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Wearable Technology Presents Unique Challenges to App Developers

Analyst firm IDTechEX predicts that the wearable tech market would reach $39 billion by the end of 2016 and $150 billion by 2026. CSI Insight reports that a total of 411 million wearable devices valued at $34 billion would be sold in 2020. MarketsandMarkets also predicts that the wearable technology by 2020, would grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.8%. Today, fitness tracker devices alone are worth $700 million and hold 61% of total wearable devices. Looking at these numbers, it is evident that the wearable technology is making inroads into our lives. The cloud computing revolution has brought a variety of devices into the network. Developers are now using innovative techniques such as responsive design to ensure the user experience is constant across all devices. However, wearable technology poses different challenges and demand extra caution and consideration. These are a few factors to consider. Make it easy to use Wearable devices come with smaller screens and in different shapes and sizes in comparison to regular mobiles and tablets. Designing the right interface for these devices presents a challenge. The interface should be quick and easy to navigate and contain minimal elements. There is no space for flashy icons or detailed navigation. App developers should adapt an alternate approach to ensure that a consistent user experience is delivered across all devices without losing focus on ease of use and mobility which are the key functionalities of a wearable device. Dependence on Tethered devices As wearable devices come with smaller sizes and limited functionality, they are normally tethered to larger devices. It means these devices always depend on the larger devices they are tethered to for accessing the full functionality of the application. When the battery of the larger device drains out, the tethered devices lose the connectivity. Wearable devices that are connected through blue tooth should always operate within that blue tooth range. Lower battery life In addition to smaller screens and limited functionality, wearable devices have a lower battery life. In fact, the limited battery life is the biggest pain point in the wearables right now. With this limit, developers may be tempted to design slow apps, unattractive designs or non-critical software. For instance, Q Dreamer activity tracker comes with five days of battery life and Under Armour fitness tracker also gets five days of battery life. Fitbit claims that the fitness wrist watch Blaze would run for 5 days without charging it. However, the fact is that it doesn’t run GPS and other apps to compensate the battery life. With all the functionality of the device, the battery would only last for one day. However, the technology in processors and sensors are constantly innovating to enable them to consume less power and deliver more functionality. Cross platform solutions are the need of the hour The successful adoption of a wearable device depends on its cross-platform capability. The more devices and platforms it supports, the higher its success rate. Designing apps for a specific device or platform will be less successful. A notable example is Google Glass. The developers weren’t clear if the device should be worn all through the day or if it is to be used for specific tasks. In addition to its low battery life and unattractive design, the tool didn’t provide any useful information for its users. Obviously, apps that work with multiple devices are sure to stay in the longer run. Moreover, the rapid advancement in technology brings new devices and technologies into the picture. Apps should not only be cross-platform enabled but they should also be easily updated and pushed into new platforms and devices. Data Security issues When a wearable device becomes a part of a network, it means data is shared with that device most of the time. With limited functionality, these devices lack the ability to setup opt-in privacy settings. App developers should take extra care to ensure that the app only accesses required data and securely processes it. Appropriate security measures that are specific to wearable devices should be applied. While developing apps for wearable devices is a challenge, it can prove to be rewarding and lucrative. With changing platforms and tools, developers need to proactively align their strategies to meet changing demands which means that ease-of-use and adaptability are the keys.

