What to Build First: An Android or iOS App?

What to Build First: An Android or iOS App?

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Four and a half billion people. That’s the global digital population in April 2019 according to  Statista.com of which almost 3 billion active mobile social users. This is a market you can’t ignore.

If you still don’t have a mobile app for your business, then it’s high time to get one. But which platform should you focus on for your project?  iOS or Android development; the battle is ongoing and probably will never conclude.

If you look at the global mobile app market, the numbers are staggering:

 

 State of Mobile 2019 market report

 

[Source: App Annie]

Many companies struggle to decide what platform they should use to develop their app. There are many factors to consider; while apps developed on the iOS platform consistently earns more revenue compared to Android, Android has a much larger global market share. However there is more to the story, and we need to dig deeper to understand what is better iOS or Android.

  1. Demographics

One of the first questions you should ask is who is your target audience and where do they live?

The primary consideration is where your first app adopters will be located. If your customers are outside of the U.S., Europe, or Australasia, it’s possible that Android should be your first priority as it dominates sales volumes of smartphones in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Knowing this will help you prioritize your development requirements and possibly save some money in the meantime as well.

When looking at the worldwide statistics for sales, Android has a clear lead over iOS in terms of market share. Android currently holds the largest global platform share with around 75% which mostly comes from developing countries and lower income areas compared to iOS’s 23% from developer nations.

 

Demographics tells us a lot about Android and iOS users

 

Demographics tells us a lot about Android and iOS users. This is where we need to start the discussion.

iOS users are typically younger, with a higher level of education, greater engagement and earn more money, so they spend more per app. Amusingly, iPhone users were also found to be vainer — taking 12 selfies every day, which is five more than Android users take.

Android users are less extroverted than iPhone users, and they are perceived to have greater levels of honesty and humility. In a survey, by Slickdeals, Android users were reported as self-admittedly the more frugal in their spending habits, with Android users being 25 percent more likely to strongly agree that they think they are a frugal person, and being 19 percent more likely to say they look for deals and discounts “often.”

iPhone Users Android Users
37% more likely to have a graduate degree 80% more likely to have only a high school diploma
29% more likely to be older women (35+) More likely to be younger men (34 and younger)
14% more likely to be extroverted 12% more likely to be introverted
67% more likely to make over $200K and enjoy spending it 24% more likely to earn $100K or less
More likely to be in Media/Marketing/Business More likely to be in IT/Energy/Utilities
39% more likely to be high-maintenance 12% more likely to be pet lovers
50% more likely to have visited more than 5 countries 71% more likely to have never traveled abroad

[Source]

  1. Users approach to technology

The second point to consider would be the adoption of new technology.  According to a poll conducted by Hunch.com, iOS users are more likely to be early adopters.

On the other side of the spectrum, Android users seem to be late adopters which means they are less likely to own mobile devices that will allow apps to utilise rich new technology and features to deliver an improved user experience and functionality.

Given the fragmentation of handheld mobile devices running Android as an operating system, the issue becomes even more compound.

  1. Revenue Models

Another factor one needs to consider when deciding on the platform is app monetisation.  The capability of a mobile app to generate profit (if that is your business goal) depends on a number of things, including the platform on which it has been created. If you are thinking that just because Android has a bigger market share it also generates larger revenue, you should think again.

According to a report from Sensor Tower, the App Store earned nearly 93% more than Google Play in quarter 3 of 2018, the largest gap since at least 2014.

The firm states that approximately 66% of the $18.2 billion in mobile app revenue generated in Q3 2018 came from Apple’s App Store. The store made $12 billion in the quarter, up 23.3% from the $9.7 billion it made during the same period last year.

 

q3-2018-app-revenue-worldwide

 

If app monetisation is one of your goals, there are some key platform differences to be aware of.

  • Android users tend to be less willing to pay for apps than iOS users, so free apps with in-app ads are more common.
  • While Android has a higher percentage of ad-supported apps, the iOS development platform relies predominantly on purchases.
  • Apple users are more likely to make in-app purchases and spend more on them.
  • Apple users are more likely to pay for apps, except in one category — utility apps. Android outperforms when it comes to utility apps.
  • Shopping apps generate the most revenue.

The takeaway: If you want to monetize your app without ads, whether through subscriptions, freemium models, or in-app purchases, then Apple may be your best bet. The same applies to e-commerce apps.

 

  1. Development Speed and Complexity

Getting your app fast to market is always a primary concern when building the app.

Although Android apps are mostly developed in Java (preferred by most app developers) and related languages, while iOS apps, on the other hand, are normally developed in Apple’s Objective-C language, it still can take 2-3 times longer for Android app development vs. iOS app development.

Why? It has to do with the system release cycles and something known as Android fragmentation.

Simply put, Android runs on a huge number of devices, that come in all shapes and sizes as well as with huge differences in performance level and screen sizes. Because of the limited type and number of devices, iOS development is easier as compared to the development of Android apps.

Add to this the fact that there are lots of active versions of this operating system at the same time. To build an app that is compatible with all of these devices is quite a challenging and complex task. Thus, it’s crucial to consider timeframes before you outsource app development.

The differences in SDK’s, IDE’s and API’s is another conversation by itself.

  1. Release & Approval Cycles

iPhone users upgrade a lot more often than Android users.

For example, over 76% of all iOS users have adopted the latest version of iOS 12.3. Pie for Android was released in August 2018, and currently, a little over 10% of all users have adopted it.

Because Android is locked down by telecom carriers and Original equipment manufacturer or OEM’s, releasing new updates to Android becomes more difficult resulting in the adoption of the latest OS versions being usually slower than with iOS.

For developers, there is a benefit to being able to focus on supporting the newest versions of an operating system. With iOS higher adoption rates, developers can stop supporting older versions and devices sooner, reduce testing, incorporate newer API’s and reduce their development cycle times. If only about 10% of the users have adopted it, then the developer has to support older devices, do more testing and this way increase the development cycle time.

As most app developers can attest, Android is the favourite when it comes to the release and approval process. Why? Because with iOS, the release and approval process is typically between 2-3 weeks, and even longer, if the app is rejected. Android apps typically take a day or two to get approved and updates can be pushed within a matter of hours.

The bottom line: The Google Play Store submission is less expensive and less strict when it comes to publishing.

  1. Pros and Cons

Evaluating all pros and cons for Android app development and iOS app development is another factor that can help you define which OS to be the first. Here is a brief overview of the key advantages and disadvantages of both from a development and marketing perspective:

Android Pros

  • Wider international coverage, including emerging markets.
  • Simpler to launch with Android; guidelines provided are easier to follow, rather than strict requirements from Apple.
  • Getting your app on Google Play is less time consuming.
  • No restrictions imposed on alpha or beta app launch when writing apps for Android.
  • With Android you are able to submit your app to Google Play and Amazon.
  • Various hardware integration and customization possibilities.
  • Deeper market penetration

Android Cons

  • Development and testing usually take a lot of time due to the large number of Android versions and devices.
  • It’s impossible to target all device users at once and tailor the app to all screen sizes.
  • New app features are only supported by newer OS versions.
  • 2-3 higher the development cost
  • High device fragmentation

iOS Pros

  • The iOS platform offers a quicker and more stable development process.
  • iOS users are more likely to purchase apps as well as make in-app purchases.
  • Standardised UI makes interface development less time consuming.
  • The audience is more valuable
  • Tools are more advanced and stable
  • Provides more publicity and press opportunities
  • Many influencers on iOS

iOS Cons

  • Apple’s approval takes a lot of time (7 days on average).
  • With so many restrictions imposed, it is difficult to customize an app.
  • No possibility to release a beta app since only fully-functional apps are accepted.
  • Fewer opportunities to stand out from the pack because of app standardization.
  • Smaller overall install base

 

  1. Choosing your app development platform: iOS of Android

There are many aspects to consider when choosing a platform for app development.

By now you may have guessed that in general, from a financial standpoint as well as a time perspective iOS is a better choice, but from a market penetration stance Android is better.

The Bottom line: both Android and iOS are extremely successful which is why it’s smart to invest in both iOS and Android app development.

But ultimately, your decision to build for iOS or Android first is going to come down to what works for your business:

  • The type of app you are building
  • Monetization model
  • The market you’re aiming
  • User demographics
  • Project timeframe and budget

If your company is a start-up and your capital is limited, then iOS is the best place to begin because not only is it cheaper iOS also brings influencers and PR with it. Chances are, you’ll get much more clicks for your app built on iOS.

If your audience is mostly located in emerging markets, then it makes sense to start with Android since they tend to visit app stores more often.

