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What Makes a Great App Great


You can find around 2 million of apps currently in the app stores being Apple or Google Play; people spend daily from 43 to 185 minutes on mobile devices; you have seen the annual lists of ‘the top apps’ or the ‘best apps’ but what makes a great app GREAT?

There are many things we can list as important when building an app, but what are the reasons why some apps finish as the top ones as opposed to many others that fade away in oblivion?

Let’s try and give some of the crucial elements to follow when creating an app.

  1. Problem solver

The thing that is the most important for mobile apps is that they need to solve a problem for the user. In my last article, one of the questions you need to ask yourself prior to deciding to build an app is ‘Will it solve the users’ problems?’

So ask yourself what are your users’ pain points and and add functionalities which resolve them and facilitate the interaction. Your app needs to meet the needs of your users – you should strive for a clear vision of what you intend to achieve with your app, conduct a research and once you identify users’ problems, it will help you to design your mobile app.

  1. Simplicity and friendliness

By simple, I mean uncluttered – not too many features but only few since the app needs to do one thing well and that’s solving a problem for the users. The best advice is to start with your core focus, do it well and only then shift your focus to additional features – especially if your users provided you with a valuable feedback.

The user experience plays a vital role when it comes to the success of your app thus the best is to follow a rule for mobile apps – the less is more.

Users like efficiency – providing them with a clear guide to follow so to navigate your app will ensure more success for your app. If the users cannot understand your app process, they will surely abandon it.

Focusing on small details can help separate your app from other apps – you can include some interactions, animations, sound effects or other little quirks which can bring life back to your app and make it a bit more impressive than it already is.

Your app must be easy to navigate, user-friendly and visually appealing in order to retain the users for the future.

     3. Performance, Performance

Firstly, you need to understand that a poor app performance can lead to a negative user experience and not to mention losing the valuable number of downloads, revenue or brand recognition.

Think about some of the best apps you’ve tried – they don’t crash, they aren’t slow and they do exactly what you expect them to do. Great apps offer fast response time and their users can handle the app in just a couple of taps or seconds.

Your mobile app has to launch quickly as of the first time so not to keep the users too long and you should improve and test your app regularly to fix bugs and/or slow performance – optimise your app for flawless performance and retest to make sure it runs well and without any delays.

     4. Offline mode & Personalization

Most of the mobile apps need an Internet connection to work – offering your users the app which functions even offline can be a great asset. Although Internet is accessible almost everywhere nowadays, it is important to have this advantage – access to features and content offline allows users to continue promoting a positive user experience which makes a difference when ranking the top apps.

Moreover, it is highly important for your app to create a unique value – delivering real customer value to drive and enhance loyalty is the best choice. Since personalization can help to make mobile experience more human, provide the opportunity to create personal app experiences which will drive your brand recognition and conversion. The app users want personalization in a way where interactions are tailored to their preferences, location and usage behaviour. Very important: leverage profile information insights from the user history and deliver such personalized content to the user and in return, you will surely get a positive user experience and user engagement going along with the success of your app.

       5. Android/iOS platforms

Currently, the two largest global platforms for app distribution are Apple’s App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android) where as of 3rd quarter of 2018, Android users were able to choose from 2.1 million apps and iOS users from almost 2 million available apps. Such numbers tell a story – it is really important that your strategy encompasses these two platforms. You can implement a cross-platform app development framework – cross platform tools can reduce the time and costs associated with developing apps separately on both platforms.

         6. Free offer

With all the apps today in the stores, offering your app for free will increase the possibility for your app’s success. Everyone likes to download apps for free and test them out prior to deciding if the app’s eligible to pay the price for it.

People like to see first hand what you offer without any risks so offering a free basic app is key to grab the users and increase traction. If they are satisfied with your app, they’ll be happy to pay for in-app purchases, try premium features etc.

This method cannot guarantee success but it will definitely increase the number of people who will give your app a chance and hence increase the chances for your app to become a success.

        7.  Test, Feedback, Update

As mentioned above, you should always test and retest your app for bugs, crashes or slow performance so to improve your app performance. You should get an understanding of your customers’ needs, the context of using an app and the most important – pain points.

It is very important to create a channel for communication, ratings and reviews allowing users to connect, get help or simply provide feedback. Feedback is essential – gathering the insights from the users can help you to ensure having the most effective user interface for your app. Not only this, creating an easy-to-use feedback channel encourages communication with the users and helps preventing public negative reviews.

Besides testing and feedback, another important process is to create regular updates in order to provide a mobile app with lasting popularity. Maintain ongoing development and updates – release continuous app updates and keep users coming back for more.

Your app’s features and content needs to be always up-to-date and relevant.

        8. Metrics Forever

Mobile app analytics serve to understand users’ behaviour – tracking the data can be used to measure the success of your app, provide further insights and identify the points where you can make improvements.

Inbuilt app analytics allow you to track downloads, user engagement and retention and these numbers can be a life-saviour for your app. You can get full insights into how to boost user experience and optimise marketing strategy which can make or break your app’s success.

         9. Marketing Strategy in Details

No matter how good, flawless or streamlined your app is – if no person uses it, it will not be successful. Make no such mistake to start the marketing strategy when your app is already developed – you need a solid marketing plan that will help you drive app installs and re-engage target users. You need to start with your marketing strategy much before the launch of your app since it gives a push to your users to try out your app the moment it hits the stores.

Great apps are promoted long before they were released for the public purchase in the stores.

As I wrote earlier, marketing and app launch strategy should contain 3 phases: pre-launch, launch and post launch – this way you provide the best strategy possible for an app to become visible and ensure that your plan promotes your app through various channels and techniques.  

Nothing can guarantee the popularity of your app, but sticking by these simple features can greatly contribute your app’s visibility and provide a more solid chance for success.

