What's the scope of mobile application development in 2019?

Every savvy entrepreneur today knows that their business needs to be mobile-friendly. The pressure to build a mobile app today is greater than the pressure building a website at the beginning of the 2000s.

But when did the mobile gold rush begin? When did entrepreneurs realize that they can use smartphones to make their brands an integral part of their customer's life? When did the scope for mobile application development has grown to an extend where there is always an app for that?

How the mobile app trend started

The first smartphone for general use was launched in 1993 by IBM. Not that long ago, right? It was equipped with features such as a world clock, calendar, calculator, and contact book. Now it’s hard to imagine a smartphone without a camera or at least a map.

Well-known in the mid-90s personal assistance devices (PDA’s) were another attempt at creating a smartphone. You may remember or even owned one of the most popular representatives, the Palm, Apple Newton, Sony Ericsson, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian, and QNX. Introduced in 1996, Palm’s line of PDAs made handheld computers wildly popular and etched a firm notch in smartphone evolution.

smartphones from 1996 to 2007

It took almost 10 years of amusing PDA handwriting interpretations for the smartphone market to achieve new heights. In 2007 Apple Inc. introduced the first iPhone. Its touch-oriented interface made a real breakthrough and served as inspiration for subsequent versions of Android and later Windows smartphones.

In the early 2000s, the global launch of 3G truly marked the beginning of the Era of Mobility. Paired with giant leaps in chip technology one suddenly had the processing power of the Apollo space program in their pocket!

The current scope of the mobile app market

Back in 2014, reports showed that smartphones and tablets had accounted for more than 60 percent of all online traffic, things were getting real with the Jone’s effect in full swing. Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram received the most traffic. Since then the popularity of mobility has risen dramatically, making the mobile app market one of the fastest growing segments. In 2016 it accounted for a little more than $100,000 million. Based on the Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2016 - 2023, by Allied Market Research, this number is expected to reach $311,249 million by 2023.

Mobile app download rate

For example, in 2014 the number of mobile app downloads exceeded 138 million in a single year. But just four years later, this number increased by 30 percent. Despite the ongoing talks about customers getting "app fatigue" by the year 2021, the total app downloads number will jump to a thundering 352 billion.

As the demand for mobile apps grows, the unicorn jousting competition among startups increases and expectations of end the requirements from users become more stringent. There are literally billions of smartphone owners, who use mobile apps on a daily basis, doing business, learning or tracking their heartbeats. On average, consumers spend about three hours per day using mobile apps. Because most of this time is spent in apps for everyday use like music streaming, social networking, navigation, to-do lists and so on, it's clear that mobile apps are very far from becoming obsolete - apps are becoming part of our life.

How have customer habits changed the scope of mobile application development?

Over the years, users have become much more demanding, and market competition has tightened. The app marketplace is crowded. There are roughly two million mobile apps available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Social apps, travel planners, business tools, fitness trackers, games, personal finance apps, musical instruments and even the ‘kitchen sink’ -- apps stores have it all.

Today with more than 20,000 mobile apps added to the Apple App Store alone a single month, it has become much harder to reach a targeted audience with a new app than ever before.

Mobile app development is a risky and highly competitive business because it's getting harder and harder to create an app that will stand out.

Today, only a smartphone owner knows what they want, and the only way to succeed on the market is to satisfy not just the general, but also the individual and highly personalised needs of the modern user.

What do users expect from a mobile application?

What do users expect from a mobile application?

Whilst the core ingredient of creating a successful application is a deep knowledge of your target audience, you should not forget the 4 basic requirements of any modern user.

1. GSD

A seamless user experience is what it takes for a mobile app to make users happy. Simplicity and accuracy, reliability and fast performance, clearly outlined and well-executed core functions of the application – this is what the user is waiting for in the first place.

2. Fast and Furious

Instant response and the ability to share media content, near real-time replies to emails and tweets – all this and more has fueled user’s need for instant gratification. Now users demand immediate satisfaction of their needs without having to wait.