2017: A Year of Mobile Innovation and No-Code Apps

2017 is poised to be the year of the "no-code" citizen developer. This is not just some cottage industry or niche movement. While we are still at the early stages, "no-code" is a global transition that will transform the landscape of computing. For the very first time in the four decades of popular computing, the huge gap between creators and consumers of software will shrink and in fact potentially disappear. At AppSheet we're at the forefront of this change.  As members of the AppSheet team, we are privileged to have a ringside view of the sweeping changes this mobile movement brings. Our customers are experiencing this change, and we learn a tremendous amount daily from our interactions with them. It is all inspiring and  perhaps this is the right time to definitively declare the five tenets of the no-code app creation.  1. Anyone No pre-required level of skill, education, training, or technical sophisitication will be necessary to build apps. Instead, the requirements will be a sound understanding of the problem domain, an inquisitive mind, an innovative spirit, and a willingness to experiment.  2. Any problem No specific scenario or problem will be automatically "too hard" for the no-code citizen developer. Of course, certain no-code platforms may focus on specific domains (eg: AppSheet currently focuses on business apps whereas another platform might focus on game development).  3. Anywhere Geographic contraints will not limit the no-code citizen developer. Likewise, the minimal resources needed for No-code development will minimize the effects of resource disparities between residents of different countries. This levels the playing field and allows anyone in any country to create apps. 4. Any form factor There is an explosion of form factors for apps. Desktop, browser, mobile devices, chatbots, IoT devices, watches, cars...the list grows every year. Very soon, all of the physical objects we interact with will become app hosts, and apps will also run in the network that connects and integrates these devices. Any of these apps on any of these form factors will be created by the no-code citizen developer. 5. Any data If there is one single crucial component of any app, it is the data that the app collects, displays and interacts with. Most of the data in the world is moving to the cloud. Any cloud data will be accessible to the no-code citizen developer. Of course, no single no-code platform will satisfy all these factors immediately or easily, and certainly not in the span of a year. However this year, it will become clear that these are all achievable goals and in fact that they are goals that will transform the next decade of innovation in the software industry. AppSheet is excited to introduce several changes this year that will make it even easier for anyone to create an app in new ways. Here's to a 2017 full of innovation and mobile transitions! Our newest white papers, Empowering Citizen Developers: A Guide, walks you through everything you need to know about empowering employees to create powerful no-code apps that benefit the whole organization.

How Mobile Will Impact Your Business in 2017 and Beyond

The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, once said, “I think goals should never be easy. They should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.” Well, it is now that “uncomfortable” time of year when we evaluate 2016, think about what worked and what needs to be improved on, and write down our goals for 2017. Whatever business you are in and regardless of your company size, mobile marketing and employee mobilization should definitely have a couple of lines in your business strategy for the New Year. If you need some motivation to comply with the changing times, consider these statistics: 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. 79% of people surveyed use their smartphone for reading email -- a higher percentage than those who used it for making calls. 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. By 2018, 8 in 10 email users will likely access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices. 40% of mobile searches have local intent. 61% of respondents in a recent Adobe survey said that if a company isn't deploying enterprise mobile apps, they're at a competitive disadvantage. (see chart below).   Mobilization is altering the way people shop, interact, and manage companies. Your customers are accessing apps and changing the way they find products and services. Are you keeping up with them? Here are some specific innovations to consider for 2017 and beyond: Intelligent Apps One buzzword that I’ve heard a lot of in the software space is “intuitive.” Software developers are programming devices to note consumer habits and then cater to those needs. In much the same vein, apps are on the cusp of learning user schedules and patterns to predict how to solve the next need. “Intelligent apps such as VPAs perform some of the functions of a human assistant making everyday tasks easier (by prioritizing emails, for example), and its users more effective (by highlighting the most important content and interactions),” explains David Cearley of Gartner Research. “Over the next 10 years, virtually every app, application and service will incorporate some level of AI. This will form a long-term trend that will continually evolve and expand the application of AI and machine learning for apps and services.” Micro Apps Currently, you don’t have to wait for an app to guess what you need. With mobile app makers, you can customize your app based on your day-to-day activities. You know what forms you access frequently, which tools make your job easier (like a GPS function) and the checklists you access to mark the job as complete. The change in 2017 is that more and more businesses will be making their own apps. “As more companies take enterprise solutions to smartphones, tablets and even wearables, the demand for mobile developers will outstrip the available capacity by 500%. Ways out? Using no-code and low-code dev tools… will become one of the hottest trends in mobile app development,” shares Andrei Klubnikin, Senior Content Manager at R-Style Lab. App builders continue to increase in popularity as micro-apps allow those without a software development background to customize apps to their specific needs. As 2017 is just beginning and time is devoted to re-evaluating processes and operations, mobile apps can help you to monitor monthly budgetary goals, ensure that increased sales projections are on target, and create side-by-side charts reporting 2016 to 2017 to visualize specific areas that need to improve or require special attention. Customer App Usage “Three years ago, a small business might see 10 percent of its total traffic coming from mobile, but right now it’s closer to 70 percent. Within the next couple of years, a shift to a mobile app or a mobile-friendly site will become obvious,” says Viktor Marohnic, CEO of the app builder Shoutem.“A good mobile app can facilitate quick checkout for a purchase, leading to an increase in sales. Customer experience amounts to simply browsing through an inventory, seeing what’s available. An app can definitely improve that experience, compared to a mobile website, where the user has to login again every time they use it, provide payment details, and so on.” As life becomes busier, customers are relying more on mobile devices and less on laptops and desktops. The previous statistics clearly show that reading emails on smartphones, researching customer reviews, and even shopping locally are three ways that consumers are increasing their use of apps. Marhonic also shares that consumer-facing industries such as restaurants, churches, small event organizers, car dealers, and stores are the obvious adopters of mobile apps for small business since these businesses want to build loyalty programs and keep their customers involved. As you create your business resolutions and goals for 2017, be sure to consider the countless ways that apps can improve the efficiency of your employees, ensure that you are on track for growth, and improve your customer loyalty.   Our newest white paper, Mobile App Trends: What You Need to Know in 2017 will help prepare you for launching successful business apps this yar.