To App or Not to App


So far, I’ve covered multiple topics concerning mobile tech – how long it takes to build an app, how to choose a high quality development company, AI in mobile etc. but we never answered to the first and the foremost question – whether to app or not to app.

We can say that we live in a Mobile Era – for a business owner, it’s not enough anymore to be present through the website since online activities are moving to the mobile.

People have already shifted to mobile devices over desktop and according to eMarketer, the time users spend on mobile increased in 2018 and the same mobile will surpass TV as a medium – no matter if you listen to the audio music, use social network apps, gaming or messaging – you are mobile.

So how do you decide if a mobile app is right for your business?

Before making a decision it’s a good thing to think about several points:

  • How about similar apps?

Check the ratings and reviews on the similar apps. It can give you a valuable insight and possibly some ideas for your own feature list.

  • Will the app solve users’ problems?

You should think about users’ pain points and add functionalities which resolve them and facilitate the interaction- e.g. scan&pay, mobile payments, social media networks etc. Target the WOW feature when building your app.

  • Will the app’s target demographic actually use the app?

Think about your end users: How old are they? Will they actually use the app and discover the benefits? Track some metrics and find out how many users access your site via mobile.

  • Will collected users’ data simplify the process?

Simplifying the process of data input such as billing or shipping addresses will offer a great benefit for the users and they will be more prone to return and buy again. If you depend on the return customers (food delivery service etc.), getting rid of the burdensome entry when using your app may end up increasing sales.

  • Do you have a customer loyalty program and/or other motivation?

An app can be a very effective tool for your loyalty program like rewarding customers with coupons, discounts and other incentives. Moreover, you can pick the feature that allows customers to share various content and thus promote your product or service on different social media like Instagram, Twitter etc. You can also use phone functionalities such as camera or accelerometer sensor, as these offer experience that a website cannot compete.

  • And what about branding?

When having an app, the users that download your app make your brand logo visible and considering “effective frequency” in advertising, it is said that the more people are exposed to your brand, the more they will recognize it.

So after you’ve analyzed all for-and-against reasons and realized your business needs to ‘app up’, let’s see some key benefits:

  1. Mobile Payment

Mobile payment is said to be the most valuable feature on the apps. According to Clutch 2018 Small Business survey, the largest percentage of small businesses (26%) listed this feature as the top one.   

Mobile payments offer greater convenience to the customers as they are faster and more secured way of payment. Plus, the payment process is less complicated which allows customer to pay without having to physically hand over cash or a credit card.

No matter if the app gives a chance to purchase online or in the store, these types of payments are getting increasingly common and can offer streamlined purchasing – especially as the consumers today are more prone for a quick and expeditive shopping experiences.

   2.  Value and Loyalty

Perhaps you will need to invest in mobile app for your business, but the value you will provide to your customers is irreplaceable. You should increase customers’ interaction with your business not only to promote sales but also to provide a certain value for them that they cannot get anywhere else.

One way to do that is through creating the loyalty program or digitizing it if you already have one. Instead of the old-fashioned point-collection card, maybe you can facilitate the program by collecting the same points via your mobile app. Another idea is to offer additional coupon rewards exclusively to your mobile app subscribers which can encourage them to go mobile like Aliexpress does. When your customers see how easy it is for them to enter your loyalty program and how effective it is, they’ll be dazzled and it is more likely that they will follow up on their purchases in the future.

The result is more return customers and more purchases.

   3. Direct Marketing

Since apps provide a lot of information to their users like news feed, general info, prices, discounts etc., this can be an immense benefit for your business.

You can provide information to your customers directly, including sales, new products, discounts and promotions, and they can access it with just a tap.

You can communicate directly with them through push notifications and remind them about your product or service whenever you feel appropriate.

Just be careful with the push notifications – if you overuse them, it can evoke a counter-effect and you may lose valuable consumers.

  4. Brand

In today’s world which is overloaded with mobile apps, you need to build your brand consistently and a mobile app can assist you with this.

It can greatly contribute to your brand awareness and what you really need is an app that provides functionalities your customers love, that is nicely branded and enticing in design.

More often your customers get involved with your business through your app, the sooner they will be interested to buy your product or service. Plus, you will foster trust in your mutual relationship – the more they trust you, the more likely they’ll engage with your business. It’s all about creating trust, so your mobile app can strengthen your brand and also help you to educate your customers WHY they should trust you.

   5. Communication and engagement

Your customers need an effective way to reach you – having a mobile app with the feature of messaging can make a difference in the way you interact with your customers. Nowadays, many people would prefer communicating with the business via message rather than via phone.

As more and more people own smartphones and according to VentureBeat report, smartphone users exceeded 3 billion in 2018 and still growing to hit 3.8 billion users in 2019 – mobile apps are real game-changers in communication and customer support.

Most of the marketers actually see their apps as a means to improve communication with their customers.

Final word…

If you’re a business owner and thinking to build a mobile app just to increase your number of new customers, you should think twice.

Mobile app is a powerful tool and although many business owners still think that getting an app is rather expensive and complex, they should keep in mind that mobile apps boost repeat visits, give a wide variety of online transactions, deliver coupons, send notifications to build sales with the customers, stimulate contact with your business, enhances relationships with your customers and much more.

Mobile apps aren’t just for big brands anymore as more and more small and midsize businesses understand that they need to follow this mobile trend.

Whichever way you take, a mobile app is going to be a standard element of any business in the future.

You should decide today whether you’d like to be one of the first to set the foundation for your lucrative source of revenue in the future.

AI and the powerful impact on mobile technology

You’ve all heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI) but only few of us know exactly what it means and how does it impact our everyday life.

When thinking about AI, many Baby Boomers and X Gens think of the old sci-fi films and the scenes where machines come alive and take over the world. But that’s just a funny representation how humans used to perceive the unknown.

If you remember the old TV show ‘Beyond 2000’, you may recall that their ideas and inventions were outstanding at the time, which only shows the potential of the technology.

