Android Growing, iOS Declining?

MobiForge has an interesting post on how Android seemingly grew at the expense of iOS last year.

What makes this data particularly useful is the fact that it’s based on web traffic, not device sales. It’s the closest we can get to determining changing mobile OS use based on the installed base rather than new device sales.

At one time it was said that Android would grow due to market saturation in developed markets and takeup of Android in other countries. However, looking at the numbers, even the developed countries are losing iOS and gaining Android.

It remains to be seen if this is due to people becoming disappointed with new Apple products or whether it’s just a ‘blip’ caused by something else such as Apple’s device release dates.

Being Found and Discovered

Google has a useful new post on Tips to be better found and discovered on Google Play that is just as applicable to iOS as it is to Android.

The main themes are building for quality, requesting only permissions that are needed and listening to users. If you think about it, contrary to the title of the Google post, these have less to do about being found and discovered and more about retention. For all but the largest of companies, being found and discovered on the app stores usually only comes through marketing and PR activities.

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.