Are Your Apps Ready For the Holidays?

As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches, retailers need to ensure that their apps are up to snuff in order to capture their real value from consumers. During the holiday season last year, mobile accounted for 57.2 percent of all online traffic and 36.2 percent of all online sales – respective increases of 15.2 and 30 percent over 2014, according to IBM Watson Trend. And now today, there are actually more mobile devices on the planet than people. With digital sales and mobile shopping both anticipated to increase 25 percent this year, it is definitely a channel that retailers cannot afford to ignore. Mobile’s role for retail Holiday sales in 2015 hit approximately $626 billion, and smartphones take up an increasingly bigger piece of this holiday pie. In 2015, 57.2 percent of Black Friday traffic came from mobile devices – a 174 percent increase over 2014. Mobile also drove 49 percent of web traffic on Cyber Monday 2015, creating 28 percent of sales worth $514 million. “Mobile is growing rapidly,” said SteelHouse’s chief marketing officer Patrizio Spagnoletto. “Consumers are searching for last-minute deals, and they’re waiting longer to begin their holiday shopping with retailers that accommodate later delivery. These are important shifts that require marketers to be more strategic and thoughtful about how and when they reach the critical in-market buyer.” The challenge for store-based retailers will likely be to leverage their distinctive advantages to stay relevant. And that relevancy extends to the creation of strong mobile apps that meet their customers’ needs. Five essential tips for ensuring success 1. Leverage push notifications - while customers are in-store. IBM’s Eighth Annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report indicated that while half of consumers want to receive real-time promotions while they are in-store, just 5 percent of retailers currently have this capacity. By providing contextual, hyper-personalized push notifications, retailers can capitalize on these missed opportunities, particularly during the holiday season. When notifications are sent at the right time and offer the right message, they can increase user retention by up to 55 percent, according to Urban Airship. Get creative with your messaging, too, as these examples demonstrate, with push notifications that include instructions, calls to action, or emojis to help drive traffic: Interactive push notifications can also help connect with customers and drive immediate action, as Shop Direct’s MyVery app demonstrated last year. Their interactive notifications instructed users to swipe left if they wanted to receive daily deals during Black Friday. Those who did were added to a Black Friday segment intended to drive engagement throughout the campaign. According to Alex Baldock, CEO of Shop Direct, the e-commerce giant saw a “record week” prior to Black Friday, with overall growth up 64 percent year-over-year across all platforms.   2. Use the app to enhance the in-store shopping experience. By connecting your channels via a mobile app, you can help boost sales both online and in-store. Customers are searching for integrated shopping experiences because it makes their lives easier and more convenient. Home Depot has launched an app that lets customers type in a specific item and get directions to where to find it in the store, and associates can also use the app to determine whether a product is in-stock, available for order, or in-stock at another location.  The app also includes an augmented-reality feature that allows shoppers to see what a particular product might look like in their own home.  While the Home Depot app is not holiday-specific, it is helping to drive traffic on seasonal items. 3. Theme your content and in-app purchases to the holiday.  That also means decorating push notifications and in-app messages to reflect the season. When customers feel festive, they loosen their purse strings. “Decorating” for the holidays can help motivate shoppers to engage with your app, drawing them in with the seasonal themes. Create attractive holiday in-app offers  like: 10 Gifts for Him Under $10 3 Gifts Dad Will Love for $25 or Less 3 Must-Have Gifts for Kids for $50 or Less Get 8 Hanukah Gifts for $80 $15 Holiday Gifts for the Coffee Drinker 10 Appetizers Under $10 – Only During the Holidays Here’s an example from Ulta’s 2015 holiday campaign. Though the seasonal theme is subtle, it is strong enough to promote the festive mood among shoppers, combining it with a promotional message of affordable holiday gifts. And the Home Depot’s app also encouraged gift cards as “The Perfect Present”: 4. Deep link notifications to a holiday-themed message center to further engage customers. Last year, Game Stop used vivid imagery and holiday colors on its in-app message center to help spread holiday cheer. In 2015, four times as many retail apps used message centers than in 2014, with the volume of these messages increasing 152 percent. 5. Address several key elements of all apps, all the time. These include integration of context into the mobile experience; creating more natural interactions; securing brand and corporate reputation; and knowing how to differentiate between good and great. Content used to be king when it comes to mobile apps, but consumers now expect customized mobile interactions that are only possible when context is integrated into the mobile experience.  Location-based insights and the integration of detailed customer information and relevant information about the environment (think the weather) help create experiences that are contextually relevant and tailored to the specific user. Cognitive computing is also the next frontier for mobile apps, incorporating natural language processing and personality insights to help raise the customer experience to new heights. Enabling apps to process the way humans speak allows for a better user experience and therefore higher response rates and better service. Security is more important than ever for brands, so ensuring that your company has adopted well-architected mobile security will help protect the brand and its consumers. And perhaps most importantly, your company needs to ensure that it builds a great app. Consumers spend approximately 85 percent of their time on smartphones within apps. A recent Forrester Consulting study examined at the difference between great apps and good apps and found a dramatic gap. In fact, a great app produced five times more revenue opportunity, and expanded sales in other channels like brick-and-mortar stores and delivered cost savings at a higher rate than good apps. Ready, Set, App! Let AppSheet help you develop and tweak your mobile apps to help ensure their holiday readiness and drive customer sales. Whether it’s an e-commerce app, inventory management, tracking customer contacts, order capture, or something else, AppSheet can transform your data into convenient, custom apps just in time for the Holidays.

