Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Future of Mobile Apps


The Current Mobile Application Scene

149.3 billion mobile apps were downloaded in 2016 and, by 2020, they’re forecasted to generate about $189 billion in revenue via app stores and in-app advertising. In other words, the mobile application industry is booming and, if you want to get a piece of the cake, you better jump into the mobile application development scene.

Rewinding a bit, the rise of mobile apps is due to the huge explosion in popularity of the smartphone. Whereas they were a luxury reserved for the elite in the early 2000s, now that they’re cheaper and much more affordable they’ve become a necessity for pretty much everyone, from top execs and CEOs to primary school teachers and entry-level workers.

When you boil it down, it comes to utility. Why buy a phone and a computer when you can have both in the same device? Not only will it usually be the cheaper option, but its size greatly accentuates its utility, allowing you to have a literal computer with you at all times. This is especially true when you add mobile Internet into the equation, which allows many apps to be used anywhere — as long as there’s a signal.


The Future of Mobile Apps

When discussing mobile Internet, the ubiquitous Cloud comes to mind, which allows developers to deploy apps anywhere and end-users to similarly sync and access their data anywhere. Best of all, the Cloud is behind many of the different aspects we’ll soon see that are influencing the future of mobile apps.



Utility

First up comes utility and the benefits that mobile apps provide. Aggregator apps, for example, are greatly increasing in popularity because of their ability to pull content from a variety of online sources, compile it in one interface, and present it to users. Not only does this save time, but also money when you consider that time is money. More importantly though, these types of apps eliminate the need to download multiple applications, as one can have the function of many.

We’re also seeing the rise of the mobile wallet, or the ability to store important data, like credit card information, on your phone. Essentially, this means that you have no worries if you forget your wallet at home. Most shops and restaurants accept Apple Pay or a similar form of payment, and if you want to order food or make a purchase online, all you need to do is select your desired credit/debit card and use it.

One final point we’ll touch on today regarding utility, improvements in mobile CPUs and graphics, paired with an Internet connection, have turned mobile devices into gaming systems that can fit in your bag. Similarly, these features that allow users to play games also allow them to take pictures with quality that rivals many high-end cameras.


The Internet of Things 

Next comes the Internet of Things (IoT), or the connectivity of physical objects through WiFi and the Internet. With its ability to streamline our lives with virtual control over our homes and devices has seen a drastic increase in popularity in recent years, it’s a given that the IoT has a place in the future of mobile apps.


Revenue

source: http://webplusmobileapps.com/

Last but not least comes revenue. Monetization through in-app ads and in-app purchases are incentivising many people to jump into the app game, and further, developer kits and low-code/no-code platforms are making it easier for would-be developers to create apps. In essence, this allows people with little or no coding experience to develop apps that they would have otherwise been unable to.


Final Thoughts and TL;DR

A big factor contributing to the growing popularity of mobile apps is that many aren’t tied down to a single platform anymore. As a matter of fact, we’re seeing more and more cross-platform applications that work on all mobile operating systems. Adding to this is the ability to start a journey on one device and end it on a completely different one, all within the same mobile application.
For example, imagine that you want to buy a television. You start your purchase journey on your phone as you browse the many options out there, then take it to your laptop later on when you actually decide which to buy, and finally, when you receive a notification that your TV has shipped on your smartwatch, your journey is finished.

In case your schedule is tightly packed and you don’t have time for the full piece, here’s the tl;dr version:

We’re seeing a huge increase in the popularity of both smartphones and mobile apps, with the former bolstering the latter
The Cloud and its benefits is also spurring their popularity further
Mobile apps offer huge benefits in terms of utility
One of the biggest incentives to enter mobile application development is the monetization of applications
Developer kits and low-code/no-code platforms are making it easier to create apps
Good luck navigating through all the app stores out there!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

How Mobile App Development is Changing the IT Job Landscape

source: http://www.techlofy.com
As our tendency to reach into our pockets for our phones increases, so does the need to develop the mobile apps that are powering our obsession. The thing is, as our mobile usage grows, ripples are created that effect everything they touch. For example, marketers now have to account for mobile SEO when they develop websites and create content, business owners have to make sure that their websites are mobile-friendly and accessible to all users, and the crux of the matter today, mobile app developers are facing an evolving workplace.