 

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The future of progressive web apps

The future of progressive web apps

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The future of progressive web apps

In past few years, the use of mobiles has risen to the point where people now spend twice as much time on mobile devices as they do on desktop, and in many African countries mobile phones are the only devices they use.
 
When native apps first came to market, people couldn’t get enough of them. It changed the way people interact with their mobile devices, each other and with companies. The recent trend, however, shows that people are turning away from apps.
 
This should come as no surprise, and come July 1st, 2019, Google mobile-first indexing will now be the default index used by Googlebot for all new websites.
 
Even though users are downloading less apps, they are still an integral part of many users daily live and many brand’s digital marketing efforts. You’d be hard-pressed to find a company that hasn’t thought about developing an app. Given the tremendous benefit and impact that an app can have, why are so many companies not investing in app development?
 
The answer shouldn’t come as a surprise: cost. It can be an incredibly costly gamble if users don’t take to it.
 
The price of mobile app development is undoubtedly the main underlying reason why many companies, especially small businesses, are not investing in the app game, but it isn’t the only factor.
 

The Business Case

The need for businesses to target customers on mobile devices is no longer a discussion point. The question is no longer if they should do it but how and what is the cost?

As a business you have 3 choices if you want to appeal to mobile-based customer:

  • Build a responsive website,
  • Develop a native app, or
  • Create a progressive web app (PWA).

Mobile websites are quick and easy to access, but they tend to be less focussed on great user experiences. Native apps provide great user experience, but they are costly, can be expensive to maintain and require a user to download it. Meaning as a brand you need to generate quite a considerable buy-in from consumers first. Sitting right in the middle are PWA’s. First introduced in 2015 it combines the best elements of mobile sites and native apps while mitigating their disadvantages.

What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

Have you ever seen an “Add to Home Screen” banner, or “Install this web app to our phone”, while browsing a website on your mobile device? When you click the button, the “application” installs itself quietly in the background, while you continue with what you were doing. When you open this application, you can navigate and browse with the same experience as you were doing on your browser, but now right in your mobile phone.
 
This is what is called a Progressive Web Application or PWA.
 
A PWA lets you install the application from the browser window itself, is available on your phone like a native app, and works offline, just like a native app. The only difference is you did not have to download and install it from an app store.
 
The term Progressive Web App was coined by Alex Russell and Frances Berrima and simply put the are:
 

“Websites that look and feel like apps, with a wide range of functionality available at low cost and in easy-to-update formats.”

Here are some of the key characteristics that makes them different from traditional web apps and defines a PWA:

  • Most PWA’s work on all modern smartphones, irrespective of operating system.
  • They are discoverable by search engines.
  • They work offline.
  • They generally load faster than mobile websites and can be installed on your home screen.
  • Importantly, there’s no need to visit an app store. Users can download PWAs directly from their web browser.
  • Most PWA’s work on all modern smartphones, irrespective of operating system.
 

How is Progressive Web App different from Regular Web App?

There are several differences and advantages to using a PWA or a native app, we will explore these in more depth in our next blog post.

Following is a short overview of what a Native App is:

A Native App

A regular web app, in simpler terms, is a website that is designed to be accessible on all the mobile devices. It is designed using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, etc, and is downloaded from an app store. They offer various native-device features and functionalities, such as access to camera, contacts and photos that PWA do not.

What is the future of PWA or Progressive Web Apps?

Since being introduced in 2015, PWAs have slowly been gaining popularity. But with Google, Apple and Microsoft, the three main phone operating systems, all driving the transition to PWAs due to their inherent flexibility, PWAs are set to become the best way to stay ahead of the curve in the mobile industry.
 
Results have been quite impressive; users of Pinterest’s PWA spend 40% more time on the site compared to the previous mobile website. Lancôme saw an 84% decrease in time until the page is interactive, leading to a 17% increase in conversions and a 53% increase in mobile sessions on iOS with their PWA.
 
What makes 2019 so important when it comes to progressive web apps? Here are our top reasons for optimism:

  • Microsoft and Google have since early 2018 been backing PWAs heavily.
  • Apple has finally accepted PWAs.
  • More and more companies are shifting towards PWAs and are seeing success.
  • PWA’s are no longer a proof of concept or a side project, as more and more web developers are now engaged in progressive web apps development.
  • Progressive Web Apps are a mobile-first approach
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA) create mobile web experiences that are closer to those delivered by native apps.
  • How Progressive Web Apps improve browsing experience. They offer user a fast and streamlined site, a better user experience, increased customer engagement and offline access

In Summary

Progressive Web Apps are the future of web development without any doubt.

If you’ve been holding off on developing a responsive website or a native mobile app, you are at a unique turning point. Many established businesses have already started the transition from native web apps to PWA’s to effectively replaces a company’s mobile site, its native app and maybe even its desktop site.

In other words, it’s a mobile-first approach to connecting with your customers.

In the future, e-commerce sites, restaurants, and media sources will transition from native app to Progressive Web App.

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Mobile Phone Apps vs Mobile Optimized Websites – which is better?

Mobile Phone Apps vs Mobile Optimized Websites – which is better?

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Mobile Phone Apps vs Mobile Optimized Websites – which is better?

It is increasingly evident that companies are becoming more aware of the fact they need to embrace a mobile strategy. Not only has the constantly growing number of mobile devices and the number of mobile-only internet users overtaken desktop, but app usage has also surpassed desktop usage.

As a result of this shift, companies are re-thinking their mobile strategies.

The major question that most companies seem to be grappling with is whether a mobile app or a mobile website is the right way to go. Many will argue that you don’t need a mobile app, you just need a website that looks good and functions well on mobile devices. Others will argue that mobile apps have benefits that a responsive website cannot offer. However, when digging a little deeper, there are a myriad of factors that need to be considered before deciding.

When it comes to mobile app vs mobile website, it can be difficult to determine where to focus your efforts. Why? Because we are talking about two different mediums that allow customers to connected and interact with your company in very different ways and for very different purposes.

In this post, we are not going to tell you which one is better. Instead, we will make you understand the huge difference between these two and the final decision will be yours as to which one you want for your business.
Before going further into this discussion, you should understand that these two elements serve slightly different purposes. Now, let’s get started.

1. Mobile App Vs. Mobile Web: What’s the Difference?

Before you can evaluate the benefits of a mobile website vs. an app it’s important to understand the key differences between the two.

Both mobile apps and mobile websites are accessed via a handheld mobile device such as a phone or tablet. It is also important to know both mobile apps and mobile websites can be accessed on iOS and Android devices (Includes smartphone and tablet users).

A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages and can display text content, data, images, and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call or location-based mapping.

The obvious difference between a standard website and a mobile website is the latter is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface. Increasingly, responsive websites are becoming the new standard for website design. A responsive website is not only mobile-friendly, but that can scale to any sized device – from desktop down to tablet and handheld smartphones.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, are applications that are downloaded and installed on a user’s mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users need to visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system.

An app can pull content and data from the Internet, similar to a website, or it can download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection. We’ll dive into the pros and cons for each, so you can make a more informed decision when establishing the smartest mobile strategy for your brand.

2. Which is better?

When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a mobile website, and which one is better the most appropriate option will all depend on your company or business goals. So, you are the deciding factor here.

If you are developing an interactive game for argument sake an app is probably going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest audience possible then a mobile website would be the best option. However, in some scenarios, you may want to have both a mobile website and an application, but this will all depend on your business goals.
It is also extremely important to consider:

  • What industry are you working in?
  • What is your available time and resources?
Every industry has its own peculiarities, and it can be so, that only apps can afford to achieve success you need. In general, consumers tend to use mobile web for utility-directed tasks like searching, booking, and purchasing products. When entertainment and communications come into play, mobile apps are, for the most part, a far more favoured alternative.
In addition, it is also important to be clear on your answers to the below.
  • #1 Do you want to reach more users?
  • #2 How often do users interact with your brand a day?
  • #3 Do you need to access phone native features?
  • #4 Do you care about speed?
  • #5 Is your product complex? – E.g. You have data reports to show
  • #6 How often is your user going to use your product offline?
  • #7 What is the size of your budget?
  • #8 Does your product involve navigation or location-based elements? (GPS)
  • #9 Do you think you’ll be improving = updating your app very often?
  • #10 Does your competitor have an app?
Generally speaking, a mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence, whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser. But before we move on to the differences between mobile websites and mobile apps, it’s important to point out a caveat: A responsive designed website is not the same as a mobile website.

