Mobile App Development has become somewhat of a major industry today and it is now getting separated from the relatively age old IT industry. App development is carving out a whole new dimension for itself and what more, it is drawing attention from almost every other industry be it retail or finance or healthcare or utility, etc. It was the iOS that started it, but at the moment it is the Android OS that is at the heart of the industry because of the larger user base this OS commands. According to Gartner, Android has a 56. 1 per cent share of the global Smartphone user base.
But app development is not just about designing, coding and developing a well to do app and then distributing it in popular app downloading destinations. How you describe it in such downloading centers also plays a key part in the App Development lifecycle. Let us consider the Google Play Store where Android apps are listed for users to download either free or by paying the requisite fee. Before you put out an Android app in the Play Store, you need to make sure your app has the following factors checked for its technical specs that are to be listed along with the app in the Play Store.
Is it a native mobile App or a mobile website?
If you are planning to a mobile presence for your business or organization then you need to answer the question- what will be good for your business- a mobile website or a native mobile application or both? Mobile website and native mobile app looks alike at first-glance but both have their own advantages and disadvantages. It is important for you to understand mobile website or native mobile app will suit to your need, target audiences, and available budget.
A mobile native app installed directly on to the device can be purchased through online store or marketplace such as The App Store or Android Apps on Google Play. Typically native app are more expensive and when it is made for multiple platforms, it needs maintaining multiple code bases and can result in higher costs in development, maintenance, pushing out updates. Whereas a mobile website consists of browser-based HTML pages can be instantly available, compactible, upgraded instantly, easily shared, easier and less expensive.
Despite many benefits of the mobile web, apps are still very popular. If you are developing an interactive game then an app is your best choice.
A mobile website can be perfect choice when you want to provide mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience. If your target audience is going to use your app in a personalized way (like EverNote- an app to take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, share ideas etc.) then mobile app will be good option.
However, if you don’t have budgetary issues, it is best to develop both versions for practically possible business scenarios as you never know which one will be of greater use. But whatever you do make sure your technical specs sheet details out exactly what the app is all about.
Where will it be useful?
Make sure you highlight the scenarios i.e. real life scenarios where the app can be of use to Android users along with the actual use of the app. Suppose, you are running a security agency then you might consider developing Android App which can act as an emergency alert system and help users at the time of distress. You need to check how this application will work in real life scenario or not.
You need to clearly mention whether the app is capable of working offline or does it only work when the user is connected to the internet via his Android Smartphone. A standard Android handset usually has low battery backup. Also if the app uses extra resources of the device that it runs on like for example the GPS sensor, you should make sure that it is stated explicitly in the written specs. You do not want to see feedbacks from users complaining that you did not mention about resource utilisation and several folks will feel that you are hiding even more than just a single resource requirement. This will lead to severe reputation problems and could put your app in jeopardy.
What kind of devices will support my App?
This is in fact one of the most important aspects of a technical specification as far as an Android App is concerned about. Never should you create a scenario when a user downloads the app onto his Android app with great hope of using its capabilities and then disappoints him because of the app’s incompatibility with that particular device or its technical specifications. If the compatibility guidelines are mentioned clearly in the tech specs of the app, then users can easily identify whether the app will work on their device be it Smartphones or Tablet PC’s without having to download the app. Also take note to study what kind of devices are out there to make sure you develop an App that can be supported by a majority of those devices.
How is my App best viewed?
Android devices have many different sized screens. Different screen sizes will have different resolution and remember, two same screen sizes may differ in resolution. This is absolutely vital to be specified in the tech specs because even if two phones have the same metal inside, their screen size may be different and thereby results in different views of the same app. With rapid proliferation of diverging variants of the Android platform, it is possible that your app developed with the Android SDK might not run on some devices. Here the point is that application developed for one version of device might not being able to work with others.
You should take care to mention the minimum screen size and resolution to view your app in the best possible angle. When users seek something from the app at times of desperation, then they will be frustrated if your app creates a scenario where they have to constantly adjust their phone’s display to enable a clear view of the information. As a result you are not going to get good traffic to your app.If you struggling with the fear of Android fragmentation, go check it out Google’s Android compatibility program.
How Secure is my App?
Many users say that this Android is unreliable in terms of security. Even though the OS has changed and evolved a lot in terms of security from its initial days, people refuse to let go of that impression. Hence you should make sure to highlight the security features of your app especially if the app you released in the market is one that handles security in the Smartphone or deals with financial information of the user which if not dealt with properly can lead to disastrous consequences. The application stores like Amazon Appstore, Barnes & Noble and BlackBerry usually take controlled approach to allow applications to sit inside them. These stores have in house QA team to examine each and every app that is submitted.
You need to properly validate claims of security like for example by stating a rating given by a popular app security evaluation agency or firm for your app. Many people look for such specifications especially for apps that involve handling of sensitive customer information like bank details and passwords.
How Accessible is my App?
If you want to reach wide userbase, it is crucial to pay attention to accessibility of your Android application. Once you have mentioned about the usage of your app in a particular situation in your specification, make sure that the functionality is achieved with full effect once the user downloads the app and starts using it. In no way should you fool users to believe that the app offers them a facility or a convenience that it does not offer in reality. When users find out that you were faking it, then gone is your reputation and this could possibly signal the end of your app development identity in the Play Store as you will receive negative ratings thereby scaring potential app downloader’s away. So be cautious of your claims.
App is done. Did you perform testing?
So the app is done with its development stages and is ready for roll out or at least that is what you think. The job is not even 30 per cent complete if you are going to roll it out instantly. Make sure you have it tested out rigorously. The application you developed should be subjected to severe testing methodologies to ensure that no loose ends are found within the app. It is very much recommended to smoothen out any irregularities within the application before it reaches the hands of users. Once an app happens to go defective when in the hands of users, then never will you be able to erase its bad image from the minds of people. You might have fixed the bug or issue with the next update, but people will remember you only for your first mistake. So, prevention is better than cure. Make sure your app meets sufficient quality guidelines and this can be made possible only by having a well to do testing team within your development environment. The test cases also play a part in the overall efficiency as more the number of live scenarios you test, greater will be the reliability of the app.
What are the different sources of credit for help?
If you have used tools and resources other than the standard Android SDK for development of your app like for example development frameworks of 3rd party players like Phonegap, then you should not forget to mention the details of such alliances in your technical specifications. Giving credit to where credit is due is stranded practice. It should be followed in any case. This is to avoid any confusion for users who might find unusual similarities in apps using the same framework and also to avoid any legal consequences that may arise owing to use of licensed framework concepts and methodologies without adequate permissions.
So now that you have understood the golden tips for writing your technical specifications, then you should definitely ensure that you follow these steps every time you release an app into the market. Remember that every single app may be the result of the hard work put in by several people and you do not want it to become a waste effort. Make sure your apps are transparent i.e. hides nothing from users because this can be the most lethal effect your business may have to encounter. List out the specs correctly and you should be on your way to provide the Play Store with a well-planned, well-executed, app that is sure to be a success, of course if it has that much interesting content attached to it.
You should definitely make an important note of the instructions listed above to deal with technical specs as they can definitely make or break your business.
This article was written by Maninder Bains, Chief Technology Officer, Net solutions. To explore more clarity on which mobile platform is more relevant to your business you can reach him at maninder(at) netsolutions (dot) in. You can also reach any of our other business experts by emailing them at info(at) netsolutions (dot) com.
Net Solutions is an award winning Mobile apps Development Company which has been developing apps for iOS, Android and HTML5 since the inception of these platforms.