The fast-paced world of smart devices has in turn brought about not only a massive industry but a world of opportunity for so many with the creation of the applications (Apps) market. From the humble beginnings of ‘snake’ on Nokia, considered to be the first app by many, in 1997, to the leap that Apple made by launching the Apple store with 500 Apps in 2008, was just the beginning. Today there are millions of Apps available across multiple platforms. In 2018 the global apps market was valued at $106.27 billion, which is expected to exceed $400 billion by 2026.
What is an App?
A term that is denoted to a computer program that runs on PC, mobile phones, tablet, or other electronic devices. Each app is designed with functionalities related to its intended use.
There are 3 types of applications;
- Native Apps – are those developed specifically for the mobile on a particular platform such as Android or iOS. They have full access to the device’s functions and capabilities which will allow for a richer user experience and interactive opportunities. These types of apps will have a higher development cost and require maintenance. Also, these apps will use storage space on the mobile device.
- Web Apps – these are accessed through the web browser. They are responsive websites and so will adapt to the users’ device. It does not require the user to download it, so they don’t use storage, they only need an internet connection. They have lower development costs and can be accessed from any device, it’s not limited to a particular platform, ie Android or iOS. The limitation that it cannot access the device functions and capabilities as the native Apps do so will give a more limited experience.
- Hybrid Apps – As the name suggests these are a mixture of both native and web Apps. they are developed using web technologies but will act in a way that native Apps do. The advantage is they are faster and cheaper to develop and lower cost to maintain. The disadvantage is that they do not give an optimised user experience.
Why Do we have them and need Apps?
Research shows that people are increasingly spending more time on their device as well as becoming more dependent on the functionality that these devices provide. The tools provided to users by the Apps mean that gradually people are more dependent on them.
The benefits of an App to a business include;
- Increased visibility
- A direct marketing tool to consumers/users
- Building brand recognition
- Increasing customer loyalty
There are also benefits to the user of the apps, which include;
- Getting up to date information from business/brands they rely on
- Having access to a large number of tools that will increase productivity to help manage an aspect of their life
- Gives a loyal customer benefits/ rewards
- Provides convenience to have so many resources available at the touch of a button.
How are Apps developed?
One of the critical points to consider when exploring the App development process is the availability of resources. App development can be a lengthy and costly process. Depending on; the type of App and the platform chosen, the level of maintenance required, functions the app will provide, if it requires customer support, all will affect the level of investment required.
A brief outline of what the development process may look like;
- The first step would be to conceptualise the App, purpose, functions, and platform/type.
- Research the market and do a feasibility study, who is the competition?
- Design the workflow and interface
- Develop the App according to specification, using in-house, outsourcing, etc
- Testing of the App to make sure it works as expected with no bugs
- Launch it
This is a simplified suggestion of the process of the development of an App. it can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months (sometimes even longer) to develop an App, depending on the complexity. The App market has become massively competitive, with an estimated 6 million Apps available in Google Play and Apple Store combined. With a good idea, plan, and good implementation the rewards can be worthwhile.