Quick overview of difference

Responsive Design Website Separate Mobile Website
Cost Easier/cheaper to maintain More maintenance; requires bi-directional annotation between desktop and mobile versions
Site speed Large pages are slow to load on mobile devices Quick page loads on mobile platforms
User experience Pleasing both mobile and desktop users with same interface means not focusing exclusively on the needs of either User experience customized to the benefits and limitations of mobile devices; content customized to mobile users
SEO Single website/URL; content is optimized across all platforms Multiple URLs; each will need its own SEO.

3. A quick overview

Before delving deeper into the benefits of each, below is a short comparison.

Mobile Website Mobile App
Audience Reach Viewable by anyone with a mobile browser Viewable by individuals with the appropriate device
User Experience Limited by bandwidth, technologies and site performance but improving Capable of very robust user experiences
Graphics and effects Limited by bandwidth and technology, but improving Superior. Graphics may be stored locally. Effects and animations are limited only by device computing power and memory
Access to hardware functionality Limited. Device geo location can be utilized Unlimited access. Camera, accelerometer, microphone, GPS, etc
Ease of development Developed with standard web development tools and technologies When built for distinct operating systems and devices (native code), unique programming languages and software development kits are required. Cross-platform solutions are available for deploying to various app stores
Development resources Build once and deploy for all devices Built for individual devices and operating systems. May require multiple developers with different proficiencies
Development cost Typically, but not always, less expensive than app development Typically, but not always, more expensive especially when multiple devices or operating systems are targeted
Ease and speed of implementation Publish as a website. Immediate availability May require a submission process. Users must download and install prior to use
Distribution Viewable with any mobile browser. No distribution required Download and installation required
Installation No Installation required. Web based Downloaded and installed from website or marketplace
Updates and maintenance Easily updated and changes are immediate with a browser refresh iTunes requires a submission process. May require multiple development resources if updates are required for multiple devices and operating systems
Paid app vs free app Difficult. Plus, solutions lack purchasing ease and confidence associated with iTunes App Store and Android Marketplace Easy to charge for apps, using the available app marketplaces
Search optimization (SEO) Can be found through a standard search. Primary website can redirect to a mobile-optimized version when mobile is detected Typically found through an app store search or linked to from a website
Internet or data connectivity Required Can be used offline

4. Mobile App Pros

Despite the many inherent benefits of mobile websites, the use of apps is still soaring in popularity. Why so? Generally speaking if you want any of the following benefits, an app makes sense:

A. Mobile apps provide a superior user experience.

A mobile app takes user experience to a whole new level by combining content, navigation, and integrated mobile device functionality (sound, video, images, location, etc) in a way that optimizes the user’s experience. A native app engages the user beyond the capabilities of a display-only mobile website and provide a more personal, efficient, and responsive overall experience through allowing the user to personalise their experience.

The superior user experience is one reason that mobile device users spend 86 percent of their time interacting with mobile apps compared to just 14 percent using mobile browsers.

B. Mobile apps give you a direct communication channel to your customers.

Once a mobile app has been downloaded to as user’s device, it’s always there, reminding them of your brand even when they aren’t actively engaging with it.

With an app the information you most want your customers to have is right there at their fingertips a tap away. When paired with push notifications information about products, prices, sales, promotions—whatever you want, as a brand you are provided with a level of direct interaction most marketers dream about.

C. Personalisation & customer engagement.

Personalization is about offering individualised communication to users based on their interests, location, usage behaviour, and more. With mobile apps, it’s easy to offer users a personalized experience.

Mobile apps can let users set up their preferences when they originally download the app, and customize it to suit their needs, providing them with more interactive ways to engage with your content.

Rather than looking at the exact same text and images as a website, by prompting users to allow geography-specific content such as special promotions or deals at a particular store location apps can integrate features which allow users to interact with certain components of the app thereby becoming more immersed in your brans.

D. Mobile apps have functionality even when they are offline.

A major advantage of apps over mobile websites, is the fact: customers can access information on your app even if they aren’t connected to the Internet.

You can create maps, how to guides, videos, menus, maps, podcasts, games, and more —there’s no real limit to the offline information you can put into your app.

Mobile apps can run without internet connection. Although many apps require an active internet connection to perform most of their tasks, they can still offer content and functionality to users while not connected to the web.

E. Branding Opportunities

The major advantage mobile apps have over mobile websites is free prime real estate on your customer’s device. Even when users are not actively using a mobile app, they are still reminded of your brand daily, simply because your app icon acts as an advertisement for your brand.

Even though a mobile app exists as an entirely separate entity from a company’s website, it can offer new branding opportunities to users. This means that companies can experiment with new branding tactics and styles with a mobile app.

F. Complex Calculations or Reporting with Visualization

If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think financial or scientific tools) an app will help you do that very effectively.

g. Leverage Device Capabilities

Mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS, device libraries and GPS functions. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power only a native app can interface with the device’s features and hardware, such as the camera, GPS location, and so on.

Having access to the device’s capabilities is particularly important for retail apps as they significantly enhance the customer experience. If there’s a single truth to shopping, it’s that the customer experience matters. Here are just a few of the possibilities only apps offer:

  • Push notifications
  • Tap-to-call/email
  • Device vibration/ alerts
  • Camera
  • Instant and automatic updates

5. Mobile Website Pros

If your goals are primarily related to marketing or public communications, a mobile/responsive website is almost always going to make sense as a practical first step in your mobile marketing strategy.

This is because a mobile website has a number of distinct advantages which are more aligned with top of the funnel activities, such as growing and nurturing a steady stream of new leads, in addition to benefits such as broader accessibility, compatibility and cost-effectiveness.

Let’s take a look at what makes a mobile website a good investment for small business owners:

A. Broader Audience Reach

Because a mobile website is accessible across most platforms and mobile devices it can be easily shared. It’s easy for users to share a URL for your mobile site in an email or text, and it is easy for publishers to direct customers to a mobile website in the same way. It is not as easy to share an app or content within an app.

Unlike a mobile app, which must be downloaded and installed on a mobile device, any customer can access your mobile website whenever they want from whatever device they are using at the time.

B. You only need one version.

Because mobile websites are accessible across all device, you only need to create one version for Android and iOS. With mobile apps, you need to decide which operating system you’ll use, or else develop two versions, one for iOS and one for Android. In this regard, mobile websites are much simpler to develop and maintain.

C. Cost-Effective

Complexity aside, a responsive mobile site is generally more cost-effective to develop than a mobile app. This holds true if you want your app to have a presence on more than one platform.

D. Support and Maintenance

It is usually also less expensive and less labour-intensive to update and maintain a mobile website. Properly supporting and maintaining an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is more much more expensive and involved than supporting a website over time.

E. You can instantly update your mobile website.

Unlike apps it’s very simple to update the content, appearance, and functionality of a mobile website. Once you make the changes and hit “publish,” the changes are instantly available to anyone who visits the site. For any Small business website designer in Cape Town or anywhere for that matter, this is the preferred route.Mobile apps, on the other hand, require users to download and install updates once you push them out.
F. SEO & Brand Visibility

Although Google is now indexing app content and including apps in some search results, it is generally much more common for mobile websites to show up in search results than for a query to return a mobile app.

Having a mobile-friendly site means you are more likely to rank better, which results in greater brand visibility and higher website traffic.

6. How to make the Final Call

The final call should solely depend on your business goals.

If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search then a mobile website is your best bet.

On the other hand, if your goal is to provide a user experience that feels more like a gaming interface or a computer program than a website, or if you need access to a user’s phone storage and native functions, then an app is probably going to be required.

It’s also important to remember that a mobile/responsive website and a native app are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Plenty of organizations have both a mobile-friendly public website for their general web presence, as well as a downloadable native app to accommodate more specific requirements. In the end, it’s all about choosing the right tool for the job.

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Using Apps to improve your business process

Using Apps to improve your business process

in Blog with Comments Off on Using Apps to improve your business process by

How many times have you checked your smartphone today? 25 times?  50 or more? Do you even notice you’re doing it anymore?

The proliferation of mobile devices has transformed us into an app-driven society. Not only individuals but also many South African businesses are firmly embracing this trend, with the average small business’s owner using 18 apps to run their company every single day.

Running a business means handling endless tasks. Staying organized, focused and sane through it all can be a challenge for any size business owner.

By using a variety of billing & invoicing, project management, CRM, marketing and productivity apps to improve your business processes, it's easy to create one centralized place where you and your team can get things done.

If you think that mobile apps are solely for big name brands like ABSA, Takealot and OUTsurance, you are wrong. More and more small and midsize businesses are following the mobile trend, understanding that an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendly website.

