April 18th, 2013
Quartz has a thought-provoking article on The hardest trick in mobile design: making the product simpler. As an example, it shows how Foursquare started with something simple, made it more complex over time and then went back to having something simple.
I see something similar when working with companies. There’s sometimes a tug-of-war going on between departments and/or people that means there ends up, over time, too much in an app. This is to satisfy all the interested parties. People who think they know best, sometimes don’t. Features sometimes don’t get used and, if the company is forward thinking enough to have analytics, such features get removed. Of course, all this isn’t new and was the case on the desktop and web.
An observation I have is that the ‘featureworthyness’ of an app is often related to how well the inventor of the app knew the actual domain. By domain, I mean the specialist area of the app (retail, automotive, health, farming or whatever). Those closest to the problem tend to know what’s needed. They have also probably used related apps in their specialised area and already know what works and what doesn’t. So, find and use someone with a deep knowledge of the domain.
April 16th, 2013
iAcquire have partnered with SurveyMonkey to conduct a study on how people use their devices to conduct search. This has implications for companies needing to know whether or how they should be creating mobile-specific landing sites. 40% of people search prediminantly on their tablet vs 60% on their phone. A large 40% of people choose another search result if the site isn’t mobile friendly. 40% of people search while watching TV with 33% tweeting about TV.
However, what this doesn’t show is how many people search for or via apps. For example, if someone is looking for information on a particular plant, do they do a search or do they look for a plant directory app? If people want to know when a tv program is on do they do a search or find a tv schedule app? There’s some evidence that apps are replacing search. If, and only if, more people are using apps for search then mobile web search might be becoming less relevant.
April 10th, 2013
I have been doing some research on alternative Android app stores. Most of my clients tend to stick with the Google Play store but I know one or two individual developers, who publish their own apps, who actually avoid the Play store as it has reputation for lack of visibility and piracy. So what are the options?
I have found a great old, but useful, post by DrMop that lists the alternative stores and experiences of using some of them. You might also take a look at mobyaffiliate’s list of app stores that covers other platforms/manufacturers/carriers and Distimo’s analysis of the app market and app stores.
My personal feeling is that dealing with multiple app stores is a large amount of effort to keep up to date and support. However, if you have a business model based on downloads rather than purchases then multi-app stores might be worthwhile.
April 9th, 2013
Canalys has a new report on the app stores across 50 countries. Quarterly growth was 11% in Q1 2013, compared to 2012. Revenue from paid apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions combined grew by 9%. There were more than 13.4 billion downloads in total. Apple’s App Store accounted for 74% of revenues while the Google Play had the greatest number of downloads at 51%. BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store "remain distant challengers"
From my position, as an app developer, I am currently seeing a change in two areas. The first is porting apps from iOS to Android. My clients are indicating that it’s no longer possible to release just on iOS and appear to have a serious proposition. The second area is non-phone Android devices. That is, using the Android OS in an embedded device to utilise its inherent UI and comms capabilities.