Tag Archive for: current trends in mobile app development

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!

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.

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. 

What The Metaverse Means For Developers

If you regularly follow tech media outlets, you’ve likely heard of the metaverse. But even if you haven’t, recent announcements by the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, turned heads. He launched an ambitious initiative that will transform the social media giant into an all-encompassing metaverse company. Now that’s big news that no developer can ignore!

But will the metaverse live up to expectations, or is it only hype? While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict its future, many big players want to make the metaverse a part of our lives. We’ve seen how the internet, smartphones, and cryptocurrencies gained support early on and now enjoy wide adoption. Thus, the metaverse may enjoy a similar fate and open up many exciting opportunities for developers.

What Exactly Is The Metaverse?

If you’ve played an immersive 3D game or tried out virtual reality (VR), you’ve experienced something akin to the metaverse. A better example is Second Life, an online virtual world dating back to 2003. It combined gameplay aspects from massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and social space for users to interact with each other. 

Yet what made Second Life so compelling is how users could craft clothes and other goods for their 3D avatars and sell these to others. Many savvy content creators took advantage of this and started selling their virtual goods within Second Life’s marketplace. Thus, giving birth to an early model of a digital economy that functioned independently from exterior influences. 

And you could also say that Second Life is the granddaddy of the modern metaverse. But there are a few differences, as the metaverse doesn’t rely on an MMORPG as its core component and doesn’t have the limited appeal of Second Life. After all, not everyone is a gamer, and many users would prefer to trade virtual goods or provide other services instead.

What Can Users Do In The Metaverse

We’ve already established the metaverse is like a giant virtual sandbox that allows for many forms of user interaction. And a key reason why Facebook is moving in this direction is that it’s a natural evolutionary process for the company. It already engages over 2.9 billion active users that interact with each other and conduct business directly on Facebook.

So every social media outlet and any business that engages with these outlets will give users the necessary tools to interact within the metaverse. In a way, they will democratize the creation process of virtual goods and services for the masses. 

Architects can create and sell virtual real estate, while artists and designers can turn their creations into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sell them at auctions. Furthermore, advertisers and fashion brands can use the floor space and shops within the metaverse’s virtual malls. And due to the easy integration of blockchain technologies, expect crypto transactions to become commonplace.

What Opportunities Should Developers Pursue? 

Developers should focus on blockchain technology and crypto APIs. These must work flawlessly with any virtual stores found in the metaverse. And make it easy for users to conduct transactions via any device, whether a smartphone or virtual headset.

But there are also many opportunities for creating the tools that will empower users. Easy-to-use 3D modeling apps, NFT minting tools, and secure crypto exchanges will be essential. On top of that, create apps that allow users to trade virtual goods, hire virtual laborers, and host virtual events.

In Conclusion

The metaverse is still in its infancy but promises big things thanks to the support coming from Epic Games, Facebook, and Microsoft. And it may very well become the next big thing that opens doors for creative and savvy developers. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you create stunning apps for smartphones and the metaverse.

Cross-Platform Mobile Development: Pros And Cons

Cross-platform mobile app development has taken the world by storm. But is it that great, or are you better off focusing on native app development? It’s not a question we can answer right away, as there are many considerations. 

Depending on the tools you use, you may experience a challenging or smooth development experience. Then, there’s the matter of how adaptable you and your team are at deploying to more platforms. And let’s not forget about the costs involved in using some of the leading cross-platform tools in the market today. We cover all these matters in more detail below.

Cross-Platform Versus Native App Development Environments

It’s tricky attempting cross-platform development, especially if you’ve been developing native apps for a single platform. And you may be wondering if it’s worth the additional costs and challenges. Will you find success developing for multiple platforms? Or will you get burned out dealing with a more bloated development environment and new technical requirements?

Pros:

  • Advances in cross-platform technology: There was a time when cross-platform tech stacks couldn’t compete with native solutions. But the performance gap has narrowed significantly, especially with the introduction of Xamarin.
  • Integrated Development Environments (IDEs): Having access to several of the world’s best IDEs is a huge boon. All serious app developers should have Android Studio, Visual Studio, and Xcode installed on their machines.
  • Single codebase: There’s no longer a need to write in multiple programming languages. Today’s cross-platform tech stacks make it possible to maintain a single codebase entirely in C# or JavaScript.
  • Transferable skills: If you’re already a competent Android developer, making the jump to iOS should be a quick process. Most mobile development skills transfer from one platform to another easily.

