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Avoid Fatal Mobile App Mistakes

Mobile apps have seized the world — they’ve changed people’s daily lives, their shopping habits and the interaction between companies and customers with a single click. The statistics show that around 2 million apps were available in leading app stores last year — it evidently confirms that people are going mobile.

But great mobile apps aren’t cheap — if you consider building a mobile app for your business you should make it serve a purpose as no person likes buggy apps.

Imagine you invest to build an app for both platforms and then you discover that very few people downloaded the app and even less could be counted as retained users.

So basically, your app lived only for a single day.

To prevent the headache, let’s list a few simple mistakes which you should avoid at any cost:

  1. No Plan or Target Audience Scheme

Before you decide to start building an app, you need to set up a plan. As this is an important decision, take some time and think about some details like why are you developing an app? What do you want to achieve? Who is your target audience and their current habits?

Always bear in mind your target audience: age, gender, interests, geographical location etc.

If you stop and think for a second, the entire development process will be much easier as it will be built on the foundation of clear and simple values for your potential users.

2. Android, iOS or other?

Surely you want for your app to reach as many customers as possible but building an app instantly for both platforms can cost you an arm and leg.

The truth is that almost every app gets modified along the way — there is a long way from MVP to the final product, especially since each app needs user feedback to perform the updates and adjust it to serve the users better.

Although Android and iOS apps rule the existing app market, you should always think about the market you’re targeting and what works the best for your users.

The best plan of the game is to figure out what works on one platform and only then add others.

3. Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan should start way before the launch of your app — more precisely, in a pre-launch phase. It’s always a good idea to start a buzz around your app (or just an app idea) to test it and let the people become your fans and wait for the launch eagerly.

Some of the things you can do are to create a landing page, increase your web presence through social media, create a promo video that catches the core of your app and embed it into your social posts as well as the content.

So mingle a bit and share your ideas on social media as it can help you boost your conversion up to 80%.


Source: www.optinmonster.com

4. Too many features

Many businesses strive to include as many features as possible in their app but that is a cardinal mistake. Mobile apps are meant to allow users to quickly accomplish the task that would otherwise take longer. You need to think about the core features necessary for your app to streamline the user experience and perform the very same features quickly and without delays.

As you move on with your MVP app, you can add more features along the way relying on the user feedback and behaviour.

5. Bothersome UI and performance

Don’t get pulled into pure aesthetic when building an app — if you choose a pretty layout but complex for your users to grasp, it will probably be uninstalled and deleted.

Always strive for a unique experience by choosing a simple and clear layout with functionalities that are easy to understand so to ensure maximum user engagement.

Performance also plays a pivotal role within mobile apps — if your mobile app takes forever to load, uses too much device memory or drains the battery, it will deliver unsatisfactory user experience thus leading to destroying an app reputation. The users will leave negative reviews and other users will decide to download some other app rather than yours.

In case your app shows signs of poor performance, you must sort these problems out as soon as possible so to be able to stay in the game.

According to 62% users, if apps underperform, they will be deleted instantly.

6. Insufficient testing

Prior to releasing your app, you MUST test it for possible crashes and bugs. Making sure that your app is not failing and has been beta tested extensively will surely provide a positive brand growth for your business.

7. Negative Feedback — oh noooooo!

Don’t ignore negative feedback from your users — those are the reviews you want so to be able to resolve the issues. Of course, you cannot please everyone but those reviews contain valuable insight on possible problems and which is more important — they reflect the opinion of your users and thus you can learn a bit more about their behaviour as well as their preference with the app working process.


Source: www.komando.com

8. Don’t be pushy or annoying

If you want a great app, you should avoid in-app ads although they are working wonders for app monetization. Those ads are loaded with graphics and can impact app usability. If you still need to use those ads, then testing is mandatory so to ensure that those ads are customized as per app layout design and doesn’t compromise on its user experience.

What’s more, pop-up notifications can be really annoying if used excessively. These can be a powerful medium to help your retention rates but be careful — only send these notifications to the right user and at the right time.

9. Rate me, rate me…

If you continually ask your users to rate your app, you will definitely end up getting on their nerves.

Those requests should be relevant and should come at the right time e.g. if the users want to uninstall your app or if any major update is available. If you wish positive ratings, you need to keep those requests on a lower pace so to give users a chance to onboard your app without nuisance messages.

