Tag Archive for: current trends in mobile app development

What Can Your App Metrics Tell You About Your Customers?

App metrics will help you succeed as an appreneur or even as an enterprise releasing one or more apps. After all, it’s never a good idea to push out an app without monitoring its key performance indicators (KPIs). And that’s because you’ll be missing out on crucial information that impacts your app in its entirety.

Just think for a minute that you’ve spent a lot of time and money on a food ordering app. Many users download it, but you receive very few orders. Having failed to add mobile app metrics, you’re left bewildered as to why this occurs. To top it off, you’re left guessing about what needs to improve, apart from a few negative user reviews.

The hard truth is that you should never have to guess what’s wrong with your app. Instead, you should know how it performs during its entire lifecycle. And app metrics will also help you learn more about your customers, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Learn More About Customer Device Specs

You should add metrics that monitor your app’s performance and user experience (UX) from the get-go. But why is this so important when your app runs fine on your test devices? Your test devices only offer a limited view due to the massive variety of devices available, especially in the Android space. It’s a technical impossibility to test your app on the thousands of different Android smartphones, tablets, and TVs that your users may own.

However, your mobile app metrics will let you know how your application performs after the user installs it. You’ll gain access to valuable data, such as the user’s device operating system (OS), screen resolution, load times, and crash reports. Moreover, you’ll have a granular view of this data to allow you to pinpoint issues and fix them. Occasionally, you may detect these issues before most of your users do.

Mobile App Metrics Reveal Customer Engagement KPIs

Is your app engaging users, or are they uninstalling it in droves? Believe it or not, that’s one of the most important questions you should be asking. But it’s also one that you should be getting answers for immediately. And that’s because engagement rates directly impact your app’s revenue, so never leave this to chance.

Your customer engagement KPIs should reveal the following: average number of screens per visit, session length, stickiness ratio, retention rate, and churn rate. Furthermore, you should have detailed data on daily, weekly, and monthly engagement per active user. 

Monitor Customer Spending Habits

Your app’s supposed to make you money, so you need to know if your customers are actually making purchases. Also, integrate the necessary application programming interfaces (APIs) to facilitate and monitor all payment methods. Nowadays, users like to make payments using Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal — and several other payment services.

But what customer revenue metrics should you monitor? You’ll need to look at the following: average revenue per user (ARPU), number of purchases, time to first purchase, customer lifetime value (CLV), conversion rate, and cost per install (CPI).

In Conclusion

Mobile app metrics, when properly implemented, reveal much about your customers. And the data you collect and analyze will help you to pinpoint issues that impact your app negatively. Thus, allowing you to make fixes and roll out updates that actually make sense. Contact NS804 today to learn how we’ll help you integrate app metrics to unlock the true potential of your applications!

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!

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.

Augmented Reality Apps: Why AR Integration Is A Game Changer

Augmented reality apps have increased in popularity in recent years, and that’s a good thing. That’s because users now own powerful smartphones with vast capabilities. Thus, their expectations have also increased, and they crave new and exciting experiences that only creative developers can fulfill.

And these savvy developers utilize augmented reality (AR) & virtual reality (VR) to bring forth rich and unique experiences. However, we’ll focus on augmented reality apps for now and delve deeper into their many benefits. More importantly, we’ll see why having an AR integration strategy can benefit you as either an appreneur or business leader.

1. AR Integration Can Enhance Existing Apps

You may have released several apps, and users have responded positively to these. And like all good appreneurs, you update these apps and introduce new features at a regular cadence. However, you’ve noticed some user churn, and several users complain that some of your apps leave them bored.

You may think these users are asking for too much or feel entitled, but it’s best not to make these assumptions. After all, most users would not take time out of their day to submit complaints or suggestions about your apps. So, you should always take these responses seriously and make the necessary improvements.

Furthermore, you’ll need to look at your current roster of apps and figure out ways to improve them. And be as impartial as possible when making a value judgment.

For example, you may have developed several m-commerce apps that could benefit from a user interface (UI) overhaul. But you could take things a step further and look at AR integration. And what this would do for your apps is make them more engaging and interactive.

Moreover, users will have a clear picture of how the products they buy, such as clothes and furniture, will look on them or their current environment. And unlike VR, augmented reality apps don’t require an expensive headset to function correctly. These apps will only use a smartphone’s accelerometer, camera, and GPS to work.