The Changing IT Job Landscape

On the face of it, it seems like all is good for developers. After all, more demand for mobile apps means more demand for the people creating the apps, right? Yes and no; yes, there’s more demand for mobile application development, but this isn’t necessarily creating more developer jobs.

When asked on the changing developer landscape, John Carione, Product and Corporate Marketing Leader at QuickBase Inc., said that:

In 2017, we'll see hiring managers redefine the term developers and developer job roles, and start thinking outside the box to help fill their organizations' development needs. This will be fueled by the continuing shortage of skilled developers, an increase in popularity of tools that allow for the development of software with little to no code and greater familiarity with these tools among job candidates.”

Let’s focus on the last part, the ‘increase in popularity of tools that allow for the development of software with little to no code and greater familiarity with these tools among job candidates.’ These tools fall under no-code/low-code (NCLC) platforms, which are mobile application development platforms that let anyone with minimal coding experience develop apps.

No-Code/Low-Code

These NCLC platforms are, in turn, giving rise to a new class of developers, a class exemplified by the ‘citizen developer.’ These developers are assisted by tools that make the mobile application development process somewhat less technical and more visual. Think of it as a drag and drop or lego building process in which the developer builds up UI (user interface) components to complete the application.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

source: http://konwersatorium1-ms-pjwstk.blogspot.com

Similar to no-code/low-code’s impact, artificial intelligence is also making waves in the IT job landscape. Take DeepCoder, for instance. Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Microsoft teamed up to create a system called DeepCoder that uses machine learning and program synthesis to write its own code. Essentially, DeepCoder uses lines of code from existing software to create brand new programs.

So far DeepCoder can only write a couple of lines of code, but the implication for the future is that anyone can code their own programs by giving DeepCoder an outline of what they want, and then letting it do all the heavy-lifting.

The Future

Talk of NCLC and AI makes it seem like developers have an expiration date. This is not so. Coding, of course, is still vital, but now we have tools that are opening the doors to people with little or no formal training to do what previously only developers could do.
What is actually happening is an amalgamation in which the less coding-intensive work is done by developers with less experience, and the more intensive and challenging projects are handled by those that can take them on. In a similar vein, so called citizen developers can start the project and build its foundation, and then hand the reins to higher-level developers.

Final Thoughts

With the changing IT job landscape, seasoned and citizen developers are benefiting with tools that are making their jobs easier, and consumers are benefiting from an influx of new mobile apps. More than more apps, these automation and AI tools are opening the avenue for better apps that place the focus on UI.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

7 Tips to Improve Your Mobile App’s Security

source: www.policetechnical.com

As smartphones continue to engrain and integrate themselves into our lives, we’ve come to depend on them more and more as information strongholds.
When we want to make an appointment, we schedule it on our phone.
When we meet someone new, we store their contact information on our phone.
When we want to get in touch with someone, we message them with our phone.
When we want to make eCommerce easier, we store our banking information (credit/debit card information) on our phone.
When we are always on the go, we store our business data on our phone.

Security for Mobile Apps: Why You Need It

Our point today being that our smartphones are a one-stop-shop for all of our information. The problem with this is that we tend to indiscriminately download apps from both authorized app stores such as Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore, and unauthorized app stores that have no security requirements.

This is a problem because rogue apps from unauthorized stores may contain malware that steals your information. This problem is furthered by the fact that even apps from authorized app stores can also fall prey to those seeking our data.

Before going forward, it’s important to understand that there are millions of apps available for download, and the developers behind them range in expertise and security concerns. While some may place great value in privacy and security, others may simply want to create apps and don’t think twice about security. This is often seen as a trade-off in the app’s security and the service it provides.
Even worse, some developers link third-party programs like maps or the camera without fully understanding how they’re using their users’ data or whether there may be issues with security. To bypass and alleviate these issues, consider employing the following tips to improve your mobile app’s security.