The same goes for updates — if you introduce new updates every other week, it will be inconvenient for the users and you may risk losing them. Always check if the update is really necessary and if it is, then let the users know why it is important to get the update.

So all in all, don’t impose the need for rates or updates — let it come spontaneously from users.

Source: www.upwork.com

10. Copycat

Today, app stores are swamped with mobile apps and many of them are similar in features or service they provide. You cannot simply copy and paste other software tool elements into yours and hope for success over the competition.

You’ll know that you’ve done a great job if your app is unique — offering a range of functionalities or features like no other apps. If users figure out that your app is just a copy of other apps, your app will not survive in the crowded digital market.

So, take your time when planning and try to offer your users an exclusive opportunity to benefit from downloading and using your app.

Wrap Up

If you want to enable your app to succeed amongst massive competition, don’t take the easy route. If you avoid these mistakes, you will tailor a path for success for your mobile app.

The key is to walk a bit in the users’ shoes and thus create an app which will add value to your customers’ lives. Sticking to an idea where you ensure your app corresponds to the user-driven goals will guarantee your development process doesn’t go astray.

8 Benefits of a Custom Mobile App for Your Business

Do you want to streamline your business operations and increase efficiency?

A customized application might be the right answer to your problem.

Prior to any action, consider the pros and cons of developing customized app versus web-based applications that users can access from their phones, tablets, and desktops. Bear in mind that today, people are more prone to spend time on smartphones rather than on the media using mobile web.

Once decided that you would benefit from a custom app, you should take a moment and explore all the ways how customized app can help improve productivity and revenue in your company — set a clear vision for a custom mobile app, think about how it maximizes value to fully experience all the benefits, consider UI/UX so to be more appealing to your users and analyze other factors like device’s battery, overall performance and security.

The popularity of smartphones is finding ways to the new markets with growing awareness — according to Statista, by 2020, mobile apps are forecasted to generate around 189 billion U.S. dollars in revenues through app stores and in-app ads.

For worldwide businesses, mobile apps have been an important element of staying consistent in an increasingly dynamic environment. Businesses today struggle to get a competitive edge over each other thus a customized mobile app might be a right answer for you.

Here are some benefits of a customized mobile app for your business:

  1. Custom for you

Simply having a mobile app is not likely to make an impact on your business future. When people want to have clothes sewn specifically for their body measurements, they go to the tailor.

The same goes for your business needs as well. If you wish your business to offer a complete experience to its users, you should make a customized app. It serves your specific needs the best as opposed to a generic app which may not suit all your business requirements.

The customized app has features (admin backend, communication framework etc.) streamlined to make a positive impact on your business.

2. Personal

Having a customized mobile app is perhaps the only way to ensure the best and satisfying user experience. If you plan to retain the users, a custom app is the best way to do it since it’s built with a particular audience in mind. Features and functionalities vary based on your business needs but considering that it will improve customer engagement, you can hope for a higher ROI.

3. Productive

No matter the size of your business, a custom app can facilitate smooth workplace collaboration by integrating various functionalities — enhanced efficiency equals increased productivity.

In case of generic apps, it is a rare case that those apps and your existing software package can interact with each other seamlessly and this can lead to a decline of your employees’ productivity — they could experience errors continually thus failing to complete their work effectively.

4. Profitable

A custom app adds value to your revenue outcome. With all features at hand, you can not only offer better service to the customers but also motivate them to spend.

The custom app allows you to take advantage of such revenue options. Since custom apps always keep your business requirements in mind, it actually acts as a far-reaching app with multiple functions so you won’t need multiple apps. Also, as these are tailored for your specific work process, you will get business ROI increased in turn.

5. Scalable

Regular apps are as they are — if the company that built it ceases to operate or simply decides not to maintain the app anymore, you will bein a fuss searching for another supported software.

Scalability of your custom app follows the scope of your business — if you plan to expand, you can notify your development team so that all features are built at the right time.

This way, you ensure your app to serve your specific purpose and is able to scale up easily if the need arises.

6. Secure

The success of an app is highly dependable on its security. There are many threats but also solutions how your app developers can handle those threats (obfuscating code, protect local storage etc.)