How Mobile Gaming is Impacting and Changing Travel

Mobile apps are transforming the hospitality industry. From mobile wallets to keyless entry, virtual concierge services, mobile ordering apps, personalized in-room entertainment and more, mobile apps are changing the way guests utilize hotel and restaurant services. The hospitality industry is jumping on the mobile app bandwagon with wild abandon. “Today’s guests expect to be able to use their smartphones to do almost everything,” said George Corbin, senior vice president of digital, Marriott International. “They’re more mobile than ever and consider technology to be a central part of their lifestyle. We want to change the way people travel at our hotels.” Even mobile gaming is changing the hospitality landscape through mobile apps. A recent Hotels.com study has found that geo-tagging, community building, and popular landmarks are among the new ways that mobile gaming is impacting travel and hotels can leverage these trends for higher traffic.  The survey found that New York is the top city when it comes to U.S. “Pokétels,” followed by San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., while Paris hosts 6 of the top 10 international “Pokétels.” And when it comes to travelers, they say that free hotel Wi-Fi is more important than free breakfast, because it means that guests can play Pokémon Go. The study surveyed more than 500 millennial travelers based in the U.S. and learned that more than half of them (79 percent) said they plan to play Pokémon Go on their next vacation and that nearly half (48 percent) said that they would consider trying a new spot to play the game. “This is an exciting time for the travel industry,” explained Taylor L. Cole, APR travel expert for Hotels.com. “People are visiting new destinations and exploring landmarks and places they never thought to see –whether it’s in your city or across the globe. Our surveys have always shown us how spontaneous travelers can be and Pokémon Go is no exception.” And many of the major hotel brands have gone mobile, branding apps that offer options beyond just booking stays from mobile devices to providing local information and special deals for loyalty members. Among them are Marriott Hotels, which lets users check in and use expedited mobile check-in desks to pick up their room keys. Hilton Worldwide offers the Conrad Concierge app, which acts as a full-service concierge, allowing users to do things like order room service, book hotel spa treatments, choose what kinds of bath amenities they want stocked in their bathrooms and arrange airport transportation. The W Hotels app features not just standard booking and concierge services, but also includes a music streaming function and lets users – including non-guests – to order anything they’d like to be sent to a guest room, and boasts an image-sharing feature that allows users to take and share photos directly from the app. Besides providing users with concierge services including booking reservations, providing city guides, and sharing special promotions, the Ritz-Carlton’s mobile app also boasts a built-in QR code reader that guests can use around the hotel to unlock special digital experiences related to that particular hotel location. Regardless of how quickly mobile devices integrate into hotel operations and how many processes that they will change, guests are going to demand that the industry embrace mobile devices because guests are integrating them into their everyday lives. As guests integrate mobile devices more fully into their everyday lives, the hospitality industry will need to keep pace with their mobile offerings or risk losing customers to their competitors. Whether it’s integrating geo-location, guest services, location information and maps, or special attractions, AppSheet can help you customize apps to boost your guest experiences and leave them wanting to come back again and again.