3. Make it personal

Two-thirds of smartphone users prefer mobile apps with a personalized experience. Users expect a fitness app to track their progress and achievements and a travel app to offer the perfect option for a getaway based on their travel history and preferences. Personalization helps build excellent user experience, which essentially makes an app successful.

4. Keep it safe

Name, age, home address, bank account number and user’s current location – now it’s all stored in the user’s smartphone. Users exchange extremely sensitive information through mobile apps, therefore security is more important than ever.

Today's users bring a high level of experience and expectations for mobile apps, and as entrepreneurs, we must fully satisfy their needs. Because essentially we need them more than they need us - yes that old chestnut, supply and demand. The top task of an entrepreneur is to invest in listening and co-creating with their customers. At MadAppGang we put your customer needs first, we immerse them in our development and this is why the apps we develop receive great feedback from users - because ultimately they’ve been involved in creating exactly what they need!

Map it out with MadAppGang

Mobile app development has become easier, faster and more affordable than ever. While there are several ways to build a mobile app, in order to choose the right option for your business, it’s important to clearly understand what you want your app to do. Depending on your app’s purpose, you can choose one way or another and broaden your presence on the market. Let’s take a moment and compare the most popular paths to modern smartphone users.

Four ways to build a mobile application today

You can build a mobile app in four ways: Progressive Web Apps, Hybrid, Cross Platform and Native Apps. Each one of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses, and your decision will largely depend on your business needs and your budget. Here are some major Pros and Cons of each approach.

Four ways to build a mobile application

Progressive web apps (PWAs)

Progressive web apps are purely websites written in JavaScript and HTML and designed to provide the entire app-like experience on the mobile web. PWAs perform almost the same functions as any mobile application, except they can't access platform-specific functionality like GPS or camera. Companies like AliExpress and Flipkart and the Financial Times have already implemented PWAs.

PWA, cross-platform, hybrid or native app?

Pros:

  • A single codebase used across multiple mobile platforms makes app development cheaper and faster.
  • PWAs don’t require a formal verification on app stores, which both lowers entry cost and allows a company to release them at any time and in any form.
  • PWAs run on all browsers and are compatible with any mobile device, regardless of their screen size, generation, and other specifications. Not yet perfect, but they're fast developing.
  • There is no need to hire mobile app developers to build a PWA. Your existing web code can be reused on mobile.

Cons:

  • It’s still a fresh and new technology, therefore, browsers do not fully support it yet.
  • PWAs consume more battery and CPU on a device compared to other apps.
  • PWAs lack the background support for iOS.
  • Because many features on a mobile device aren’t available for PWAs, they can't be used for building all types of apps

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Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps use a single codebase to run on both Android and iOS. These apps try to look and act much like native apps, but aren't quite there. They are typically built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The most popular platforms for building hybrid apps include Ionic and Apache Cordova. Essentially a hybrid app is a website that is wrapped in a native capsule. Some popular mobile apps like ChefSteps, JustWatch, and Sworkit are hybrid apps.

hybrid apps, cross-platform apps, native apps, PWA

Pros:

  • A single codebase for all platforms means developers write code once, but use it for several platforms, hence the development cost is lower.
  • Hybrid apps are fast to develop.
  • The same team of developers can build apps for both Android and iOS, which saves a company’s resources.
  • Depending on the app’s functionality, maintenance and updating can be less expensive.
  • Hybrid apps provide full access to the platform's functionality with plugins written in native languages.

Cons:

  • Generally, hybrid apps provide a much lower performance than native apps, making the user experience their weakest point.
  • There is a high probability that certain app features will have a non-native look on different devices, leading to a bad user experience.
  • Native plugins aren't properly supported.
  • There is a high risk that the required plugins are outdated or unavailable, which can increase the time and cost of development.
  • Hybrid apps may not fully meet the requirements described in Apple's App Store review guidelines, which significantly increases the likelihood that the app will be rejected from the store.