General apps may or may not have specific security features and it can put your business data to risk. Having a custom app made solely for your business can fortify your data security system.

You can choose on-premises storage or the cloud for your custom application or if you’re a large business, you can determine different levels of authentication to control the accessibility of employees — this level of security is impossible with generic apps.

7. Custom for CUSTOMers

Custom apps allow you to send personalized messages and updates related to your products or services to your customers in real time. Also, it allows you to access customer details and receive valuable feedback which can be a great asset when you want to improve long-term customer relationships.

The custom app can always help you to gather required client information, it can save time for your clients and employees especially that they don’t need to submit any physical documents.

8. Project-Able

If you have a custom app, you are able to access all of your documents (tasks, calendars etc.) at any time as well as share the same with your clients quickly — you can easily synchronize your phone with your desktop.

Custom apps enable you to keep a real-time check on your project progress and deadlines. The updates can be sent upon completion of each phase of the project thus manage the work process for each stage of the project effectively.

Summary

Although we are all accustomed to using regular apps, from a business perspective, it doesn’t treat your customers in a special way. A custom app is actually the thing that preserves your customers as well as converts any possible prospects into real customers.

When building a custom app, you need to find a reliable app development company that will focus on your specific requirements and expectations and streamline functionalities based on your business’s unique environment.

Many businesses today are increasingly striving towards custom mobile applications so to remain agile among the competition — evaluate your business strategy and think about building a more powerful tool which can put your company ahead of the pack.

Top Issues when Outsourcing Mobile Development

Outsourcing has become a common practice in almost any industry today, but the IT industry is the leader in this field. According to Statista, IT functions being most outsourced, as of 2017, were software development and maintenance, followed by data centers and IT infrastructure.

Although the revenue of global outsourced services industry has been inconsistent over the past few years, in 2018 it amounted to 85.6 billion U.S. dollars.

Outsourcing includes contracting out the business process to a third party, in order for the business not only to avoid or reduce the costs or to find appropriate capacities at more competitive prices but also for many more reasons.

If you decide to outsource, take a look at some potential issues so you can prevent them on time and ensure smooth work process flow:

Issue #1 — Whom to choose

If you consider going down the path of outsourcing, be sure to spend time and research before engaging with a specific company.

It refers to checking multiple references and the team of developers that would be assigned to your project as they can affect the quality of the delivery. If you want to speed up the process of your project development, you would need a dedicated team of developers since having a team that is stretched over multiple projects may end up unable to deliver the desired output in the time agreed.

Usually, people hand over the project once they find a reliable partner, however, if you don’t want to risk your overall project, you would need to start small, being ‘PILOT’ project — this way, you ensure mitigating any potential risks and being able to follow the development.

Issue #2 — Poor Communication

Since you’re not physically present to overview the entire process, it is also hard to determine the pace of the process and the outcome. If it happens that the time zone difference or a language barrier are additional obstacles, it can be even more difficult to rely only on the word of the company, so be sure to spend some time on research of a potential mobile partner prior to plunging into development adventure together. Once you do that, set up proper communication tools (Slack, Jira, etc.) and make stand up meetings (video) a regular practice so to ensure clear communication between the teams.

Communication with the team, management, and the founder is a cornerstone, so make sure to lay the foundation for successful cooperation as this is the most important thing.

If you’re outsourcing, be precise when communicating — be specific and detailed on what you want otherwise, you may face the situation of plenty re-dos in the process.

Issue #3 — Insufficient business analysis

Prior to any action, a proper business analysis should be made from the beginning — the sooner, the better. This can help you to save time and resources on further development phases, as the business analysis can prevent and anticipate potential threats and risks.

The business analyst can help to maintain communication among stakeholders, to interpret client’s business requirements into tasks for developers, present future development tasks to the client for easier understanding, make adjustments if needed and to conduct validation of the project.


Source: www.apptunix.com

Issue #4 — Poor technical documentation

Prior to any outsourcing, you need to think through which parts of the process should be developed in-house and which parts may be outsourced.

Technical documentation includes defining the requirements of your mobile app idea. These specifications are used and followed so to complete the same requirements accurately.

It is crucial for you to have clearly defined technical documentation so to prevent any risks or overspending. Technical specifications are a roadmap for your outsourcing development team — it is the best to write it as detailed as possible, setting major points such as idea or introduction, overall description, specific requirements, supporting information, concerns, etc.