How Mobile Apps Are Transforming the Election Process

The 2016 elections are perhaps among the most contentious in history, with scandals and jabs coming from both sides of the aisle. In response, a number of new mobile apps have emerged to help voters make sense of the candidates, campaigns, and news stories that will determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections, challenging traditional predictive polling measures. A search of the app stores produce a myriad of Clinton, Trump, and election-related apps that have crowded into the market to capitalize on the volatility of this year’s campaigns to fundamentally change the way Americans approach democracy. From informative apps that provide background on the candidates, to ones providing bipartisan election news, electoral vote count maps, help locate polling places and verify voter registration, and even games that poke fun at the candidates, 2016 is definitely the year of the app when it comes to politics. Voters are increasingly turning to mobile apps to help guide them through the murky waters of our electoral process. According to Mic, “Leaders of self-described ‘civic tech’ apps claim they will change how Americans come to understand policy and how influencers grasp social sentiment. While these platforms vary in style and depth, each app aims to change how we track public opinion through real-time engagement with millions of phone-addicted voters. App leaders have raised millions of dollars from investors to prove their product is viable.” These civic tech apps include a number that aim to change American democracy with a swipe or a tap, offering users a path to win the Electoral College, tailored election news, or ways to support a particular candidate. Apps like Countable and icitizen serve to help brands and lawmakers more accurately understand an individual’s political views. They also hope to disrupt polling firms and market research by providing real-time data from a large population. According to Russ Reeder, head of icitizen, “The whole social sentiment market is a disaster.” He told Mic that polling and market research firms currently are far too partisan and can’t accurately track the swift changes in social sentiment. “This country is about public opinion,” Reeder said. “But it’s the job of the elected official to understand what the public feels so they can make the right choices. Right now, they don’t have the right tools.” Enter civic tech.   "I absolutely see a major financial opportunity in 'civic tech,'" said Hunter Scarborough, founder of Voter, the "Tinder for politics" app that asks users to swipe left or right when they are asked a number of political questions. With each swipe, this app tracks the political leanings of the coveted millennial demographic. And while these civic tech apps do not have the high user return figures that the more game-like apps do, statistics show that nearly half of Countable’s users are still engaged after six months, and icitizen sees “tens of thousands” of users on any given day. Meanwhile, Voter provides data from thousands of millennials that cannot be easily garnered by other polls. Despite the fact that civic tech apps are still returning small numbers in terms of the 100 million iPhones in use every day in the U.S., with national surveys of voters reliant on a thousand or so respondents, "civic tech" creators believe their method will prove valuably disruptive. "Politics and government is one of the last bastions to be unaffected in a big way by technology," Voter's Scarborough said. "And I don't think that's going to be much longer." Here is a sampling of some of the best election apps currently available: 2016 Election App, created by Nathan Ashworth.  Some call this app “The best 2016 election app!” It allows users to follow the 2016 Presidential campaign with latest news on debates and candidates, using push notifications and details for debates and news in an objective, nonpartisan format. US Elections 2016 - Trump v Hillary - News & Polls. Created by Newsfusion, Ltd., this app allows voters to follow election campaigns with a non-biased newsfeed, including debates, press releases, media appearances, polls, opinions, and analysis. VOTER. This app uses sets of big questions (gauging where you stand on hot-button issues like abortion, the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, etc.) and a Tinder-style swipe interface to match users with particular parties and candidates. The app also has a useful compendium of candidate’s biographical information, quotes, and campaign contributors. PolitiFact’s Settle It! This app from Times Publishing Company Web Site allows voters to fact check the candidates quickly and easily and test their own knowledge of the Truth-O-Meter. This has been one of the most contentious years of campaigning in terms of misinformation being bandied about by candidates. This app helps voters determine what is true and what is not. 2016 Map. Digesting an endless stream of polling numbers is dry and tricky work, and understanding what they mean for the larger election is even more difficult. The 2016 Map app synthesizes daily polling data into a live electoral map that shows users where each state stands, and how far the candidates are in their campaigns to gather 270 electoral college votes. It also allows users to compare today’s numbers with previous numbers or historical election maps.