Businesses today want to provide their clients with a flawless experience – every time, and the only way to do this is to embrace technology and though mobile apps. Many companies are already leveraging the power of mobile apps to improve their business processes, making their operations convenient, efficient and profitable. Using mobile apps, these businesses are augmenting their capabilities, exploring novel possibilities and transforming everything about the way their businesses operate.

But still you may wonder - do business apps really deliver what they promise? Or are they just another expense that, in the end, can’t really be justified by their ROI or deliver on improving your business processes?

Business processes

You probably use dozens of business processes every day, without even realising that it is a process.

For example, you may go through the same steps each time you order a part from your supplier, capture a new and prospective clients information, resolve a customer complaint or provide a quote to a client.

You've likely come across the results of inefficient processes, too. Dissatisfied customers, overworked colleagues, missed deadlines, and increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create.

That's why it's so important to improve processes when they are not working well. In this article, we'll look at the benefits associated with improving your business processes through the use of business apps.

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a collection of linked or related, structured activities or tasks performed by people or equipment; which in a specific order produce a service or product for a particular customer or customers. A business process can also be defined as a set of activities and tasks that, once completed, will accomplish an organizational goal.

Business processes are mainly classified as two types:


  • External process and

  • Internal process,


Internal business processes occur at all organizational levels, and can generally be categorized into management processes, operational processes and supporting business processes.

Processes can also be formal or informal.

External Business Process

One of the best examples of how globalization, increased on the go connectivity and a mobile app can help you enhance business process is a banking app. There are many banking apps used extensively, no matter what part of the world you are in.

Using such apps, South African customers can purchase airtime, pay bills, order products online, check statements, make payments, and do a lot many banking activities by simply tapping on your smartphone or tablet using your fingertips.

If we talk about the business-specific impact of such banking apps, it’s remarkable. Consider SnapScan for example; a quick, easy payments app for you and your customers that allow customers to pay you wherever you are. With SnapScan, they can pay their bill from the table, at the coffee counter or at the usual point of sale.

The business benefits? Improved payment efficiency, which means you can serve more people in less time. Not only does it increasing your operational efficiency, but if your bank account is linked to Sageone accounting software for example, at the mere click of a button you can import all your sales into your accounts.

The more comfort and convenience you can offer to your customers and prospects by using external apps to compliment or augment your internal business processes, the more they will be attracted to your business. This also helps increasing retention value and find new customers. If not for sale, apps can also be used as a marketing and promotional tool.

For example, a restaurant owner can create an app that allows its customers order food via app through their smartphone or tablet. Similarly, those in the hotel industry can create an app and let their customers book accommodation using their handheld devices.

Internal Business Process

There are three types of internal business processes; they are:


  • Management Processes: The processes that govern the operation of a system.

  • Operational Processes: The processes that constitute the core business of the organization and create the primary value stream.

  • Supporting Processes: The processes that support the core processes. Examples include accounting and technical support.


Examples of internal business processes include:

  • Invoicing

  • Shipping products

  • Receiving orders

  • Updating personnel data

  • Determining marketing and other budgets


Processes can be either formal or informal

  • Formal processes – also known as procedures – are documented and have well-established steps. For example, you might have procedures for receiving and cataloguing goods to your store invoices, or for establishing relationships with new clients.

  • Informal processes - are often ones that you have created yourself and have not written them down. For example, you might have your own set of questions when communicating with a prospective client or making notes.

The Importance of Efficient Processes

All business processes have one thing in common: they're all designed to streamline the way that you and your team work.

When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.

Processes that don't work can lead to numerous problems. For example:


  • Customers may complain about poor product quality or bad service.

  • Colleagues get frustrated.

  • Work may be duplicated, or not done.

  • Costs increase.

  • Resources are wasted.

  • Bottlenecks can develop, causing you to miss deadlines.


How does apps affect each of the 3 different levels of business processes?

1.Operational Processes


As the name suggests, an operational process is a primary or basic process through which any company delivers services/ products to its clients. It is an integral part of any organization and need to be paid close attention to, as it directly affects the deliverables to the clients.It is a process that relies on efficiency and accuracy, and by improving this process it has a direct effect on the output of the enterprise.

By connecting your people to your operational systems, not only can you streamline tasks to Improve Efficiency, you can also make workflows more efficient, effective, and adaptable to changes in the business environment.

But how exactly are they able to accomplish this? We’ve compiled a list of several very concrete ways in which business mobile apps can improve your company’s operational efficiency.

A. Costly Errors

The use of mobile business apps prevents costly errors. How many times has a mistake or even just sloppy customer handwriting on a form forced your employees to return to a job site or make a phone call for clarification? How commonly do employees lose or forget forms?

And how much time gets eaten up resubmitting paperwork by printing forms, filling them out, scanning them, and then emailing them? Apps remove operational inefficiencies like these from the equation.

B. Efficiency

We humans are fundamentally flawed. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

Consider absent minded-ness; being preoccupied to the extent of being unaware of one’s immediate surroundings. Abstracted, daydreaming, inattentive, oblivious, forgetful. We are all guilty of this at human trait, especially when we are at work.

Mind-wandering is an under recognized influence on work performance, which can lead to mistakes and inefficiencies in any business process.

Efficiency in performing a process or a job function is dependent upon an individual’s ability to access and/or provide information timeously and accurately to management, co-workers or to clients to achieve and realise set company objectives. By using apps such as Evernote, Microsoft Office for Mobile, Hours, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Anylist and many more apps workers are able to Ensure Efficiency through the use of Productivity Apps.

By using apps, you can help reduce mistakes and miscommunication, a very common occurrence in many organizations, resulting in making an organization’s workflow more efficient, effective, and adaptable to changes in the business environment.

C. Productivity

Not only can apps increase efficiency but also productivity.

Consider, for example, you’re on a sales call at a prospective client. If you have mobile apps to manage sales and inventory, you can close the sale right away. But if you have to check stocks, availability, pricing, etc back at the office before closing the sale, you could lose the sale altogether.

Customer information stored in filing cabinets can take too much valuable time to locate. Even saving it on a desktop requires that employees be at their desks in order to access it. Keeping all that information in the cloud, and instantly accessible from any location through an app, streamlines any task requiring customer data.

Enterprise mobility solutions also save time by making processes easier for employees. Rather than writing or even typing data onto a form, apps can provide drop down menus and check boxes to simplify the process. They can speed up the processes of sales prospecting, of providing job quotes, of crew deployment, of invoicing. And all that extra time can now be used for revenue-creating purposes, rather than administrative tasks.

Adaptability means as a business you are able manage situations outside of the ordinary, like custom orders and rush sales. The ability to do these things means you’re able to offer better service to customers. And when you offer better service to customers, you gain an advantage over your competitors.

But it’s not just the sales department that benefits from mobile business apps. Manufacturers, field service workers, quality assurance supervisors— can all benefit from mobility, especially in the form of mobile business processes. Having processes, forms and data on hand-held devices means data gets into your system faster, workers are more efficient, and tasks are more convenient. It’s a win-win-win.

D. Connectivity

Many workers — such as nurses, first responders, field service technicians, or delivery drivers — depend on reliable mobile access in real-time to critical information at the point of interaction.

When it comes to modern-day business, enterprise mobility is not a luxury anymore but a competitive advantage. Enterprise Mobility allows employees of any business organization to work remotely and to fulfil business tasks and activities using mobile devices, mobile applications, and cloud-based solutions.

Critical issues may crop up in a business environment anytime, without prior notices or hints. Enterprise mobile applications allow the employees to resolve such issues on an urgent basis irrespective of their presence and availability at the office location.

Real-time interactions are also made possible with the clients that result in better customer engagement and satisfaction.

E. Mobility solutions reduce overhead costs.

Paper is slow and expensive. Even just storing paper - printing and filing - is much slower than storing files digitally. Digital files are also more environmentally and health and safety friendly than paper, which is a growing concern, especially when you’re dealing with a lot of files which could be a fire hazard.

In addition, storing paper requires a lot of space, it can be lost or damaged. Storing data digitally is also much easier, and if you’re storing files on a cloud server (or your own server), the data is much more accessible than paper files.

Think about all the paper you’re still using in your business, especially paper forms – and the time it takes to fill them out before having to capture the details electronically again? Imagine if you could take all those paper forms and not just digitize them but think about all the paper you’re still using in your business, especially paper forms – and the time it takes to fill them out before having to capture the details electronically again? Imagine if you could take all those paper forms and not just digitize them but make them accessible on mobile devices. Imagine how much easier that would make things like quality assurance, inventory management and logistics.

f. More accurate data

Why do businesses have bad data? There are many reasons, but the biggest one is simply human error. Humans are fallible, after all: sometimes we don’t pay 100% attention, or we forget details before we have a chance to write them down.