Cons: 

  • Additional hardware: If your studio only has Windows or Linux PCs for development purposes, you won’t be able to target iOS. So you’ll need to purchase at least one Apple Mac and various iOS devices to develop and test your apps.
  • Higher difficulty curve: Targeting multiple platforms is far more challenging than native app development. While cross-platform tools promise a ‘write once, run anywhere’ experience, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s necessary to write user interface (UI) code for each platform. 
  • Worse performance: One of the benefits of native app development is the better performance it brings to the table. Even the best cross-platform tools and languages don’t quite match native solutions. 

Creating Cross-Platform Mobile Games

The popularity of mobile gaming continues unabated. Moreover, the gaming market is massive yet fragmented since it encompasses PC, console, mobile, and the web. So, savvy game developers will want to target most if not all of these platforms. But there are several factors to consider before heading down this road.

Pros:

  • Development tools: There’s no shortage of excellent game engines and frameworks facilitating cross-platform development.  
  • Device ownership: Most users own multiple devices and will likely play games on all of these at one point or another.
  • Esports: The phenomenal growth of mobile eSports presents new opportunities. Given the multiplayer nature of eSports, it’s only natural that Android and iOS users will want to compete against each other. 
  • Reaching new audiences: Releasing simultaneously on Android and iOS ensures that your mobile games reach as many users as possible. But it doesn’t have to end there when the web and desktop platforms have millions of potential new users.

Cons:

  • API integrations: The more platforms and storefronts you target, the more APIs you’ll integrate. Thus, increasing costs and time to market (TTM).
  • Different audience expectations: iOS users have different expectations from Android users. Creating mobile games that appeal to both groups will prove challenging.
  • Maintenance and updates: You will need additional team members to maintain and update your game on two or more platforms. And this is especially true if you’re creating live service games or rely on subscriptions and in-app purchases. 
  • Profiling and testing: It’s a lot easier to profile and test a mobile game when targeting a single platform. With cross-platform development, you’ll use additional tooling to test across devices with different CPUs, GPUs, displays, and memory.

Consider The Costs Of Your Development Tools

Targeting multiple platforms is not cheap, especially when weighing the costs of the development tools. Let’s start with the good news, both Android Studio and Xcode are free to use. Even Microsoft offers the community edition of Visual Studio for free. But now — the bad news — several cross-platform tools and game engines can get offensively expensive. 

And many of these tools are only available via subscription. Thus, you’ll need to consider how long you plan on using these tools to determine their costs. But be forewarned, it’s never a good idea to cancel a subscription after completing an app. You still need access to these tools as long as you’re maintaining and updating the app. So, make sure that you’ve planned for this eventuality. 

Now, let’s take a look at several popular cross-platform tools that could drive up your development costs considerably:

  • Embarcadero Delphi 11: It’s a mobile-first IDE aimed at developers comfortable with the Delphi language, which natively compiles to the target platform. The professional edition costs $1,599 for the first year with a $399 renewal.
  • Unity: As the most popular tool for mobile game development, Unity has garnered a massive community thanks to its free personal version. But professional studios and teams will opt for the pro edition costing $1,800 per year and per seat, or the enterprise edition costing $4,000 per month and for 20 seats. 
  • Xamarin: For small indie developers that want to write their apps in C#, Xamarin offers a subscription for $25 per month. Professional studios will likely opt for the enterprise edition, which costs $1,899 per year.

Open Source Solutions Are Viable Options

If you’re a startup, you may not be able to afford the steep prices of proprietary development tools. However, not all is lost as there are several good free and open-source tools for your cross-platform development needs. We’ll briefly look at several of the more popular solutions:

  • Flutter: It’s a versatile framework for creating apps for embedded devices, desktops, mobile platforms, and the web. It uses the Dart programming language, which developers coming from a mobile or web app background will pick up quickly.
  • Godot: As a close competitor to Unity, Godot has made significant strides in becoming the game engine choice for indie developers. Furthermore, it’s an indispensable and lightweight tool for creating augmented reality (AR) apps, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and mobile games. 
  • Ionic: Web developers should feel at home with Ionic since it utilizes CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. It facilitates rapid development and can deploy mobile apps and even Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). 
  • React Native: Like Flutter, React Native is a framework targeting many platforms and devices, including Windows Universal Platform (UWP). But the best part is that it allows developers comfortable with the JavaScript language to create impressive-looking mobile apps.