Five Mobile App Development Trends You'll Need to Know in 2017

Getting the latest news, entertainment, games, banking, paying bills and collaborating with colleagues and associates -- there are all kinds of apps out there enable us to perform all those functions and more. Analyst firm, Gartner, Inc. projects that by 2017, the number of mobile app downloads worldwide is expected to reach close to 268 billion times. The app development industry is mushrooming with total mobile app revenue growing from $45.37 billion in 2015 to $76.53 billion in 2017. This will make mobile apps one of the most popular computing tools in the world. The truth about all this is that we have not even scratched the surface of mobile technology’s capabilities. To put the massive number of downloads into perspective, if we compare these figures with the approximate world population of 7.1 billion, it means that by 2017, each person alive on this planet would have 37 mobile apps. In 2017, Mobile App Development will see five key trends.  Location Based Services Mobile app developers are extending the usage of a product beyond what it was meant to be when it first left the factory. A few years ago, it was games that dominated, then it was social network apps and now it is the utility app. This year saw the debut of augmented reality-based games such as Pokemon. Expect to see more of such apps in 2017. Many of us use an app for our day-to-day activities such as project organization, contact tracking, ordering groceries, or calling a repairman. Many of these apps check your location and present you with recommendations for say, restaurants, government offices, retail shops and gas stations  near you. Competitive Advantage Enterprises will step up efforts in mobile app development to gain a competitive advantage as users become reliant on apps for engagement with a brand. Companies are investing in rapid mobile app development platforms and working with their non-technical users to quickly develop useful one-to-two function apps. As users come up with more ideas for beneficial business apps, IT teams can work with them to develop a backlog of future projects and develop these on low-code platforms together. Internet of Things (loT) Apps Internet of things (loT) applications will be very important to the development of mobile apps. Undoubtedly, in a 24 x 7 world, users want easy access to information and data whenever they need it, and expect the same user experience anytime, anywhere and on any device such as wearable devices, tablets, smartphones and phablets. The increasing popularity and choices available in e-business and e-commerce apps has made clicking away (and uninstalling) all too easy. This makes the mobile app a key consideration for enterprises in their development efforts especially if it (the app) promises reduced costs and increased productivity. We have all visited a company’s glitzy website with large amounts of web-based content only to find that the browsers can perform sluggishly.  Add to this, the problems that come with small form factor devices and the experience may become a turn-off. Similarly, if an enterprise wants their staff to rely on mobile devices to do their job from anywhere, on any device, management must consider the importance of information access, design and meeting platform to screen size. New Mobile Payment Apps Mobile payments will rise spurred by new innovative payment apps. Of course, the good old fashioned web can still be a way to access websites to pay your bills but by 2017, half of all online transactions will be conducted via mobile devices or even wearable devices. Innovative payment systems such as Loop Pay, Tilt, Google Wallet, Venmo, Android Pay and Square Cash are leading the way. User Experience Is The Key To App Success The cloud is driving mobile app development and user experience is key. In the cloud, the size of mobile apps is small which reduces bandwidth and memory issues. The single purpose app has everything to do with speed and user experience. Cloud compatibility makes it possible to sync apps across multiple devices. No-code apps are fueling a social phenomenon of sorts by making it possible for us to create an app -- for personal productivity, for our social network and for utility. We no longer have to wait for IT to help us tailor it (an app) to our needs. We can build an app, change it, customize it to our own specific needs and share this with our friends and associates. In just a few steps, we can change the dashboard layout, add a new field to a chart or insert a column. The advent of the no-code app has given rise to an inclusive environment where everyone can take part. The ease with which we can make an app tailored to a specific need and deployed within seconds makes it all the more appealing. For example, we can build an app for client management, for construction calculation, for productivity, or to monitor medical appointments. The possibilities are limitless. Keep Customers Coming Back In this respect, Gartner advises vendors to focus on retention strategies since customers want real value and high quality solutions. A recent 451 Research survey shows that by 2017, 50% of companies in the US will be using at least 10 mobile apps to manage business processes and to keep in touch with their customers. As small form factor devices continue to evolve, the possibilities for no code apps to change the way we live, work and play are limited only by our imagination. Mobile app development will expand into new dimensions where new types of app development will take place. With the IoT, mobile apps are the tools that promise to connect everything and everyone. Exciting times are ahead. Get prepared for launching your business apps by downloading our latest white paper, Mobile App Trends: What You Need to Know in 2017. 

