Last updated: 8 April 2020

Coming up with a mobile strategy can be a daunting task. 

There are so many considerations to take into account, so many people that need to be involved, and so much complexity. 

If you want to develop a mobile strategy that not only works, but drives impact, this article will show you how to do it, step by step.

Let’s do it!

Table of contents

Step 1: Understand the overall company strategy, dependencies and competitors before creating a mobile strategy

The company strategy will drive your overall mobile strategy. 

At this phase, it is critical that you engage stakeholders from various parts of the organization to get the best understanding of the current processes and priorities of your company. 

Start by engaging stakeholders from several departments to map out touchpoints, strategies, and mandates.

These are the key elements you need to focus on:

1.1. Always start at the highest level

Document your company’s strategy, key performance indicators and target goals for the next five years.

Don’t think mobile or online, but think as big as you can. What exactly is your company trying to achieve?

If your company is led by experienced leaders, you should be able to get answers to the key questions that will be driving your mobile strategy: 

  1. What is the mission of the company?
  2. What do you believe in?
  3. What is your objective? That is, what is the final outcome your company’s strategy wants to achieve?
  4. What is the scope of your strategy?
  5. What’s your competitive advantage?

Your goal is to understand your company’s overall strategy and its annual key performance indicators. 

This is in order to ensure that the mobile strategy you develop will be in step with your company’s overall strategy as a complementary tool.

1.2. Mobile strategy is not an extension of the online strategy

Focus on your customer’s journey to understand where mobile can become a useful tool for your customers as they interact with your company.

Typically, executives hired to drive the mobile strategy only look at the digital team’s strategy. 

However, this is not right because the mobile strategy is not simply an extension of your online channel. 

Customers expect a mobile app to be more than a website. 

The best way to be valuable is by understanding how the customer actually interacts with your company today. Once you know that, you can 'intercept' the sweet spot where the mobile application can sit to provide the ultimate amount of value to your existing and prospective customers.

A customer journey exercise is a fantastic way to educate your team about all the steps a customer goes through in their relationship with your company.

This is great not only because your mobile team will understand the end-to-end flow and how your business operates but also because in doing this exercise you actually put the customer first. 

Let’s look at this example:

Source

When done right you get to understand the various gaps between channels, departments, and business processes. 

As you can see in the above example, the sales cycle worked, but the fulfillment of the order was delayed only to be saved by an in-store experience and great customer service.

When engaging in this process you will already be able to start thinking about:

A) the touchpoints in this end-to-end process that can be added to your mobile app;

B) how and which of these touchpoints can be better served.

The app must offer the user everything the web does and more so that users have an incentive to download the app onto their personal devices. 

1.3. Mobile is not a channel

It’s a touchpoint through which customers can quickly interact with your company in a convenient and seamless way.

Perhaps the biggest disconnect between customers and businesses is that a company looks at mobile as a channel, but customers don’t think about it that way. 

We just think in terms of wanting or not wanting to interact with a business wherein mobile is only one of the touchpoints and, increasingly so, the most convenient and natural touchpoints of all.

To that end, mobile becomes an enabler for your company – a way to wow your customers by helping them get whatever they want from you as quickly, efficiently and smoothly as possible.

As such, when you’re drafting your overall strategy you must understand how all other touchpoints fulfill the customers’ needs and internalize the reality that your mobile strategy will be just another touchpoint - but preferably one that is slightly faster than the rest.

Source

1.4. Understand who you’re competing with.

Document and analyze what your competitors do well and what they do less well, so that you can define the market baseline before your team creates a great app.

Why should you look at your competitors strategies before building your own strategy?

  1. It will most likely reveal a common set of best practices that will make it to the list of features and functionalities of your app. 
  2. You will inadvertently discover things your competitors do poorly. Jot those down as ways you can surpass the competition.
  3. You will also discover things your competitors don’t do at all. Make note of them too as they may very well help you differentiate yourself from your competition as soon as you launch your application. 

Once this analysis is done, you should have something like this before you draft your own strategy:

At Y Media Labs, we call this the experience brief.

In doing this exercise before outlining your strategy, you should be able to highlight and consider:

  1. What your competitors are offering through their mobile channel
  2. What you’re going to offer
  3. What you’re NOT going to offer
  4. How what you’re offering will be different and, yes, preferably better than your competitors

1.5. Define the Strengths and Weaknesses as well as the Opportunities and Threats that can help/prevent your product from being successful.

A SWOT analysis can really help you define and overcome the biggest challenges your company is facing and be aware of all the forces that can influence your success – or failure.

You need to look at internal factors that will impact your mobile development. 

This is an example of a SWOT analysis done for Microsoft.

Source 

What’s great about this exercise is that it makes you self-aware of all the different factors that can impact not only your mobile strategy as a whole, but ultimately the success of your company. 

And most importantly, your mobile strategy will be directly impacted by this analysis. 

Step 2: Define your Enterprise Mobile App Strategy

Once you've clarified the overall company strategy and dependencies, you are in a position to think about the overall Mobile Strategy for your team.

At the highest level you will need to focus on the use case(s) for your mobile application, the resources needed to execute your idea, and the technology stack needed to ensure the program is a success.

2.1. Define the elevator pitch idea that will drive your mobile strategy

Before you launch your mobile product, you’re already dealing with stark competition, limited resources, and an increasingly demanding mobile user base. 

So the more you’re trying to do, the less likely it is that you'll do all those things in the right way.

Your entire mobile strategy will focus on getting this right:

  1. What’s the idea?
  2. How will this idea benefit the mobile user?

The best format for your strategy is this: we will build this so our customers can do that. 

It is the big 'what' followed by the big 'why do I care.' It is preferable that this idea is long-term, yet realistic. 

Additional critical components of a great mobile strategy:

  1. Your idea must tie in nicely with your company’s overall strategy for the next few years.
  2. It must be delivered within the budget and timeframe you commit to.
  3. You must account for contingency plans (what if things don’t go as expected, and what’s plan B?)

2.2. Work on building the mobile roadmap

Now that you have your overall idea clearly defined, create a roadmap to break down the idea into all the components that need to be executed to deliver on your mobile strategy.

You can also see this as a project plan where projects are spread out based on the expected velocity of a team over sprints or months.

This is what a typical roadmap looks like:

Source

It’s basically a visual timeline for your team that can be used to communicate milestones to stakeholders outside of the development team, but also to ensure there is alignment between your company’s overall strategy. 

2.3. Document the resources and budget needed to execute your mobile strategy

Once you've identified the elevator pitch idea, you need to understand what it will take to deliver it. 

You typically have two types of expenses: capital expenses (headcount) and operating expenses. 

Your biggest investment will be in people, and one reasonably expects the costs to be higher for the first year when trying to deliver the first version of the app, and then to decrease over time as work is more focused on optimization and adding other functionalities. 

A multi-year budget plan is probably the best way to go about this. 

Of course, the budget will influence how quickly you can deliver the MVP as well. 

For example, if you need 20 developers to deliver MVP in 6 months but you only get funding for 10 then your revised estimate would be that MVP won’t be delivered for one year. 

Additionally, once the budget situation is resolved, you can focus on the actual roadmap, to which we turn next.

2.4. Define the technology stack

Work with the IT team to ensure that the underlying technology is in line with the business goals of the mobile app. Most of the things you need to settle are:

  1. Network readiness;
  2. Data access points;
  3. Overall security solution;
  4. Management of the bandwidth extended to mobile users;
  5. Support and maintenance costs;
  6. Performance monitoring tools;
  7. Network load balancer;
  8. Define clear SLAs for the overall performance of the app;
  9. Content Delivery Network.

You may not think of these issues as you’re using apps but the reality is that these are critical to the success of the app. 

In addition, never take for granted that the IT organization will do the due diligence and proactively define the standards.

This is a great example of a typical mobile enterprise technology stack:

Source: Mentor Europe Blog

The bottom line is that nobody will care about the app as much as you do, and therefore you need to clearly document and establish internal alignment to ensure that the app actually performs seamlessly.

2.5. Choose agile development over waterfall development as a core component of your mobile app strategy

With the waterfall software development approach you determine what you want to build, then you build it with the understanding that any changes after the original design phase will be cost-prohibitive and avoided as far as possible. 

In this methodology, everything is rigid and only what was agreed to upfront will be executed. 

Additionally, projects get delivered in large chunks:

Often multiple projects touching the same flows come together and they all get delivered usually months away from when requirements were first discussed.