Mobility can help reduce human error. Why? Because users can enter information right away, when it’s still fresh in their minds, right from a mobile device. This reduces the likelihood of human error, meaning your data will be cleaner and more reliable than it was before.

Why does good data matter?

When you have good, reliable data in your system, you’re equipped to make better decisions about your business and align processes to achieve desired goals. If the data is accurate, it will provide you honest insight into your business. If the data isn’t accurate, you’ll be basing your decisions on a shaky foundation.

Mobility might not take humans out of the data collection process altogether, but it can definitely reduce human-caused errors by streamlining business processes for better decisions.

By implementing the use of mobility solutions to streamline your processes, your business can realize a significant ROI in operational efficiency, cost reduction, and time savings.

2.Supporting Processes:


Support processes are the processes which do not deliver the final product/ service to the client, but it creates an environment that is suitable for the primary processes to function smoothly.

These processes do not directly generate value to the customer. Having said that, the support processes are also vital for the enterprise. The processes like management processes, accounting processes, and human resource processes facilitate the working of an organization.

Enhancing these processes means making the fundamentally and strategically strong. Although the support processes, do not add value to the client directly, they help in developing a solid working environment.

Examples of such apps are:


  • Evernote

  • CRM apps such as Salesforce

  • Accounting software such as Sageone

  • Scanninc

  • Snapchat

3.Management Processes


Similar to support processes, the Management processes do not add value to the end customer. These processes are more oriented to monitoring and analysing the business activities.

These processes deal in up scaling the business, introducing new verticals and bringing innovation to the firm. Management processes are goal oriented and aim at designing and achieving tangible as well as intangible targets. Management processes help in making the enterprise a brand and by standing out and providing its clients with value in intangible terms.

Once the understanding of processes is clear, identifying the process which is to be optimized to achieve the set target becomes very clear.

Examples of areas where mobile apps can support Management Processes include:


  • On the go reporting

  • Realtime reports

  • Tracking

  • Realtime data analysis

Summary

The rise in mobility coincides with the ability to use applications to streamline workflow processes.

By leveraging and deploying either custom or existing mobile applications that can be integrated into existing operational processes and systems, it offers organisations an opportunity to streamline this process and stay ahead of application demands.

Many organisations today are facing a battle to keep up with the demand for mobile applications in a timely and budget friendly manner. Mobile applications can take an average of five months to a year to develop and cost an average of between R50,000 and R250,000 per application.

Is it not time you talk to iSolve Mobility about your next Business Application?

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Mobile App Development Resources Guide

Mobile App Development Resources Guide

in Blog with Comments Off on Mobile App Development Resources Guide by

Introduction

“How to build an app”

“What programming language do I need to learn?”

These are common questions asked everyday by beginners who are eager to learn how to code and develop iOS or Android apps. No doubt you’ve already googled something along those lines and read enough articles/answers that all say the same thing.

You have probably come across various articles such as; https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/best-app-development-software/ a very good starting point if you are looking at a DIY solution. However, if you plan to master the art of the app development, then you should read on.

In today’s fast paced world, the mobile app market is expanding by leaps and bounds. Providing seamless, yet engaging experience on mobile is now more important than ever, and it gives a true competitive advantage to businesses that get it right.

Consequently, as mobile app designers and developers we are always looking for the right tool that will make our designs, functionality and usability worthwhile for the end user. Developing a valuable mobile app requires top notch skill, creativity, and of course the right tools.

While it’s still essential to sketch your wireframes and products prototype on paper, and to be particular about the approach being followed for mobile app development, app designing software is making it easier and less tedious to share finished or unfinished jobs with clients, developers, and designers.

Here’s the situation: you’re a developer and have all the necessary tools to code an amazing app. But you’re a bit stuck as far as the design, and with so many design tools everywhere nowadays, it can be challenging to choose the best tool for your particular type of app.

Without the mastery of industry-standard design tools like Adobe Photoshop, how do you design a mobile app that reflects your inner genius? How do you make an app that is both visually stunning and easy for users to navigate?

Good news is, we’ve distilled 50 tools mobile app developers prefer to use. We’re confident that you’ll find the right tool with the functionality you need from this list.

9 Best Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

There are a large number of tutorials and learning material on the net to learn iOS app development and Android App Development. For the purpose of this article we will be focussing on (WORA), the concept of write once, run anywhere app development platforms and resources.

With WORA a developer writes code once on one platform, and runs it on multiple platforms, with the explicit aim being to save time and effort on the part of the developer. As a developer one is able to reuse the code and can design apps that can work efficiently on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, and many more.

Codename One

Codename One is a framework that supports popular IDEs like NetBeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ IDEA. Suitable for rapid application development, it allows a developer to write code in Java, as well as test and verify the application with Codename One’s simulator devices and test automation tools.

One of the main features of its build server is that a developer can build native iOS apps as well as native Windows apps without a Mac machine or Windows PC. We recommended using this platform for developing iOS apps.

A large drawback of Codename's graphic UI is its outdated visual themes, as well as the fact that all the event handlers are stored in a single file, which makes the development more cumbersome. We do not recommend using it for large projects.

 

PhoneGap

Adobe owned PhoneGap, is an open-source platform that makes building cross-platform apps for iPhone, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry quite easy. The two of the main features of the platform is its ability to translate code from HTMT5, CSS, and JavaScript, and being a free resource, it is high in demand among developers due to its features and support that it offers.

The only limitation in this tool is it is not suitable for graphics-intensive apps.

 

Appcelerator

Deploying a JavaScript codebase, Appcelerator makes it possible for coders to create cross-platform apps with speed. Being a platform that is both extensible and open, make it a perfect tool for taking future growth into consideration. As a developer one can create apps for platforms like iOS, Android, and BlackBerry; it even supports HTML5 and hybrid apps. Appcelerator has an open-source SDK and supports more than 5,000 devices and OS APIs, Eclipse-based IDE Studio, and the MVC framework Alloy.

The only disadvantage is the slow response of its support team, especially the developer community.

Sencha Touch

Apart from the fact that the commercial licensing feature of Sencha touch is not easy to comprehend, and its limited number of native looking themes, the Sencha Touch platform is an ideal choice for building cutting-edge apps on a cross-platform mobile app framework. 

Monocross

Monocross is the perfect platform for building interactive and interesting apps for smartphones and tablets. What makes this open source, cross-platform framework so amazing, apart from the fact that it supports C#, Microsoft, .NET, and the Mono framework, is that it gives the developer full access to the native device APIs while still coding in C#.

The two main drawbacks of Monocross are; the lack of enough resources to learn about the framework and document and support for the framework are few in number on the internet.

 

Kony Mobile Platform

The only drawback Kony Mobile Platform  is the scarcity of documentation and resource support for developers. But apart from that it is a platform that is laced with features like automatic coding, app preview facility, an API connection, and a range of pre-built apps that make it easier for novices to develop an app easily.  

NativeScript

NativeScript is another wonderful open source platform for building cross-platform compatible mobile apps. The framework provides native APIs in JavaScript, and it provides support for Angular.js 2 and TypeScript. The great thing about it is that, as a developer you can easily reuse the available plug-in npm directly in NativeScript projects.

As with Kony and Monocross, the resources are not extensive; and it is difficult to find useful examples and documentation on each of its features.

 

RhoMobile

The RhoMobile framework offers application tools to developers for developing multi-platform, native mobile and enterprise applications.

RhoStudio comes along with a free Eclipse plug-in; it allows developers to generate, develop, debug, and test applications, even in the absence of other hardware or an emulator. Here, a developer can easily access an offline data with Rho Connects.

Cons: One of the biggest disadvantages with RhoMobile is Its RhoElements RFID plug-in is not freely available for Windows Mobile/CE.

 

Xamarin

Xamarin has made it possible for the developers to design native apps for multiple platforms using only C# code base. The tool allows developers to use the same IDE, language, and APIs everywhere. Xamarin cross-platform development has been adopted by big names like Microsoft, Foursquare, IBM, and Dow Jones. If a developer wants to use Ruby or C#, then it is one of the most suitable development platforms for them. Xamarin platform allows the developer to share code, which means an app can be created in less time and at decreased cost.

Design tools

Whether you're designing your app for iOS, Android, both or another platform entirely, as a mobile app designer are always looking for the right tool that will make their designs worthwhile for the end user. Developing a valuable mobile app requires top notch skill, creativity, and of course the right tools.

While it’s still recommended that you sketch your wireframes and products prototype on paper, app designing software and resource are making it easier less tedious and easy to share finished or unfinished jobs with clients, developers, and designers.