What is in fact AI and what are the examples we can see on mobile?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is present in mobile phones for some time now, but in the prior generation of phones, it was cloud-based and required Internet to be accessed. The difference with mobile AI today is that the new generation of smartphones integrate the cloud-based AI with built-in AI on the hardware – this innovation was announced by tech giants such as Google, Apple and Huawei.

The rate at which AI is expanding is accelerating. As per McKinsey Global Institute study, AI expansion brought nearly $40 billion investment back in 2016 – sectors like healthcare, education, and finance are all investing in AI, but mobile is the most promising area for AI.

Built-in AI hardware

AI’s been dominant in app development for several years already and has a potential to grow much more in the coming years. Devices are now offering a number of features to build up AI performance – combining AI with these built-in elements makes apps more relevant and personalized.

Some of the examples are Apple’s iPhone XS (pronounced Ten-s), XR and iPhone XS Max (S-Max) which power various advanced features including Face ID, Animoji and augmented reality apps. Immediate follower is Google’s  Pixel 3 XL which is said to have the best camera phone according to TechRadar. You can blur the background with a single camera called dense dual-pixel autofocus – using the depth map, the Portrait Mode software replaces each pixel in the image with enticing blurry background known as bokeh. The result is a high quality image that matches the professional quality with just a quick tap.

The third big player Huawei released Huawei Mate 20, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 X. Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are both powered by Huawei’s newest in-house processor the Kirin 980 chipset and have triple rear cameras – the phones’ AI chip offers a number of features, including ‘4D predictive focus’ (tracking the main object in the photo so to keep in focus) and more. Apart from those two, Huawei Mate 20 X is intended mostly for gaming audience. Its large screen can display more information thus reducing amount of scrolling.  

All three brands also paid attention to a better battery performance on the new generation phones which is partly due to the in-device AI.

Use of AI in Mobile Software

  • Tensor Flow Services

TensorFlow was created to be a reliable deep learning (DL) solution for mobile platforms.There are two solutions for deploying machine learning (ML) applications on mobile and embedded devices: TensorFlow for Mobile and TensorFlow Lite.

TensorFlow for Mobile has a fuller set of supported functionalities and you should use it to cover production cases while TensorFlow Lite allows targeting accelerators through the Neural Networks API.

Some common use cases for on-device deep learning:

Speech Recognition (small neural network running on-device listening out for a particular keyword and transmitting the conversation to the server for further processing);

Image Recognition (helps the camera to apply appropriate filters, label photos to be easily findable, uses image sensors to detect all sorts of interesting conditions);

Object Localization (augmented reality use cases, TensorFlow offers pre-trained model along with tracking code – the tracking is important for apps where you’re trying to count how many objects are present over time – it gives you a good idea when a new object enters or leaves the scene);

Gesture Recognition (effective way of deploying apps with hand or other gestures, either recognized from images or through analyzing accelerometer sensor data);

Optical Character Recognition OCR (Google Translate’s live camera view is a great example – the simplest way is to segment the line of text into individual letters, and then apply a simple neural network to the bounding box of each);

Translation (these are often sequence-to-sequence recurrent models where you’re able to run a single graph to do the whole translation, without needing to run separate parsing stages);

Text classification (if you want to suggest relevant prompts to users based on their previous readings, you need to understand the meaning of the text and this is where text classification comes in. Text classification is an umbrella term that covers everything from sentiment analysis to topic discovery, example like Skip-Thoughts)

Voice Synthesis (a synthesized voice can be a great way of giving users feedback or helping accessibility, and recent advances such as WaveNet show that deep learning can offer very natural-sounding speech).

  • Image Recognition Features

The technology of facial recognition is nothing new but it’s expected to witness the new growth opportunities in the coming years.

Mobile app creators considered the growing interest and try out new ways to apply the technology in an unconventional way since camera phones became a focal point for communication. Set of techniques that serves as a groundwork for such applications are ego-motion estimation, enhancement, feature extraction, perspective correction, object detection and document retrieval.

Since retail giants such as Amazon, Target and Macy offer image recognition with their mobile apps, the technology will likely become a must-have. Scan-to-buy options enable customers to shop directly from a retailer’s catalogue and in-store signage increased in demand and became a standard offer today.

Some retailers are employing image recognition that allows consumers to point their phone at any object and receive suggestions for the similar products. Direct example of this is IKEA Place app which they developed for iOS – the users can place the IKEA furniture into their homes with the help of AR and rotate around as if in realistic world.

  • Visual Search on Mobile

Mobile visual search is a great potential to create the new profit opportunities – brands are trying to utilize the smartphone camera’s increasing sophistication so to activate consumers and drive sales. In some cases, visual search is faster and more accurate than text or voice and smartphone is the perfect launchpad for the visual search technology.

Leading Internet search companies such as Google and Baidu are racing to capture mobile visual search market as it begins to replace traditional forms of search.

Let’s say you saw something you really liked but you don’t know how to find it or how it’s called – visual search lets you find all those things you don’t have the words to describe. Google Lens is a perfect example – in 2017 Google Lens was introduced in Google Photos and the Assistant. As of 2018, Google announced three major updates: first, smart text selection that connects the words you see with the answers and actions you need – you can copy/paste text from the real world (recipes, etc.) to your phone.

Second update is a style match, e.g. if you like a specific outfit you can open Lens and see things in a similar style that fit the look you like.

Third update is that Lens now works in real time – it allows you to browse the world around you just by pointing your camera.

With a snap of camera, companies can use technology as a tool to determine the elements of their inventory, publishers can use it to source quality visual content from their photo libraries and Digital Asset Management (DAM) software can include visual search to organize and curate their customers’ content – visually.

Visual Search can help businesses in E-commerce to increase catalogue discovery, customer engagement and conversion rates.

  • Image Recognition Api

Image recognition APIs train computers to analyze, classify and alter different types of pictures.

