Chapter 1

Mobile App Features

Is the app downloadable from an App Store?

This question touches on how people access the product. While we’ve come to generalize the term ‘app’, it should not be assumed all apps (software applications) are ‘on your phone’. Apps can be web based as well. If it is downloaded onto the devise, it’s referred to as a Native App.

Native applications present a few barriers that web based applications lack. First, the approval process. Apps on the App Store or GooglePlay have to be approved first. This approval creates a lag between making changes and it being available to users.

Second, each platform is technically a separate piece of software. While the iOS and Android versions often feel the same, they are two different apps. When building on a tight budget, limiting the number of supported platforms can drastically reduce costs.

Which platforms does it support?

It may seem obvious to answer ‘both’, but keep in mind that each platform is actually separate software. Even with cutting edge, cross-platform technologies like React Native, there are still two separate environments with two unique deployment styles.

Which mobile devices are supported?

Most people are surprised to find that the device type needs to be specified. While the technology we use throughout the day can provide the experience that ‘it just works on everything’, that clarity was hard-won by building unique experiences for each device.

Are there offline capabilities?

Most apps require some form of internet access. In the developed world, we hardly notice since internet is wide spread. For software needed in remote areas or outside of internet range, offline capabilities can preserve the users experience. If internet is accessible but inconsistent, offline capabilities can ‘smooth’ the inconsistencies.

Working offline is one of the greatest benefits of native apps. Unfortunately, the increase in complexity can become a major barrier to implementation. Systems that work offline can be more taxing on data usage and storage. There is community around ‘offline first’ technologies, but it’s hardly commonplace.

Are there push notifications?

There is a love-hate relationship with push notifications. When done well, they can be a valuable addition to a tool or service. When abused, they can consume our mental energy or be contributors to the sea of noise.

Tools like OneSignal or PushCrew can simplify the addition of push notification process.