On the other hand, with an agile methodology, the requirements and business needs evolve over time.

Because requirements change all the time, the best way to develop software is through an iterative approach.

You define the quickest way to deliver what the customer wants, and then you develop it as soon as possible (MVP), launch it, test it, and if need be, make subsequent iterations. 

The goal for teams following the agile methodology is to deliver as often as possible, even as often as every two weeks. 

In following these principles, agile teams are more likely to adapt to changes quickly and embrace new challenges without being constricted to the predefined timeline that the waterfall methodology adheres to.

At the highest level this is how the two methodologies are different:

Source

The agile methodology has proven significantly more efficient and productive than the waterfall methodology. 

Reacting to customers’ constantly changing needs and providing easy solutions to their problems is always better served by a methodology that embraces change instead of fearing it.

In addition, agile teams usually adopt a 'can do' attitude versus following rigid processes that have been defined in a vacuum.

We suggest that adopting an agile methodology should be one of the core components of your app strategy and mindset!

Step 3: Define the Single Product/App Strategy

3.1. Create your product strategy by defining clear use cases based on the customer journey

You know what the end goal is now. You know who your users are. 

The next big question is, what would it take to deliver on your idea?

Once you’ve outlined the overall mobile strategy and rallied internal stakeholders, you need to clearly lay out the process/plan through which you will deliver on your strategy.

The first thing you should do is define all the pieces that will make the final product. Come up with a complete feature set for your application.

Now that you’ve documented everything you can think of, you need to ask yourself what the specific use cases you want your app to excel at are.

If you nail down your app’s primary and secondary uses in such a way that the customer’s mindset is to always go to your app when accomplishing a task, you’re setting yourself up for success.

3.2. Define your target audience – who is going to use your app and why?

It’s natural for everyone working in software development to simply think of its customer base as a potential user of the application. 

But the reality is that there is no such thing as 'one user'. 

The real problem is that you’re building your app for a variety of user types. Knowing what these user types are in advance will help you more accurately define the functionalities your app should build for.

This is where personas come into play. 

Use them to understand the various users that could be exposed to your application. 

This exercise is critical because it will help you and the team define requirements and create user experiences that will cater to as many user types as possible, thus increasing the likelihood of your app adoption and long-term success.

It also forces you to be in the right mindset when you actually end up writing the requirements, which is to build for your most common denominator.

3.3. Define your data points & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

If done right, this step will clearly measure the effectiveness of your strategy against your Key Performance Indicators, thus proving the value of your program to the company. 

If done incorrectly, you risk either not delivering on your strategy or not being able to prove that certain metrics (sales, adoption, etc.) were the result of your mobile strategy. 

As a general rule you should try to align your metrics along the following lines:

Company metrics:

  • Revenue
  • Market share
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Reduction in cost to serve

App metrics:

  • New users
  • Increased usage
  • App rating
  • Lifetime value
  • Retention rate
  • Session Length
  • Active users

Tracking data is easy with so many tools out there. The secret is to know what to track and to do it well from the beginning. 

This table shows you just how robust tracking can become for mature applications:

Do it well and everyone will thank you for it.

3.4. Determine if you need a hybrid or a native application

Source

Once you have defined your target audience and your KPIs, you need to decide if you’re going to build a native or a hybrid application. 

We wrote a comprehensive article on this topic, but in short we always recommend native applications because they're more secure, allow you to provide the best-in-class user experience, have the best performance, and allow for an offline mode. 

In addition, it's easier to be found in the app store and you can access the device-specific hardware/software (GPS, location, Shake, Calendar). 

That being said, if you’re in a hurry to go to market you may consider the less optimal approach and build a hybrid application. 

It has lower origination costs, a faster (initial) speed to market, and you can use one source to deploy the app across platforms (Android and iOS at the same time).

3.5. Determine the first platform you want to build the app on - iOS or Android

Generally, we think you should first build your app on iOS because iOS users are more likely to spend money on apps and on in-app purchases, the iOS platform is easier to work on, and overall it takes less time for developers to deliver the final application. 

In addition, there are only three versions you need to account for and a more limited amount of screen sizes. 

On the other hand, Android is the dominant platform with the majority of the smartphone users in the world. 

Moreover, Google’s app release policy to Google Play is a breeze by comparison to Apple’s stringent and bureaucratic app release policy.

In general, we do not recommend companies build their app on both iOS and Android at the same time. 

Instead, we believe you should build your app first on iOS, then use customers’ feedback and in-app engagement to improve the app, and only then start work on your Android native application.

3.6. Decide whether you want to build your app in-house or if you’re going to use an external agency

Should you outsource the development of your application or should you hire more people? 

This is a decision your company needs to make, and there is no simple answer to the question. 

In general, if you do not already have a mobile strategy, you should consider outsourcing the first version of your application to an external agency. 

This is advisable because companies like Y Media Labs already have a set methodology in place and the resources needed to expertly deliver the app on time and on budget. 

In parallel, you can begin the process of hiring full-time resources. 

But since finding the right talent takes time, as does bringing people up to speed, leaving the first iteration of your app to professionals will give you the results you need in a pre-agreed time frame.

3.7. Start your marketing strategy now, before you build your app!

In general, companies wait until an application is already built before starting their marketing strategy. 

This will not produce the same results as starting to market your application as it's being built. 

If you start early, you can engage current and prospective customers in the early stage of the app development process and get their input into what you're building and whether it will suit their needs. 

Starting the marketing campaign early will allow you to engage with various influencers who can promote your application by word of mouth or through their digital channels even before the app is ready to launch. 

Finally, we always recommend getting the press kit ready well before the app is live so that you can engage the press and provide great content to generate excitement. 

Another strategy we recommend is starting a blog around your app and soliciting input around key functionalities and flows through the blog and your marketing social channels.

No matter what marketing strategy you employ, you are always in a better position if you start your marketing activities early and continue the conversation with your current and potential customers along the way.

Step 4: Define the Product Management Implementation Strategy

Once you have successfully defined the what and the how much, the last step in the process is your Implementation Strategy. 

In short, you will need to define your overall Minimum Viable Product, the overall project plan, and the standards and processes that the development team will need to follow in order to deliver the project on time and according to your strategy.

4.1. Define your Minimum Viable Product

Now you have everything clearly documented or at least outlined when it comes to the ideal state. 

Depending on the complexity of your business model, you may have close to or more than 100 features and functionalities identified. 

The next step is to take each and every one of these features and rank them based on a very simple algorithm: 'must', 'should' and 'nice' to have features. 

In other words, out of the 100 features identified you can certainly launch the app with a subset of features and have other features prioritized after the first launch, with more to come later down the road. 

A different way to look at it is simply based on priority. 

At the end of this exercise you should get something like this:

The goal of prioritization is to define the minimum viable product

That is the leanest application you can build which would allow customers to successfully use the app based on your business goals while allowing you time to start developing non-MVP features. 

4.2. Define and enforce your non-functional requirements

Just as you need to define best non-functional SLAs, you need to ensure that you have great coding practices clearly defined.

Make sure your developers do a good job building the software. For example, run the HTML pages they build through PageSpeed Insights from Google

What this tool will give you is a score for each page as well as optimization strategies that many developers disregard and in doing so cause additive problems to their mobile apps. 

It is also a simple and very useful way that teaches you to write page-level non-functional requirements and to enforce them with your developers.

Some of the common coding practices often not followed by developers include leveraging browser caching, compressing files and images for mobile views, minifying HTMLs, eliminating render-blocking JavaScript and CSS for above-the-fold content.

4.3. Define your Testing Strategy

If you work in software development you know this: some bugs will get to production.

In order to minimize this issue, you need to have a very clear testing plan defined even before your developers write the first line of code. 

Typically, your test plan should include:

  • Feature to be tested
  • What’s in scope
  • What’s out of scope
  • Test case
  • Expected outcome
  • iOS/Android OST version for which this is tested and passed/failed

Additionally, from a strategic point of view, you should decide early on if your company will invest in any testing automation tools that will run in both your QA and production environments. 

Defining this early on makes the testers’ jobs a lot easier and more streamlined.

4.4. Define the tools you will need to manage your application successfully

As you’re implementing your mobile strategy there are so many tools you need to adopt and implement. 

For example, most companies nowadays use JIRA to document requirements and track time and progress for the software they build. In addition, once the app goes live you may choose JIRA or TicketNow to document and track any production issues discovered now or in the future.

What about tracking the overall business performance of your application? Will you use Google Analytics? Or do you want a more robust tool such as Omniture/SiteCatalyst?