In Conclusion

If you’re considering cross-platform mobile app development, then there’s never been a better time to pursue this avenue. And the wide range of excellent paid and open-source tools make this path a lot more accessible. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you deploy phenomenal native apps on Android and iOS. 

Open Source Android App Development Software

It seems like everyone’s enamored by open source these days. From solo developers through to large corporations, the free software movement has left its mark. And, this is overwhelmingly positive since it liberates developers from the shackles associated with paid software, which may include mounting costs and dubious licensing agreements.

1. Why Opting For Open Source Solutions Makes Sense

The hard truth is that app development can get expensive in the long run. And one reason why this is a common occurrence is due to rising software licensing costs. If we look at the Android development landscape, the mission-critical Android Studio IDE is freely available. While this may be a boon for cash-strapped developers, others may not like using this particular IDE or programming in Java or Kotlin.

Some may opt for Embarcadero’s RAD Studio, while others may settle for Microsoft’s Visual Studio. But for the higher-tier subscriptions, both IDEs are prohibitively expensive. Moreover, many developers may require additional tools such as code obfuscators, profilers, and UI/UX design software, to name a few. And as indispensable as these tools are, they do drive up development costs further.

So what should you do if you find your app development budget getting out of control? Start by seeking free software that offers similar functionality to paid solutions that you’re already using. Now, keep in mind that commercial vendors often have free or trial versions available for you to try out. But these have limited functionality or allow full functionality for a limited time only. Either way, this is far from ideal.

Luckily, we live in an era where open source solutions have become readily accepted. And there’s a good reason why this has happened. Unlike paid solutions, open-source software is free with no remuneration expected from users. Not only that, there are seldom any restrictive policies or cryptic end-user license agreements (EULAs) that raise concern. Instead, open-source software complies with licenses and standards approved by the Open Source Initiative.

2. Several Great Open Source Tools For Developing Android Apps

There are a plethora of excellent tools that should be part of your tech stack. And since these are open source solutions, your team may extend and modify these to fit the requirements of your projects.

  • Eclipse – The popular open-source IDE used for creating Android, Java, and web applications.
  • Godot – It’s an intuitive, feature-rich, and powerful game engine suitable for AR & VR projects.
  • libGDX – A battle-tested, lightweight, and versatile framework for making games using Kotlin or Java.
  • LeakCanary – Spotting memory leaks can be tricky, but LeakCanary makes it easy by automating the process.
  • Flutter – Google’s cross-platform UI toolkit facilitates speedy development and compiles down to ARM machine code.
  • NativeScript – It’s a framework that makes Android app development possible with JavaScript or TypeScript.
  • Obfuscapk – Bad actors can decompile your APK and look at its source code, but Obfuscapk protects it with black-box obfuscation.

3. The Realities Of Free Software

It’s hard not to like software that delivers, especially if it’s free. But the question you may be asking is — is free software really that good? Isn’t there a quality downgrade when compared to commercial alternatives? Well, that depends. The quality of open source software has been rising consistently and is often on par, if not better, than commercial solutions. 

However, the opposite is also true. It’s not uncommon for open source solutions to lack polish, have too many bugs, and not undergo proper software maintenance. For better or worse, many open-source projects are in the hands of small teams of developers that tend to be underfunded. They’ll often self-fund these projects or rely on donations from the community for support.

The Bottom Line

Android app development can be a fun and rewarding experience. After all, the platform boasts several powerful tools that make it easy to create impressive apps. But don’t shy away from adding more tools in your toolbox that will improve your workflow without breaking the bank. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create phenomenal apps with the most appropriate technologies.

How To Create An App Like Instacart For Grocery Shopping

Instacart is a popular service, which offers customers in the United States and Canada grocery shopping and same-day deliveries. Customers can easily and quickly place orders via Instacart’s expertly designed app. Find out how to create such an app right here!

What Is Instacart And Why You Should Care

Instacart is a company based in San Francisco and founded by a former Amazon employee in 2012. It provides shoppers with a convenient grocery delivery service via its mobile app and website. And in the current pandemic era, such an initiative makes good business sense. After all, Instacart serves approximately 500,000 customers and generates an impressive $1.5 billion in revenue. Given that grocery shopping accounts for over $1 trillion in business in the United States, there’s still plenty of room for growth.