Don’t forget about hardware and performance requirements as well — you cannot expect your outsourcing team to guess what you want and if you do that, you create a recipe for project failure.

If you think that you cannot specify the mobile app development process, think again. Of course, you don’t have to write ALL details but if you standardize the procedure for your outsourcing team, it will facilitate the entire process and prevent any delays when coding takes place.

Issue #5 — You don’t protect your intellectual property

Your app idea, no matter if original or not, is your own property and you should protect it — don’t assume that your outsourcing partner will do it by default as some countries don’t have such regulations at all.

First priority is NDA (non-disclosure agreement) — making sure that all participants sign NDA provides legal protection for your idea as well as the perception that your secret information belongs only to your company and no one else. When creating NDA, you have the freedom to split up the source code to independent sections, to limit access to the database or control sharing of confidential information depending on the situation.

If you don’t have signed NDA, no copyright assignment of the document specifying exact duties for each participant, you put your IP to risk. Also, don’t assume that your outsourcing vendor’s IP is safe — always check properly. Additional security measure can be to check if the vendor has proper agreements with its own employees prior to commencing the work.

Issue #6 — Mediocre app development methodology

Following the path of the mobile app development process is highly important but there can be some points which you can do improperly: CTO or a developer to manage app development or hiring a person with limited technical knowledge instead of a proper project manager.

Many times it happens that you don’t set milestones for your outsourcing team or dictate the release process to them thus causing empty promises and additional stress.

If you don’t set each participants’ roles clearly, they will be confused with their tasks and priorities.

Use proper coding standards and ask your engineers to document their source code. What is important to keep in mind is that both of your teams (in-house and outsourcing) must work together to accomplish the goal — don’t make a strong difference between them as you risk causing lack of teamwork and communication failure.

Issue #7 — Delayed QA

QA (quality assurance) is a crucial part of the mobile app development process. You can cause bigger issues if you don’t use a bug tracking system immediately yet keep it for later. Keeping track of issues, bugs or defects is essential for the process and lack of QA will most certainly affect your overall app quality.

If you wait to start with QA until just before the release, you risk rushing the process and getting an unsuitable product out to the market — this way, your users will find bugs themselves and their user experiences can produce negative reviews which can lead to a failure of your app.

Don’t wait for automated testing to be implemented as you can find a large number of bugs which later leads to extensive rework and the delay in releasing your app.

Issue #8 — Time Zone Differences

We live in a global marketplace but what if you need immediate feedback or update and your outsourcing team is offline? Let’s face it, outsourcing team is often located outside of your own timezone. This means that the problem cannot be resolved until tomorrow and it may create delays within the project deadline.

But, don’t worry, this obstacle can be overcome as well — your outsourcing team can take the tasks during your nighttime and you can check the output results the following day. This way, you save time and prevent any delays with the project development process.

Sometimes, it can be tricky to manage agile methods and Scrum with two different time zones so be prepared to work on these challenges as well.

Issue #9 — Outsourcing to companies being behind global trends

If your app requires to be designed as per the latest trends or technologies, you must pay attention to outsourcing mobile app development company policy, its design and UI/UX. If they seem outdated to you, it is probable that they are behind the global trends. Behind cheap price is the reason why so don’t give in to attractive prices but choose the company that understands technological innovation, keeps the pace with the current trends and puts effort to follow the culture of your country.

Also, there is a possibility that some companies may offer you the technologies that they know the best instead of the ones that fit better. Always make sure to check if the outsourcing vendor has presented the solution which will bring the best result and save your resources.

FINAL WORD

Before you decide to outsource your mobile app development, you must get familiar with potential risks and dangers that come along. As the use of outsourcing is growing rapidly, ensuring that you can mitigate the risks will bring you significant benefits — from cost saving (including accompanying costs: recruitment, overhead, office and equipment costs etc.), a chance to bring brilliant experts to the project and all the way to the possibility to find a reliable long-term outsourcing partner.

Outsourcing your mobile app development doesn’t carry more risks than other types of mobile app development — just bear in mind the potential risks when collaborating with your team and together with better planning and better ongoing management, you will outsource with confidence.

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.