Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence In Apps

It’s hardly possible to have a conversation about tech nowadays without mentioning machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). In a way, tech companies and the media have been responsible for pushing AI & ML into the mainstream consciousness for at least a decade. And one could say that they have been overwhelmingly successful in achieving this goal.

But why should developers care about machine learning and artificial intelligence? After all, we’ve done fine with apps and games that had no or only limited implementations of AI for several decades. So what gives — why the sudden interest in AI & ML? And how could rudimentary apps benefit from AI & ML — wouldn’t this drive up development costs and utilize additional compute power? 

Let’s give you the short answer first? No, most simple apps won’t need an AI or ML implementation. While your to-do list app or ‘Frogger’ clone will benefit from an AI implementation, you’ll likely roll out a basic logic system or finite state machine (FSM). And if necessary, you could integrate AI agents into your FSM if you’re building a more complex game, simulation, or AR/VR app. 

But as a general rule, you’ll want to rely on simpler systems for most of your apps. However, if you’re creating something like a photo editing app that autocorrects imagery, you’ll want to tap into the power AI & ML brings to the table. Below, we go into greater detail about what this means for your app development endeavors!

What Is Machine Learning?

Before we begin, we need to explain what machine learning is and how it differs from artificial intelligence. Machine learning attempts to emulate the way humans learn. And similarly to humans, learning is an iterative process where accuracy improves gradually. 

But how would ML help improve an app? Consider a game where enemies and non-player characters (NPCs) need to respond like real humans. Or self-driving vehicles that need to respond to varying traffic conditions in real-time. 

A solution based only on AI would rely heavily on pre-determined behaviors, which isn’t ideal. We’d effectively have a situation where some enemy characters respond the same when trying to dodge the player’s bullets. And self-driving vehicles would run into problems when encountering any non-predefined obstacles.   

Ideally, we’d want the AI to mimic human behavior as closely as possible. That means we don’t only want pattern recognition but also the ability to distinguish the slightest nuances in those patterns. Something humans are very good at doing, as our brains can analyze all surrounding visible objects accurately and rapidly. We can quickly determine the distance, color, shape, size, and texture of one object when compared to another.

However, computer systems are only good at rudimentary pattern recognition. At least, that was the case until the introduction of machine learning. And that’s why it’s making inroads in the fields of data science, customer service, and even stock trading.

How Does Machine Learning Work?

Machine learning relies on the following processes to work effectively:

  • The first phase consists of the decision-making process that ingests input data. This data could either be labeled or unlabeled, and the ML algorithm will compute an estimation of the patterns detected in the data. 
  • Then, an error function will compare and evaluate any predictive models and assess their accuracy. 
  • Once done, the model optimization process will kick off. These predictive models will undergo weight adjustments to fit with existing data sets. These data sets come from the training sets, which contain the most accurate example of what the ML algorithm should achieve. Furthermore, the algorithm will repeat this process and update the weights automatically until it reaches the desired accuracy threshold.

What Types Of Apps Benefit From Machine Learning? 

As we mentioned earlier, machine learning isn’t necessary for most apps. But given that more users and businesses require features that automate specific processes, AI & ML implementations have become indispensable. And that’s certainly true for the following kinds of apps:

  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR): Most mobile devices come with apps that recognize human speech, such as Google Assistant and Siri. And the most common uses include voice search and speech-to-text functionality. But even third-party apps can benefit from natural language processing (NLP) to deliver optimal speech recognition.
  • Chatbots & virtual assistants: There’s a greater need for chatbots in customer service. And that’s because they can serve customers around the clock and in multiple zones concurrently. Moreover, they’re a low-cost solution to employing human agents. 
  • Imaging technologies: AI & ML implementations work great for applications that use or manipulate images. Many modern applications need to collect and analyze data from digital photos, videos, and visual inputs. Furthermore, they can enhance these photos and videos with limited or no input from the user. 
  • Recommendation engines: Many e-commerce and mobile apps feature recommendation engines to help users make the right choices. AI algorithms and past behavior data help the app place the most adequate information in front of the user.
  • Crypto & stock trading: More investors and day traders utilize their mobile phones to trade cryptocurrencies and other financial instruments. But AI-powered platforms allow users to engage in high-frequency trading while on the go.

Implementing Artificial Intelligence In Mobile Games 

It’s not necessary to implement machine learning in mobile games. And the reason for this is that older mobile devices don’t have CPUs and GPUs powerful enough to handle intense ML workloads. And that’s not taking into account the GPU processing budget for the graphics and additional overhead the underlying game engine brings forth. 

But it’s still possible to implement AI algorithms that make NPCs and enemy characters convincing enough. And since most mobile games tend to be simpler experiences than PC and console games, it’s unnecessary to implement complex AI algorithms that may cause high CPU usage. 

And the good news is that it’s a relatively simple process to implement algorithms such as A* pathfinding, Alpha Beta search, Minimax, and Monte Carlo tree search, without stressing the CPU. These work remarkably well in action, arcade, puzzle, strategy, and mobile board games. 

If you’re developing a role-playing game (RPG), you’ll rely heavily on a custom-made database to store character and enemy variables. And to manipulate any of these variables, you’ll rely mostly on formulas. You’ll find that these formulas resemble those found in Excel spreadsheets.