But with so many design tools everywhere nowadays, it can be challenging to choose the best tool for your particular type of app. Here we’ve brought together a list of brilliant tools to help you get from concept to finished app faster. It is segmented into General tools and then specific tools for Android and IOS.

General Tools

Wireframing Tools

Wireframing is an essential stage when going through the process of designing a mobile app. It involves creating a bare minimum product that essentially represents the skeleton of the design of your app, and it allows you to think about structure as separate from the final design elements.

It also makes it possible for you to effectively get your concept across to any relevant parties – collaborators, designers, or investors – without you personally needing any design experience to accurately express these ideas.

With more wireframe tools to choose from than ever, we selected the pick of the bunch for App Development.

Pen and Paper

Reliable pen and paper might be old school but still un beatable for cost, plus you don’t need any special training or tool mastery to get the most out of this wireframing method. While some designers and developers prefer going directly to Photoshop or a prototyping tool, this pen and paper I still the best method for capturing ideas quickly as they happen.

Android and/or iOS sketch paper

For those just starting out learning how to design a mobile app, sketch paper is a great way to go to learn how to use a specialty wireframing tool. For a reasonable price, you can purchase dot-grid papers that have iPhones and iPads printed on them, it is also ideal for storyboarding or showing the various states of how your app will look in use. The Android version of sketch paper has 8 phone models printed on it. However, unlike the iOS paper (which has a dot grid), this one has no lines at all.

Wireframe kit v2

Boasting over 175 templates and over 500 UI elements, this is a useful resource that will speed up your workflow when you are creating designs for tablets and other mobile devices, ensuring you finish your work on time and your designs always look great.

The Noun Project

This is a great tool kit for any upcoming mobile project that you might have, and a must have for all mobile web designers. It boasts thousands of amazing icons from a variety of different artists, some of which are free.

Now

This is a comprehensive free, cross platform UI kit for Photoshop and sketch. Boasting over 52 complete design templates, 35 custom icons as well as over 180 UI components, you will have everything you need in one kit to create amazing designs.

MockFlow

If you are looking for an online wireframing solution, with the flexibility to handle any type of design project – whether it’s for a mobile or web app, then you should consider something like MockFlow.

Wireframeapp.io

Wireframeapp.io is another web-app based wireframing option similar to MockFlow. Unlike MockFlow all plans are paid for.

Balsamiq

If you are looking for a tool to effortlessly design just wireframes with, then Balsamiq does a great job at it. The great thing about it is, that apart from being fast and offering a lot of UI elements you can make wireframe sketches or clean wireframe designs to match your thought-out design.

Prototyping Tools

Prototyping is the next step in designing a mobile app once you’ve finished wireframing. The main reason for using a prototyping tool is to create a workable version of the design, similar to what you want the final project to look like.

Marvel

Marvel is a collaborative web application prototyping tool that makes it easy to turn your sketches into workable prototypes for iOS and Android. 

It offers the ability to add basic design elements, and also link these designs together to create a workable flow. Marvel allows you to create realistic interactions such as hover, click, swipe, pinch and more. With tons of third party integrations such as Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, and even those on cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive, Marvel plays nice with many of the other tools you already use, and the collaborators on your team.  Unlike other tools, Marvel is supper specific—design, prototype and collaborate. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, then Marvel could be the design tool for you.

InVision

InVision is a free web and mobile prototyping tool used by innovative companies like Adobe, Zappos, AT&T, Dell, and Sony, as well as fast-growth start-ups like Prezi, Soundcloud, and Evernote. 

Thanks to its functionality that allows for simple commenting and collaboration on projects, it is the perfect prototyping tool for teams, Version control is another great feature, that sets it apart from many similar types of tools. 
Using InVision won’t guarantee you their success, but you can’t deny the benefits of association!

Axure RP

Axure it a complete app design tool for professional designers, offering a free to use during a 30-day trial. It tries to give you all the functionalities you need to design your app from start to finish. 

Axure allows for easy app prototyping thanks to highly functional designs and provides functionality for easy team collaboration. Apart from the prototyping, it allows you to also design wireframes, mock-ups, flowcharts, personas, idea boards, user journeys, diagramming and graphical documentations and even more. 
The interesting thing is, if you are a code freak and will like to do some coding, it allows you to code, and also allows you to add ready to use components and libraries to help you create even better design seamlessly.

Proto.io

Proto.io has a lot of features, and it’s easy to use, as no coding is required. 

For mobile app developers looking to create a realistic and functional prototype that “feels real” this may be music to your ears. 
They supply users with multiple UI libraries, 3rd party integrations (with partners like Dropbox or Google Drive, allowing you to synchronize files easily to help you simplify your workflow), and even user testing to ensure the user experience is seamless upon launch. More importantly, you can seamlessly import your UI components from Sketch or Photoshop. 
A basic 15-day free trial allows you access to limited features. Starting at $24/month you can upgrade to a fully-functional account with multiple projects and features.

JustInMind

Designed for wireframes and for prototyping this standalone tool can be downloaded and installed onto your own server. Through its powerful widget library and tons of plugins extensions, it allows you to add HTML, videos, online widgets, docs, interactive maps and online/offline to your application. 

It furthermore allows for integration with JIRA, Microsoft TFS and Doors, and the ability to manage your team members from the same platform.

Visual Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Is a famous saying by Steve Jobs. Sometimes, we all need a little bit of inspiration.

If you are looking for guidance, and a little inspiration to help remove the creative block, these free tools can help you wrap your head around the perfect design for either mobile operating system.

Laudable Apps

This bare-bones website/app gallery focuses specifically on just showcasing beautiful iOS 7 designs. With no text or other distractions, and no commentary.

Android Patterns

There is no better way to familiarize yourself with the in’s and outs of design for an Android. It may surprise you to know that it is significantly less rigid, and remarkably different to that of iOS app design standards.

Using Android Patterns is a great crash course in Android Design ( in addition to reading through the Google Play store’s submission materials, like this launch checklist), as it contains a library of Android interaction patterns arranged by app type and include actions such as navigation, notifications, and screen interactions.

While these patterns can be helpful they should be taken as a guide, but not absolute rules.

Icons

Icons8 provides a library of over 53,800 icons that are completely free to use. Perfect for helping you visualise what your final product will look like.  

Adobe Colour

Adobe has a vast array of resources for those looking to design a mobile app, from beginner to advanced levels of design. One of the simplest and most useful is their colour scheme tool.

From monochromatic to complementary, to triad, and more the options are endless. You can even create a colour scheme from an image or browse the colour scheme submissions of others for inspiration.

Mobile Design Inspiration

Organized specifically by iPhone, Android, Apple Watch, and iPad, Mobile Design Inspiration is the largest inspiration gallery for mobile app design that we know of. New designs are added weekly, and their “Creative Fields” section can provide additional inspiration if you’re also working on designing an app logo.

Adobe Experience Design (XD)

XD is the direct competitor of Sketch, it is ridiculously fast and easy to use. If you’re a PC fan and have been looking to use Sketch but have been unable to due to its exclusively supports Mac, then, this is good news for you.

XD provides you with basically all the features you get from Sketch—wireframe, prototyping, and more.

Origami

Origami Studio is a complex standalone interface design tool with great functionalities Originally developed by Facebooks it is now available for free.

Highlights include the ability to preview your app prototype, and see live changes as you work on it, by connecting to the Origami app on your iOS or Android device, coping and pasting layers from Sketch, and more.

Another cool functionality is the ability to record your prototype and quickly send it to anyone from the Origami app, even clients.

OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle is another design tool that allows you to quickly visualize the flow of your app. It helps you in planning your app development without much hassle, by providing the features and freedom to prototype strategy maps, wireframes, screen flows, and a range of diagrams.

HotGloo

Need to design a prototype mobile application that needs a specific user interface? Looking for a powerful interface designing tool that allows you to do this? Then web-based HotGloo is for you.

Apart from its extraordinary interactive features, it caters for many designers to work on a single wireframe project from anywhere, all they need is an internet connection.

UI stencil kit

Old fashioned as It may be.  A UI stencil kit is a tool every designer must have.

Flinto

Does it look like all odds are against you on the best tools in the market because you’re not on Mac?

Maybe you want to collaborate with your team and everyone is using Mac and now you’re thinking of getting a Mac because you want to be able to use Sketch?

Well, Flinto has a web and Mac version, you can easily import your Sketch and Photoshop designs and join your team. You’ll never feel like you’re left out.

It’s super-fast, mirrors iPhone and Android transition animations, it supports prototype previewing, and sharing the installation link is simple — just send a link to whoever you want to from the app. 