Another critical consideration you need to account for is the overall performance of your application. 

How you’re going to monitor, what automatic alerts you want to get, and the overall performance SLA. There are many great options out there such as Dynatrace, Splunk, AppDynamics, and FogLight, to name just a few.

Another area you may consider investing in is the testing automation tools. 

At the beginning, you may rely exclusively on actual QA Analysts/testers and stakeholders to do all the testing. However, as your app’s usage grows, so will your roadmap. Investing in QA testing tools would go a long way to ensure the application is bug-free when it hits production, and they will also reduce your overhead cost for the QA team.

4.5. Production-ready and post-production support

The glorious day has arrived. 

After months of hard work, your application is about to go live. 

You’ve done all the testing and all scenarios passed. 

You’ve also gone through the tedious process of submitting your app for release...

But before you actually pull the trigger and launch your application, you need to make sure you actually have a clearly defined strategy for the following:

  1. How will the app be tested once in production?
  2. How will any issues/defects be logged, tracked, and fixed?
  3. Do you have a roll-back plan in case all hell breaks loose and the app needs to be reverted?
  4. Do you have version control of the app?

There are lots of details that go into production support and overall support ownership. 

All this needs to be clearly called out and documented well before the day comes when you can say hello to the world.

In conclusion

There’s a lot to be said about building a great app. 

It gives the team a great sense of empowerment, and, when tracked correctly, it produces great value to the organization. 

At the highest level a strategy for building an app is very simple: think big, act small, release, test, and improve. 

But as we've seen in this article, a good mobile strategy requires a lot of thought, managing many moving pieces, getting alignment across the organization, and coming up with the right budget, resources, methodology, processes and contingency plans. 

We are confident that if you follow the process above you will be well positioned to successfully build, release and manage your app.

Last updated: August 2020

If you are wondering whether you should take the native or hybrid route for your next mobile application, you’ll find this article extremely useful.

You’ll learn the pros and cons of both approaches and which one almost always lead to a better customer experience for your users.

We always take into consideration the factors discussed here when developing a new mobile application, and now you can too.

Let’s get started.

Table of contents

  1. Customer Experience Can Make or Break the Success of Your App
  2. Native and Hybrid Apps – A Quick Overview
  3. Time to Market or Do It Right?
  4. Why the Performance of Your App Should Be One of Your Top Priorities
  5. A Critical Differentiator in the Native Vs. Hybrid Debate: User Experience
  6. How App Updates Impact on Native & Hybrid Strategies
  7. Why Cross Platform Hybrid Development Sounds Great on the Surface
  8. Do You Really Need to Build an App to Work on Both Platforms Right Away
  9. The Only Time You Should Consider Using a Hybrid Web App
  10. In Conclusion

01. Customer Experience Can Make or Break the Success of Your App

Before we dive into the nitty gritty world of Hybrid vs Native Mobile Apps, there’s one aspect of mobile that you should be aware of: mobile phones are very personal devices.

Have you ever lost your phone and said to yourself, “Oh well, I’ll find it another time. It’s just not that important.”?

Surely not. Once you lose your phone, your biggest priority at that moment is to find it or get a replacement. All other priorities go out the window.

Your mobile device is with you, quite literally, every minute of the day. And if the device is with you constantly, it needs to be responsive and reliable, giving you the answers you need as soon as possible. These are the expectations of all mobile users.

Nobody has time for bad user experiences, your customers and employees included.

As you read this document, understand that user experience trumps everything else when it comes to mobile.

It’s a known fact that hybrid apps don’t perform as well as native apps, so if you’re going to choose a hybrid, make sure you’re aware that your users’ experiences will likely suffer.

While there are a lot of advantages to using hybrid, customer experience for mobile should be a primary consideration.

In fact, probably the most important decision a company must make regards the approach they wish to take when building a mobile app.

  • Do you want to astound and entice your users by building an entirely native application that integrates into the platform of their choice (Android or iOS)?
  • Or are you more interested in taking a Minimum Viable Product approach and quickly developing a hybrid application which can be released across platforms?

Though potentially easier to build and maintain, this second strategy is likely to result in a less than ideal user experience with sub-par performance.

There are hundreds of articles detailing and debating the Native vs. Hybrid topic:

  1. Some argue that the war between the two sides is already over[1] and that most apps are already hybrid. 
  2. Others take a more balanced approach, assessing the weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each strategy[2]
  3. One source even claims one can formulate a decisive response to this critical question in only 5 minutes[3].

Whatever choice a company takes in the discussion, knowing the resulting tradeoffs and hurdles one may expect to see down the line is of the greatest importance.

In this article, we’ll go over the main factors impacted by each of the two approaches such as website performance, user experience, speed to market, and release cycles.

By looking at the key differences between the two development frameworks, we argue that despite the original higher investment, most companies will be better off choosing native instead of hybrid in the long run.

yml_hybrid_vs_native_2

02. Native and Hybrid Apps – A Quick Overview

A native app is a smartphone application developed specifically for a mobile operating system (think Objective-C or Swift for iOS vs. Java for Android).

Since the app is developed within a mature ecosystem following the technical and user experience guidelines of the OS, it not only has the advantage of faster performance but also “feels right”. 

What feeling right means is that the in-app interaction has a look and feel consistent with most of the other native apps on the device. The end user is thus more likely to learn how to navigate and use the app faster. 

Finally, native applications have the significant advantage of being able to easily access and utilize the built-in capabilities of the user’s device (e.g., GPS, address book, camera, etcetera). 

When a user sends text messages, takes pictures using the device’s default app, set reminders, or uses the device’s music app (the one that came with the phone), they’re using native apps.

In short, native apps are exactly that, native to the user’s OS and hence built per those guidelines.

Hybrid applications are, at core, websites packaged into a native wrapper.

They look and feel like a native app, but ultimately outside of the basic frame of the application (typically restricted to the controls/navigational elements) they are fueled by a company’s website. 

Basically, a hybrid app is a web app built using HTML5 and JavaScript, wrapped in a native container which loads most of the information on the page as the user navigates through the application (Native apps instead download most of the content when the user first installs the app). 

Here’s a quick recap:

03. Time to Market or Do It Right?

Typically, when a company decides to build a mobile app, they are either playing catch up with their competitors, or have identified a business opportunity previously untapped. 

Whatever the reason, executives want the application built out and released ASAP. 

However, as most people know, ASAP often means many compromises need to be made as well as well making decisions on the fly. Both hybrid and native approaches can get the job done but there are certain considerations that should be understood right off the bat.

First, if a company can wait six months or more before the app is launched, a native approach makes the most sense. Native applications have the best performance, highest security, and best user experience.

However, if the desired time to market is less than six months, then hybrid could be a better alternative because the app can be built in one source code, can be released across platforms, and development time and effort is considerably less as compared to that of native applications.

Again, another word of caution:

Your users will EXPECT a great experience. They do not care what approach your team decided to take. They will open the app and EXPECT it to be intuitive and responsive in terms of speed.

Getting out the door may guarantee a mobile presence but it certainly doesn’t guarantee the success of the mobile app in question. As mobile app usage has taken over traditional browsing paths (desktop/laptop), companies with a mobile presence must constantly think about the two key promoters or detractors of their application: speed and user experience.

Overall, the performance of the app as well as the user experience vary significantly based on the development framework chosen, with the native app approach being the uncontested winner in both cases.

04. Why the Performance of Your App Should Be One of Your Top Priorities

Even the most vocal advocates of hybrid applications are forced to admit that native applications win the war in performance. 

A native app is faster and more reliable by its very design. As users navigate a native mobile app, the contents, structure, and visual elements are already on their phone, available for instant loading, and thereby providing a seamless experience. 

This is akin to downloading most of a website’s static content to a user’s phone at once which is then available for instant loading regardless of their phone’s internet speed.

pie-graph1

In contrast, a hybrid app has only a wrapper that is downloaded to the user’s phone (which may or may not contain all the navigational elements) with most of the data being loaded from the server. 

In this case, there are two key issues that may have an impact on the overall performance of the app: the number of server requests (i.e., how many people are making calls to the same server at the same time), and the load balance requests (are the requests coming from mobile devices pinging the same servers as desktop/laptop clients, or do they have designated servers).