Let’s list some of them:

Clarifai independent team built system that accurately recognize most entities. Unlike any other APIs on the list, it’s offered scene recognition with a bonus of video analysis. For images, Clarifai can perform sentiment analysis, text recognition, logo and face detection, as well as more robust version of Resemble’s image attribute detection: brightness, colour and a dominant colour.

Cloud Vision by Google enables developers to understand the content of an image by covering ML models – it includes many of Clarifai’s key features and some add ons like: landmark detection and a simple REST API. You can’t make your own models to test against but you have the access to an API backed by Google which is constantly improved. Furthermore, you can build metadata on your image catalog, easily detect broad sets of objects in your images and moderate offensive content from your crowd-sourced images which is powered by Google SafeSearch. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) allows you to detect text within your images as well as automatic language identification.

On the other hand, Amazon Rekognition prides itself with a more robust suite of facial analysis tools, including facial recognition (not offered by Google or Clarifai) across images, and detailed information like beard recognition (yes/no), and facial comparison (how likely is it that two faces are the same person?). It also pledges integration with AWS services (S3 and Lamba).

It would be suggested that Clarifai has the strongest concept modeling, Google the best scene detection and sentiment analysis, and Amazon the best facial analysis.

We still have The IBM Watson™ Visual Recognition service which uses DL algorithms to analyze images for scenes, objects, faces and other content. You can make and train your custom image classifiers using your own image collections – use cases include manufacturing, visual auditing, insurance, social listening, social commerce, retail and e-commerce. As visual recognition understands visual data, it can turn piles of images into organized information. With the IBM Watson Visual Recognition service, building mobile apps that can accurately detect and analyze objects in images is easier than ever.

Let’s stop here for now – there are more features to talk about in the second part of the article and we will see more examples of how AI redefines a mobile software and a mobile experience altogether.

AI and the powerful impact on mobile technology (part 2)

Last time I wrote about the usage of AI in mobile software and we covered TensorFlow services, image recognition features and APIs and visual search on mobile. But there are many more benefits where AI improves the mobile experience.

Let’s move on to other features you can benefit from when AI starts to incorporate its magic into the mobile.

  • Natural Language Processing Features and Understanding

Your first contact with  Natural Language Processing (NLP) might involved a GPS navigation app which allows you to verbally request directions to a destination – they are far more sophisticated than they used to be.

The best-known mobile app with NLP is SIRI, a virtual assistant (VA) technology followed by other VAs including Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant.

NLP became more common in the medical and healthcare sector as the use here is wide. This is especially true when it comes to the apps for wearable health apps that allow you to use verbal input as this field has an increased need for hands-free communication.

Another usage is within detecting spam messages where NLP can be extremely useful. Spam filtering algorithms ‘read’ the content of blog comments, social media or email messages etc. Then, they compare it to the known spam messages and text patterns to identify the spam.

Also, there’s a huge potential in creating and pulling the data from the information stores – a user can give verbal input to search plethora of ebooks, websites, videos, footages etc.

In addition, NLP can have a remarkable usage in the area of prediction – referring to political and social events.

There will be improvements within language translation apps and mobile apps that include talk-to-type functionalities.

Natural Language Understanding (NLU) handles machine ‘reading comprehension’.

It converts text pieces into more formal illustrations such as first-order logic structures that are easier for a computer program to manipulate.

NLU identifies the intended semantic from the multiple possible semantics which can be extracted from a NL expression and which usually takes the form of organized notations of NL concepts.

Regardless of the approach used, most NLU systems share certain common elements – the system needs lexicon of the language, a parser and the grammar rules to break sentences into an internal representation. The umbrella term ‘NLU’ can be applied to a different set of computer applications – from simple tasks like short commands issued to robots to highly complex ones such as full comprehension of the newspaper articles.

  • Text-To-Speech (TTS) Systems

TTS is a high fidelity speech synthesis which gives better user experience for some specific groups like people with learning disabilities, literacy difficulties, people who speak language but cannot read it, people with visual impairment and different learning styles, people who multitask or that access content from mobile phones.

Making your digital content audible helps online population to understand the text better and as people are increasingly going mobile, TTS can turn any digital content into a multimedia experience so that people can listen to blogs, articles or news.

Some of the best text-to-speech softwares of 2018 are:

  1. Amazon Polly – Besides Alexa, Amazon created an intelligent TTS system called Polly. Polly turns text into lifelike speech. It supports an API that lets you easily incorporate speech synthesis capabilities into ebooks, articles and other media. It is easy to use – you just need to send the text through the API and it’ll send an audio stream straight back to your app.
  2. Voice Reader Home 15 – Linguatec created Voice Reader that can quickly convert text (Word docs, emails, EPUBs and PDFs) into audio files. You can listen to those files on a PC or a mobile device.
  3. Capti Voice – Speech synthesis apps are popular in education world as they improve comprehension among other things. Capti Voice lets you to listen to anything you want to read. You can customize learning or teaching as well as overcome language barriers.

The new cutting-edge TTS service launched by Google is Cloud Text-to-Speech powered by WaveNet, a software created by DeepMind AI.

It analyzes the waveforms from a vast database of human speech and re-creates them at a rate of 24,000 samples per second. The final result includes voice with subtleties like a lip smack and the accents. Google advises the new service provides 32 different voices capable of speaking 12 languages and users are able to customize factors like pitch and speed.

  • Speech-To-Text (STT) Systems

If you’re at the conference or a lecture, it can be quite hard to write down every word the speaker says and this is where speech recognition comes in to solve the problem.

As it is dependant on computational linguistics, it identifies spoken language and turns it into text.

These systems can differ in capabilities where simple ones can recognize only a selection of words while the most advanced ones can understand the natural speech.