However, you’ll need to implement AI for your NPCs and battle scenes. But how complex your AI will end up largely depends on the realism of NPC behavior and the intricacy of your battle systems. And if you’re planning on adding epic boss fights, implementing convincing AI will prove challenging. Your team members will need to put their engineering caps on to deal with convoluted behavior trees.

In Conclusion

Machine learning and artificial intelligence help make apps a lot smarter. And these apps often feel like they have human-like intelligence, even though it’s a bunch of cleverly-crafted algorithms running in the background. 

As mobile app development matures, AI & ML implementations will be standard practice. And that’s because tools and frameworks are getting better, and system-on-a-chip (SoC) vendors are implementing neural processing for ML applications. Contact NS804 today to learn how we’ll help you develop apps powered by advanced AI & ML.

Is An App Really Worth The Investment?

How do you know if your upcoming app project is worth the investment? Well, there are no easy answers if you don’t know what indicators reveal the potential success of your app project. And given the propensity for media hype to center on the most popular apps, this only muddies the waters.

One way to test whether your app idea will hit the mark is by creating a minimum viable product (MVP). But this isn’t always a feasible option, especially if you’ve already started developing a fully featured app. 

Or you may already have released an app that was languishing in the app marketplace. Then you decided to update it and noticed an uptick in downloads and user reviews. However, you’re still unsure whether this updated app warrants further investment. Below, we reveal several of the most pertinent reasons for whether an app is worth the investment

Invest In An App To Stay On Brand

If you’re trying to promote the company brand or an appreneur that develops apps for brands, an app is worth the investment. And that’s because you’re trying to reach customers in as many avenues as possible. Furthermore, you want your brand identity and messaging to be uniform across the board. 

But how would you stay on brand with an app? Well, it’s likely that your company already has a website. It’s also likely that the graphic design, photography, and user interface (UI) reflect the identity of the company brand. 

So, when you decide to develop an app, you’ve already got a blueprint of the design language. The colors, gradients, fonts, icons, user experience (UX), and art assets should follow a standardized format. Once you release your app, customers already familiar with your website will have an easy time navigating your app.

Apps With High Retention Rates Are Worth The Investment

We may have entered the post-COVID-19 phase of the pandemic, but the work-from-home trend continues. That means that many workers won’t be going back to the office or have little desire to return. And that’s a good thing for appreneurs, as having millions of people working from home opens up many opportunities.

Not only that, business, education, and fitness apps boast the highest retention rates. And if you’re targeting any of these market segments and solving a real need, your app may be worth the investment. Moreover, since users will spend significant time with your app, it’s yet another opportunity to promote your brand and stay on brand.

Take Advantage Of New Hardware Features

Smartphones and tablets constantly evolve, especially when manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung release their premium models. Users of these devices expect developers to take advantage of their additional features and innovations. 

And it’s now possible to deliver content and experiences that wouldn’t seem out of place on a powerful desktop PC. So, if you’re a boutique software developer specializing in specific app niches, consider if these are a good fit for premium devices. 

For example, you could be developing an illustration app that takes advantage of the 120Hz refresh rates of these devices. The higher refresh rate allows for smoother drawing when using a stylus, which isn’t possible on 60Hz screens found on lower-end models. Such an application would attract and satisfy professional users willing to pay for using your app.

The Bottom Line

Companies that invest in apps can further increase the stature of their brand across the web and mobile. And new hardware and the work-from-home movement offer appreneurs many opportunities to spread their wings and develop apps that truly are worth the investment. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you develop apps that will excite and satisfy your users!

What Investors Want To See In An App Startup

If you’ve been wondering whether your latest idea could turn into a profitable app startup, then you’re not alone. Every day, developers reach out to tech investors to fund their projects. And a few succeed in attracting these investors and turning their minimum viable products (MVP) into the next big thing!

Of course, not everyone has such luck, with many developers left out in the cold. Their underfunded apps languish in the app stores, and user interest dwindles to a trickle. But with the right strategy, it’s possible to win over app startup investors, giving you the impetus to succeed rapidly. Here are a few handy tips on what you need to do.

Learn From Startup Success Stories

You could have the freshest and most unique app idea, but that doesn’t mean it will catch on. Whether we like it or not, market trends play a pivotal role in determining success. So take the time to investigate what apps do well in today’s market and attract investment.

Fortunately, there are many excellent resources to help you do just this. Start by reading tech-oriented news sites such as 9to5Mac, AppleInsider, Android Authority, Ars Technica, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired to learn about the latest and upcoming developments. Then, use analytics and data intelligence platforms such as App Annie and Apptopia to gain insights into competing and top-trending apps.

But you’ll also want to find tech investors and learn more about the startups they’re funding. And one of the best sites for this purpose is Crunchbase that features detailed information about acquisitions, angel investors, companies, funding rounds, private equity firms, and venture capitalists. If you do your homework, you’ll find potential app startup investors and key people to contact here.

Create A Marketable App With Monetization In Mind

If you want to attract investors, be careful about how you position your app. Ensure that you’re creating a quality product that fulfills the wants and needs of the target audience. Moreover, ensure that you’re offering functionality superior to that of competitors. Or that you’re introducing an innovative feature that makes your app indispensable to users.