But what makes this service invaluable is its customer-centric approach. Customers are assigned personal shoppers to fulfill their orders and expedite deliveries within a given time frame. Furthermore, customers can make payments with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), credit, or debit card. Instacart charges a delivery fee of $3.99 for orders of $35 or more and an additional 5% service fee. And participating retailers are allowed to set the prices for all the items they list in the Instacart marketplace.

Aim To Make Grocery Delivery Easy

When you sit down with your team to brainstorm ideas for your app, always consider user interaction and engagement. Ideally, you’ll want to plan out an efficient and straightforward pathway for users to follow. Implement UX design principles, such as information architecture, interaction design, usability, prototyping, and visual design, for the best results.

Also, ensure that your user interface (UI) is cohesive across all target platforms. Utilize the same design language on Android, iOS, and the web, and make it easy for users to engage with your app if they decide to switch platforms. And clearly show information, such as the price, manufacturing date, ingredients, and expiry date of each item.

Implement Order Tracking And Multiple Payment Options

The primary reason to develop a grocery delivery app is to save the customer time. So, you’ll need to implement a robust order tracking system that utilizes the GPS in the customer’s smartphone. Thus, your order tracking system should accurately determine the amount of time it will take for items to reach customers based on their location. You can further improve delivery times by analyzing data from the route optimization system used by delivery workers.

Also, don’t forget to implement multiple payment options. Allow customers to pay using their preferred method of payment as quickly as possible. Don’t bog them down with a convoluted payment form or registration process.

Offer A Helping Hand

Most of the best apps make it easy for users to provide feedback and receive help. That’s why you must integrate a feedback system for customers to leave comments about the efficacy of your grocery delivery service. Furthermore, have a help center available to address customer complaints and resolve payment issues.

Final Thoughts

An endeavor such as Instacart requires delivery workers, fulfillment centers, and establishing partnerships with retailers. Moreover, it’s essential to comply with local government guidelines and regulations to remain within the law. But it’s worth the effort if you want to tap into a burgeoning industry that has a bright future ahead. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create powerful apps that facilitate grocery delivery.

Current Trends In Mobile App Development: Mobile App Security

In today’s world, security has become paramount in mobile app development especially in securing the user’s data. A breach in mobile security could spell doom for large and small business enterprises as the hackers could gain access to personal data and banking information and live location of its users.

Consumers of Apps depend on organizations to thoroughly test their applications before deployment. They also trust that their data is protected not just from hackers but also 3rd parties like malware. Due diligence is of utmost importance for NS804 as they work to ensure customers have a great experience when using technology.

How to keep data on mobile business apps encrypted

Businesses must keep their data secure from hackers and competitors. These can only be done by creating the best strategy for safekeeping. A formal IT security strategy stipulates how data will be protected and what will be done should anything go wrong. An incident response strategy keeps the business steps ahead.

Good software could come in handy to protect data from malware. In addition to this, applying a firewall and keeping the emails clean from spam will help secure your business data. A business must invest in the best software as it saves you from data recovery costs.

The use of solid passwords would come in handy to keep the wireless network secure. This is done through numbers, letters, and special characters to make it difficult to guess.

Also, all passwords should be safeguarded and kept only by password managers. This action protects employees from remembering them or, worse, writing them down.

Software should be updated regularly and automatically to its latest versions. Hackers enjoy the opportunities that older versions of software pose to exploit vulnerabilities. Security systems should be updated to seal this loophole.

Moreover, it is prudent that the operating systems and other software are to their latest versions.

Lastly, data should be disposed of properly to ensure it does not land in the wrong hands. A Proper data destruction policy should be laid down to ensure data is unrecoverable. It is wise to use a tool that overwrites your data multiple times hence making it unrecoverable.

Why is App testing critical to security?

Mobile App testing is an active process that rigorously analyses an app’s weaknesses, strengths, and vulnerabilities. It is a dynamic process because hackers and potential intruders keep inventing new techniques.

As an enterprise in app development, one should be in touch with the latest design trends in app development. Their motivation could be recognition, money, and even fun.

Most business enterprises experience budget constraints in their lifetime. This is the top reason for the poor security of business mobile applications. Companies need to conduct extensive research when trying to cut costs, especially choosing offshore software developers. A breach in security could lead to customers losing their confidence in an organization.