What You Can Learn from the Best Consumer Grade Applications

Consumer grade is the new enterprise grade, according to a recent survey that revealed that consumer apps are faster and more reliable than enterprise apps. The study also found that consumer apps provide greater visibility.“It is clear that consumer grade is the new enterprise grade,” said Justin Barney, president and CEO of ScaleArc. “IT decision-makers who build enterprise apps recognize that they, and the general public, have a better experience on their personal apps than their work apps. We’ve all lost patience with websites and apps that don’t offer optimal performance.” The ScaleArc survey of nearly 600 IT decision makers found that 78 percent of those polled agree that consumer grade is the new standard for apps, providing better user interface, less downtime, less sluggishness, and less likelihood of crashing. In fact,  IT decision makers say that performance requirements are higher for consumer apps than for enterprise apps. From Lightweight to Heavyweight One reason for this shift is the emergence of the Cloud era of technology. The use of new data fabrics with custom-built infrastructure means that businesses ca now give customer what they want, when they want it, where they want it. While “enterprise-grade” traditionally was associated with heavy-duty, industrial settings and “consumer-grade” was associated with lightweight technology not suited for a professional, high-performance environment, current capabilities of today’s technology have turned those definitions on their heads.  As Paul Maritz asserts, “the former lightweight is the new heavyweight. Consumer-grade will become the new benchmark.” Best Practices Modern enterprise apps are leveraging the best practices of consumer-grade mobile apps by including functionality such as recommendations (like Netflix, Amazon, and Pandora), easily adding or integrating additional data (like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn) and crowdsourcing the validation of existing data (like Innocentive, iStockphoto and Mechanical Turk). “By the very nature of the mobile app delivery platform, the best apps:  1) clearly and concisely present the information you need to complete transactions, and 2) optimize the engagement process to make completing the transaction as easy and natural as possible. There just isn’t a lot of extra real estate on your mobile device for any of the extraneous stuff,” asserted Chief Technology Officer of EMC2 Bill Schmarzo. Giving Consumers What They Want Businesses need to turn to consumer grade apps to answer the demands of today’s consumers. According to InFlight, they want: Mobile access to everything. Simple, online self-service at work or play. Elegant, effective apps for all the things they do online. Engaging, user-friend interfaces that offer a modern UX and a clean, task-oriented focus. Apps that require the smallest number of clicks and the least amount of data entry as      possible with no extraneous data on screens to accomplish the desired task. An optimized experience across all devices, from desktop to tablet to smartphone. Popular Apps With Attractive Features The Chipotle app is appealing to the eye with clear colors, fonts, and an uncluttered interface and includes a productive use of maps and other mashups to make information more actionable.               Starbucks has combined their loyalty program with their convenient mobile order and pay capabilities. The app is attractive and easy to use, and uses some gamification techniques that allow users to track their status and unlock new levels of benefits.                   Concur provides a simple format to easily complete necessary functions to keep track of travel expenses and expense reports. It also is appealing to the eye and is easy to learn, use, and navigate.              Whether your business is large or small, you need to make your systems easy to use on a personal phone in order to compete in a consumerized environment. Consumer grade apps should be easy to use, appealing to the eye, and functional. AppSheet can help your company create user-friendly, consumer grade apps to meet your unique needs, keep your customers happy, and boost revenue.