Some of the best STT apps are:

  1. Evernote for AndroidEvernote allows you to record audio notes and turn those into the text. Unlike Dragon Dictation (see below), Evernote saves both the audio and the text file together so you can record what’s on your mind and sort the data later. The app is free, but since it uses Google Android text transcription service, it requires Internet connection.
  2. Dragon Dictation – this app has only one button – just tap it and start talking and Dragon Dictation will take care of the rest. The text shows after you’re done with dictating and once the app finished transcribing your speech, you can send it out via email, or copy and paste to another app. You can also post directly to Facebook or Twitter or just save your text and use it later on. The app is for free for iPhone and iPad but it requires Internet connection.
  3. Voice Assistant – this redesigned app has a fast access feature that makes it easy to post on Twitter, Facebook or email. With Voice Assistant, you can utilize auto copy feature to send your recordings to other apps such as Google Search, YouTube etc or straight to a wireless printer. It also has grammar correction and on-screen editing with suggestion for corrections.
  4. Transcribe – this is a popular dictation app that’s powered by AI where you can import files from Dropbox. Transcribe any video or voice memo automatically, supporting 80 languages from across the world. Once the file is transcribed, you can export raw text to a word processor to edit. The app is free to download yet you’ll have to make an in-app purchase if you want most of these features.
  5. Speechnotes –  Speechnotes doesn’t require to create an account – just open the app and press on the microphone icon and you’re ready to go. When recording a note, you can easily dictate punctuation marks through voice commands. You can quickly add names, signatures, greetings, etc. by using custom keys on the built-in keyboard. Speechnotes app allows you to access plenty of fonts and text sizes – the app is free to download from Google Play Store but you have to make in-app purchase to access all features.
  • Chat Bots

Chat Bots for mobile apps are classified as ‘recent’ sensation. But their beginning and development started in 1966 with Eliza – a medical chatbot which can be considered as the mother of all chatbots. Chatbots are great for specific tasks, from simple ones, such as rule-based chatbot that answers basic customer questions, to the complex ones like helping customer service questions.

Chatbots won’t replace websites or apps but they work great when integrated with the same apps and websites to boost interaction with customers.

For companies, it is essential to engage with their customers on a regular basis – mobile apps are the best platform for this engagement. Today, almost everybody would rather communicate with a company through their app than through email.

Also, chatbots can assist with privacy issues – that is the reason why many banks are building their own Chatbot platform like Erica from Bank of America. Using native chatbot helps to avoid privacy issues.

Some great examples of chatbots are: Duolingo, Erika by Bank of America (still in beta stage), Lemonade Maya (replacing brokers and bureaucracy), Operator by Intercom (customer service chatbot that handles simple tasks). I would also like to mention Messenger platform for chatbots (Facebook) which currently dominates the Web.  

Benefits of bots in mobile are massive – customer interaction will be more lively and engaging, you won’t need to download an app for a task, chatbots will be your calculator, booking agent etc., they will recommend new things to you, help you with repetitive tasks and will save you a lot of space on your phone as they will be a number of apps in one.

Developers will see the benefits through seamless deployment of the chatbots for messaging or other instances, integration of chatbot with other apps – with an intelligent chatbot you can have easy-to-see features and additional functionality added to your mobile app.

Chatbots are adding quality to your mobile app esp with the intelligence support it gets from AI since it will help you increase conversions.

Chatbots are the future of mobile technology, so are you ready?

How Will Mobile AI Impact Businesses?

The major tech companies are incorporating AI algorithms into various devices to strategically retain users – it helps business to deeply engage users and provide more incentives to use their services.

Many devices and apps will be written with algorithms that adapt based on the learned behavior – the algorithms will be able to filter the data, find trends and adjust the apps themselves to create more meaningful opportunities for engaging the users. Forward-thinking enterprises will prosper on the advantages AI provides, as it continues to connect users to brands.

The new advancement of AI and ML is causing a revolution in the way that developers, businesses, and users think about intelligent interactions within the mobile applications.

What will happen next…

The most obvious changes AI will bring are processing speed and efficiency — doing things faster and without multiple charges of your phone. In the end, the whole point of AI is to create more personalized and user-friendly relationship with our smartphone.

Google’s $400 million acquisition of DeepMind is a prime example of mainstream AI application. A study conducted by the Mckinsey Global Institute revealed that tech giants such as Baidu and Google spent between $20 billion to $30 billion on AI in 2017, with 90% of this spent on R&D and deployment, and only 10% on AI acquisitions.

Based on the progress in technology and the growing demand for smart applications, AI and mobile are the PERFECT match.

Our Secret Code

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great

We are Zesium company and we’ve been innovating the world since 2004 – with our proactive approach and methods, we build products and implement solutions that disrupt the way you think and articulate.

Our name?

It origins from a chemical element Caesium – a rare metal that has literally redefined time and which is responsible for many changeovers leading to the world of today.
As indicated, we are accountable for many tech-transformations as we always challenge ourselves in creating the outstanding technology.
What caesium element has done is raising the standards for the measurement of time exponentially – the same way, we raised the standards of our company’s architecture: Innovation Lab, Startup Hub and Team as a Service with a dash of a Design Studio.

Our architecture?

Our Innovation Lab was created for the purposes of R&D and continually combines the latest technologies to create amazing novelties. Our creations are enabled by a broad range of services like software/web/mobile app development, Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, Innovation Consulting and more.
Our Innovation Lab aims to develop breakthrough solutions to major challenges of today and the future – we address the problems too complex for the businesses to solve on their own.
Our Lab applies a wide range of methods and tools to stimulate creativity as well as to develop, prototype and experiment the solutions.
Our Innovation Lab carries the motto: ’Create the impossible’.

Our Startup Hub was triggered by a belief that we should build products that inspire and solve a real world problems. Since we were recognized as a credible technical partner, we decided to build successful joint stories together with our clients.
Startup Hub offers the unique model of ‘Shared Equity’ and a customized price where we assist you with reassessment of your concept and help in attracting the investors and potential future partners.
We start Lean – with understanding of which problem you are trying to solve and how passionate you are about the idea.
We cannot guarantee the success but together, with the right attitude, a precise execution and true passion, we can bring you significantly closer to it.
We built the path that leads us.

