From Mobile First to Mobile Native

benedictevansBenedict Evans has a post on From mobile first to mobile native where he says he is seeing an evolution beyond ‘mobile first’ to what he calls ‘mobile native’. This is where we forget desktops/laptops and low end phones and only provide a service to modern smartphones.

At first I didn’t think there was much in this idea until I suddenly realised the app I have been working on for a client for the last few months is just this. While I can’t yet say, for confidentially reasons, what the app is, it’s in a sector that’s currently very manually resource intensive and the current ‘state of the art’ innovation tends to be companies trying to take the service fully online via the browser. Conversely, the service I am helping create is fully mobile – skipping the ‘online’ part altogether. While I can’t talk about the service yet, here there some generic observations and insights.

Such strategies are implicitly suitable to target millennials who haven’t known a time without mobile and as Benedict says, the

“mobile-native generation that takes this for granted”.

Going fully and only mobile requires simplification of (business) process flow, simplification of the offering and generation of new value via the facilities offered by the phone.

Part of that added facility is the carry everywhere, always available capability that can make services immediately available. Tied to the immediacy is communication. If you want to engage and retain then the app will need to have in-built communication. The app I am working on uses Intercom.

Further ‘facility’ is the use of context, sensors and the camera to provide utility associated with the service. For example, in the app I am working on we use the camera to check the user’s id using microBlink. An id can be checked in seconds as opposed to relying on days or weeks of manual processing.

As benedict says, think about

“… how many different reasons there are that it would be impossible to build the same thing on the desktop”

If you can answer this question for your service than you might have something suitable for implementing mobile native.

On reflection Benedict coining the term ‘mobile native’ is confusing as, in mobile, ‘native’ means Java/c/c++ as opposed to web technologies. However, his ideas have value and provide opportunities for many sectors to circumvent or skip current ways of doing things and build services that fully depend on rather than just support mobile.

MechDome Android to iOS Conversion

mechdomeI am always interested in iOS <-> Android code converters as they might make my job easier or even put me out of business! As yet, the problem has proven too complex to automate.

I just learnt about MechDome, a new converter that allows you to automatically convert from Android to iOS. It doesn’t even need your source code as it can decompile this from your apk install file. It produces native code with native UI controls.

However, once I started digging deeper I saw the limitations. The Android app must be Android 5.1 or later, not use Google Play Services (e.g. mapping) and not use JNI (c, c++). Unfortunately, just about every project I have worked on or I am currently working on doesn’t fit these requirements. Let’s hope MechDome becomes more flexible with time.

Also, most people tend to be looking at going from iOS to Android as they initially chase the money and then realise they need to go for reach.

The Mobile Acquisition Funnel

I have been a long time advocate of analysis of the mobile acquisition funnel. I wrote about this as long ago as 2012 and my first encounter was in 2009. Things haven’t changed in some ways this area of retention has become more important.

Salesforce have a new useful article and infographics on Mobile Analytics Tools: Your Guide to What and How to Measure.

possible-metrics-for-your-app-based-funnel-stage-002

Peak Smartphone Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Less Apps

Now that we are at ‘peak smartphone’, developers such as myself are starting to question what comes next. The answer is probably ‘more apps’.

As Gartner recently said

Much of the innovation in the mobile space isn’t taking place inside the smartphones themselves, but in the things that communicate with them. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 25 percent of new mobile apps will talk to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Most IoT devices talk to smartphones via an app or the browser. The app is usually the preferred mechanism because it provides a richer experience that also provides analysis and usage stats to backend services.

In the future the app will increasinly move from being centre stage and the central purpose to being an enabler for some other, probably more useful, purpose.

iOS to Android Native UI Conversion

myappconverterAbout 2 years ago I wrote about the MyAppConverter Objective c to Java and vice versa code converter. At the time I observed that the project was ambitious and questioned whether it was viable:

iOS Android Native App Conversion

The team have gone through what they are calling a ‘product market fit’ phase, and have decided to focus their effort on the native iOS UI to native Android UI porting.

The free alpha version is an online tool that quickly turns common UI components into native Android Java. A beta version will support 100% of all iOS UI components. You upload your Storyboard and xib file and download the native Android UI project that provides a skeleton app to kick-start porting your iOS app to Android.

More details can be found on the MyAppConverter blog.

How Often Should You Update Your (iOS) Paid App?

There was a thought provoking tweet by Alex Fehners today:

The resulting comments suggest about 1 year is a good update period to avoid the affect of reviews being reset. Obviously, this isn’t practical for most projects that need to release often.

It’s another good reason to avoid creating paid apps and look for a different business model.

Mobile the First Platform

mobiforgeMobiForge is reporting that 68% of digital media time is now spent on mobile devices. 50% of digital media time is dedicated to using mobile apps.

As the article says, this is leading to the situation where the smartphone experience might be considered the first and primary platform. However, conversion rates are lower on mobile (3.89% desktop vs 1.43% mobile) which means we have to think harder how to retain mobile users.

totaldigitaltimespent

I believe the poorer conversion rate is partly due to the smaller screens and shorter attention spans on mobile. While there’s little that can be done about this, we can add and promote features that allow users to save or share things for later when they are viewing on larger screens or have more time.

Camera and Smartphone Screen Resolutions

counterpointCounterpoint has a recent post on how camera and smartphone screen resolutions have been improving. Mid-price phones now have cameras and screens with resolutions closer to flagship devices. While this might have implications for OEM flagship device sales, it also affects developers.

counterpointcameraresolutions

We can now develop more sophisticated apps that make practical use of the camera. For example, for many years I have been working on medical diagnosis apps that use image processing. This kind of processing has previously only been possible on the few devices providing high resolution images.

Now that the majority of users have higher-end cameras, lots of self-diagnosis scenarios become possible. Couple this with server-side big data and it opens up a new world of possibilities.