Experts agree that, despite all efforts, hybrid applications take a hit in the performance war. John Long, a developer at Mozilla, argues the following:

“There's no indication the DOM [document object model, the API used to pass information before the mobile interface and the server] will ever be fast enough, and if it does happen it's light years away on mobile. I've seen no technical description of a truly plausible way to make it significantly faster.” [4]

More than experts, users also agree with this assessment with 84% of users considering performance to be an important or very important factor.

05. A Critical Differentiator in the Native Vs. Hybrid Debate: User Experience

User experience is the key to an application’s success. 

Twenty years ago, many executives disagreed with this assertion (some still do), perhaps with good reason. At that time, most websites had a poor user experience so it was not a differentiator. Consider how Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo’s websites looked 20 years ago, for example.

In contrast, today’s software development is all about the user experience. In fact, the optimal mindset a company must embrace is this:

“How do I allow my user to accomplish a task without even giving them the chance to think they’re in a new app?”

The psychology of a mobile user is straightforward: 

They’ve already been through the steep learning curve getting familiar with their phones, and that experience was not without its frustrations. Once users learn how to use their devices, they don’t want to have to absorb new features specific to other apps. Users just want to keep using their phone in the way they believe all apps on their phone will operate from a navigational and interactive point of view. 

This means that the application’s controls, interactions, visual cues, and gestures (if you’re on Android) must be seamlessly integrated with your platform’s extensive style guide.

So important is the user experience for mobile app users that 92 percent of all customers will have some sort of a negative reaction to the app: from never using it again to switching to a competitor’s mobile app, giving the app a poor rating in the app store, and so much more.

bar-graph1

All this background is needed to understand the user experience trade-off when choosing between native and hybrid options. 

As we saw above, a native application is designed for a specific operating system. As a company embarks on the task to build a new app, the user experience specific for that OS becomes of critical importance to the mobile presence on the market.

When launching a hybrid application, that app is platform agnostic. One UI – nice and simple.  Additionally, you do not have to maintain two different code bases. That means hybrid apps are easier to build, take less time to market and need only one code base.

The tradeoff is the user experience. 

The problem with a hybrid app is that even the most brilliant user experience architect cannot truly build an app that caters to the two dominant user types: iPhone users and Android users. 

Their style guidelines are simply too different, oftentimes to the point that from a design perspective any decision becomes a compromise which, on a case-by-case basis, must be weighed against all other strategic and tactical factors.

Another factor to consider what approach to take is a company’s internal dynamics and release cycles: What is your strategy towards app development? 

Do you run a program that takes an agile approach to mobile development (i.e., trying to release working software at short, frequent intervals) or do you prefer a waterfall approach (i.e., with a turn-around time of several months)?

06. How App Updates Impact on Native & Hybrid Strategies

The reason this internal dynamic matters is because the frequency with which you intend to move things to production will have an impact on how you do it and whether the user must take an action to see the improvements.

With a hybrid application, the user doesn’t usually need to update the app in the app store. If the update in question is on a page that is loaded from the server, as the user navigates through your app they will instantly see the update. It’s that simple.

In contrast, for native applications the user needs to update the app to see the changes. 

For most users who set up auto-updates when their phones are on wi-fi this is acceptable, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Nobody wants to exasperate their user by having him/her update the app every month or so. It attracts unnecessary negative attention to the app which could cause the user to simply uninstall it.

Additionally, when you’re deciding whether to go native or hybrid, you need to bear in mind that native has certain advantages which simply aren’t currently supported by the hybrid mode of development.

07. Why Cross Platform Hybrid Development Sounds Great on the Surface

This is why:

  • Single code base across multiple platforms.
  • Don’t have to update each app in the app store to wait for approvals.
  • You can use your existing web talent and don’t need to bring on additional resources.
  • Don’t need to do any API development since it’s all handled via the web.

You know who wouldn’t want you to follow a hybrid approach? 

The customers using your app. They don’t know what a hybrid mobile app is, but they don’t like it.

Not convinced?

Facebook went from an HTML 5 Hybrid Web App to Native, and users rejoiced!

Today, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5, rather than native applications. Source

Cross platform development is certainly very popular these days. In fact:

  • The company saves time and money to get an app out the door. 
  • New features are also easier to develop and deploy. 
  • Bug fixes are platform agnostic and can be done and released easily to production.
  • Being distributed through the app store like all other apps, the user will not see any immediate difference between a hybrid and a native app.

So if a company follows the philosophy of “falling forward fast” and learning from user analytics while potentially reaching out to 90% of all users (that’s the combined market share of iOS and Android users), then a hybrid application is the right approach.

However, there are also specific limitations that need to be understood before choosing hybrid over native. 

  1. The performance of the app and the user experience are distinctly superior with a native app. 
  2. Hybrid apps do not support an offline mode which means if the user attempts to access the app in an area with poor reception or no reception (like airplanes), they will not be able to do so. 
  3. If down the line the corporate mobile app strategy requires the app to access device specific capabilities (GPS, location, contact list, etcetera) this may not be possible or may only be feasible at a steep development cost.
  4. The same applies to specific native APIs that a hybrid approach may not allow for. 

So whereas choosing a hybrid approach may save a company time and money in the short term, it is also likely to result in significant additional costs in the long run.

08. Do You Really Need to Build an App to Work on Both Platforms Right Away?

The biggest misconception that decision makers have is that their company’s app needs to be available on both Android and iOS immediately.

Yes, there are advantages of being on both platforms, but do you REALLY need to be on both platforms RIGHT AWAY?

Let’s take Instagram for example.

Instagram took two years to develop an Android version. Two years!

"We are currently working on making the iPhone experience as solid as possible. Only then will we consider other platforms, but currently we have nothing to announce." - Instagram FAQs 2010

If Instagram waited two years to develop an Android app, I think you can, at a minimum, wait three.

09. The Only Time You Should Consider Using a Hybrid Web App

When you should consider creating an hybrid web app:

  • If you have less than four months to develop an app, and you want to test a limited private market on the viability of your app, then use Hybrid. If the test works, then move to native as soon as you can and show it to the world. If it doesn’t work, you’ve saved yourself time and money.
  • If an executive pushes to do a web app for strong reasons, make sure they’re aware of the trade-offs.

The bottom line: compromise time

The following graphic summarizes the key differences between the two approaches:

10. In Conclusion

Each approach has its pros and cons but at the end of the day a native approach will have the biggest benefits for a company’s bottom line.

There are clear and distinct advantages and disadvantages for both hybrid and native approaches, and that is why this discussion is still relevant. 

Speed to market, one source code, cross-compatible web technologies, easy updates, availability of resources, and lower (initial!) budget costs make hybrid applications very appealing. 

However, in the long run, the biggest detraction of hybrid apps is that a company will likely spend more time fixing and tweaking the app because of user complaints about UI elements or performance driven issues.

Additionally, native apps have the added advantage of functions that are specific to the OS on which the app is built (e.g., camera, GPS, address book, etcetera). Furthermore, a native approach offers the best in class security for a mobile application, the best performance, a highly responsive user interface, and access to all native APIs. 

In other words, the original investment may be higher but a company will save time and money in the long run while offering a great user experience and an industry standard app performance.

Each approach has its pros and cons but at the end of the day a native approach will have the biggest benefits for a company’s bottom line.

hybrid-download-pdf

Sources

[1] http://readwrite.com/2015/02/27/native-vs-web-apps-ceasefire

[2] IBM SWOT Analysis

[3] http://julysystems.com/hybrid-vs-native-mobile-app-decide-5-minutes/

[4] http://jlongster.com/Radical-Statements-about-the-Mobile-Web

In 2014, Apple released Swift, a programming language for creating iOS-compatible applications. Many programmers since then have embraced it enthusiastically. iOS app development with Swift offers many benefits, including enhanced efficiency and memory management.

Anyone looking to create an app for iOS devices should consider partnering with a team that specializes in Swift app development. Doing so could optimize your project’s return on investment.

Here’s why:

The Benefits of iOS App Development With Swift

To understand why you should opt for iOS app development develop with Swift, it’s important to first understand why you would want to develop apps for iOS devices in the first place.

The primary reason is simple: iOS continues to hold a relatively large market share. Creating apps that work with iOS devices offers the chance to reach a large target audience.

Swift mobile app development makes it easier to do so. Swift is designed to reduce the workload for programmers, often by essentially automating certain tasks they originally would have had to perform on their own. This allows programmers to build apps more efficiently. iOS app development with Swift is often more affordable than using another programming language simply because it doesn’t take as much time.

Swift app development

When you create an iOS product through Swift app development, you could technically create a product for iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and virtually any Apple product. That allows you to cast a wide net, reaching a large number of customers with a single app.

