By Jinen Dedhia, Co-Founder & MD- DronaHQ
In the past few years, the demand for mobile apps has been on the rise. Every enterprise already has a well-defined mobility programme while nearly every mid-market company is looking at investing in one. The worldwide mobile application market is predicted to touch $94.15 billion by 2024, growing at 11.1 per cent CAGR from 2016, according to a report by Persistent Market Research. From procurement to inventory to production to sales—there are hundreds of business processes that mobile apps can transform.
With the app building activity cruising ahead at a break-neck pace, the most challenging job is of developers. The developers have to ensure that the apps they create are not only functionally fit but also offer a great user experience. They have to achieve these feats while fighting with time, cost and performance pressures—round the clock.
Native apps made for single operating systems (OSes) dominated the app development business during its evolutionary period. Today, however, tying an app to one OS only may not be adequate. The modern trend is to create apps with cross-platform capabilities. At another level, developing every small app from the scratch may also be akin to reinventing the wheel. Thankfully, there are a few cross-platform development tools available today that developers can use to minimise the hassle and save time. These app development platforms have introduced to the development-world the ease of “write once, run anywhere” feature making app development a much more streamlined exercise.
However, given a range of app development platforms available, how does a company choose the right platform? What are the key features of a platform that you must look for?
Let’s examine some of the core capabilities that an enterprise or a mid-market company must look for before zeroing in on one option.
• Assess interface visualization capabilities
In mobile app development, while Android offers tremendous flexibility of components made available for developers, iOS comes with certain mandates about standardisation of how your app looks like. A developer, while developing an app, therefore can be benefited greatly if there is some standardisation of components that help him give a similar look and feel to the micro-apps he develops. Therefore, identify an app development platform that comes with interface visualisation tools to ensure the micro-apps you develop have a similar look and feel.
Besides easing up the strain on development resources, such a platform can also help ensure standard and intuitive user experience, thus improving the user satisfaction level of the apps being developed.
• Look for a ready security framework
Security and stability are two of the most critical concerns of any app developer. It is common knowledge that developing micro-apps for Android calls for developers being extra careful about security than for iOS. Any cross-platform app that you develop, must, therefore, have tight security provisions in place. A development platform that provides ready tools to address a range of security issues can be useful throughout the development phase.
While selecting a platform, assess whether it provides a ready framework to define aspects such as user authentication, hierarchy and controls. Can the data that travels to and from the app moves in the encrypted form by default? What are the data storage level encryption rules that the platform mandates? Does it provide for the security of data in the offline mode of the app? Can the platform help enable app real estate monetization in a secure fashion? Similarly, when a user opens another app from inside your app, what are the security provisions that the platform helps you incorporate?
• Ascertain whether the platform help simplify the app publishing process
A newly developed consumer app undergoes strict reviews and may be rejected by Google PlayStore or Apple’s App Store. While these hurdles do not exist in case of enterprise apps, they also have their own set of obstacles such as passing the mobile application management (MAM) and mobile device management (MDM) policies implemented by companies. It can become a painful exercise for the development team to validate and test each and every app to ensure compliance with the MAM and MDM policies.
Given this scenario, an app development platform that comes with a unified container technology can be immensely useful to address this issue. Once a container app complies with the marketplace or with MDM/MAM rules, every micro-app developed does not have to be individually tested for compliance. An organization can thus introduce as many new apps as needed without worrying about their being approved individually, thus saving time and efforts of developers and testers.
The basic rules
Considering a couple of more aspects additionally may help streamline the development process for you. Assess what type of apps you intend to build. The type of apps will help you define the features you may need in a platform. For instance, if you wish to develop gaming apps, then tight user authentication controls or compliance may be less exigent. In such a scenario, the factors such as optimal utilization of screen area, low latency, rapid response times, etc. become more critical. On the contrary, security may be of greater value in the case of enterprise apps.
Lastly, checking the credentials of the company backing that platform may also be desirable. For instance, has the company acquired any security certification such as ISO 27001? Does it have a proven track record in cross-platform app development tools? Assessing these aspects before committing a single rupee can save hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours later.
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