1: Use Threat Modeling Analysis

Threat modeling is “the process of identifying potential threats and enacting countermeasures to prevent or mitigate them.” Understandably this is is very important, as it offers you the opportunity to analyze your app and see where it’s most vulnerable. The problem lies in the act itself. Many are not familiar with it, others mistakenly do it incorrectly, and yet some don’t even bother because of the intricacies involved.

The thing is, if your app has a security issue and users are not using or downloading it because of said issue, you’re still going to have to go ‘under the hood’ and fix the problem.  The difference is that in one scenario you could have put in the effort in the beginning of the mobile application development process and prevented any problem down the line, and in the other you still have to put in the effort, but this time you’ve also added downtime to your app while you fix it.

2: Implement a Password or Another Authentication Process

source: Toolbox.com
Authentication processes are vital for anything that stores sensitive information. Thankfully for you and I, there are a lot of ways you can go to authenticate users. There’s the basic, a password that serves as first level security, and more protective measures like mobile phone authentication at login. As a side note, phone authentication is a good measure for password resets, rather than using the standard ‘mother’s maiden name’ or ‘the name of your first pet’ questions that can be easily hacked.

3: Ask for Permission

As we covered earlier, mobile apps frequently link to third-party apps/programs to carry out specific tasks that they can’t on their own. For example, you may have a photo editing app that needs to link with your photo library or camera for images, or an eCommerce app that links with you virtual wallet. In these situations, those in which your app needs to integrate another app to perform a function, the user should always be asked for permission to connect. Just remember not to ask for more than they’ll be willing to give.

4: Keep Your App Updated with the Latest Operating Systems

It’s vital that your app is always up to date with the latest operating systems available for the platform it resides in (Android, iOS, etc.). Because these updates regularly include security patches that were found in the time period between then and the previous update, not updating regularly places your app at risk.

5: Use Static Analyzers

There’s no doubting that coding is tedious, and even a small error can result in the whole program crashing. Because of this, many security issues encountered by mobile apps are caused by careless errors that slipped through the cracks. To counter, consider performing a static code analysis to catch anything that you may have missed. If you’re unfamiliar, these static analyzers debug your code by examining it without executing it. In other words, you’re getting an overview of the code structure to make sure that everything is working well together.

6: After Static Analyzers, Perform a Code Audit

Static code analysis is excellent, but sometimes you have to go deeper. This is where a code audit comes into place. While code audits should actually be performed regularly to ensure continually smooth performance, opting for one to catch any bugs is a must. Keep in mind that code audits require more technical security knowledge than the average coder has, so hiring outside help can be useful if you’re not up for the task.

7: Test Your App in the Real World

Finally and when you’ve done with everything related to mobile application development and security, the only recourse left is to test your app in the real world. When it comes down to it, lab tests can do a lot, but they also have their limitations. These alternate ‘field tests’ are perfect for finding issues that your actual users may find because you’re using the app the way they would.
Final Thoughts

If there’s a single thing that you should take from this, it’s that security should be implemented early in the mobile application development process, not as an afterthought. A lot can go wrong from start to finish, and if you’re not vigilant every step of the way, your app can be targeted by those with nefarious intentions. For your benefit, here’s what we covered today and what you should be doing:

1. Implement a password or another authentication process
2. Ask for permission
3. Keep your app updated with the latest operating systems
4. Use static analyzers
5. After static analyzers, perform a code audit
6. Use thread modeling analysis
7. Test your app in the Real World

Best of luck and remember to stay secure!



Friday, 2 June 2017

5 Reasons Mcommerce is Important for Enterprises


                                                           Image Source: aumcore.com

Nowadays you can’t leave your home without seeing a smartphone somewhere. If one’s not in your own hand, you can bet that you’ll see one as you’re out and about; maybe with the person walking in front of you, the toddler sitting next to you, even with your Uber driver.
The fact is that we’re using mobile devices with such voracity that it seems impossible that smartphones were reserved for the elite a mere 10 years ago. As a matter of fact, mobile usage actually exceeded desktop usage a couple of years ago, and that gap has only widened since.

