Mobile apps have given rise to a gold rush in the software industry. With a viewpoint that there is an app for (almost) everything, users are hosting a new app in their smartphones, every then and now. As a result, smartphones today are falling victim to app fatigue.
Like every gold rush, this one might come to an end too. However, with 352.9 billion apps projected to be downloaded in 2021, mobile apps seem to be a trend that will certainly stay.
With a strong vie in-app store, high churn rate due to app fatigue, and ever-changing user demand, businesses are continuously striving to optimize their mobile app strategy. Here, we discuss 5 major technologies that hold the potential to shape up your business road map for mobile app development.
1. Android Instant Apps
While the Play Store is home to 3+ million apps, Google seems to be striving towards app-less smartphones, quite seriously. Once, with Progressive Web App (I/O 2016) and later with Instant Apps (I/O 2017).
Android Instant Apps calls off the need to download and launch an app on a smartphone. They enable the Android device users to access the mobile-like experience through a web browser, from any URL (direct search, messaging, social media, or any deep link).
Why Instant Apps?
Google Play Store has mobile apps with multifarious features and functionalities. However, an app with a large scale has a few drawbacks. For example:
- They are large in size and thus take more memory and space of an Android device.
- They sometimes deflect the users from the actual purpose for which they launched the app, thereby affecting the user experience.
Instant Apps let businesses work around such limits of a mobile app. One, because Instant Apps do not require to install the app in smartphone and second, it gives access to limited and much-needed functionality to the user.
For example, a food ordering app might have multiple functionalities, ranging from looking up nearby restaurants, sharing links to a restaurant, placing orders etc. That’s too much for a user who is looking up for nearby restaurants in the web browser. With Instant App, users can make the most of app feature that’s relevant to their need. When users request a feature from an Instant App, they receive a code that’s required to access that specific feature.
An Instant App exposes its features as a discrete entity within the app. So, the users looking for nearby restaurants can download the app and use it for that specific feature, without access to rest of the features (that are of no use to them). And once the users are done with app usage, the system removes that feature code.
For developers, Instant App is just an upgrade to the existing app. They can use the same APIs, project, and app source code to create portions of an app, accessible to users, according to their need.
How it Works?
When an app is suggested in the search results, Google Play checks the device has the app installed. An Instant App will be launched if the app is not installed on the device. And if an Instant App is found, a portion of the app will be launched to perform an action requested by users.
For businesses that are willing to make their app and its features discoverable on the search engine, opting for Instant App is a great move. By August 2017, Google confirmed that over 500 million users are having access to Instant Apps. However, this technology is limited to Android users only and that too, for those having their devices running Android 5.0 or above.
2. Accelerated Mobile Pages
“53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load,” says Google in a report. (Click to Tweet)
Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open-source initiative, which aims to augment the performance of mobile websites and web apps. The three major components involved in the process are:
- AMP HTML, which is HTML with some limitations
- AMP JS library for fast rendering of pages
- Google AMP Cache, a proxy-based content delivery network for AMP documents
AMP Adoption: Key Challenges
If a business has a high dependency on mobile access to the websites and any compromise with mobile performance is unacceptable, then opting for AMP is a great move. However, to optimize the user experience on mobile, other options can be considered, such as Instant Apps, Progressive Web Apps, Native/Hybrid Apps etc.
3. Mobile DevOps Tools
“42% of the organizations who have implemented DevOps confirm that it supports their mobile app development cycle.” - Gartner (Click to Tweet)
DevOps is a cultural shift from the traditional IT service delivery model. It involves a set of practices to automate processes between development and IT teams to ensure that software applications are built, tested, and released faster, following the regulatory compliances. With this, DevOps is included as a strategic approach for mobile app development.
For best practices to implement mobile DevOps, tools to test clouds, monitoring, app distribution management, security assessment, in-app analytics etc. can turn out to be a great help. DevOps tools are available with individual functionality or there are integrated solutions (having broad use cases) that can offer a centralized view of DevOps practices.
Agile, iterative or lean methodologies are now used by 57% of software development teams. However, the call for continuous improvement results in the project going off-track and delayed delivery. Implementing mobile DevOps for automated integration, testing, and delivery, scalable app development projects can be streamlined. And in this process, Mobile DevOps tools can play an imperative role.
4. Bots and Chatbots
“By 2020, 85% of consumer interactions will be supported without human interaction.” -Gartner. (Click to Tweet)
A chatbot is an independent, text/voice-based, a conversational interface that uses a messaging platform for conversation (Instant Messenger, Social Network, or an App). Chatbots, generally narrow in scope works upon scripted responses, predefined algorithms and advances through cognitive learning. At the core, it's the Text Analytics and Natural Language Processing at the back-end that helps the chatbot understand the intent of the users.
Bots are apps or microservices that operate on other apps, services, or bots, in response to user request and event triggers (refer TechCrunch bot for Facebook). Bots invoke certain services or applications or use an API to answer the request or give a response to the event. Bots either work on a predefined set of rules or have algorithms developed (generally involving AI).
Chatbots are a part of mid-level and large enterprises for service desk, commerce, enterprise front-end software, servicing users and consumers without human intervention.
Bots, on the other hand, can help businesses to manage crucial processes by automating the workflow, freeing the workforce from non-standard and repetitive tasks. Bots hold the potential to improve communication between consumers, users, or employees within an organization through automation, Q/A interactions (when used as virtual assistants or chatbots). With increasing market and scope that they render, tools to build chatbots are frequently introduced in the market. Some of the technology giants like Facebook, Microsoft are leading the game.
5. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
“Of those who search, nearly 4 in 10 searches only on a smartphone in an average day.”- Google (Click to Tweet)
Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that have a reach of the web, wrapped in a mobile app like interface. With ever-rising usage and dependency of users on smartphones, businesses are making themselves visible on web browsers. But, instead of following the traditional approach of designing a responsive or adaptive web app, they are opting for innovative experiences for users and PWA is enabling them to do so.
PWAs offer look & feel of that of a native mobile app, giving options like full-screen experience without address bar, navigation controls, push notification, creating a shortcut on the app screen. This immersive technology aims to blur the line between mobile web and mobile app.
Currently, several big brands are making the most of PWAs. Uber, Trivago, Flipkart, Forbes, Pinterest are to name a few. Progressive web apps are enabling businesses to reduce the load time, increase conversion rate, decrease bounce rate, and more.
Very similar to the Instant Apps concept, PWAs respond to the app fatigue in smartphones. Users being able to utilize mobile-like interface and functionality, without having to install the app make PWAs a beneficial deal for businesses. With PWAs, the functionalities are limited and therefore the cost of developing them will be lesser than native mobile apps.
Designing Roadmap for Mobile App Development
Optimizing apps for most favourable user experience should be an imperative part of businesses targeting mobility. Along with technically sound mobile application development, hooking it with engaging user experience is equally important. These technologies shared above will not only help your users fight app fatigue, make your business discoverable on web, but also ensure a seamless development to reach out users with the best, as soon as possible.