Looking to use the newest mobile technologies in your mobile app? The good news is that you can, but you might want to think twice. If you have a great deal of experience with mobile technology, you may already have exactly what you want, and that’s cool. Without experience, it makes sense to talk with a knowledgeable developer before you choose.
So, before deciding which specific technologies you want to use, it is absolutely critical to first look at your goals for your app.
Most businesses approach mobile app development as an investment to increase sales and attract new customers or automate work processes. To ensure this business investment provides a steady return, you probably want to do everything you can to minimize your risks.
Market Size and Device Compatibility
How many people use the device, operating system, or meet the technical requirements to make use of your app and its features? These questions are inherent to defining your target market. The normal business objective aims to include the largest possible, logical audience.
Android comes out with a new version every year. Each offers improvements and new features. Knowing each version’s relative user volume should play an important role in your decision making. It ties into the minimum requirements to run your app and how backward compatible you should be to maximize your market size.
The following statistics reflect the relative distribution of Android versions as of February of 2018, as tracked by AndroidAuthority:
- Through 2012 – Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean – 5.7%
- 2013 – KitKat – 12%
- 2014 – Lollipop – 24.6%
- 2015 – Marshmallow – 28.1%
- 2016 – Nugat – 28.5%
- 2017 – Oreo – 1.1%
Simply speaking, releasing an app that only works with Oreo may not be such a good idea, though you can be assured your market will grow over time. This is an issue all software developers face. The best advice is to examine the pros and cons of each technology or feature relative to how many people will be able to use it.
Resources and Security Vulnerabilities
Stability and security run roughly proportional to the volume of overall use over time: the more people-hours a system experiences, the higher the odds that issues will be found and solved. Newer versions of programming languages and operating systems usually have more problems, since fewer developers have spent less time debugging and testing them.
In today’s mobile app world, security is paramount. The website InformationIsBeautiful offers a great view of the frequency and scope of major data breaches throughout 2017, by type. You can filter by what sites had poor security, were hacked, accidental leaks, etc. With this sort of information being so easily available, you don’t want to be on their (or anybody else’s) list of vulnerable sites.
On top of that, 2017 brought us the whole Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities, impacting virtually all electronic devices with CPUs. For these, we have to trust the original chip manufacturers like Intel for fixes. But over and over again, we’ve seen vulnerabilities in nearly every new operating system release. Depending on your business model, you may want to allow some time for developers to find and fix security risks before betting your project on a brand new OS release.
How many developers are proficient, or even specialize in the newest mobile technologies you have your eyes on? If your project is mission-critical, you will want to be prepared with a backup plan. If your first team doesn’t come through, that will give you another developer, available to rescue your project. However, with very new and niche technologies, that backup may be hard to find.
You want the technology you select to be around for a long time. Problems most frequently arise here when designing apps for specific hardware devices. It’s not unusual that devices fail to catch on. Then the original manufacturer halts production, goes into bankruptcy, or gets bought out by another player. Even the big boys are at risk here, as we saw Amazon’s Fire Phone fizzle, not to mention all of the strangeness associated with Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.
The Right Tool for the Job
That’s a great question to ask your developer after you explain everything you want your app to do. They will be able to tell you what tools are best and why. Then, you’re free to take that answer to another developer to get a second or even third opinion. Your developers may not be in agreement, but odds are good that you will end up looking at a validated shortlist to compare against.
The following table, from our previous article on Cross-Platform Development, helps to show how specific solutions might work best for different types of apps:
When to Adopt the Newest Mobile Technologies
New technologies of all kinds favor those willing to take a big risk for the chance of great reward. So, when it comes to adopting the newest mobile technologies for use with your business app, are you willing to gamble?
The augmented reality, real-time video facial recognition app we designed for Looksery is a good example. Victor Shaburov raised $46,000 against a $30,000 goal on Kickstarter to help finance Looksery. He then went on to sell Looksery to Snapchat for $150 million. Was that a sure thing? Not by any stretch.
Victor was known for starting Handster which was acquired by Opera, where it transitioned into the Opera Mobile Store, where he continued as Vice-President. As an experienced and successful serial entrepreneur, he had his thumb on the pulse of mobile and web-based technologies. His highly educated guess reaped great reward. However great his reward, others have set their sights much higher. Twitter turned down a $500 million bid from Facebook. Dropbox said no to an $800 million offer from Apple.
But these examples are not your typical businesses. Moreover, for each of these big-time success stories, there are scores, if not hundreds, of stories ending in financial loss and sometimes ruin. Your business strategy and plan should drive your willingness for risk.
One Step at a Time
Developing a mobile app is a lot like building a house. At some point, it will look finished, but there will still be lots of work left to do. When everything works as intended, it’s all good. When it doesn’t? You might have to tear the house down to keep it from collapsing on you.
If you have an idea now and would like to talk to someone, why not check out our App Evaluation Workshop? Talk with our world-class UI/UX designers, mobile developers and business analysts and see why Reinvently is one of San Francisco’s Top Mobile App Developers according to Clutch.co!