Examples of apps already written in Swift show how versatile the programming language is. People have used this language to create games, audio synthesizers, auction apps, a WordPress for iOS app, and much more.

One of the main benefits of Swift mobile app development is the fact that it combines ease-of-use features with overall quality. In the past, programming languages that were designed for maximum efficiency often resulted in apps that were less than impressive. iOS app development with Swift allows you to save money on the development of your product without sacrificing quality.

What Swift Mobile App Development Teams Offer

Hiring a team that specializes in Swift iOS development means you’ll be in the hands of experts who work efficiently. That means they can spend more time coordinating with you to ensure the finished product matches your goals exactly.

By choosing Swift app development, it allows you to create an iOS app in a relatively short span of time. Doing so means you’ll save money while also making a product designed to reach a large customer base. That means a big return on investment for you.

Before the point of purchase, a likely scenario for the modern consumer is to first use the internet to conduct research – especially realistic for major purchases – then traveling to a physical store to see and test the product before deciding whether it’s a worthy investment. In fact, despite all of our advancements in technology, the average customer still prefers to purchase most items in a from a physical store, according to a recent study

Thus, when brands develop apps to boost sales, they shouldn’t merely focus on improving the e-commerce experience. But rather, to yield the greatest return on investment, it’s also important to build apps that improve the brick-and-mortar retail experience. The ultimate mobile experience therefore should be omnichannel in nature.

To understand how a company can bridge the gap between e-commerce and in-person shopping through an omnichannel customer experience, consider the following examples of brands partnering with professionals to design brilliant user experiences:

Home Depot Designed Their User Experience to Manage Customers Online and In-Stores

Home Depot is a clear example of a brand that caters to people who want to make in-store purchases. When buying items for a home improvement project, it’s extremely helpful to actually see and touch the merchandise before deciding if they’re the right fit for your needs. For this type of company, an app with a customer experience management strategy that bridges the digital with the in-store is essential.

That’s why Home Depot partnered with YML to create an app and design a user experience that makes brick-and-mortar shopping as convenient as possible. For example, customers can open the app, select their nearest Home Depot location, and browse a 3D rendering of the store. This doesn’t merely help them find out if their local Home Depot carries a needed item; it also helps them find it in the store more efficiently, saving them valuable time.

This is a brilliant example of an omnichannel customer experience strategy. What Home Depot’s app demonstrates is that the right digital experience design can drive in-person sales effectively if it helps users both confirm if an item is in stock and where it physically is for greatest efficiency .

omnichannel customer experience

Nordstrom Created the Ultimate Personalized Mobile Experience

Like Home Depot, Nordstrom’s app improves their customer experience management strategy by letting users check their nearest store location for item availability.

However, it also leverages data and past behavior to suggest other products the individual consumer might be interested in. This creates the ultimate mobile experience for users, and as a result, sales are increased because customers are encouraged to visit a physical store even when they weren’t planning on it. By designing a user experience that make shopping both more personal and easy for the customer, Nordstrom’s app demonstrates how brands can take advantage of technological innovations to boost revenues.

The Essentials of an Omnichannel Customer Experience

An app designed to enhance the omnichannel customer experience must check off three important criteria:

First: It needs to make the experience of shopping (both online and in-person) more convenient. The two examples above prove that can be relatively easy with the right digital experience design.

Second: It needs to result in more sales. If it succeeds in the first goal, odds are good it will succeed in this goal as well. When shopping is more convenient, customers are likely to make more purchases.

Third: An app should leverage data to ensure that the customer enjoys the ultimate mobile experience through personalization. In this manner, each individual who visits a brand’s online and brick-and-mortar shop enjoys service tailored to their specific tastes and needs.

Luckily, achieving these goals will be even easier in the near future, thanks to new technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. VR and AR can transport users to virtual stores, allowing them to interact with items the way they would if they were shopping in person. Additionally, AI can be incorporated into customer experience management strategies that aim to learn about a customer’s unique tastes and behaviors.

For best results, brands should collaborate with digital experience design professionals. These companies can help them leverage the most from these tools, and thereby offer their customers better service than ever before.

As 2018 gets underway, the tech landscape is already remarkably different from just a  few years ago. Mobile is ‘large and in charge’ now, as the following mobile design trends will confirm.

A study from IDC estimates that more than two billion of the 3.2 billion people on the planet who access the web in 2016 will do so from a mobile device. Mobile design hasn’t just caught up with desktop—it’s crushing desktop in terms of sheer user numbers.

With mobile and user experiences being front and center more than ever, designers are looking to perfect their mobile-design skills for clients. By studying app design trends, they can be inspired by the best UI design ideas, and then create their own innovative and upgraded versions.

When it comes to mobile UX and UI design, they have to prioritize the user experience,.Designing native mobile apps that offer a richer experience than mobile web apps is the way to go. While there’s our list of the best mobile app design trend blogs to help you with some mobile design inspiration, native mobile app design is a constantly evolving thing, which is why future-proofing any piece of code is so important.

With that in mind, here are the 10 hottest mobile app design trends in 2018 that we predict.

1) Both Native Mobile Apps and Web Apps Will Surge

For some time, there’s been a dispute over what type of mobile app works best: native mobile apps that you open by tapping on your smartphone’s home screen or mobile web apps that you access from mobile versions of browsers like Safari.

app design trends

Designers and developers in the question of native vs. web app would argue that native mobile apps are superior because they’re faster for users, can be monetized in places like the App Store, and offer users access to mobile operating system features like the camera, contact lists, etc. That’s definitely true!

However, recent research by Google’s product director, Luke Wroblewski, indicates that there’s great demand for both types of mobile application designs, in spite of the apparent limitations of web apps. According to his data, native mobile app users spend 18 times longer on native apps than on mobile web apps…yet to add fuel to the native vs. web app fire, mobile web apps see almost 9 million monthly visitors compared to native apps’ 3.3 million monthly visitors.

Average monthly minutes per visitor of native apps compared to mobile web apps.

Therefore, mobile audience growth is based on mobile websites, so developers will have to continue serving that market with mobile web apps, too, while continuing to prioritize mobile native apps that have a better UX.

Therefore, mobile audience growth is based on mobile websites, so developers will have to continue researching UI design ideas and serving that market with mobile web apps, too, while continuing to prioritize native mobile apps that have a better UX.

2) The Increasing Influence of Wearables in App Interface Design

Wearables are gadgets like the Apple Watch, and they take the concept of mobile application design and development to a whole new dimension. Gartner predicted at that start of last year that the 2017 wearables market would rise to 310.4 million units sold, which is a 16.7 percent increase from 2015 sales.

app design trends 2018 - Apple Watch

So how does this affect UI design ideas? Not only is the screen smaller than a traditional mobile device, but wearables also encourage people to use mobile technology in different scenarios than smartphones and tablets, leading to necessary changes in the touch screen interface design.

For instance, the way you’d tap the screen of a smartphone to open a native news app is different to how you’d have to reach over with one hand to touch your Apple Watch to use its features.

Here’s a video to better illustrate how the Apple Watch works.

app design trends 2018 - Apple Watch Apps

As a result, 2018 will see wearable designers and developers race to create intelligent, user-friendly native and web apps that are unique to this type of mobile device, especially by adjusting their touch screen interface design.

3) Better UI Design Ideas for Gestures

What’s a gesture? In mobile application design, it’s divided into two groups, according to Google:

  • Touch mechanics (what your fingers do on a screen)
  • Touch activities (what they accomplish, as a result)

Double-Touch Drag

For example, if a user taps on their iPhone’s native mobile mail icon, they’ve produced a touch mechanic, that in turn creates the ensuing touch activity, which is their inbox opening.

With projections of smartphone users at more than 6 billion globally by 2020, it’s high time that designers explore new UI design ideas to better accommodate a range of mobile gestures.

Touch screen interface design mechanics include:

  • Touch (tap)
  • Force Touch
  • Double touch
  • Drag, swipe or fling
  • Long press
  • Long-press drag
  • Double-touch drag
  • Pinch open
  • Pinch closed
  • Two-finger touch
  • Two-finger drag, swipe or fling
  • long press with two fingers
  • Two-finger long-press drag
  • Two-finger double touch
  • Rotate

Some native mobile apps, such as Starbucks’ use an unappealing mobile UI design that makes, for instance, validating a free drink reward more cumbersome than it should be. If you have a free drink, you have to actually shake the phone by using your entire hand to get the barcode to appear on the screen for it to be validated.

app design trends 2018 - Starbucks App

It’d be much better to integrate a different touch screen interface design that allows the user to simply tap or swipe to get the barcode to appear.