You’ll also need to market the app properly to reach as many users as possible. Tech investors want to see ongoing user acquisition, even if your app is earning minimal revenues in its early stages.

Also, implement a monetization strategy that incentivizes users to upgrade to the paid version. This move will help convince app startup investors of the earning potential of your mobile app. Its financial feasibility will determine whether investors can achieve a good return on investment (ROI). 

Why An MVP Is The Right Choice For A Startup? 

Developing a full-fledged app to draw investors may be a risky choice for a startup. Not only is this option costly, but development will take longer, and your app will reach the market later. But an MVP is far cheaper and quicker to complete since it has the bare minimum functionality.

More importantly, after releasing the MVP, your potential investors can ascertain its viability. They’ll gauge market fit, target audience reaction, and overall feasibility. You’ll also have access to valuable analytics, which you can share with potential investors. And you’ll also have proven that you’re committed to the project and have a capable team able to release an app on time.

In Conclusion

Every startup company dreams of creating the next Instagram, Telegram, or TikTok and taking the app world by storm. While it’s not easy to develop an app that gains such massive traction overnight, it’s not impossible either.

One of the best ways to give your app a fighting chance is to attract the right investor to fund your project. And you can do this by creating an MVP that shows significant growth potential. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you develop apps and MVPs that turn heads!

Best Android Apps To Install On Your Phone

It’s never easy compiling a list of the best Android apps. After all, there are a plethora of excellent apps available for download on Google Play. But there are also many low-quality and gimmicky apps that are a complete waste of time. And then, some apps pose a serious cybersecurity risk, which you should avoid downloading in the first place.

Thus, the criteria for choosing apps to add to our list is straightforward. We focused on best-in-class apps that ooze quality, are snappy, and solve users’ problems effectively.

And we disqualified apps that have redundant features, lack regular updates, and suffer from ongoing issues. We also didn’t add any Google apps, as many come pre-installed with Android devices.

1. Brave Private Web Browser

Surfing the web has become increasingly risky recently. That’s because hackers use vulnerabilities found in browser extensions and websites to harm users. And given that the Android platform is often a target for these bad actors, most browsers don’t offer sufficient protection.

But that’s where Brave Private Web Browser comes in. It’s fast, lightweight, and secure and doesn’t overwhelm users with unnecessary features. And its built-in blockers are very effective at dealing with those pesky ads, cookies, and scripts.

2. GitHub

Every appreneur and software engineer should have the GitHub app installed on their Android phone. With many development teams working remotely, it’s essential to have a tool that allows them to collaborate while using the world’s most popular code repository.

GitHub makes it easy to merge and review pull requests, respond to comments, and provide feedback. It’s also lightweight and boasts a clutterless and intuitive user interface (UI).

3. Microsoft Office: Edit & Share

We couldn’t make a list of the best Android apps without including Microsoft’s flagship productivity app. Microsoft Office: Edit & Share is the swiss army knife of productivity tools, as it allows users to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. It’s also great for taking notes and viewing PDFs.

And as a testament to its power and versatility, this very article was written entirely in Microsoft Office on a mid-range Samsung Galaxy. It’s such an essential app that every executive, office worker, or student should have it installed.

4. Todoist: To-Do List & Tasks

Todoist: To-Do List & Tasks boasts over 20 million users and has received Google’s Editor’s Choice in 2020. And while there are many good to-do list apps in Google Play, few have an equivalent and comprehensive set of features.

Its clean and simple UI makes it easy for users to organize tasks, set reminders, and keep track of progress. Moreover, it integrates flawlessly with Amazon Alexa, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Slack. And it’s designed to run on a wide variety of devices, including the Wear OS Smartwatch. With so much going for it, it’s little wonder that it made our best Android apps list. 

5. Viber – Safe Chats And Calls

There are many good voice chat and messenger apps on Google Play, so this was a difficult choice. But we opted for Viber for several reasons. For one, it’s renowned for its rock-solid end-to-end encryption, giving users high levels of privacy and security.

Secondly, Viber users can make low-cost international costs and even communicate with those using landlines. It’s a feature that makes it stand out from most of its competitors and a good reason for businesses to use it. And thirdly, it boasts a large and vibrant community of users and includes excellent group chat capabilities. And it even syncs and transmits messages to the Wear OS Smartwatch.

The Bottom Line

Our list of the best Android apps is short but squarely focussed on the applications that can unlock the true potential of your smartphone. You’re carrying a powerful device in your pocket that’s an indispensable business machine, provided you install the right apps.

Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you create phenomenal Android apps to empower and engage your users.

Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: What Are The Differences?

With recent tech developments, it’s common to get involved in heated augmented reality vs. virtual reality debates with peers. After all, both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have made significant strides in recent years. And you’ll often come across those that have picked their favorite between the two.

But is one truly better than the other, or is media hype affecting our opinions? The hard truth is that neither technology is better than the other. And while they may seem similar on the surface, they have entirely different use cases.

A user that puts on a pair of AR glasses has completely different needs and expectations than someone that dons VR goggles. Even the technologies themselves have specific features and limitations that set them apart. The keen observer will discover many benefits of augmented reality, which are missing in virtual reality. On the flip side, an avid gamer may become one of the VR faithful due to the abundance of virtual reality games

Therefore, we decided to point out the most significant differences between augmented reality vs. virtual reality in this handy guide. Here, you’ll learn what each technology brings to the table and where and when you should choose one over the other.

Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: A Brief History Lesson

The first known example of augmented reality dates back to 1957. Morton Heilig — a cinematographer — created the Sensorama, capable of delivering visuals, sounds, smells, and even vibrations. Computers were very bulky and expensive during that period, so the Senosrama didn’t use them at all. Instead, it offered viewers a rudimentary analog experience. 

But over the next few decades, this type of technology evolved considerably. In 1975, the American computer scientist; Myron Krueger created the first interface that allowed users to interact with virtual objects in real-time. And in 1980, the Canadian engineer and transhumanist; Steve Mann invented wearable computing devices, such as the EyeTap Digital Eye Glass, Smartwatch, and the Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine (SWIM). 

In contrast, the first example of virtual reality dates back to the early part of the 1800s. And that’s not surprising, as this was a period when photography was gaining traction. Inventions such as the stereoscope, which used twin mirrors to create a single image, captured peoples’ imaginations back in 1838. 

Then, the stereoscope was developed further and became the View-Master. It was patented in 1939 and became a popular kid’s toy due to how well it displayed 3D images.

And in the mid-1980s, former Atari employee and VPL Research founder; Jaron Lanier coined the term “virtual reality”. His company was also the first to sell VR goggles and the accompanying wired gloves. 

However, Virtuality Group was the first company to bring VR to the masses in 1991. They produced various products like the Virtuality 1000 series, powered by an Amiga 3000 computer and capable of delivering virtual reality games. These Virtuality machines made their way to arcades, expos, techno raves, and shopping malls during the ‘90s.

Which Companies Are Involved In AR & VR?

Several big players, startups, and studios understand the benefits of augmented reality and are actively involved in bringing forth AR experiences and technologies. These include Apple, Facebook, Gravity Jack, Groove Jones, Google, Microsoft, Next/Now, Niantic, and VironIT, to name a few. And many of the same entities are also involved in VR.

But it’s not out of the ordinary for studios to offer AR, VR, and even mobile app development services, similarly to NS804. And that makes sense since development methodologies, technologies, and skill sets overlap comfortably on both AR & VR projects. 

And then, there’s Valve Corporation, the famous game developer and owner of the PC digital megastore — Steam. For a while, Valve seemed to focus more on the VR side of things with their Valve Index headset, even though it’s more than capable of doubling up as an AR system. But in 2021, a Valve patent revealed that the company plans to bring a unique AR technology to PC gamers.

What Are The Differences Between AR And VR Headsets? 

One of the benefits of augmented reality is that users don’t need to wear headsets for specific applications. Many popular mobile apps and games utilize the phone camera to display the outside world to viewers — but with a twist! Instead of the same mundane world that users see in real life, they see a more colorful and imaginative world on their phones. 

AR development studios utilize striking user interfaces (UIs) and graphics, which they overlay on the imagery feeding through the camera. Now, users can interact with the onscreen UI and graphical assets, enjoying unique experiences that were not possible before the advent of AR. 

Of course, some users may prefer to wear AR glasses, as these enhance immersion. But their view is not obstructed like would happen if they were wearing VR goggles. 

And on the subject of VR goggles, they’re essential for enjoying any virtual reality experience. The user is closed off from the surrounding environment and has no view of the outside world. For some, this may seem like a scary, claustrophobic, or even downright anti-social technology.

But it’s worth overcoming these concerns and fears, as nothing matches the immersion that VR offers. Furthermore, the design choices of modern VR goggles account for the comfort, health, and safety of users. 

In a nutshell, AR glasses or headsets closely resemble ordinary reading glasses. And VR goggles still retain some bulkiness and wiring, mainstays from yesteryear’s Virtuality headsets. But as VR technology evolves and matures, we can expect headsets to get lighter and smaller in size.

What Do Users Expect From AR And VR Experiences? 

AR users feel more comfortable interacting with the outside world. Moreover, they’re avid smartphone users and utilize a variety of helpful apps for their daily tasks. So, an AR user that travels regularly will use an app such as World Around Me to pinpoint landmarks and tourist attractions. 

Another way such a user would utilize an AR app is when deciding on future purchases. For example, they may use the IKEA Place app to see what a true-to-scale wall unit from IKEA looks like in their apartment. And with more clothing brands releasing AR apps, it’s a convenient way to try out those nice pair of jeans without having to go near a changing room.

Alternatively, VR users feel more comfortable with bleeding-edge technology. These users crave the VR experiences promised by cyberpunk movies, novels, and video games over the past four decades. They want to feel like one of the protagonists in a William Gibson novel or Neo from the Matrix films. 

Many VR users also own powerful custom-built PCs to run the latest and most graphically demanding virtual reality games. They’re the epitome of the power user that always stays ahead of the curve. 

However, VR does not only benefit gaming. It also plays a role in architecture and design, medical training, military training, and real estate tours, as just a few noteworthy examples. So, VR brings forth several tangible real-world solutions to any market or discipline that requires a powerful simulation tool.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve addressed the most crucial augmented reality vs. virtual reality differences and arguments. Both AR and VR are continuously evolving, and we’ve yet to see their true potential.