In case you lack the technical capacities, Team as a Service (TAAS) is our way to help your business grow without any setbacks.
Today’s world requires agility and it’s not always favorable to rely solely on the permanent employees to cover every opportunity that arises.
Our TAAS model gives you an opportunity to approach your business intelligently and to get the control over your work.
With our creative and a proactive mindset, we’re able to recommend you the unique ideas which can get your project off the ground rapidly along with maximum efficiency. Moreover, our arrangement can differ from open-ended, episodic or merely temporary so you are open to choose the best option for your business.
Having our TAAS model in your toolkit can keep your company competitive and agile as well as able to take on any project and deliver it profitably.
We know that we can challenge you, we know that we can recommend you the exceptional ideas and we KNOW that we will deliver what has originally been planned.

Our Design Studio is capable to alter the reality and develop a rare form and a style unique for today’s world. We have leading UI/UX designers whose creativity matches the bleeding-edge design requirements. We grasp your vision and transform it into the visual shape.
Our Design Studio follows the simple steps within their out-of-the-box formulations: sketching, pitching and assessing the ideas. The result?
Synthesis of the first-class design ideas created to display, entice and engage.

Our team?

Our team is the most essential part of Zesium – it embodies and represents our values supported. Our people are highly educated individuals with vast experience that, together in a team, represent the most valuable asset. Our team collaboration ignites ideas until they explode into the inventive solutions. Our team is our catalyst promoter, boosting the performance of each other and the company’s impulse.
At Zesium, we support Steve Job’s motto: It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.

Our vision?

It is to inspire change and give our contribution to the world through a constant upgrade and a focus on high quality process.
We experience and understand the world through our eyes and mind and we aim to build technologies that see, sense and perceive the world just like we do. We strive to shape the future by creating unprecedented value for our customers, team and partners as well as to develop solutions addressing significant unmet people’s needs.
By improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation, We Make a Difference.

Our colour?

The chemical element’s name comes from ‘caesius’, a Latin word meaning “sky blue” – here at Zesium, our colour appears as nocturnal sky – we chose black since without black, no colour has any depth. But if we blend black with anything, suddenly there’s fullness – we are always ready to mix black into our palette when we want to create something that is tangible!
Since eyestrain is often caused by excessively bright light or too much screen brightness, the eye feels good viewing black as it soothes the eyesight.
Our dark background shines upon other colours and shows our genuine inner spirit – powerful, serious, prestigious and potent.
The contrast we create demonstrates concepts and notions more explicitly, and places our vision ahead of the game.

Our spirit of adventure to embrace the new, and the incredible faith in the power of invention is what makes us Avant-Garde.

REMOTE vs IN-HOUSE – pros and cons

Cracking the Remote code

Have you ever worked remotely?!

If you didn’t, then you are one of the rare people since today remote work became a common practice and a game changer for the global business.
Many businesses found themselves having to alter their technical policies, but is it worth?

First, let’s check the numbers when talking about remote employment.

The recent research by Gallup in 2017 found that the percentage of employees working remotely increased from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016 and indicates that this number will to grow up to 75% by 2020.
While 90% of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have accustomed to working remotely, it is 60% of Millennials that take the full advantage of remote work options as opposed to 33% Baby Boomers.

The worldwide outsourcing market has already surpassed $524.4 billion back in 2015 with IT being the largest sector outsourcing and according to Deloitte’s 2016 survey, there are more factors which you should consider regarding IT outsourcing apart from the cost reduction.

Let’s see some more factors you should pay attention to:

Hourly rates

To better understand why outsourcing is profitable, you need to know the differences between annual average salaries of software developers in Serbia compared to annual earnings of US and UK software developers.

As per a PayScale analysis, you can see average salaries of software developers per year in the graph below:

As per Accelerance 2018 Guide to Global Software Outsourcing Rates, here are the average hourly rates for developers (junior, senior or lead) in USA, Latin America, Asia and the Eastern Europe.

Always bear in mind that hourly rates shift per country, local economy standard, job positions and other relevant factors according to Accelerance The 2018 Guide to Global Software Outsourcing Rates.

Overhead costs

The burden rate provides a clearer picture of total labor costs than the payroll costs alone. The fully burdened cost of an employee includes payroll taxes, workers compensation, health insurance, paid time off and so on.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of the employee benefits is 31% of an employee’s fully burdened cost.

When outsourcing, the burdened costs don’t exist – it gives you an opportunity to invest saved money to the other segments of your business.

Recruitment costs

Recruitment agencies’ fees aren’t so moderate depending on the target country. In UK and USA, the recruitment fees rise as the wage increases.

For example, you will be charged around 13-15% for roles up to £15,000.
If you are seeking a job profile with a salary up to £20,000, then your fee would be around 17-18%, and anything above the £20,000 salary can be between 22-26%.

However, outsourcing allows you to get similar services at a lower cost. Even better, you can hire the services only for a specific task whilst in-house developers are continuous cost regardless requirements.

Outsourcing software development gives you flexibility to manage your resources and scale them quickly but if you need to grow your in-house team, you have to repeat the entire HR drill and there’s always a chance not to get the desired result.

Supervisory expense costs

Management time is not free – for each new person you hire, managers need to spend additional time on one-on-one meetings, coaching, managing reporting and so on. Many staff members would be involved (managers, HR team etc.) and you may face a loss of productivity from both sides.

For many companies, new employee onboarding can be a disruptive activity of the week which means you have to spend more money to get them working.

Office space and equipment

Office space is a cost you should be able to quantify especially if you think of growing your team. Here are some average prices of an office space rental worldwide per square meter per annum:

In USA, the price depends on the city and the location while in UK, the office space depends on the location, office size and type of lease (serviced, rented, freehold etc).