FramerJS

With FramerJS you can create powerful wireframes and prototypes. It is however not a tool that you can start using straight after visiting the website, you will need to spend some time training in the use of it. Training is provided for free.

Framer, is one of the few mobile app design tools where you’re limited only by your imagination. It is flexible and interactive and allows you to code or use their visual editor if you’re just a visual designer. The benefit of FramerJS visual editor is it auto-generates the corresponding code at the backend, allowing you to re-use it if you like to play around with the code, if you are a coder.

It boasts an easy workflow, previewing of your prototypes, and can easily import designs from Sketch, Figma, and Photoshop and collaborate with your team members.

inVision

inVision is the tool to use if you want to add animations, gestures, and transitions to your static prototype, turning your designs into interactive and clickable prototypes.

It offers effective collaboration for simple management of your workflows.

Zeplin

Zeplin is the ultimate collaboration tool created for app designers and developers. It goes far beyond design and workflow management, by cutting meeting times in half and ensuring that designs are implemented perfectly, however complex. Designed to keep everyone on the same page, everyone in the team can access up to date design resources and get notified of changes.

Zeplin allows you to upload your wireframes and visual designs from Photoshop and Sketch and add them to your project folder, before automatically generating accurate specs, assets and code snippets from designs—tailored for the platform you’re developing for. No more getting lost in design files.

Developers also don’t have to wait until designers finish the design before getting the specs, as developers can be introduced early enough to the process. Building a product specification document and reiterating it every other time can really be tedious—with Zeplin you don’t ever have to do that, as iterations can be done at the same time—thereby reducing the number of iterations for a project. 

UXPin

Zeplin is the ultimate collaboration tool created for app designers and developers. It goes far beyond design and workflow management, by cutting meeting times in half and ensuring that designs are implemented perfectly, however complex. Designed to keep everyone on the same page, everyone in the team can access up to date design resources and get notified of changes.Zeplin allows you to upload your wireframes and visual designs from Photoshop and Sketch and add them to your project folder, before automatically generating accurate specs, assets and code snippets from designs—tailored for the platform you’re developing for. No more getting lost in design files.Developers also don’t have to wait until designers finish the design before getting the specs, as developers can be introduced early enough to the process. Building a product specification document and reiterating it every other time can really be tedious—with Zeplin you don’t ever have to do that, as iterations can be done at the same time—thereby reducing the number of iterations for a project.

Iconjar

Searching for and organizing your icons all the time can be really stressful and time consuming. With Iconjar you can eliminate this hassle.

Iconjar allows you to upload and store all your icons in one place from where you can drag and drop to them into your project on Sketch, Photoshop or illustrator.

The only downside is you may not be able to upload .ai and .sketch files.

InVision App

InVision App is a design protocol tool that transforms static designs into clickable prototypes that support gestures, transitions and animations.

You load in your static mock-ups, then define which areas you want to be interactive, and what they should do. For example, make a menu item clickable, so that it transitions to another page.

Clients can click on any part of your design in order to communicate to you what they like and dislike. This feedback can then be transformed into a to-do list.

InVision App is free to use for one project. Three projects costs $15 per month and unlimited projects costs $25 per month.

Cool Mockups

Cool Mockups offers a huge collection of premium mock-up designs for iPhones, iPads, and MacBook’s and a couple of free designs.

Designs are available individually with prices starting at only $5 for a single PSD file, or as collections which offer much better value. For example, you can purchase a collection of 29 MacBook and iPad mock-ups for only $11.

All designs are Photoshop files that can be saved as a flat screenshot or an image to a smart object layer, which is then automatically inserted into the 3D scene.

PSD Covers

Unlike the name suggests PSD Covers are not .psd files, but Photoshop actions. It offers a good collection of PSD files that can be used to create mock-up designs for books, boxes, DVD Cases, mobile designs, and more.

Its large tutorial section offers good explains on how to load Photoshop actions into Photoshop, how to play the actions to create the base file, adding images, to then create the 3D mock-up designs.

Pixeden

Pixeden has a large collection of free and premium user interfaces and mobile app graphic kits predominantly geared towards iPhones and iPads.

Membership plans start at only $10 per month, $96 per year, or $72 per year for premium subscriptions.

MockUPhone

MockUPhone is a free and simple to use screenshots device mock-ups generator. Simply pick a devise, upload your file, and get your mock-up.

Interestingly the also offer mock-ups for devices such as large TVs, Microsoft Surface, as well as a d a good variety of Android devices.

Mokk.me

Still in Beta Mokk.me is a free tool that allows you to easily create mobile web application mock-ups for iPhone, Android, and WebOS you can share, test on multiple platforms, and reuse the HTML, UI CSS and JS, and add behaviour with jQuery to build your production solution.

The interface is intuitive and easy to use, with a simple drag and drop of fields and elements into the mobile interface. Everything can be moved around, configured, or deleted; whether it be text, images, forms, buttons, or maps.

NinjaMock

NinjaMock is a collaborative online service that lets you create wireframe designs for iOS, Android, Windows, and browsers in a few minutes. Mock-ups can be saved in PNG, HTML or PDF format and the document emailed or just printed out for a meeting.

A visual editor gives you all the controls you need for creating your mock-up, while the vector editor lets you create things by freehand. NinjaMock enables you to easily collect feedback on your wireframe design from anyone, and you can keep track of your communication directly within the project.

The service is free for those of you who want to create three projects for non-commercial use. Unlimited projects costs $10 per month.

Fluid UI

Used by the very best product designers in the world Fluid UI assist you in visualizing the flow of your mobile app interface. As with other tools mock-ups can be tested on iOS and Android and shared with clients, however what sets it apart from other tools is the huge collection of 3,500 mobile, tablet, desktop, and wearable widgets that it offers.

The service is free to use for one project and ten pages. The Lite plan costs $12 per month and allows one project, an unlimited number of pages, and ten uploads.

Upgrading to the standard plan at $29 per month allows ten projects and unlimited projects and pages. It also offers additional tools such as project cloning, exports and printing. Their top plan costs $49 per month and has no restrictions on projects or pages.

POP App

Marvels POP (Prototyping on paper) App is a service that helps you transform your pen and paper ideas into an interactive iPhone or Android prototype by assisting you to present, explain, and share your app ideas.

Mock-ups can be viewed in any device and it integrates perfectly with services such as Dropbox.

The free plan allows for two projects and one member, while the basic plan costs $10 per month if paid yearly and offers ten projects and three members. Upgrading to their pro plan at $25 per month allows unlimited projects and team members.

The Best Android Lollipop UI Design Kit

UXPin released a fantastic free Android UI kit, that allows you to grab the best Android Lollipop
UI Design Kit for Free

The kit contains 45 stylish Android Lollipop inspired elements that can be modified in Sketch, Photoshop, and UXPin. A Nexus 5 body, Nexus 6 body, and over 100 icons, are also included with the download file.

Libraries

Repurposing your source code in the process of developing and applications is a blunder. To avoid it, you need to use libraries in which you will find various suitable tools and apps in creating a new technology.

pttrns

TETHR is an absolutely free design kit for iOS by InVision. It offers eight Photoshop document files and 138 templates with over 250 components that you can adapt and incorporate in your designs.

Unsplash

Unsplash makes finding good quality stock images and photos that you can download and use for any project for free easy. It is a great resource to find high-resolution photos free of copyrights that you can use the way you like in your app.

App Icon Template

This is a free Photoshop resource that helps you create app icons for iOS, OS X and Android apps on the go. App Icon Template is a free Photoshop resource that will assist you in creating app icons for OS X, iOS and Android apps on the go. Built in textures and colours, and with the ability to automatically render out all the various sizes of icons required on Android and iOS, makes it such winner.

Lookback

This is a free Photoshop resource that helps you create app icons for iOS, OS X and Android apps on the go. App Icon Template is a free Photoshop resource that will assist you in creating app icons for OS X, iOS and Android apps on the go. Built in textures and colours, and with the ability to automatically render out all the various sizes of icons required on Android and iOS, makes it such winner.

144 Social Icons

144 social icons come in 4 shape types, different colours and monochrome. Every social icon is designed in Photoshop as a vector image, making it easy to edit and the solution to create unique icons for use on your different projects.

New Old Stock

Images are an important part of web design, and mobile designs are not exceptional. What you need are great quality photos, and this is a great resource for this. It has an amazing collection of vintage photos from the public archives that you can easily use on your projects.

Android

Android App Patterns.

Specific to the Android operating system, Android App Patterns offers amazing design inspiration to app designers offering over 1,600 screenshots of beautifully designed and functional apps across 31 categories.