In the case of AR, it’s the more approachable technology since there’s no need to purchase an expensive headset, and it doesn’t shut off the user from the outside world. But VR is the more bleeding-edge and immersive technology and ideal for gaming and simulations. 

But one thing’s for sure, the tech industry’s big players and forward-thinking studios are heavily involved in both AR & VR.

Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you create phenomenal AR & VR apps that will amaze your users. We have offices in Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Denver, CO to assist you in building the app you need.

Remote Work And Apps: 5 Reasons Why You Need One

The remote work revolution is well underway as we enter the post-COVID-19 era. Small businesses, massive enterprises, and government institutions realize that the old way of doing business is no longer feasible. With a shift towards environmental sustainability and more employees preferring to work from home — remote work is here to stay!

Furthermore, all organizations benefit from reducing their floor space, which inevitably reduces rental and energy costs. And as they streamline their operations, they can tap into a vast talent pool. With the right kinds of apps, it’s possible to work effectively with employees, contractors, and freelancers spread across the country or the globe. 

Below, we unveil why you need remote work apps and how your business can benefit from these.

1. Remote Work Apps Help Your Team Stay Organized

It may seem challenging to keep your team organized when they’re in different locations and time zones, right? That may have been a problem over a decade ago, but that’s no longer the case. Take Trello as an example, a web-based application ideal for managing projects and facilitating collaboration between team members.

The app’s easy-to-learn Kanban-style list-making features and intuitive Trello boards and cards help get everyone on the same page. And while it’s not suitable for massive projects, it’s ideal for smaller projects and organizations. Furthermore, Trello is also available as a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

2. Video Conferencing Apps Keep Your Team Connected

All remote work teams need reliable video conferencing apps. After all, it’s necessary to have those face-to-face conversations and meetings at a regular cadence. Fortunately, there are many good video conferencing platforms available. One could even say that there are too many options in this space. 

Apps such as BlueJeans, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Webex by Cisco, and Whereby are only a few of the options available. On top of that, the privacy-respecting browser Brave has introduced Brave Talk, which is a viable video conferencing alternative.

3. Email Remains Essential For Remote Work 

No organization can run effectively without email. It’s the ultimate tool for communicating with on-site staff, remote workers, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. And considering the speed, reliability, and relative security offered by email protocols, it’s no wonder that email remains so popular today. 

And there are also many excellent email clients and platforms available such as Gmail, iOS Mail, K-9 Mail, Microsoft Outlook, ProtonMail, Spark, and TypeApp mail.

4. Cloud Storage Services Improve Workflow

As with email, no organization can function effectively without cloud storage and file-sharing services. If you’ve ever wondered why services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are so popular, it’s because there’s hardly an organization that doesn’t need to store and share digital files on the cloud. 

Moreover, these services make it incredibly easy and quick for remote work teams to share and update almost any type of file in real-time. And that helps keep teams in sync since they don’t have to wait long durations to access mission-critical files. 

5. The Code Repository Has Become Indispensable 

Tech companies and developers use code repositories daily. And that makes sense, as it’s an effective way to keep source code and the associated documentation safe. Furthermore, it simplifies the collaborative process between remote development teams and tracking any code changes.

But even non-tech companies that need to maintain and update code also need to use repositories. And in this area, there are several good options available such as Apache Subversion, BitBucket, GitHub, GitLab, and SourceForge.

In Conclusion

With the plethora of excellent remote work apps in the marketplace, there’s no reason for any organization to be left behind. And while most organizations will use web-based apps, Android and iOS versions are available for remote workers that rely on their mobile devices. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you build powerful apps to empower remote work teams worldwide!

Android App Development: How To Store Data Locally

There comes a time when every Android app developer will have to figure out how to store data locally. Fortunately, the Android development environment does provide all the tools for achieving this goal. 

But why would a developer want to store data locally? Aren’t more apps taking advantage of cloud storage lately? Yes, cloud storage has become commonplace and works incredibly well. However, it’s always a good idea to store your app’s settings, media files, and sensitive data locally in most cases. 

Since the Android developer documentation already provides guides and code samples for data storage, we won’t include any code snippets. On top of that, we’d need to show both Kotlin and Java examples, which would make this article unbearably long and complex for most readers. 

But what we’ll do is reveal how a developer can store data locally and cover this topic from several angles. It’s also preferable to have some background knowledge of the Android app development environment to follow along.

Various Ways To Store Data On Android

The beauty of Android’s file system is that it borrows much from existing disk-based file systems. Thus, it’s both easy-to-understand and versatile for several use cases. 

But don’t go rushing in without understanding the various data storage methods and when to use them. Here’s a brief rundown of how Android can save your app’s data: 

  • App-specific storage: Store data only meant for your app. It’s possible to store this data in an internal storage volume using dedicated directories or within external storage using different dedicated directories. 
  • Databases: With the Room persistence library, it’s possible to store data in a private database. 
  • Preferences: For storing private and primitive data within key-value pairs. 
  • Shared storage: Storing files that your app will share, such as documents and media files.

Data Storage Considerations

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to shift focus. After all, not every data storage solution mentioned earlier is right for your project. And as an Android developer, you should be asking yourself several crucial questions, such as the following:

Can my app reliably access the data? 