With the number of mobile devices ever-increasing, mobile application designers have no choice but to create a better mobile UI design that uses a wider, more intuitive range of gestures for a better UX.

4) Multi-app Split Screen Catches on in Android UI Design

Multitasking or task switching is ubiquitous in our always-on world, so why shouldn’t this be the case in our mobile world? The multi-app is split-screen work flow that allows users to do two things at once on their screen, That means you can be on on your Evernote native mobile app and email colleagues at the same time or be tweeting and looking something up on the Internet simultaneously. The convenience of this UI design idea is beyond amazing, as it saves users the time and trouble of tapping the home button, looking for the native mobile app they want, and then constantly switching between two (or more) open app windows.

app design trends 2018 - iPad Pro

With the iPad Pro outselling Microsoft’s Surface tablet and similar offerings from Samsung in the last quarter, it’s clear that impressive mobile UI design features such as split-screen capability have made all the difference for consumers.

With Android fans clamoring for, and wondering when Google’s finally going to introduce the mobile split-screen feature on its devices, the time seems right for designers and developers to focus their efforts on finally producing split-screen multitasking for Android.

app design trends - Android Split Screen

Google seems to already be making baby steps toward this Android application development innovation right now, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with later this year.

5) Material Design Captivates the Mobile Application Design Community

Unsurprisingly, Google will be a big player in influencing native mobile app design trends this year. Material design is not completely flat anymore because it uses techniques like gradients, shadows and other subtle, 3D effects. As a result, this slightly different approach to native mobile design has people excited because it’ll drastically improve the UX on mobile devices.

Material Design UI - Mobile Design Trends 2016

Though material design was slow to be adopted to various Android apps last year— we’re talking Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps—that’s changing in 2016, as more native mobile apps from companies outside of Google take note of this app design trend and join the material-design bandwagon.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.04.10 PM

Facebook’s popular Messenger app is getting a material-design makeover on Android while IMDB’s Android app has material-design touches added to its navigation, search and action bar.

Beyond mobile application design, Google’s Chrome browser is also set to incorporate material-design touches in its interface, and Google is all set to unveil its new material design-influenced Chrome browser soon.

Look for more popular apps to follow this app design trend and adopt material design as the year progresses.

6) Moving Animation in Native Mobile Apps

People are naturally programmed to take notice of movement, so incorporating movement into a mobile UI and UX design can be the perfect way to highlight a specific product. This app design trend makes moving animation a superb tool for e-commerce sites. This also has a secondary, more useful purpose: Letting users move products around on the screen before they buy it makes it easy for them to inspect it from all sides…almost as if they were in a real, tactile store.

app design trends 2018 - Moving Animation on Smartphone

With Web Designer Depot proclaiming that “animation is no longer a novelty for web app designers…it’s becoming the basis of effective interaction design,” moving animation is set to take off in a large way this year as designers increasingly realize that movement helps tell a story, and that helps the UX.

app design trends 2018 - Bugaboo Mobile Site Urban Stroller Product Page

Bugaboo’s mobile site features moving animation that lets customers examine its popular strollers from all sides, which beats merely looking at still pictures to make a buying decision.

Bugaboo’s mobile site features moving animation that lets customers examine its popular strollers from all sides, which beats merely looking at still pictures to make a buying decision.

7) A New UI Design Idea: Subdued Color Contrast

You’ve probably been taught that contrast should be high and loud to facilitate an easier reading experience, but 2018’s app design trends go against the mainstream conventional wisdom by toning things down a bit.

app design trends - Weather Apps Color Contrast

The usual typography contrast is black font on a white background—there are even various color-contrast calculators on the web (like Contrast Ratio) to help you find good contrast for readability.

In 2018, though, contrast is expected to get more subtle, which is actually easier on the user’s eyes and  has real mobile UI and UX design advantages in that it facilitates a better reading experience. Some of the the biggest companies in the world are already moving to this subdued form of color contrast for their websites.

Airbnb Mobile Site Homepage

Take Airbnb’s mobile site as a web example of this app design trend: Note how many of the fonts on the homepage are actually faded black or all-out gray and how the white space around the blocks of content and images is really gray space. As a result, there’s still exceptional contrast for easy reading, but it’s easier on the eyes.

8) Flat UI Design 2.0 Begins to Replace Flat UI Design

One of the few, but big, criticisms of flat design is the lack of signifiers on things like icons and buttons, which fail to adequately communicate functional design elements. This touch screen interface design has a negative impact on user experience since what users can click and tap isn’t necessarily obvious at first.

app design trends 2018 - Flat Design UI

This might not seem like a big deal to veteran users, but the point of good native mobile app design—mobile and otherwise—is to make the UX design easy enough that even novice users can find their way around your native app or mobile website.

Flat design 2.0 is like Material Design in a sense because both use more 3D UI design idea effects like shadows, gradients and lighting effects. However, whereas Material Design is more of an aesthetic and design philosophy based on paper and ink (read: tactile elements), flat design 2.0 is an actual response to and way of addressing the shortcomings of flat mobile application design.

Evernote Android Screen

As 2018 wears on, look for more mobile sites and apps to retain the flat look in their touch screen interface design, but with noticeable shading to indicate subtle 3D elements. These will make it easier for users to figure out where to tap and slide, such as Android Evernote’s native mobile app above.

9) Micro-interactions on Native Mobile Apps Become More Prevalent

Micro-interactions are focused on the UX design of a native mobile app. They’re subtle tasks that work around four elements.

  • The Trigger
  • The Rules
  • Feedback
  • Loops and Modes

Slack is an awesome example of this native mobile app design trend that is replete with great micro-interaction examples.

app design trends 2018 - Slack Direct Messages

I tap the “plus” sign next to Direct Messages. This is the trigger because it starts the micro-interaction. Now, I get to communicate directly with my Slack collaborator, which forms the rules or the way the interaction functions. How do I know this? Because, thirdly, the feedback Slack gives me on-screen shows a “New Conversation” box opening up, where I can chat directly with her. Finally, the length of this micro-interaction—or loop—is as long as I want it to be, as I can close the new message when I want to.

app design trends 2018 - Slack New Conversation

As you can see, these micro-interactions in app UI design let people instantly observe the results of their on-screen actions by providing helpful and understandable feedback. This greatly improves the mobile UX design. As more mobile application designers see this innate value to users, micro-interactions will get more widespread.

10) Increased Tracking in Typography Improves Mobile UI and UX Design

So much of the mobile web today deals with readability. One of the most important aspects of readability is tracking, or the consistent space between all letters in a word. The greater the tracking, the easier the word is to read because users don’t have to squint to read the word.

app design trends - Tracking in UI

With the big focus on native mobile app usability, designers need to look at increasing the readability of their content.

Typography authority Typewolf released its list of the most popular fonts of last year, and the big app design trend for this specific area is spacious and generous tracking between letters of the most popular fonts, which will continue into 2018. With Gartner predicting the number of mobile devices increasing in 2018, readability is going to be increasingly vital to mobile UX and UI designs that will attract native mobile app users in even greater numbers.

app design trends 2018 - Dell Mobile Homepage

Note how Dell’s mobile site uses this generous tracking evenly in between the letters of the type on its homepage.

Bonus: Mobile Design Trends That Have Died!

We didn’t get to where we are in mobile application design without some significant mobile design failures. Here are some notorious mobile design trends that simply died off.

1) The Flip Design

Remember that old Motorola Razr phone your buddy had? It featured and popularized the flip mobile device design that everyone at the time thought was cool…yet it failed to stand the test of time. For some time several years ago, people thought it was trendy to whip out their cell phones and flip them open before talking. Now, the instant gratification of the touch screen interface design of iOS and Android smartphones that you can just whip out for talk and data rule the day.

app design trends - Motorola Razr Flip Design

Confirming the death of this mobile design trend for good is news that Lenovo, Motorola’s new owner, is actually going to completely remove the name “Motorola” from its phones. Oh well. It was good while it lasted.

2) Push to Talk

Another mobile design that was popular before Apple and Samsung popularized their version of smartphones with unique touch screen interface design, push-to-talk was essentially turning your phone into a walkie-talkie. Its selling point was letting users talk to an entire group of their friends at once instead of just one friend at a time.

app design trends - Push to Talk Nextel Phones

However, as the years wore on, designing phones for this service became so unpopular that it’s now a relic of a bygone era.