From Ecommerce to Mcommerce

The rise of mobile has been anything but subtle. Like a stone creating ripples on a pond, mobile usage affects everything it touches. For instance, the impact it’s had on business activities has prompted many enterprises to embark on mobile application development in hopes of snagging extra customers. To be exact, 80% of eCommerce retailers with at least $50 million in annual sales either currently offer or plan to offer mCommerce (mobile commerce) soon.
But what actually is mCommerce? As you might’ve guessed, it’s a subgroup of eCommerce that involves the use of smartphones and tablets (wireless handheld devices) for online shopping instead of desktops and laptops. That being said, why should enterprises adopt a mobile strategy revolving around mCommerce? Well, here are 5 reasons why.

1: More People Are on Mobile Devices Than Ever Before

Let’s use an analogy to illustrate this point. Imagine that you operate a food truck and have the option of parking in front of a busy construction site or next to a random road. Where would you park? If you’re like most people, you’d park in front of the construction site because there are more opportunities to make money there than next to a random road. The same goes for mobile versus normal eCommerce. The latter offers more business opportunities, so why not go with it?

2: Mobile-Friendly is Good for All, Mobile-Unfriendly is Bad for Business

                                                                 Image Source: aumcore.com

We already covered that more and more people are using mobile devices than ever before. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of eCommerce retailers that haven’t caught up with the times and still have unoptimized, mobile-unfriendly sites. Okay, but why is this bad? For many reasons, actually.

First and foremost, mobile-unfriendliness can hurt your bottom line and help your competition. No matter what you sell, if someone on a mobile device is on your site and can’t navigate properly, you can bet they’re clicking out and going to your competition. Even if they weren’t planning on making a purchase at that moment, the fact that they couldn’t properly view your products made them go somewhere else. And whenever they do get around to making the purchase, who do you think they’re going to buy from?

Second but still as important, not being optimized for mobile will negatively affect your normal site in search engine rankings. Google made it clear a while ago that they’re using mobile sites for indexing purposes. So if you’re not on mobile and your competition is they’ll benefit and rise through Google’s SERPs while you plummet into nonexistence.

3: Mobile Sales Are on the Rise

In 2014, mCommerce made up 11.6% of the $303 billion US eCommerce total, and estimates by Business Insider suggest that by 2020 it will reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total online market. Similar to more people flocking to mobile, if a metaphorical bigger slice of the pie is available through mobile devices, why wouldn’t you try and get your share? And as we’ll soon see, buying through mobile is so easy that all you need is a fingerprint.

4: Mobile Wallets and the Ease of Purchasing

My last mobile purchase consisted of tapping a button that read, “Finalize Purchase” and then pressing my thumb to my iPhone’s home button. That simple. Mobile wallets are making science fiction a reality. By storing card information on our phones, we can seamlessly pay for anything from a jacket online to a burger on the street. This purchasing option is not only easy, but also optimal for those who don’t have the time to complete the checkout by painstakingly typing a bunch of numbers.

                                                                   Image Source: macrumors.com

5: Mobile Helps Traditional Brick and Mortar Businesses Too

Being online is already a huge step up from sticking to a brick and mortar store because you’re opening up a secondary revenue channel. By virtue being online, you can bypass normal store hours and sell at any time. Mobile takes things to the next level and allows for purchases anytime, anywhere.

This alternative revenue source is helpful for enterprises of any size because it allows for sales without incurring the extra costs associated with having an in-person sales representative. In other words, you’re serving your audience on two separate fronts that combine for a multi-platform strategy.

Now or Later, the Choice is Yours

Apart from the vast mobile preference that most people show, there are also mobile-only demographics whose only means of accessing the Internet is through their phones. The fact of the matter is that if you’re not selling through mobile now, you will either have to start soon or end up closing shop.

If you’re still not convinced, take everything we’ve covered into consideration. More and more people are on mobile devices today than ever before, and with increased usage and the ease of shopping through a phone comes increased sales. Not only that, but mobile will also help your physical location (if you have one) and doing otherwise will actually help your competition.
Make the right choice and optimize your site, get in touch with mobile application development specialists, and of course, best of luck.