That depends entirely on how your app functions. For example, you could be developing a visual novel that autosaves the user’s progression. Every time the user launches the app, they’ll want to continue playing from their latest save.

Therefore, the best place to place the autosave file is in internal storage, where the app can access it immediately and reliably. Storing this file in external storage, such as an SD card, isn’t reliable because the user may remove it at any time. So, when the user launches the app, it will either crash or notify that it can’t find the autosave file, ultimately ruining the play experience. 

How much space does my app need to store data

Always keep in mind the limits of internal storage. Even though newer Android smartphones come with a respectable amount of storage, many users still carry older devices with a severely limited amount of internal storage

Therefore, if your app’s data storage requirements exceed the limits of most commonly-used phones, then consider using external storage.

What type of data will I need to store for my app?  

If you need to store data that only your app will access, you should use app-specific storage. However, if you’re storing documents and media files, you’ll want to use shared storage so that other apps can access these also.

And if you need to store key-value data, you should use preferences, and for data containing more than two columns, use a database instead.

Understanding Storage Locations And Permissions

As mentioned earlier, Android devices come with internal storage and external storage. Although, the size of the latter varies depending on the capacity of the SD card or other storage device that the user decides to insert or plug into their Android device.

And the majority of apps get installed in internal storage, provided they are small enough in size. While Google Play has a 150MB size limit for apps, developers can exceed that limit when utilizing Android App Bundles, an advanced app distribution system. 

For apps that stick within the 150MB size limit, it’s best to store these in internal storage. And if you use the Files app on your Android device, you’ll see that ‘Installed apps’ and ‘System apps’ use the internal storage. But users can move apps from internal storage to external storage with a few simple clicks. And why users often do this is to clear up space on their devices for other tasks.

To store and manage data on Android devices, developers must use the following permissions: MANAGE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, and WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE. 

And as of Android 11 (API level 30), the MANAGE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission allows write access to files outside MediaStore and the app-specific directory. In most use cases, apps no longer need to declare permissions. But developers should regularly read through the Android guides on how to manage the various file types, as methodologies often change with newer versions of the Android platform.

Know The Differences Between SQLite And Room

If your app needs to handle a large amount of structured data, you’ll want to use a database that utilizes internal storage. And you’ll also want to cache the data that’s most relevant to your app so that users can access it when they’re offline. However, it’s advisable to keep any cache files within the recommended size limit, preferably not exceeding 1MB. 

The good news is that the Android platform provides developers with two powerful tools for these purposes. Firstly, there’s SQLite, a database engine consisting of libraries that developers can embed in just about any app. And secondly, there’s Room, an abstraction layer that sits over SQLite and is a part of Android Jetpack’s libraries.

So, what does SQLite bring to the table that will benefit Android developers? It facilitates the creation of custom databases for developers knowledgeable in the Structured Query Language (SQL). And since Android provides complete support for SQLite from the get-go, most developers take advantage of this.

Renowned for its power and speed, SQLite is also a great choice if you require a comprehensive relational database. Also worth implementing if you anticipate that users will store data and run queries at regular intervals.

But what about Room, and why should developers use it when SQLite seems so effective? Google has made great strides in offering developers many handy tools as part of Android Jetpack. And for modern Android app development, every developer should consider using Kotlin and the Android Jetpack suite of libraries — and Room is one of those libraries.

Room offers the following advantages; annotations that reduce boilerplate code, simplified database migrations paths, and verification of SQL queries on compile-time. And due to these advantages, it’s recommended to use Room instead of directly utilizing the SQLite APIs.

The Bottom Line

Today, the Android app development environment is mature and offers developers many powerful tools. And these tools make it a relatively simple process to store data locally if it’s a requirement for your app to function as intended. 

Whether you need to store media files, sensitive information, or structured data, you have access to the tools and methodologies to do this properly. Contact NS804 today to learn how we’ll help you develop phenomenal Android apps with the best-in-class tools!

How to Achieve App Store Success: Tips and Tricks

Even seasoned developers need a few tips and tricks to succeed in today’s crowded app marketplace. According to Statista, there are approximately 2.2 million mobile apps on the App Store and 3 million on Google Play. Now, let that sink in!

But if you go in prepared with a well-conceived plan, you can enjoy phenomenal success in 2022 and beyond. There’s no reason why the mobile apps you’ve worked so hard on should fail to find their audience. Below, we provide several helpful tips and tricks to make app store success a reality.

Have An App Store Optimization Checklist Handy

One of the most crucial tools at your disposal is the app store optimization checklist. And that’s because it will help you focus on the key processes that lead to success. Without this checklist, you’ll waste valuable time figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Here are the ten things your app store optimization checklist should contain:

  • App store SEO tools
  • Keyword research
  • Adding local keywords of the target market
  • Checking on competitors and their keywords
  • Creating engaging icons
  • Creating impactful videos
  • Capturing screenshots
  • Picking a catchy and distinctive app name
  • Updating app description
  • Encouraging user reviews

Tips And Tricks On Getting Featured On The App Stores

The above checklist will go a long way in securing some level of success. But if you want your mobile apps to steal the show, there’s only one way to do this — and that’s by getting featured on the App Store and Google Play. While this isn’t easy by any stretch, it’s more than worth the effort. 