Subsequently, this could lead to intense damage to a brand name. Reputation is vital even when selling an idea to potential investors. Remediation costs could even be higher than application testing costs.

The right building blocks help to cut down on shortcut costs and keep customers happy. It also eases your work as a developer.

Top 6 Mobile App Security Threats

Mobile application security threats could be classified into different categories: network-based threats, web-based threats, application-based threats, and physical threats.

  1. Insufficient authentication and authorization controls. If the rules are flawed, they allow intruders to execute functionalities in the backend server or mobile application.These modifications could ultimately compromise the backend services. Countering this threat could involve multi-factor authentication to validate a user’s identity on the platform. The use of security questions as well as one-time passwords could come in handy.
  2. Malware has consistently been a common threat affecting apps today because it constantly evolves and takes new forms. The best and easiest way to protect your devices from malware is to avoid getting infected in the first place.Combating this crisis would involve the use of antivirus software. Once installed, ensure it is updated regularly for efficiency. Also, look out for indicators such as Emails opened from unknown IP addresses as this could be a sign of an unknown malware in your computer.
  3. The choice of an operating system (OS) will ultimately affect its performance for the intended job. Small and medium enterprises may find OS expensive to buy and maintain. They are also not entirely secure; hence if an issue occurs, one might lose all the data stored in the system.It would be wise to install the right and secure OS for the intended work and budget for it to avoid shortcuts.
  4. Login security protocol has been a significant mobile app security threat. In mobile app development, it is necessary to provide consumers with a secure way to log in. The user interface should be not only friendly but also secure for its users. This is where trust is built.Also, when a gadget is lost or stolen, one should lock it remotely or engage the remote data wipe feature. The use of multi-level authentication and use of security questions comes in handy to protect consumers. When this is not done, one’s data could be obtained for identity theft, among other crimes.
  5. The Internet of things (IoT) could also present a mobile app threat, especially if a bug is embedded in the system. This is because other connected devices will become corrupted. Moreover, currently, there is no international standard of compatibility for IoT. It presents a problem for devices from different manufactures to communicate with each other.
  6. Lastly, switching between devices poses a security threat in the sharing of data such as passwords. For this reason, some of the best practices in mobile app development require one to secure the app and consumers’ data.In the event a person logs in from a different device, further authentication procedures should follow. End-to-end encryption of data ensures data is protected from unauthorized access.

Manufacturers of mobile devices have gone a step further to secure their devices and give consumers a great customer experience. The use of phone locks has facilitated this. A person can draw a pattern, input their password or use their fingerprint to unlock a device.

Moreover, Android users have a feature to help them “find my device.” This has proven to be helpful, especially for clients in areas prone to theft of mobile devices.

Mobile App developers have also upgraded their data encryption to allow only authorized users access to the devices’ information. A robust hardware device will be best compatible with reliable software.

In summary, current trends in mobile app developments only require the best from app developers. Security ranks as a top priority in custom and business mobile apps development. Companies as well as individuals rely on these applications to process data and simplify work. We cannot let them down, and not in this century.

What You Need Before Commencing With iOS App Development

There’s much to be said about iOS app development. And that’s because it’s one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences afforded to developers and appreneurs. Not only has Apple created an awe-inspiring ecosystem with over a billion users, but they have provided developers with excellent tools to create their apps.

Apple’s Xcode IDE and Swift programming language allow talented developers to bring their ideas to life — ideas that can potentially change people’s lives for the better. But creating amazing apps is only half of the battle. It’s equally challenging to plan, design, market, respond to market demands, and attain long-term user retention

Thus, it’s crucial to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire iOS app development process before forging ahead. No matter how fired up your team may be about the upcoming iOS project, it’s essential to have a clear picture of what to expect. After all, iOS apps cost a lot to develop and maintain, and you’ll want to avoid making expensive mistakes. Below, we take a deep dive into what you need to know before commencing work on your iOS app.

What It Costs To Develop And Market An iOS App In 2022

Developing an iOS app today is not cheap by any stretch. Expect to pay between $40,000 and $60,000 for a simple app and up to $100,000 for a native-developed app. And for a complex app, expect to pay $300,000 or more.

Then, you’ll need to consider the yearly costs of maintaining your app. The industry standard is about 20% of the initial cost of development. For example, if you’ve already spent $50,000 on your app, you’ll need approximately $10,000 per year to cover maintenance costs.