Confirming the death knell for this outdated mobile design trend was the Sprint announcement, four years ago, that it would totally kill off its Nextel push-to-talk network. Goodbye!

3) Infrared Ports

In the early 2000s, many cell phones had infrared or IR ports. These offered wireless transfer of your data over very short distances, and they demanded that your devices had to be side-by-side for it to work.

app design trends 2018 - Infrared Ports

Because IR ports were restrictive, it was no surprise that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi soon came along and banished this mobile design trend for good.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find many phones with this feature.

What the Future Holds for Mobile Application Design

Look for these trends to dominate the native mobile app design landscape as the year progresses. It’s clear that now is the time of mobile design, as evidenced by mobile users now completely outweighing desktop users…. Don’t hold your breath waiting for these stats to reverse.

With this focus on mobile application design, it’s no surprise that the design community is looking for increasingly interesting app design trends to improve the user experience and get people on native mobile with greater comfort than ever.

It’s true that blockchain technology has made it much easier for developers to safely provide users with virtual currency to use within apps. This virtual currency opens up a lot of possibilities for app users, from selling their own content, purchase virtual items, and even earn redeemable points.

That being said, virtual currency and blockchain currency are not necessarily equal. The legal framework regulating blockchain currency is still developing, and poses greater risks for both developers and users. So in order to remain in full compliance, app creators must familiarize themselves with the current regulatory restrictions.

Examples of Blockchain Currency in Apps

To further understand exactly how a developer might include the use of blockchain currency in an app, consider two examples.

Game development studio LeviarCoin recently announced the launch of its own blockchain-based cryptocurrency that independent parties can use within their own apps. It’s primarily designed to facilitate in-app purchases.

LeviarCoin aims to implement fraud protection over blockchain currency. However, while this sounds impressive in theory, it’s worth noting that a legal stipulation on the announcement makes it clear that, as of now, “values balances are not subject to consumer protections.” What this again makes clear is that the legal framework for blockchain currency is still developing.

AppCoins, which has 200 million active users, is another interesting example of blockchain in app development. It demonstrates how blockchain currency can make it easier for unbanked or underbanked people to access products and services previously unavailable to them.

There are approximately 2.6 billion smartphones in the world. However, approximately 2 billion smartphone users don’t have credit cards. This makes it difficult (if not impossible) to take full advantage of in-app purchases.

blockchain in app development

AppCoins plans to disrupt the status quo by creating an environment in which users could earn blockchain currency, which they could then use for in-app purchases and related functions. It aims to attract developers to its platform by sharing 85% of the revenue from in-app purchases, as opposed to the traditional 70%.

A transparent ledger of public transactions will allow AppCoin owners to rank developers if disputes arise. Of course, that means there is a threat of cyberattack or hack. Additionally, providing greater access to purchase opportunities increases the potential for risky spending. Similar to the issues with credit card debt, blockchain can be a source of conspicuous consumption that threatens an individual’s financial health.

These are just two examples of how blockchain in app development may become more common. They also illustrate why it’s important to comply with the appropriate regulations. This technology is new, and laws to protect consumers are still emerging. For the user, too, they must provide their acknowledgement that this is a real currency with actual consequences if they over-spend.

Currently, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, oversees and enforces the legal requirements United States app developers must abide by if they wish to allow blockchain currency usage in their products. These requirements apply to institutions and entities that qualify as “money transmitters” according to FinCEN.

What is a Money Transmitter?

A money transmitter, put simply, is any institution that accepts currency (or any valuable asset that could serve as substitute for currency) and/or facilitates its transmission.

Unfortunately, the  definition of what constitutes money transmission has never been entirely clear. FinGEN must sometimes provide expanded clarification. This is often due to the fact that applicable laws don’t always keep up with emerging industries. Relatively speaking, using virtual currency in an app is a relatively new phenomena. Developers should consult with legal experts to determine whether their products qualify as money transmitters.

If the regulations do apply, the developer or company must register with FinCEN and implement a Bank Security Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) program. They must also appoint an officer to oversee the program. This individual’s duties would include gathering identifying info from users, reporting suspicious transactions, and training personnel in the appropriate anti-money laundering procedures.

As of now, developers face two major obstacles in regards to protecting users and limiting disputes related to the use of blockchain currency. They must develop ways to ensure that any data written into a blockchain code is accurate, and they must create ways to write that data in.

The takeaway:

These are not minor tasks in order to ensure full compliance with blockchain implementation into an app. That’s why it’s necessary to continue staying abreast of the relevant legal principles.

Blockchain currency will likely have a positive overall impact on apps, allowing developers to expand the features their products offer while enjoying greater rewards for themselves. Said developers must simply make sure they’re not jeopardizing themselves or their customers by failing to adhere to the restrictions governing its use.

It’s true that e-commerce has dramatically changed the way the average consumer shops. Steady in-store foot traffic has been slumping for years, while online research becomes more prevalent for today's consumers. Before making big purchases -- those that cost $500 or more -- approximately 80 percent of shoppers start their journey with online research.

Simultaneously, smartphones are playing a bigger role in shopping, and even connects shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. While browsing in a physical store, 73 percent of shoppers are on their smartphones doing research on the products they consider buying.

In other words, even outside the realm of e-commerce, a brand’s web presence still impacts a customers’ purchasing decisions. Brands can use this knowledge to their advantage by developing apps that help users learn more about their products. While some companies may be tempted to rely on their mobile sites, apps offer benefits that mobile sites don’t.

Advantages of mobile apps for retailers:

According to a recent survey, consumers spend about seven times longer on mobile apps than sites or browsers. Shopping apps are also rising in popularity: In 2014, mobile shopping app downloads increased by a whopping 170 percent.

It’s also worth noting that among customers who turn to their browsers for research, 60 percent begin on a search engine, 61 percent read customer reviews before making a decision, and 51 percent abandon their carts if a digital annoyance happens before customers reach the point-of-sale.

Additionally, during the research and transaction phase, a lot of other distractions on the internet could keep shoppers from completing the transaction. With a mobile app, this isn’t as much of a problem.

Apps also allow retailers to customize their own analytics so they can more effectively track customer behavior. An app also keeps your brand at top of mind for customers. Think about it: they’re constantly seeing your brand’s icon on their mobile device and soon enough, you’re integrated into their daily life.

cross-channel apps

What's in an app?

Just because an app can help boost sales, doesn’t mean that any ol' app will succeed. Your app needs to  genuinely offer useful features that make life easier for the consumer.

1. Embracing new technologies is one way to offer features that are truly valuable. For instance, augmented reality technology is capable of allowing users to “try” certain products at home before making the purchase decision.

Case in point is Wayfair Inc.’s app called Wayfair View, which allows users to superimpose images of furniture or fixtures onto images of their homes, so they can better understand what an item might look like in the physical space.

IKEA released a similar app. Sephora uses AR to let users “try on” makeup virtually. When customers can try products via their mobile devices, they’re more likely to head to a store and make a purchase.

2. Gamification is another way of making an app valuable to customers. Just consider Nike’s app, which lets users connect the app with a FuelBand. They can then post goals, track workouts, and challenge others to competitions. The app tracks a user’s achievements, rewarding them with loyalty points they can trade in for benefits, like advanced workouts and customized product ordering. Gamification makes the app fun, while also driving purchases and brand loyalty.

3. Optimizing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is another way brands can connect all points on the customer journey. For example, New York ice cream brand Van Leeuwen partnered with PayPal to offer location-based promotions. Users who download the PayPal app and enroll in the program are alerted with coupons and similar promotional offers whenever they get near one of the ice cream shops. Other brands could develop apps that offer coupons when users step into a designated geo-fenced field.

While mobile sites are crucial for brand building, apps have huge potential to greatly improve the retail experience while keeping your brand constantly in customers’ minds. Develop one that customers truly value, and you’ll see sales boost in both your virtual and brick-and-mortar stores.

SEE ALSO: The secrets to successful brand building tomorrow > 

 

It was only about a decade ago that smartphone technology came onto the scene, and now nearly everyone has one in their reach. That’s partially due to the fact that many corresponding technologies have also evolved at a fast pace. Smartphone companies must work diligently to take advantage of the many new features these developments make possible.