First and foremost, you’ll need to create a high-quality app that’s meaningful to users. That’s an app that runs smoothly and takes advantage of the latest OS and mobile phone features. Furthermore, you’ll need to quash any bugs and closely follow the developer guidelines set by Apple and Google.

Then, put in the time and effort to localize your app for all target markets. Optimizing for local languages and cultures not only wins over new audiences but also increases your chances of getting featured in foreign app stores. 

More importantly, listen to your audience and update your app regularly, as this will improve your ratings and downloads. Both Apple and Google take performance metrics seriously and will usually only feature apps with 4.5 stars or higher.

Network And Build Relationships

For the majority of developers, getting featured is a long-term process. But it’s possible to speed things up by networking and building relationships with key people in Apple and Google. That’s why you should always budget for travel expenses and ticket costs to attend Apple’s WWDC. Currently, Google keeps its Android Dev Summit a free online virtual event.

Attending such events helps keep you informed about upcoming developments that will benefit your endeavors. But they also present opportunities to connect with the right people that can play a decisive role in your success. Familiarize these people with your company and the apps you develop and build a relationship based on your mutual interests in releasing amazing apps

If it’s not possible to attend these events, always reach out via LinkedIn and other social media channels. Better yet, try to locate the app store contact responsible for your local or target market.

The Bottom Line

The tips and tricks we’ve provided will help narrow the gap between an app fading into obscurity and one bound for success. It’s hard work creating mobile apps that connect with today’s audiences and breach those vaunted top app store rankings. Contact NS804 today to learn how we can help you develop apps that rank and succeed. 

7 Tips For Better Android App Development

Android app development remains a promising path for appreneurs and developers seeking new opportunities. And with recent announcements regarding Android 12, Material You, and the latest foldable phones, these are exciting times. 

If you are an experienced Android developer or simply sitting by the sidelines, there’s never been a better time to hop on board. Even if you’re an ardent iOS developer that has steered clear of Android, it’s time to give the platform another look. Below, we reveal several handy tips to enhance your Android app development experience in 2022 and beyond!

1. Read The Developer Guides Thoroughly

Set up your Google developer profile, then go through the developer guides. These are well-written and informative, so you should find everything you need to get started. Furthermore, there are training courses for beginner and intermediate developers. And if you plan on studying further, you may want to sign up for the certification and degree programs.

2. Download And Install Android Studio

Android Studio is the official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android development, so you should use it. It’s a powerful suite that’s indispensable for native Android app development. Moreover, it’s a better option than the Eclipse IDE since it’s a more focused tool for Android development. But if you’re developing for multiple platforms, you may want to go with Visual Studio 2019 or 2022.

3. Choose Kotlin Instead Of Java

If you’re starting your Android development journey today, choose Kotlin instead of Java as your programming language. Kotlin is a more modern yet less-verbose language than Java, resulting in a faster and smoother coding experience. The only reason to choose Java is to maintain existing apps written in that language.

4. Learn Material Design

Google has created Material, a design system for creating eye-catching user interfaces (UI) and themes. It consists of component libraries and a states system, allowing designers to build interactive UIs efficiently. Learning the Material design system is worthwhile because it supports Android, Flutter, iOS, and the web.

5. Use A Game Engine For Immersive Experiences

While Android Studio is great, it does have a few shortcomings. For example, it’s not the most effective tool for creating the immersive experiences found in augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) apps. Instead, it’s better to use Godot, Unity, or Unreal Engine for any visually-rich projects, including mobile games.

6. Profile Your Apps Regularly 

Android Studio and most game engines come with a built-in profiler. Use the profiler regularly, as it reveals performance bottlenecks in your apps. It will track CPU and GPU usage, examine threads, detect memory leaks, and even show network traffic. Without profiling, you risk submitting an app that Google Play will likely reject or earn you negative user reviews.

7. Focus On Security

Hackers and malware creators target the Android platform due to its massive user base. That’s why you should seek ways to harden the security of your apps and follow best practices. 

Ensure that you’re doing the utmost when storing user data and dealing with sensitive information. Furthermore, keep the number of app permissions to a minimum and cede these when no longer necessary. And use the Nogotofail tool to check for vulnerabilities in your encrypted communications.

The Bottom Line

While Android app development can be fun and rewarding, it can also be frustrating. But the good news is that the development experience on Android has improved tremendously over the years. And if you follow our handy tips, you’re bound to reap the benefits of the platform. Contact NS804 to learn more about building phenomenal Android apps today!

Mobile App Design Do’s and Don’ts

Mobile app design may seem easy, but it’s not. An inexperienced or overconfident developer may think they can cobble together the mobile UI at the last minute. But that results in a clunky and unintuitive mobile app that only offers a frustrating and poor user experience. That’s why many of the best app developers have at least one UI/UX designer on the team that focuses exclusively on design.

But what if you’re an appreneur or startup that’s new to mobile app development? Perhaps, you haven’t had the time or funding to hire an experienced UI/UX designer. Or you possess some design skills of your own but don’t quite know how to apply these to your mobile apps. Please don’t fret, as we’re about to reveal several handy tips to help you out!

Mobile App Design Must Do’s

Your app’s success largely depends on how well you go about creating a fantastic user experience. Therefore, it’s crucial to be detail-oriented and have a checklist of the following must-do tasks. 

