Mobile app development is a jungle. At Appzio we are constantly searching for ways to make it easier for both developers and app owners. In this fairly lengthy post, I’m breaking down the benefits that differentiate Appzio from other app development methods.
The most obvious benefit of Appzio is based on the overall architecture where we provide a way to develop 100% native iOS and Android applications with server-side development. This lessens the required code even up to ten times compared with other methods.
1. Planning your app
First thing is to transform your idea into a form that can be understood in the same way by you and the app developer. We always recommend to do proper research on competition, user expectations, and the concept itself.
One of the key tools that we provide for planning your app is a unified free Appzio UIKit, which speeds up the concept creation phase. Our Sketch-based UIKit can be used even by non-designers to create a visual representation for the app. UIKit follows design aesthetics that work for both iOS and Android.
We actually provide the main screen designs along with the budgeting without any cost!
Appzio doesn’t require you to have the same design for iOS and Android, but having it will save a huge amount of code. Often the savings on code level can be up to 30–40%.
Most importantly, if your app is based on Appzio UIKit, you can find the majority of the components inside the platform, easily saving 70–80% of the code compared to creating them from the scratch.
Takeaways and help: Appzio UIKit
2. Developing the first version of the app
Once you have the functionalities and screen designs mapped out, its down to developing your functionality into an app. Appzio gives you 5 great benefits for that:
- The first big benefit you notice when developing with Appzio is that you only need to build your mobile client once. After this, all changes you make on the code, require only a simple refresh on any view to see the changes. This goes way beyond hot reloading ReactNative provides.
- The second huge benefit comes from the fact that you only need one development language: either PHP or NodeJS. This means that in reality, a single developer can realize a complex native app, without needing mobile client side developer, sysadmin or any other additional help.
- Speed comes when you start putting the app together. You can use one of the existing templates, that have all the basic functionalities configured. So on the first day of development, your app can have working registration, login, social integrations and many other things. There are over 40 existing action modules, that provide full functionality for various different needs. And these action modules can be fully configured to meet your custom requirements and design, without having to re-create them. We do this by allowing you to “theme” any action module with just visual modifications or full functional changes.
- The fourth benefit is related to building views. Normally regardless of whether you do native development or ReactNative, there tend to be differences between iOS and Android. With Appzio you can confidently develop with looking just the iOS or Android client and it will look exactly the same on the other platform. Time spent on matching iOS and Android is reduced to 0.
- If you’ve based the design on Appzio UIKit, you get one extra benefit. Any existing component can be added with as little as one line of code. Components come styled and with full functionality for validations, error message displays etc.
Takeaways and help: Appzio’s overall server-side development model, no mobile building required during the development, existing action modules, existing components, existing app templates.
3. Integrating with 3rd party systems
If you are integrating with social services, marketing automation, notifications, 3rd party SDK’s, Google Maps, Google Places or many other things, these are already in place with the platform. The only thing you need is to put your API keys for the third party services in place and then you can start using them, often with just one line of code. Appzio platform has more than 20+ existing integrations. Most things you would need for even a very complex app are already in place.
Takeaways and help: Existing integrations & third party SDK’s.
4. Integration with existing internal system
If you already have data on your existing systems that the app needs, this means additional integration work. In many cases, even if you have API’s, they are more geared towards web integrations and would need re-purposing to be used by a mobile app. Mobile apps tend to have somewhat different requirements from API’s.
With Appzio, the majority of the API integrations are done from backend to backend. You can cache the data on your local Appzio database and providing good mobile user experience becomes easier. Also, the API security is handled easier between servers rather than exposing the API’s for the world, which would be the case if they are accessed directly from the app.
When using third party SDK’s, for example, Google Maps, they always rely on the native toolkits provided by the vendor, giving a best possible native experience in your app.
Takeaways and help: Server-to-server API integrations, easier security handling.
5. User testing
Very few apps survive the first contact with the users. In most cases the best way to weed out the logic and quality problems is with real user testing with a limited test group.
Appzio can automatically upload the iOS client to your AppStore & PlayStore account where they can be made easily available for beta testers.
One of the most important ways to understand how well your app performs is with high-quality analytics suite. Different apps have different needs and that’s why Appzio is integrated with three different leading analytics suites: Google Analytics for mobile apps, Fabric.io and Flurry.
The second big benefit with Appzio apps is that during the testing, you don’t need to require users to update their client application on their devices. No matter how complex the changes, they can be pushed simply from the server side. When your test users open the app, they can see the updated functionality right away. Taking the additional step away from where users need to update the app, is a huge convenience and takes away most of the pain in managing & supporting different versions. With other development methods, its very common to see 30–40 versions of the app updated during the testing period.
The third benefit is with how easy it is to build A/B testing with Appzio. This is again thanks to the basic architecture where flow and content of the app are controlled by the server.
Also, Appzio apps are always backward compatible. So even if the binary is updated, the old binary versions of the app will continue to work like before.
Takeaways and help: Analytics integration out-of-the-box, updates to application without a need to update client binary.
6. Continuous quality management
Mobile apps are as the name say, applications. And applications have a nasty tendency to crash.
Should iOS or Android update introduce a breaking change, your apps will be automatically pushed by Appzio so they can be updated before the iOS or Android version has been released for production.
Takeaways and help: Superior quality of the iOS and Android code, automated updates
7. App polish
Spending time on loading speed, complex views, animations and many other things takes a considerable time with any other development method. With Appzio, these things are very easily controlled from the backend and adding transitions, animations are usually just parameters that you set.
And the loading speed and display of complex views is something that’s already built into the platform itself, providing better UX from the start.
A huge time saver is that, in most cases, the developer doesn’t have to account for different screen sizes.
Takeaways and help: High quality of the iOS and Android apps, in-built animations, transitions etc.
8. Release to AppStore & PlayStore
Something new developers often struggle with especially with AppStore is setting certificates for distribution, push notifications and making sure that AppStore doesn’t reject the build. Since this is normally not accounted for when initially planning the project, it can easily take days to solve if you are not experienced in this area.
Appzio takes this pain away completely by delivering apps directly to your AppStore and PlayStore accounts. And as previously mentioned, whenever an iOS or Android client update is needed, we do that automatically ahead of time.
Takeaways and help: Automated delivery to AppStore and PlayStore
9. Marketing automation, user activation, and continous end-user satisfaction
Once you have your app up and running and delivered to public distribution, you start spending more time on figuring out how to optimize the usage, keep users engaged and making sure they don’t churn.
Ready-made analytics integrations help you understand how well your app performs and what are the possible problem points.
Appzio has integration with several different marketing automation tools and we provide several different ways to set up your push notification strategies.
You can also find ready-made action modules for managing notification permissions, GDPR compliancy and other things that are relevant for keeping your users happy.
Or maybe you want to make your app more viral? Try the built-in sharing capabilities and social integrations.
Takeaways and help: Integrated analytics suites, extensive push notification capabilities, existing modules for user activation.