In Belgrade, for example, you can rent fully furnished office space from €80 going to €180 for the luxurious office building with all additional facilities (warehouse, garage, separate offices, etc.).

Don’t forget that your team will also need computers, storage, testing tools etc. which your company must buy so you must consider this cost as an add-on to the office space rental fees.

Talent Pool

Since hiring in-house developers for all technologies is not practical, if you need specialized service the best choice would be to outsource – you would have access to a diverse talent pool since software development companies that outsource have every type of talent on their hands.
Outsourcing provides you with unlimited access without paying anything extra.

More importantly, outsourcing development companies work across various industries so they have more industry knowledge since they have to keep the pace with the technology updates whereas in-house developers may be limited to a particular industry and may get the feeling that they are stuck with whatever they are doing.

Communication

It’s believed that companies that outsource often deal with employees that speak little or no English. But today, finding a team with a project manager that’s fluent in English isn’t a problem anymore since those skills can be easily determined within an introductory call.

Considering ‘remote’ communication, people say it’s easier to talk to a person sitting nearby. But let’s face it – we’re more keen on digital channels and even if sitting close to each other, we’ll communicate via chat (Slack, Google+, Skype etc.).

A good quality communication can be set up through digital channels, regular sprint planning or retrospective meetings, tools that enable remote collaboration (Jira, Taiga or Trello) and making stand-ups online a common practice.

When communicating remotely, you should always tend to over-communicate. Maybe it sounds silly, but communicating via text lack many physical cues such as body posture, tone of voice etc., so to avoid any misunderstandings, video meetings are excellent choice to get around communication barriers.

Better Delivery Time

When you hire on-site developer, you have to pay the costs no matter his performance results while with outsourcing development company, you only pay upon delivery.

A competent outsourcing company will improve work accuracy within given deadlines on a project plus it will deliver desired results in less turnaround time. Great outsourcers would offer you valuable innovation consulting, identify advantages or risks, give suggestions for better execution, help you finalize software specifications and even more. Don’t forget, the best outsourcers always focus on establishing a long-term relationships with their partners.

However, if your in-house projects aren’t delivering, you can’t offload those employees unless after an agreed period. If you end up dissatisfied with the in-house recruitment, bear in mind that you may not be able to change things to improve your ROI.

Quality

It’s true that you need to be careful with your choice as some outsourcing companies may offer lower prices but accompanied with a good chance of not delivering the quality you desire.

To stay on the right track, consider a reputable outsourcer that has a demonstrated track record of high quality work. You should do a short research on the company by checking their background, how long they operate, previous client records, customer retention rate etc. You can also ask for code samples to verify if they deliver high-quality work as there can be huge difference in the quality of work.

Quality control may be more flexible when employing in-house software development team but if you find a great outsourcer for your partner, the benefits are endless.

Business focus

A good business strategy would be to find a reliable outsourcing development company that can be your long-term partner while you can concentrate on the big picture and keep up with the technical changes and consumer expectations.

Outsourcing software development enables strategic focus that can greatly benefit your business – when not busy managing financials, you can use the time for more constructive purposes. It’s also beneficial for your in-house IT team as it allows them to continue supporting other issues (network maintenance, cyber security, end-user support, etc.) that are critical for your everyday operations to run smoothly.

Hence, what’s the final word?

Globalisation’s been a buzzword for a few decades, but only now it shows its full potential – the world is shrinking and you can gain with it!
Don’t allow yourself to dismiss the option of outsourcing software development as ‘too expensive’ because of incomplete comparison of outsourcing rates and internal labour costs.

Mutual trust, respect, and teamwork – these three things are the main ingredients for a great recipe of client-developer partnership, and thus a successful outsourced development.

Critical Steps To Launching A Mobile App

The statistics show that the average media and entertainment app was launched 16.54 times per month as of second half of 2017. Overall app stickiness was 14.34 app launches per month and a measurement of the global mobile app retention rate found that 23 percent of apps were only used once.
According to a recent InMobi survey, the biggest challenge app developers face today isn’t design or development but marketing.
Nearly half of the survey respondents said they have trouble raising awareness for the app — it’s not surprising, given that millions of App Launches happen every year, and only 1% will skyrocket.
I’ve categorized these steps as Pre-launch, Launch, and Post-launch, but the list can be adapted to meet your specific needs.

How can you ensure your app launch to go smoothly? There are few stages and steps you should follow but always bear in mind that you should be flexible with the deadlines.

PRE-LAUNCH STAGE

1. Identify target audience and Unique Value Proposition

The first step is a market research – getting to know your users before the launch will save you time and money. It will help you to better understand users’ pain points and what they dislike about the apps that are already in the market. It’s highly important to discover reasons for the users’ pain points by examining their behaviour. If you launch the app with all the collected info, you will have a steady process and will be able to anticipate any possible pitfalls.
So, think about few questions to answer to get the clearer picture of your next step within the process:

  • Who is your app built for?
  • What is the problem your app will resolve for the users?
  • How is your app delivering value to the users?
  • Why is your app better than your competitor’s in delivering that value?

Once you compile the details, you can focus on your marketing plan and don’t forget that for a consistent brand image, all your marketing activities should communicate and reinforce this message.

2. Create a landing page, promo video and engage social media on networks popular to your target audience

After the market research, it’s time for your app to be tested. It’s always a good idea to create a buzz around your App and let people become fans and wait for its launch eagerly.
You should register a domain and set up a landing page with the basic info like app’s name, short description and a form for the visitors to sign up for email alerts on your app’s progress. Once your landing page is set up and working, you can begin with collecting leads, offering a preview of your app to the press and early adopters and don’t forget about integrating with analytics or A/B testing tools so to check on your messaging strategy. (Google Analytics, Optimizely, Instapage etc.).
Next, the best is to increase your web presence – you should identify the social networks popular with your target audience, register the account and start posting content related to your upcoming launch of the app. Share your idea on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., ask for likes, tweets and sign ups. Mingle a bit!
You should create a promo video that catches the core of your app in a one-minute pitch – promo video can be embedded to your social posts, landing pages and it can boost conversion by up to 80%.