1. Study The App Market And Latest Mobile UI Trends

The app market is very dynamic and changes constantly. And what was popular two years ago may no longer appeal to today’s audience. That’s why you should study the top trending apps in the marketplace carefully and consistently.

Start by using the storefronts themselves, and see what apps appear in the top spots. Google Play makes things even easier for you, as it shows an estimation of downloads of every app.

Then, download and try out several of the most successful apps to see what makes them tick. More importantly, pay close attention to their mobile UI to determine whether they offer a satisfactory user experience. And study all their UI elements, such as the app bar, checkboxes, buttons, menus, and other interactive touch targets. 

Spend time spotting notable design trends in all of these. See if they’re using rounded or square corners on checkboxes and menus. Moreover, see if they use flat shading, glass effects, gradients, shadows, or 3D UI elements. And take inspiration from any impressive mobile UI animations, motion design, and other visual effects.

2. Keep Your Mobile UI Clean And Functional

Given that the mobile app market is incredibly competitive, you may want to outdo your rivals. Perhaps, you’re developing a music-making app and plan to offer more features than BandLab or FL Studio Mobile. But the reason these apps are so successful is due to their ease-of-use and clean, uncluttered mobile UI.

And if we take a deeper look at FL Studio Mobile, we’ll find that it’s a significantly stripped-down iteration of the desktop version. The desktop version is a professional suite used by producers behind many hit songs. It’s also a fairly complex tool with a bit of a learning curve, especially for newcomers to digital music production. Furthermore, its UI may seem overwhelming to many and have them searching through the manual.

The developers behind FL Studio knew that this comprehensive production suite would never work on mobile. So they created a simple, inviting, and colorful UI without the bells and whistles found in the desktop version. 

Therefore, instead of offering users everything but the kitchen sink, give them only the bare essentials. A clean, minimalist mobile UI that allows users to quickly and intuitively create professional-sounding songs will win the day. You can always add more features later, specifically when users ask for these.

3. Reward User Input With The Appropriate Feedback

Your mobile app design should focus squarely on what users want. And nowadays, users prefer snappy and responsive apps that look visually stunning. They also need apps to immediately register their actions and provide visual cues that this has happened successfully. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well-implemented input and feedback mechanism with every app you ship.

So how do you about creating such a mechanism? Firstly, you should make your app as tap-friendly as possible. Ensure that all buttons and other touch targets on the screen are easily identifiable. The last thing you want is users repeatedly tapping on a checkbox or menu that doesn’t register their taps because it’s too small, not positioned correctly, or incorrectly conveys its intended use. 

And secondly, implement mobile UI animations and transition effects to show that the app has registered the tap. A button may display a blink effect soon after a finger tap, or a menu item may quickly slide sideways and fade after a swipe. And if you work with a UI/UX designer or an experienced app developer such as NS804, they’ll come up with many more imaginative ways to enhance your input and feedback mechanism.

Mobile App Design Don’ts

Creating amazing apps that will keep users engaged is very difficult but rewarding work. Yet even the most experienced developers can ship substandard apps if they make the following mistakes.

1. Implementing Poor User Flow 

There’s nothing worse than users trying out an app and then quickly giving up in frustration and subsequently uninstalling it from their phones.

So why is this such a common occurrence, and why are so many appreneurs and developers getting it wrong? A primary reason why this happens is due to poor user flow. Either most developers didn’t correctly map out the sequence of events that users will take after running the app for the first time, or they didn’t consider user flow at all.

Whether you’re developing an m-commerce store, mobile game, or social media app, you’ll need to create a frictionless user experience. Start by mapping out the user flow from the welcome screen through to every page users will access. You may use flow charts to create an intuitive user flow that won’t drive users to a dead page or take actions that will frustrate them.

2. Interrupting And Annoying Users

Don’t ever take your users for granted just because they seem to be enjoying your app. It’s all too easy to lose users the minute you interrupt them when there’s no reason to do so. The last thing that users want is to respond to a feedback survey when they’ve only been using your app for a short period or while trying to complete a task.

Keep in mind that most users are still evaluating your app during those initial hours of usage. Thus, you want to make a good impression by ditching annoying popups and surveys during this critical stage. Instead, give your users enough time to make a proper assessment of your app before asking for feedback, ratings, and reviews.

3. Using Complex Words And Terms Unnecessarily 

Most mobile app users are not computer scientists or programmers, so avoid using complex words and terms they don’t understand. For example, your latest app may have impressive artificial learning (AI) algorithms that track down hard-to-find ebooks. You may want users to know about these algorithms by adding their names somewhere within the app or mobile UI, but that’s unnecessary.

It’s better to allow these algorithms to do their work behind the scenes. Users will realize that you’ve created a great app by how well it tracks those ebooks. After all, they don’t care about the inner workings of your app or want to memorize technical terminology. If anything, you’ll likely lower user engagement or even lose users if your wording is too technical or if you rely on marketing catchphrases.

The Bottom Line

Most of the best apps closely follow solid mobile app design fundamentals. Much work goes into creating a mobile UI that not only looks great but is clean and intuitive. But it’s also crucial to follow the latest design trends that will make even the most renowned UI/UX designer look on in envy. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you develop phenomenal apps that look and feel great!