Augmented reality, for example, has already substantially expanded the theoretical capabilities of mobile devices. AR allows developers to create apps that would not have been viable just a few years ago by overlaying a virtual world on top of the real one displayed on your phone’s screen. Experts predict the augmented reality industry to reach $50 billion in revenue by 2021. This success is largely spurred by the belief in its potential, which begins with how it is harnessed and utilized on smartphone devices.

We are also starting to see examples of businesses leveraging AR to solve common problems in their industry.For example, Amikasa’s AR app for iOS that allows users to place the company’s furniture in their homes. By placing the animated furniture into the real-life setting, customers can accurately view the product before they buy, thereby reducing the amount of returns that plagues  many retail businesses.

In healthcare, Orca Health’s EyeDecide app lets patients and medical professionals diagnose common eye conditions. Thus, considering about 50 percent of adults in the U.S. have limited literacy when it comes to healthcare, this app is making self-diagnosis more simple, easy, and accessible.

The Opportunities:

Major tech companies are also adding fuel to the AR revolution fire. First,  with the release of iOS 11, Apple provided developers with ARKit. This is a set of tools that makes it easier to build AR products for Apple devices. Then, Google was quick to follow suit, releasing ARCore, which serves the same purpose for Android apps. In both instances, developers are reaping huge benefits. These programs bypass the need for proprietary creation tools, depth sensors, and other additional technologies often needed to develop and launch AR apps.

In other words, millions of mobile devices are already capable of running AR products. Therefore, AR developers need to understand what the next generation of smartphones will be able to do. Additionally, they need to know how they can create ideal apps for them. Already, examples of ARKit and ARCore apps range from amusing ones like having a virtual tourist guide  to ARKit’s Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 for healthcare professionals, medical students, and other interested parties.

AR developers - iPhone

Working Examples of AR Apps

In retail, IKEA has experimented with an app – IKEA Place – that lets users superimpose virtual images of furniture or fixtures onto their surroundings. This way, they have a better sense of how a certain item will look in their home.

Shoe brand Converse offers a similar functionality for users in that their Sampler app lets users visualize how their shoes will look on them . By placing the shoe over the person’s foot via the smartphone’s camera, customers can virtually see how the shoe looks before purchase, leading to greater customer satisfaction, brand engagement, and diminished product returns.

AR apps’ applications in more serious circumstances are emerging, too. For example, Touch Surgery has evolved from a mobile simulation to a fully-fledged AR app. Touch Surgery is a training platform for medical professionals. Therefore, it not only guides them as they learn, but can also assist during the surgical procedure.

The Challenges

Clearly, AR has the potential to revolutionize what we use smartphones and other mobile devices for. So, why hasn’t the technology exploded in popularity? Right now, it’s mainly due to hardware limitations. Because AR is fairly new, most mobile devices aren’t built specifically for its products. Now that Apple and Google have provided developers with the tools they need to create AR apps, it’s clear that both companies plan to upgrade the hardware of their future devices. Google expects “hundreds of millions”of Android devices will deploy AR in the coming year.

That means developers shouldn’t impose strict limits on their plans. While many consumers may not have access to AR-friendly hardware now, they will in the near future. For example, Apple plans to release upgraded iPhone X’s in 2018. Developers should therefore enthusiastically explore the possibilities of this technology.

They should also consider how AR will expand the usefulness of devices like wearable headsets. As these devices become sleeker and more efficient, they could eventually render smartphones obsolete. With Apple expected to launch their first AR headset in 2020, the future looks bright for wearables to proliferate at even greater rate than AR-enabled smartphones. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says, “ Think about how many of the things around us don't actually need to be physical… Instead of a $500 TV sitting in front of us, what's to keep us from one day having it be a $1 app?”

Conclusion

That being said, while the death of the smartphone may be inevitable, it won’t arrive anytime soon. What will arrive is the smartphone that’s built specifically to support AR products. Developers interested in keeping up with the evolution of smartphone technology should begin exploring what they can do with it now.

In the future, AR technology will evolve in its applications for both users and businesses. We can expect to see major advancements for it particularly for marketers. It is termed a “trillion-dollar opportunity” for advertisers, which means we can expect it to greatly impact the daily lives of consumers. Finally, look out for AR’s expanded use in healthcare, manufacturing, and across other fields as advancements influence employee training, medical procedures, and much, much more

Scan the headlines these days and it’s hard to ignore drones. They’re shooting photographs and videos. They’re surveying sites and properties. They’re carrying blood samples over deserts.

Aside from transforming industries, drones are just tons of fun. Just ask around and likely the majority of people you know have dreamt of flying a drone at some point. But to do so takes real skill. This can get tricky especially if you live in a city where space is limited and the intended pilot face risks of crashing, hefty fines, endangering pedestrians, and even legal charges.

But what if we told you that the future is here, and you can now eliminate all the red tape and hazards of the past? That you can take the skies without all the confusion and risks? Because you can’t crash this drone.

Here’s the deal: We recently teamed up with Epson -- yes, the people who made your printer -- and drone company DJI to launch the world's first augmented reality drone flight simulator app optimized for Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses.

The best part about this augmented reality collaboration is that the virtual drone responds exactly the same way a real drone would. Through the use of a DJI drone controller, users can essentially train for real drone flying because the physics are accurate. And the virtual drone isn’t a toyish-looking, generic one. Instead, it’s a ghost version of a real DJI drone.

There are also games built into the augmented reality app, so you can practice your pilot skills by flying through hoops and picking up powerups.

Eventually, we see this expanding beyond the singular experience into multiplayer drone flying. As long as your friends have Epson’s Moverio BT-300FPV smart glasses, you can soon take the skies together.

Want to try out the experience of this AR design? Now you can at any DJI store.

And if you want to learn more about us, check out our featured case studies.

If there was ever any doubt that a fintech revolution is underway, that time is gone.

Just take a look around you, and it's clear that financial technology is disrupting the traditional financial services industry. By embracing the latest technological innovations, fintech startups have been able to provide users with a degree of convenience that banks and similar institutions have yet to match.

This trend will continue as fintech companies continue to make use of new tools and techniques. The following are some of the more significant fintech trends that are likely to develop in the near future.

1. The Rise of Mobile Trading

Mobile fintech apps like Matador have ushered in a new age for anyone who has ever wanted to invest in the stock market. By jettisoning the brick-and-mortar offices of traditional invest firms, these services allow users to invest without having to pay broker fees. This makes it much easier for people with limited capital to make investments.

It’s highly likely that existing firms will also begin developing their own mobile strategy and software to facilitate easier mobile trading.

2. Increased Collaboration

Financial technology is disrupting an industry full of established practices. Strategic people working for traditional financial institutions recognize that collaboration with startups will be key to their survival.

If banks do partner up with fintech companies, everyone wins. The startup brings a fresh, convenient approach to financial services.

Meanwhile, the bank has the experience to help them navigate the regulations that dominate the financial services industry. This allows startups to release their products more efficiently.

3. Blockchain Technology

Although it’s only about a decade old, blockchain technology is poised to have a major impact on fintech. That’s because it allows banks to create digital ledgers that record transactions in real-time.

This ledger is accessible to anyone in the community. As such, it will boost the overall efficiency of processes like international wire transfers. It’s simply going to be much easier for banks to confirm where money is coming from and where it’s going.

4. Efficient Transactions

Fintech development companies often strive to reduce the friction involved in a transaction. For example, consider Amazon Go, the e-commerce company’s brick-and-mortar project. Allowing customers to simply walk into the shop and walk out with their goods (the transaction is processed digitally) offers tremendous convenience to users.

That being said, while people may enjoy the convenience of frictionless transactions, they need to be more careful when making purchases. Otherwise, they’re likely to suffer from buyer’s remorse. It’s easy to spend more than you planned when buying something is a one-step process. The same rule applies for investment and other financial-related activities.

5. Increased Lending

Amazon recently announced that they’ve already loaned over $1 billion to their merchants via their lending department. As such, companies like Amazon have a lot of data about their merchants, thanks to the nature of digital connectivity. Thus, it's easier for them to assess whether or not it’s safe to lend funds to a merchant.

Other companies are following suit in this fintech trend. This helps individuals and organizations who might not qualify for a bank loan acquire the funds they need to grow their own businesses. Increased lending via fintech services will likely have a substantial impact on the entire economy as small businesses gain more opportunities to thrive.

As with any technological revolution, it’s not entirely possible to predict all the innovations and fintech trends we can expect in this industry. However, these five represent some of the most likely financial technology developments we can look forward to in the near future. Very soon, they’re going to reshape the way virtually everyone spends, saves, and invests their money.

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