Why Mobile Apps are on the Rise in 2016

In the past ten years it is difficult to imagine any invention that has evolved as much as the smartphone. It seems that every person over the age of 12 has one and in the odd case that someone leaves home without it, and we can’t even begin to imagine our lives without them. How is it that in less than ten years our mobile phones have evolved into a necessary appendage?  The answer is twofold: the fear of not being connected and the unimaginable potential that apps provide. From gaming and shopping to calendars and timesheets, apps have become vital tools used in the daily function of life and are only increasing in popularity. Apple’s App Store alone had 2 million apps available as of June 2016 and those apps have been downloaded 130 billion times since 2008. These sales have earned app developers an astounding $50 billion in revenue. These numbers are continually growing and here’s why: Limitless Toolbox In 2010 Apple trademarked the saying, “There’s an app for that.” In 2016, that saying clearly holds even more weight. From running a mobile business, getting your schedule organized, creating playlists, to monitoring your exercise regime, if you need an app to perform a function, you’ll probably find something available in the App Store or the Google Play store. Convenience Just a generation ago people fumbled with oversized paper maps as they drove on vacation. Next came GPS systems that cost a pretty penny and would awkwardly mount to the dashboard. Now there are free phone apps that tell you when to turn, where the nearest gas station is, and if that Chinese restaurant 5 miles away is worth stopping at. Within minutes you can have any information at your fingertips including price quotes for mobile sales, coupons and loyalty point trackers for mega stores, and detailed project trackers for event planners, contractors, and more. Saves Time and Money  Benjamin Franklin said that “time is money” and apps can certainly save you both. Work orders, contracts, and a variety of forms can all be saved in an app with signature capture features without the hassle of shuffling through paperwork and processing documents. Apps can also show you where the best deals are, what special offers are available, and one-click order buttons make buying a breeze. Regardless if you are making a business deal or casually shopping, there’s an app to cater to your needs. Peace of Mind While hackers, identity theft and other security risks come with technology, there is also the sense of control that comes when you can call or text a loved one immediately or tap on to that home security app to access video feeds and camera shots. There are even apps that let your dog call you when he is lonely. In a broader sense, this also allows managers and business owners the ability to stay in touch with their businesses and employees to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Make Your Own Now let’s say that you can’t find an app that fits your specific needs. There are also app creators available that make building your own app even better than buying one. You can customize your app according to your specifications including monitoring sales, creating an organizational list, or processing work orders. You may even want to include GPS tracking, photo options, or share it with your employees to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your app’s functionality is only limited by your imagination. Lifestyle According to Statista, games are the most popular apps with 23.35% of all apps sold and business apps trailed in second with 10.22%. It seems like the number one reason that people use apps is for entertainment. The newer your smartphone, the better your accessories and using the most popular apps have become almost a status symbol for Gen Yers and millenials. They have grown up in a world that has always seemed to have mobile devices, the Internet, Facebook and apps.   Tech Dependence  More and more people are becoming increasingly addicted to smartphones. In fact, WebMD has an article entitled, “Addicted to Your Smartphone? Here’s What To Do.” They even cite these shocking facts: 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up. 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep. 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights. 51% check continuously during vacation. 44% said they would experience "a great deal of anxiety" if they lost their phone and couldn't replace it for a week. Smartphones and app usage are the norm in our society and are no longer the exception. In fact, the most surprising part about the previous stats is that the numbers aren’t higher. According to Dave Chaffey of SmartInsights.com, the average person spends 2.1 hours per day on their mobile device and 90 percent of that time is spent using apps. It seems inevitable that our dependence on apps will only grow, especially when anyone can make their own.

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