Building and Integrating the Android App into the Konga Ecosystem
The team at Net Solutions attacked the problem with a two-pronged strategy:
- Expanding Magento: The Net Solutions team created a custom API layer that would provide the necessary hooks for the Mobile app to sit atop Magento
- Building the Android App: The team began work on an Android app that would be optimized for low-bandwidth usage, using Konga’s APIs
Challenges along the Way
Konga and Net Solutions were now in uncharted territory, and the path ahead wasn’t always easy. They encountered, and eventually overcame, the following challenges:
API Health: The Konga development team was engaged in active back-end development, and sometimes these changes would break the APIs. As such, Net Solutions’ engineers had to keep a close eye on API health. After all, a dysfunctional API would break the mobile apps. Through painstaking attention to detail, however, they built an app that could handle a less-than-functional API, and do so gracefully!
Payment Gateway Issues: Konga used a payment gateway that did not directly support the mobile app, and there was no SDK available with the integration.
The solution? Net Solutions’ mobile app developers reached out to their colleagues who handled Magento's development, and they worked with them to figure out a path where the integration would be routed through the back-end.
Product Update Fluctuations: The site was updated daily with products and associated categories subject to change depending on market forces. Given these fluctuations, the mobile development team realized they could not use a standard approach where details like this would be embedded in the framework of the app.
Instead, Net Solutions created an API interface that allowed the entire store that appeared on the mobile apps to populate dynamically. As a result, if a particular category were added or removed on the website, the changes would become immediately visible on the mobile app as well.
Mobile Device Variation: As mentioned above, Nigerians have a wide range of mobile devices, which meant that Net Solutions had to optimize the app for phones with different screen sizes, resolutions, and bandwidth capabilities.
The app needed to work properly across a range of phones, of different sizes, on unreliable bandwidth. To make this possible, Net Solutions carefully designed the User Interface (UI) and workflows. They optimized the User Experience (UX) by embedding some assets within the app while loading some dynamically from the back-end. This allowed the app to work, feel fast, and respond as though it were designed for the individual user's phone.
The app quickly became one of the most downloaded Android apps after its launch on the Google App Store, with more than a 4-star average rating.
Building the iOS App
Midway into the Android app development, Konga was certain they found the right partner in Net Solutions. Convinced the larger challenge of creating an Android app that would work across the range of devices was behind them, Konga management green-lighted the iOS app development and forged ahead.
The Net Solutions team quickly implemented the iOS app using all they’d learned from developing the Android app—extending the design and features to the new platform.