Monday, 1 May 2017

What You Need to Know About Developing an App in the Cloud


Cloud computing is quickly revolutionizing the enterprise with the many competitive advantages it offers, especially when dealing with mobile application development. From the risks and benefits to the actual development, here’s what you need to know to develop an app in the cloud.

Do I Need to Adopt Cloud Computing?

Before we go into specifics, let’s focus on what cloud computing actually is. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), from the US Department of Commerce, defines cloud computing as consisting of five characteristics, summarized below:

1. On-demand Self-service: consumers can unilaterally provision computing capabilities automatically, without requiring human interaction
2. Broad Network Access: computing capabilities are available over a network and can be accessed through standard mechanisms, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
3. Resource Pooling: the provider’s computing resources (e.g., storage, processing, memory and network bandwidth) are pooled to serve multiple consumers
4. Rapid Elasticity: computing capabilities can be scaled rapidly outward and inward, in some cases automatically, commensurated with demand
5. Measured Service: cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use, which can be monitored, controlled and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer

The topic in question now becomes, should you adopt cloud computing for your enterprise? In short, yes. As a matter of fact, estimates by the International Data Corporation (IDC) suggest that spending on public cloud computing will increase by 24.4% in 2017. Here’s why:

Benefits of Cloud Adoption

Developing and maintaining mobile apps in the cloud offers the advantages needed to survive and thrive in the competitive enterprise environment. Our focus being mobile applications, let’s start with mobility, and similarly, availability.
Because of its ubiquitous nature, information stored on the cloud can be accessed anywhere and at any time. This results in greatly increased productivity, as the limitations of time and space are eliminated and replaced with the ability for an enterprise’s employees to work even when not at work, as long as there’s an Internet connection.

                                                              Image Source: digitalunite.com

Also due to its ubiquitousness, the cloud offers the much needed flexibility to quickly respond to market changes and deploy and maintain mobile apps almost instantly. If a problem arises within your mobile apps, you can quickly asses the issue, make an update, and deploy them to all your employees, quickly and efficiently.

One final benefit we’ll discuss today is the scalability to adapt to any changes in demand, whether positive or negative. As an enterprise, one of your goals is to grow. As such, you want to access the resources you need, when you need them. And thanks to the cloud, you can do just that.

Risks of Cloud Adoption

We can’t discuss the benefits of cloud adoption without touching on the risks (even if small). Far and wide, the biggest and most expressed risk is security. Partly due to the lack of control over the physical infrastructure that houses the actual information on the cloud, security breaches are a real concern, especially when dealing with public cloud services.

A second risk posed by the cloud is unplanned downtime. The fact is that nothing is perfect, not even the cloud, and unexpected outages can happen in the most inopportune times. Depending on the industry and business, this can be as benign as not being able to load a picture, or as detrimental as losing money if you’re running an ecommerce business. This is why you have to plan for outages. Come up with multiple plans, test them out, and modify them as you go.

Mobile Application Development in the Cloud


Now for the actual development. Brought to you by Cloud Technology Partners and the Doppler, and summarized below, here are five steps to build a cloud-ready application architecture:

1: Design the Application as a Collection of Services
APIs (application programming interface) are resources or tools used to develop applications, and when it comes to the cloud, it’s best to deploy applications as a collections of APIs.

2: Decouple the Data
As opposed to tightly coupled data, decoupled data is better suited for the cloud because you can store and process it on any public or private cloud instance.

3: Consider Communications Between Application Components
When designing your application, make sure to optimize communication so that your application’s components aren’t constantly communicating, as this is not desirable and can lead to poor performance and delays.

4: Model and Design for Performance and Scaling
This one’s quite evident because we briefly discussed the scalability that’s enabled by the cloud. Elaborating, make sure to design your application so that it can handle unexpected heavy loads in traffic.

5: Make Security Systemic within the Application
Given the importance of security, it’s best to design and build the application’s security directly into its architecture.

Concluding Thoughts

Although embarking on cloud-based mobile application development has its share of pros and cons, in the long run, the cons are effectively negligent when compared to the opportunity costs of doing otherwise. Do your research, plan everything out, and good luck!