But in today’s highly-competitive iOS app market, developing an app and simply releasing it seldom leads to success. Without an effective marketing strategy, it’s unlikely that your app will reach its target audience. 

It costs between $5,000 and $15,000 to conduct app market research and up to $5,000 for beta testing. If you hire a marketing agency, expect to pay up to $25,000 for each iOS app. And if you decide to work with influencers, you may pay between $10,000 and $18,000 per month.

Also, there are app action costs that further inflate the marketing budget. Average Cost Per Install (CPI) and Cost Per Action (CPA) hovers at around $3.50 per install or registration. But after attaining users, it’s vital to focus on user retention. An effective way to do this is with push notifications that increase user loyalty and reduce churn. Expect to pay between $30 and $250 per month for push notification services.

App Updates Increase User Retention 

Apple always throws show-stopping events that delight its loyal fanbase and its competitors attempt to emulate. Savvy developers often capitalize on the fanfare of these events and whenever Apple introduces new hardware or app updates. These developers will tie their updates together with Apple’s to show their users that they’re staying ahead of the curve.

But app updates also act as a powerful marketing tool if used correctly. With each update, every developer gains another opportunity to engage and delight users. They can make announcements about their update via their App Store page, social media channels, and website. Furthermore, they can reach out to the press, bloggers, and influencers to inform their respective audiences.

If this update contains exciting and indispensable features, users will take notice. And may entice those that have never used the app before to download it out of curiosity. If the updated app meets or surpasses their expectations, it will increase the user base and drive further growth.  

Ultimately, these updates show that the developer is invested in the app and cares about providing value to users. Moreover, these updates remind users that the app still exists and is evolving with their needs.

Respond To Increasing Security Demands

Compared to many of its big tech rivals, Apple has a reasonably good track record regarding security. That’s commendable, considering the increase in cybersecurity breaches recently. And with more people working online, there’s a greater demand for hardened security solutions that will protect users from hackers.  

Apple has responded accordingly by implementing strong security protocols and taking the necessary steps to protect user data. However, Apple can only do so much to protect users. Developers should also do their part by closely following best practices for application security.

Also, it’s wise to develop apps based on iOS 15’s enhanced security features. These include iCloud private relay, Intelligent Tracking Prevention, HomeKit Secure Video, Mail Privacy Protection, Secure Paste, and Two-factor Authentication Code Generator (2FA), to name a few. And you can introduce these features in your existing iOS applications via app updates.

iOS users have come to rely on many of these features and Apple’s security standards. It’s also what keeps them going back to the App Store and confidently downloading new apps. Therefore, your iOS app development endeavors should always have a strong focus on security, especially when dealing with sensitive information and payment details.

AR & VR Present New iOS App Development Opportunities

Users always seek experiences that excite and inspire them. That’s why Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) present a golden opportunity for creative developers to shine. And with the recent announcements regarding Meta and the Metaverse, there’s greater interest in virtual worlds than ever before. 

If you plan on creating an AR app for iOS, you may want to use Apple’s ARKit 5. It allows for the creation of impressive AR experiences in record time. Furthermore, it boasts advanced face tracking and motion capture features. And these are features that more businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies require for their apps.

Generally, there’s a growing trend of visually impactful apps reaching the market. Powerful tools such as Unity and Unreal Engine allow developers to create stunningly beautiful 3D visuals for their AR & VR projects. And with Apple’s rumored mixed reality headsets reaching the market in 2022, there’s never been a better time to explore this avenue.

Implement AI & ML In Your Latest iOS Apps

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a significant role in iOS app development moving forward. Until now, AI & ML were nice-to-have features in many mobile apps. But that’s changing since various industries require scalable self-learning applications to thrive.

AI & ML are indispensable for automation, cloud computing, chatbots, data analysis, deep learning, and facial recognition, to name a few. And there’s hardly a business or government institution that won’t use one or more of these processes to function effectively. These entities require intelligent humanlike decision-making to integrate with all their existing systems while operating at the speed of a machine.

In Conclusion

iOS app development continues to be fruitful for ambitious developers. But it’s important to embrace change and the many new opportunities that come with that. AI & ML, AR & VR, hardened security, and regular updates will play a crucial role on the iOS platform moving forward. 

And it’s equally important to plan and budget for your latest iOS app, as development is on the pricey side. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create phenomenal iOS apps within budget and on time.