sharp to the user.

Phase 3: Test & Stabilization

During this phase, you will be focusing on getting all of the coding bugs out of the app. Call on groups who would use such an app and have them try it out. Ask for their input on the app design, features, and overall usability.

You may be able to add a lot of features to your app, but until consumers actually put your product to full use you will not truly confirm the validity of the app. Use their feedback to improve your final product into something that will last. During this testing phase you will also want to test the app yourself, specifically attempting to make it crash. This is in order to find the inevitable kinks in your coding and fix any issues.

Look for the issues. Use every feature in as many ways as possible with the sole purpose of finding the bugs. If you don’t find them, then your users will. It’s better that the development team finds the issues first.

Phase 4: Product Release

This is the phase of the process where the marketing team enters the picture. They must know as well as you how the app operates and what the desired customer base may be. The product must also be optimized for the app platform in mind. Are you focused on mainstream options, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play? Or is the better option the Amazon App Store? Know your target market and upload appropriately.

Phase 5: Update & Maintain

The final phase takes phases 2 through 4 and puts them on repeat. It is vital to the longevity of your app that you maintain constant monitoring of its appearance and functionality.

No matter how many bugs you found during the initial Test & Stabilization phase, your users will find more bugs. You need to be able to respond to the coding issues quickly and efficiently in order to maintain a loyal consumer base. How many times have your favorite apps changed their look? Sometimes the design of apps changes in subtle ways, and sometimes the change makes it feel like a brand new app. Either way, updates are often necessary to keep the app feeling fresh and up to date. Continue to design and redesign the app; down to the wireframing level.

Also, do not let your updates go unnoticed. With each update be sure to explain clearly how the app has been improved and why. This not only shows the user base that there is active improvement being completed on the app, but that the errors experienced are being noticed by the development team.

 

Credits : Itnewsafrica

Credits : Itnewsafrica

In CNN Money’s 2017 job rankings, mobile app developers came out on top, beating in-vogue, emergent fields like data science, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, as well as literally every other profession from other industries.

And it’s certainly not the only survey that has pegged mobile app development as one of the world’s hottest and most highly-paid skills.

But in countries like South Africa, where innovation is easily stifled due to a severe shortage in technical skills, just where will we find all of the mobile developers needed to build the next-generation applications that will power our businesses?

The wrong debate?

In fact, the need for development skills across different native mobile operating systems may be somewhat over-hyped, notes Craig Terblanche, Regional Director of OutSystems SA. “When PCs first emerged, people flocked to acquire core operating system development skills; but with the introduction of the web browser the demand for these skills quickly waned,” he explains.

“Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the latest-generation low-code digital platforms may change the market for native mobile development in a similar way to the web browser, through technologies like Javascript that run in the browser .”

Low-code platforms emphasise the idea or vision of an application, and its relevance to solving a business or a customer challenge, over the technical development of the app itself. They allow individuals to get to a Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) quickly, free from constraints like skills scarcity, financial resources, or layers of governance and approvals.

For those that do want to pursue the route of deep technical skills in the mobile development arena, low-code platforms can be a convenient way to get into the field, and start delivering practical value to employers or clients immediately. “We’ve seen people start building low-code apps from all kinds of backgrounds – Business Analysts, classic BCom graduates, or those that are more technically-minded in other development fields,” adds Terblanche.

“Re-tooling oneself towards low-code development is actually very simple for those with a good understanding of system fundamentals, structuring data, mapping processes, defining business logic and understanding user behaviour.”

Major trends for 2017

Many analysts and industry experts point to inward-facing, employee apps as one of the next great frontiers for digital migration, as organisations realise that changing their outward digital appearance needs to be supported by true digitisation from within.

Forrester, for example, predicts that enterprises like The Home Depot and Unilever will spend four times more on digitising their operations, compared with the amount they’ve spent on digitally transforming their customers’ experiences.

As this concept of a ‘company app suite’ for staff gains momentum, addressing this demand seems unlikely if we rely on expensive, specialised native developers. A more realistic option is for non-technical business teams to be empowered with the tools to develop new solutions, unlock value from legacy architecture, and ultimately solve their challenges.

Perhaps the second major trend to dominate the mobile landscape in 2017 will be the need for applications to leverage data from an explosion of new sources. As we start truly integrating Artificial Intelligence, connected devices (the Internet of Things), and social business tools into our apps, the complexity escalates wildly.

Taking advantage of these new trends entails managing an exponential number of new data-points – which can become extremely costly with a fragmented, native development approach where applications are re-written from scratch across 3 or 4 different operating systems.

Ultimately, there’s no doubt that digital skills should feature on every ‘hottest jobs’ list, but honing in on native mobile development may be something of a blinkered approach.

The digital skills of the future should be far broader than this – encompassing the likes of user-experience, lean startup principles, pitching and lobbying for support, and creative problem solving, among others.

By Craig Terblanche