3. Identify influencers and existing communities popular to your target audience

You should mingle a bit through message boards and blogs to find an appropriate existing online community in your line of work – invest some time online to discover these communities and join their conversations since participating in these groups may be a great benefit as a direct feedback tool.
You should also track top influencers whose content is being shared in those groups – create a list of all influencers in your work niche who might be interested in writing about your app.

4. Prepare Launch Activities

After you’ve done all your market research, focus on the realization of the launch.
Here are a few tips for that:

  • Content marketing – great content can help you to succeed in your launch since a comprehensive and quality content collect the much-needed attention. It also shows your potential users how useful your app is and allows them to understand better how to use it. You can embody your content with blog posts, infographics, videos, articles and press releases so to boost your brand image.
  • Create a press kit – Make sure that the users can access information about your app easily and not to go back and forth through the web. Compile all your assets into one online press kit which should contain the following: your app’s logo, icon, screenshots, promo video, your boilerplate description of an app, your links to social media accounts, recent press releases and other relevant information. Once you do that, your influencers can quickly go through your press kit and find the details they need in one place if they will write about it.
  • Product curation sites – You should check some websites that curate new products since they can help you to create some hype about your app. Make sure that you are ready with you Minimum Viable Product since the rating on these websites have an upvote/downvote or review section. Some of these websites are: Product Hunt (best to launch around 7 PST), Beta List, Hacker News, Crunchbase etc. so choose the appropriate product curation site for your mobile app.
  • Create your product page – the users can see only the first few lines of your app description in the App Store, so you need to ignite their interest in those five lines – your app store description should be like advertising copy. Get your users excited about downloading and using your app. Keep in mind that every successful app solves the problem for users, so ensure this is clear in the description. Additionally, it’s great to try to follow ASO best practices to help your app rank higher in the app store with including keyword(s) in the title and description of your app.

5. Beta launch

There are a many websites for the newest apps that are coming soon and some of those are Beta List, Erlibird, Idea Squares etc.

Once you’ve created a list of beta testers, you should have some tools to help you work with the early adopters and improve your app. Remember, feedback is the key!
You can use UserVoice so that testers can send feedback directly to you – how they like the app and what features they would add. You can also use Crashlytics to help you identify where exactly your app breaks and eliminate those bugs.
Although analytics aren’t so helpful at this early stage, they are extremely useful to determine who comes back and uses your app and to proactively reach out to those that don’t and find out why.

After you’ve done the work with beta testers, built up the initial user base and built a great app – here’s an idea to add to pre-launch stage so to ensure the best initial launch as possible.

A lot of large apps used text-to-download forms on their website as the fastest way to get your user from the desktop to the app store on their device. LinkTexting offers this as an easy-to-use service and it takes less than 30 seconds to implement.

The app stores always show the highly rated apps first so make sure to ask your users to review your app – instead of intrusive popup messages, you should do this after the user performs the core action in your app – only then you ask if they’re enjoying the app or not in a screen that flows directly with your app’s UI/UX. For example, if they’re not enjoying, ask for a feedback via UserVoice or if they are, just ask them to rate it.
Make this process as smooth as possible to get the best user/app feedback and ratings.

LAUNCH STAGE

The day is finally here!
Now it’s time to submit your app to the app store(s). At this step, you should be aware of the submission guidelines to get your app approved.
If you want your app to have a high download and user retention rate, it needs to leave a good first impression within the first few days prior to launch. If you fail to do this, you’ll likely lose users’ interest soon.
Once you’ve submitted your app, you should spread the word loud and proud to a press list, influencers and communities to inform them about your app’s release. Send an email to everyone on your list encouraging them to test the app and thank them for their loyalty.
You should also promote your app on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. With such hectic times when launching your app, it is difficult to keep track of the big picture. You should create a system for regularly recording your previously identified KPIs. This dashboard will present all your metrics in one place and help you stay goal-oriented. You can also make your own mobile app KPI calculator which can be adapted to include the most important metrics for your app’s success.
Additionally, if you have some good contacts at TechCrunch/The Next Web/Verge, you should check with them about getting an article.

POST LAUNCH STAGE

When you launched your app, your work isn’t done – you should continue doing couple more things in order to secure your app’s success.

Measure – After the launch, you need to assess how the process went and what needs to be improved. Your assessment should include customer satisfaction, engagement and retention rates. Reasons like why users abandon the app or their lack of interest can help you to adapt to the shifts in user expectations.

Listen – Make sure that you update the app experience and add new features and personalized content regularly as this will keep your users engaged. Use analytics, track user behaviour and listen to the user feedback so to determine what your users want and to ensure compelling updates and features that drive usage. However, bear in mind when updating your app if these features meet your business goals as you cannot meet everyone’s needs.

Stimulate continued usage – If you want to drive engagement and retention, you should stimulate users to use your app so to ensure the long run. That can be in a form of mobile-specific rewards, special promotions, coupons or specialized content access. The way how you stimulate your users will depend on the nature of your app.

Re-engage users with marketing communication – You should be careful with this as people don’t like to get ‘overspammed’ so choose wisely. Push notifications can engage, encourage activity and re-engage inactive users when done appropriately.

Keep ratings high – Ratings are the reflection of user experience so you should keep those numbers at 4.5 rating or higher. A good user experience and a useful app will often end up with high ratings and positive reviews. Developers should be careful in managing and resolving negative reviews and should keep communication channels open to user feedback.

Finale..

A mobile app launch isn’t a one-time event. It’s a cyclic process requiring re assessment since the market needs change. Since there’s always room for improvement, make sure to do it on a regular basis so to keep your users engaged and interested through new updates and functionalities.