2. Augmented Reality Apps Increase Engagement

While we’ve already touched upon this, it’s crucial to understand what we mean by engagement. Many ordinary apps can and should be engaging, but they have limitations. After all, developers can only do so much with apps that primarily use text and static images. And after a while, these apps may bore or cause disinterest in users.

Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where high-fidelity visuals have become the norm. Advertisements, games, and movies all showcase impressive visuals that surpass anything that has come before in popular culture. Therefore, people across the globe have become accustomed to consuming visually stunning content.

But what does this mean for appreneurs that want to impress today’s users? Well, they need to take advantage of the most innovative tools and technologies available today. And augmented reality apps open a world of opportunity for them, both creatively and financially.

Appreneurs and developers that embrace AR integration today will learn valuable skills. These will include the effective utilization of 3D graphics, animation, design, and visual cues. In a way, they’ll become the storytellers of today and tomorrow as they engage younger users already weaned on highly visual content.

Undoubtedly, a more engaged audience often leads to more profitable apps. And having an AR integration strategy whereby developers add augmented reality functionality to their existing apps will also help with future-proofing.

3. Augmented Reality Apps Empower Users

Many conventional apps may meet users’ needs, but that doesn’t mean that they offer optimal solutions. Take map and navigation apps, for example. They do a great job of providing users with accurate maps and location data. However, they have an obvious flaw, and that’s in their presentation.

Maps will show up as overhead 2D presentations of various territories. But many people struggle to read maps, especially when trying to figure out convoluted road systems.

And consider a tourist that travels through Europe, and has to read maps of the continent’s older towns and cities. Ancient and medieval European cities hardly utilized the urban grid planning used for modern cities. Instead, they have many narrow and wide cobbled roads, winding paths, and non-uniform city blocks.

Furthermore, some roads or paths may not even have names, making navigation a chore. But an augmented reality app would present relevant landmark direction, navigation data, and road or path information in an obvious way.

The tourists will see a 3D presentation of directional paths overlayed over the surrounding environment fed through the smartphone camera. And these directional paths will change in real-time, as the smartphone’s GPS picks up the tourist’s latest location. Moreover, the tourist won’t have to look up the map every so often, and instead, make their way to their destination far quicker.

4. Push Apps In-Store And Other Physical Locations

You may think that the only places users will find your apps are in the app stores. But it’s time to think outside the box and see how AR integration opens up new avenues.

The beauty of augmented reality apps is that they’re ideally suited for physical locations. And some of these locations may include art galleries, department stores, music events, museums, retail stores, and trade shows, to name a few.

As an appreneur or developer, you could approach the owners or management teams of any store or event organizer. And offer them the opportunity to engage their users with your existing or custom-made augmented reality apps.

And if you’re a business leader, you may want to work with an accomplished studio such as NS804 to help you craft engaging AR experiences that will work well in your place of business. Always consider how augmented reality can enhance relationships with your clients and build loyalty.

Furthermore, ensure that any AR integration will work in concert with existing technologies, such as interactive digital kiosks. After all, you want to create cohesive experiences that are on-brand.

5. Visualize And Solve Problems More Effectively

There’s practically no limit to the types of augmented reality apps that you can make. And that’s because most disciplines and industries can benefit immensely from apps that streamline existing procedures.

Consider an interior decorator who needs to visualize how a room will look after renovation. The decorator would need to sketch illustrations, and source paint and material samples, to show their client. This process takes time, and the sketch won’t be a 100% accurate representation of the renovated room.

But with an augmented reality app, it’s easy to change details such as wall colors, wallpapers, light fittings, furniture, and other aspects of the room on the fly. Better yet, the client may make these changes with or without the assistance of the decorator. And since the app will utilize 3D graphics and modern rendering techniques, it will produce a true-to-life representation.

The Bottom Line

AR integration is the way forward for appreneurs and business leaders that want to engage users, build loyalty, and future-proof existing apps. Conventional apps are great and will stay relevant for years to come. But users have become more demanding and prefer more interactive and visually stunning apps. Contact NS804 today to learn how we’ll help you create augmented reality apps that will excite 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.

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.

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. 

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.