IOS

TETHR 

TETHR is an absolutely free design kit for iOS by InVision. It offers eight Photoshop document files and 138 templates with over 250 components that you can adapt and incorporate in your designs.

iOS Fonts

Every iOS font, for every iOS version installed since iOS SDK 3. iOS Fonts features a listing of default iOS fonts in one place with a total of 260 faces for iPhone and iPad. Web and app designers can try out the different fonts by typing a text in the preview box just to see how the results will look like on their Apple device.

Sketch 

Sketch is a lightweight MacBook based UI/UX design tool built for modern app designers.

It is very similar to Adobe Photoshop, but it’s built mainly for app prototyping offering powerful features, an intuitive interface and an expansive plugin ecosystem, Sketch lets you create your best work — from your earliest ideas, through to final designs.

The download size is about 20 megabytes, it doesn’t use too much system resources, and it exports assets very fast. If you want to edit photos, you’ll have to combine this app with other tools like Photoshop or Adobe illustrator and can’t animate with it. However, it’s a great choice for most app designers.

Conclusion

These are but a few resources that could help you give life to and develop prototypes and wireframes unique and best suited to your needs.  You definitely won’t have to use all of these tools, just the one that you think your design team needs to move to the next level.

With these resources you can make your app development experience a breeze.

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Why Develop an App?

Why Develop an App?

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Why Develop an App

There are many different reasons to have an app developed. You might have a great idea or see a need for an app in a specific industry. Perhaps you share the responsibility of streamlining or tying together business process in your company or mundane business repetitive task are just becoming too overwhelming and hard to keep track off.

Regardless of your motivation to have an app developed, you will face the same big choices – one of them being what platform or technology should be used. Developing a quality app that runs well on one device is already complex, building it simultaneously for other platforms can make it even more difficult. Choosing one platform to launch your application is a hard choice but sensible choice, not only does it give you breathing space to test your app in the market, but it also insures you against making major changes across multiple devices

So, what are the important things to consider when choosing a platform for your mobile application? At iSolve mobility we’ve build up considerable experience with developing mobile applications, which we are sharing with you in this article.

The first step is to get clued up on the technology options available for mobile app development to give you a point of reference when discussing options with your mobile app developer.

Web Applications

A web-based application works just like an ordinary website and similarly is accessed in a smartphone’s browser just like one. Apps and websites send information back and forth from a user’s device and smartphone, and modern web apps can do that pretty well and are optimised to give a pleasant experience on mobile devices. The advantages of web apps are:

  • Easy to maintain – you only have to update one version of the app when necessary
  • The most affordable to develop – developing web applications require coding skills which are commonly available, and are the cheapest way to bring an app to market.
  • Works well with other apps – It’s easy to customise a web app to send and receive information from other web apps, such as a shopping cart with accounting software. This makes it possible to integrate different business processes and change it according to your business needs.
  • Can be deployed to any device with internet access and a browser.

Disadvantages of web applications

  • It’s slow – Web apps cannot use the device’s native operating software, all it’s code are executed through the browser. The browser cannot optimally make use of the device’s operating system and hardware as an application is specifically developed for the device and operating software version.
  • Less intuitive – The programming languages for web development are very cumbersome when it comes to creating slick user interfaces. Web developers create web applications with tools and code that were not originally created for mobile, which very often translates into a poorer experience for user’s vs developing applications with resources that are specific to a device or operating system.
  • Cannot use offline. Mobile users cannot access the app content or store data to send later when offline.

Android App development

With more than 85% percent market share worldwide and more than 60% in South Africa, Android is the dominant mobile operating system today. It runs on countless models of smartphones and tablets, as well as many other devices. This doesn’t mean that android should be the default choice, as this ubiquitous operating system also has its drawbacks.

Advantages of Android Apps.

  • Most smartphone users use Android. – Android devices range from high end to very cheap, representing a huge demographic range. This holds obvious advantages if you are promoting diverse products and services. It’s worth recognising that the bulk if android users are low income earners.
  • Android has a very open development environment, which results in a lot of crowd-created plugins and frameworks. As a result, there are a lot of creative possibilities when it comes to features and functionality of mobile apps that does not exist with other platforms.
  • There’s an android device at every price point, allowing you to target users from almost every market segment.
  • It’s easy to change the things that helps your app to get found on the app store, such as the title, description and keywords. That makes it easy to tweak your app to help your ideal customers find it. The keywords in the title.

Disadvantages of launching app on Android.

  • Software fragmentation. At any moment, there are several different versions of Android in use at the same time, because mobile service providers and device manufacturers decide when to roll out version updates. A staggering 18.8 % of Android users still use the Android KitKat released in 2013 as opposed to the 6.6 % that use the latest version, Nougat, that was released in 2016. Fragmentation makes it impossible to deploy just a standard version of your app and as a result it will have a huge impact on the cost of your application and how long it takes to be developed if you go the Android route.
  • Device fragmentation. Similarly, there are a huge variety of Android devices, from high end to dirt cheap. For instance, cheaper phones might have lower specs and run slower. This means an app that runs well one device might not work well on another. While this concern might be addressed with market segmentation, it does add another layer of complexity.

iOS

iOS is the mobile operating system that runs on Apple’s mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. Apple maintains a closed ecosystem – only devices manufactured by Apple can run iOS, and apps that are downloaded on those devices are strictly controlled by Apple. Apple products are generally more expensive, and as a result user on the platform are generally more affluent.

Advantages of launching apps on iOS

  • Cost and time of development. Developers just need to ensure that their apps work well on a small range of iPhones and/or iPads as opposed to the thousands of different android devices that are available.
  • iOS users are spending more than android users on in app purchases and are more likely to buy online (m-commerce) than Android users.

Disadvantages of launching an app on iOS first

  • iOS users make up a very narrow niche that may not suit all business models.
  • More than 90% of all apps on the iOS app store are never downloaded by anyone at all, and Apple isn’t helping the situation either. Once an app is approved on the app store you cannot easily change the aspects that affects discoverability such as content, keywords and the title, without submitting a revision. You just have to get clued up on discoverability (app store optimisation and localisation) and implement it from the get go if you plan to spend any resources in developing an iOS app.
  • While developing for iOS is a bit more straightforward than most of the frameworks and plugins are proprietary, which will increase the cost of development.

Summary

Web apps trumps both native platforms when it comes to cost and accessibility, the same set of code can be rendered on any device that have internet access and a browser. However, with the current technology web applications are not as fast and cannot give users the same intuitive experience as native apps that interacts with the device’s own operating system. Getting found is no mystery when you use SEO and digital marketing strategies, but getting users to return is a challenge when you don’t have the benefit of a constant presence on the user’s device and the ability to send well timed notifications.

Android applications have a wide reach, with users distributed across market segments on devices at almost every price point. Low income earners in South Africa that have a smartphone are likely to have an Android device, and the sheer number in this segment means represents significant buying power. It’s also much easier for people who don’t have access to sophisticated banking services to buy apps, books and music with Google Play gift cards available in almost every major supermarket in South Africa. It’s a massive and growing market that are increasingly using mobile to do business, transact, connect and be entertained. However, access to this broad market will come at a steep price in time and costs as your development time and labour are spend on catering for every device and operating system version.

Although the iOS Development journey is straightforward, you need to hire a developer who knows and have experience of dealing with Apple’s strict guidelines to make sure your app is approved the first time it’s submitted. In many aspects, there are not much leeway to fiddle around, as things like optimisation for discovery ideally needs to get done right the first time around. Secondly, you should be willing to spend a considerable amount of effort more on promoting your application than you would have on Android, considering the discoverability limitations, and even then, the mature market can make it difficult for your app to get noticed. If you are sure that you have cornered a niche of affluent iOS users whose lives will be infinitely improved if they download your app, then by all means go for it. iOS users are still outspending the massive Android user base worldwide, and if you hit the nail on the head you might just be in for a big pay day.

android

Interesting Facts About Android

  • 1. Android was not Found by Google.
  • 2. Android is open source.
  • 3. 1.43 Miilion Android Apps on Google Play
  • 4. Android has more than a billion users

OS Market Share in South Africa



  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Apple iOS
  • Windows
  • Symbian
  • Other

Mobile is….as close as you can get to your consumers in South Africa

With an audience of 37.2m adults in SA, you can reach:
  • 97% or 36m adults through a cellphone in the household (2.4 phones per household)
  • 39% or 14.6m through voice, SMS or USSD
  • 52% through the internet – with the majority on mobile internet
  • 48% or 17.7m in mobile apps and their mobile browsers
mobiles

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