Cross-platform apps

A cross-platform app is compatible with multiple platforms and runs on any smartphone or tablet. Just like hybrids, cross-platform apps try to look and act like native apps. There are several development tools that help to build a cross-platform app. The most popular are React Native, Xamarin and Flutter. If well-made, cross-platform apps can provide a decent user experience, yet it won’t be perfect. Vanderlande, Alaska Airlines and Foundbite are good examples of cross-platform apps.

Pros and cons of cross-platform apps

Pros:

  • Certain parts of code can be shared across devices, increasing the speed of development.
  • The same team develops apps for both platforms, which results in the need of fewer developers.
  • It's easier to achieve native-like performance with cross-platform tools.
  • Comparing to native apps, cross-platform applications are cheaper to develop.
  • Cross-platform apps can reach users on all types of mobile devices.
  • Cross-platform frameworks provide access to mobile hardware.

Cons:

  • Usually, these apps require some native code, and developers with experience building native mobile applications.
  • They lack some features offered by Google and Apple.
  • Often cross-platform app frameworks don’t provide support for advanced animations and 3D graphics.
  • Cross-platform software development kits (SDKs) aren’t mature yet.

Native Apps

A native app is a software program which has been developed to work on a particular platform. It can only be written in the programming language natively supported by Apple or Google (Java or Kotlin for Android, Swift or Objective-C for iOS). Native apps are highly performant and provide the best user experience.

native apps vs cross-platform apps

Pros:

  • They provide an excellent user experience thanks to fast performance, responsiveness, and reliability.
  • Native apps work with the device’s built-in features like a camera, location, microphone, etc.
  • Native apps have extensive capabilities for building apps that work in the offline mode.
  • A large number of support documentation and resources helps to ease challenges and speed up the development process.
  • Testing and debugging is easier with advanced tools available for native apps.
  • Native apps work directly with a platform, so new functionality is available immediately after the app release.

  • They have an advantage in ranking on both Apple and Android app stores.
  • Usually, a native app takes up less space, making the app available for the user with low Internet speed.

Cons:

  • The need to build multiple app versions for different platforms increases the cost of development.
  • Native apps require more experienced and more expensive developers.
  • Building for two independent platforms requires separate developers both for Android and iOS, where each developer specializes on a particular platform.
  • It takes from four to six months, and sometimes even longer, to build and deploy a native mobile app.
  • Developing native apps means having two or more separate codebases to maintain, which increases the cost of the app’s maintenance and updating.


So there’s a detailed list of the different App development approaches, if you’re still awake after reading that then you’re doing well. Here at MadAppGang *insert french horns tune*, we always put the needs of a user before anything else, so for us, the choice is pretty obvious. We develop native apps because they provide flawless UX and fast performance. Going Native allows us to put the user experience and their needs at the heart of what we do without compromise. Learn more about our mobile app development process.

To succeed in mobile app development you need to be customer-centric

The rapid growth of the mobile app market and increased competition drove high levels of innovation and feature capability. If you are not developing apps with excellent high performing features then your business probably won’t make the cut. Now we are not just talking about developing something new and hoping that users will buy it.

The key to an app that will remain relevant for a long time, is to meet the needs of users. A truly successful mobile app is one that is well-researched, co-designed and built with the specific audience, and with the desire to satisfy the needs of this audience at the highest level.

The developer-audience relationship doesn’t end with deployment on the app store, the most successful apps have a customer-centric business model and intelligent customer feedback loops built in from the start. Listening and prioritising app improvements based on customer feedback enables the app to remain relevant and continuously improve at meeting customer needs - it may also help stave off those thousands of competitors hungry for a bite of your market.

As advanced features and seamless functionality become readily available, understanding the human dimension is the real competitive advantage, investing in UX, co-designing and being customer-centric to the core is your true north for success.

Hit us up at MapAppGang for a cuppa with a team member for a chat this festive season and hit the ground running in 2019.