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Increased connectivity has mandated that there be an app for everything. Businesses can no longer look at the web and mobile application creation as a fanciful addition to their software schematics, but rather as a fixture necessary for survival in a digitized era.
The push for app creation has placed unforeseen pressures on in-house IT teams across the world. While mobile development is now flush with new and diverse opportunities, the changing nature of how individuals interact with the internet is expanding definitions of device usability and functionality. The growing number of devices also brings up questions of what devices to target while building a user-friendly application. Concerns regarding data security are especially significant since more apps mean more frequent and voluminous data transfers and movement.
Consumerization of IT, in particular, has sprouted new obstacles for the developer community to overcome. More frequently, employees use devices to access corporate data. These devices may be personal or enterprise-owned. In case of the former, developers may not have knowledge of what mobile platform to create apps for, which requires them to implement a cross-platform approach.
Consumerization of IT has also created a demand for easy usage. Corporate users demand that enterprise apps possess an interface as accessible as their personal devices. Developers find themselves having to create apps that are immediately operable or have a very low learning curve. This means minimal menus and options that can fit into the limited screen space of smartphones.
The pressure is aggravated by the fact that companies must now necessarily engage with customers via apps. Regardless of the industry, companies have realized the value of advancing customer relations with offers, discounts, updates, and alerts. Apps are obviously the easiest way to execute this. Companies have also begun to explore disposable apps which function only in relation to certain events, promotions, and locations such as the Disneyland Mobile App.
In addition, mobile application development compels considerations of data access, offline operability, security, and back-end integration. Specifically, seamless and transparent integration of data with back-end systems is a fundamental determinant of good app functionality.
Finally, developers are faced with the unenviable task of deciding what development tools are best suited to their ends. For this, they not only have to choose one that can resolve the above-mentioned predicaments but also one that incorporates best practices and can be used with long-term productivity and profits in mind.
The challenges of enterprise app development are manifold, but most of them are related to three overarching issues:
Possibly the most different aspect of enterprise app creation to deal with, this raises several concerns for developers. How best to use screen space? How many screen sizes (devices) must an app be optimized for? What features should an app display on its home screen? How can the display be best suited for hassle-free usage? Enterprise apps must also, in accordance with the tenets of consumerization, be built to ensure all simplicity and productivity.
Regulating access to corporate data via the app is possibly the most painstaking aspect of app development. For starters, a number of decisions have to be made beginning with: should the data be accessed through a browser or through a native app running on the device? If the data is to be drawn from a back-end database, then connectivity is a factor. In the event of an inadequate or absent wireless connection, developers must decide if there should a data repository in the device’s native files or if access should be granted solely by means of a web browser.
A common example of this situation would be deciding whether a salesperson should download an updated inventory before venturing into areas with questionable connectivity. If so, then the app should be infused with a synchronization capability that allows updating once the user is back in range so that it can be updated once again. Though it is not difficult to program an app to recognize and adjust to an absent or weak network, apps must be able to detect the loss of connection in order to display the last-known dataset when the connection is restored.
Enterprise app development platforms are cognizant of the need for unbreachable and internally modifiable security for apps. However, it requires developers to adapt to the custom architecture of each operating system. Frequently, mobile app development platforms offer different layers of security depending on the kind of data stored on a device. Since the degree of security depends on the sensitivity of the information, multiple log-ins might be required for the same app to access data on the device or in the back-end. This is not something that users tend to like. To accommodate this while ensuring secure access, developers must empower the app with encryption reaching down to the file systems.
To the relief of most developers, they can have their lives made significantly easier with the easy availability of mobile application development platforms that address numerous concerns in equally numerous combinations. The choice usually lies between native tools and cross-platform tools for app development.
These tools allow developers to create applications meant to run on specific platforms such as Apple’s iOS, Google Android or Microsoft Windows Phone. They are used when it is necessary for apps to be linked deeply with the underlying platform. Certain capabilities are unique to platforms, and native tools can be used to take advantage of them and create applications built for specific purposes. Native tools create apps that run perfectly smoothly on mobile devices using that particular OS platform. If a company has established that most of its employees are users of a particular platform, like iOS, it is profitable to design a native app for iOS specifically.
Cross-platform development tools tend to have more full-featured development architectures including version control, graphical user interface and workflow. More sophisticated integration tools and links to third-party websites (such as social media sites) along with better technical support options are offered. These tools also tend to be an emphasis on providing robust security as the applications it creates are used to access back-end corporate information.
The choice of mobile app development platform primarily depends on the nature of the applications and the purposes for which its development should be commissioned. It is best selected when IT teams ask and answer the relevant question in conjunction with business representatives.
Mobile app development is best accomplished when they are designed and deployed in accordance with the following best practices. They especially take into account the nuances that accompany the creation of efficient, easily operable and prolific apps.
Especially while using cross-platform tools, it is necessary to follow a well-defined development procedure. Even if multiple teams are working on various aspects of development simultaneously, common tools should be used for testing, management, and reportage.
The IT team must be populated with individuals who possess the requisite knowledge and experience to work on such platforms. Though it isn’t necessary for them to know any particular programming language per se, they would require decent knowledge to work the various stages of the app development process.
Most developers prefer to create layered applications, in which functionality stays consistent across platforms with modular parts operating beneath. These parts can be given identical application and business logic. By creating reusable platform components, app development can be expedited. In doing so, developers must be certain about what features to add. For example, native app development usually entails notifications to the app by the operating systems via messages and other means. Cross-platform development needs developers to add these features via a drag-and-drop method.
By their very nature, mobile devices are a security risk. They use wireless connectivity to upload and download data, from possibly insecure locations. They are also easy to misplace. Security must, therefore, be a top priority. It is not sufficient to simply utilize the platform’s inherent security capabilities but use tools such as encryption for sensitive data.
Any app is completely pointless without acceptable user experience. This can be challenging given the tight deadlines for completion and limited screen space on phones. Developers must take the time to implement the most effective text and graphics, which are aligned with customers’ interests, necessities, and sensitivities.
It is important to program analytics capabilities into the app so that users’ interaction with the application can be tracked and understood. This will enhance technical support issues, prevent data theft and breaches as well as enable developers to understand how the app can be improved in future versions.
It is possible to supplant automated analytics with a feedback system. If users can be provided with the ability to provide feedback, be it via email, social media or the app itself, they can provide significant insight regarding bugs, undesirable features or any other issues. This would not only reduce technical support calls but also let developers hone in on how to better refine the application.
Users of mobile apps tend to need data on a time-sensitive basis, which means they must be tested for usability and responsiveness. They must also be tested for battery life as well as with various browsers on different carrier connections to ensure they offer optimal performance both online and offline.
HokuApps offers a range of mobile application development services that have been designed on the principles of sustainable application development. The platform is structured with features to institute delivery excellence. This includes reliable procedures that emphasis on testing, extensive collaboration and implementing technologies based on best practices, scrutiny, and research.