Often small-business owners make the mistake of believing that mobile business apps are only for large corporations or specific industries. They believe apps are too costly or won’t fit their customer base needs, leaving them to assume their website will suffice. This could not be further from the truth. Most businesses, regardless of size or customer base, can profit from having a mobile app. In fact, with the today’s marketplace being overtaken by mobile business apps, some business may struggle to survive without one.
We have four smart reasons why investing in a mobile business app could be the best thing for your company.
Having a mobile app allows businesses to engage and understand their customers in real time. Valuable information is gained on different demographics and location when customers use their profiles. Successful business apps create interested customers, which equates to a paying customer.
For example, some bank mobile apps allow users to take pictures to easily deposit checks into their accounts. This saves the user time and effort avoiding to find an ATM or a bank branch location. However, if the user wants the location of an ATM, the app can user their location to find the closest one. Users also can be connected to customer service through the app.
Research shows that companies who offer mobile apps are seen more positively by customers than companies that don’t. A mobile app will help create relationships with customers because you will stand out from the crowd. A great benefit of an app is being able to promote your brand, feature products, and services, as well as drive sales. Say you own a retail store and have an app that provides information on your user’s location, giving a time-sensitive coupon to customers within a nearby area it will push the customers to walk into the store.
You may be asking yourself if you can afford a mobile business app. But you might be losing money without one.
Distimo reports that on average the expense per device of app building is less than one percent of a company’s revenue. Even with the initial cost of an app, the brand enhancement and the sales that could be generated would be worth it tenfold.
In 2014, an Ericsson Mobility Report suggests that mobile subscriptions in 2019 will reach 9.3 billion, 5.6 billion of those will consist of smartphones. So though you may already have a traditional site, trends are increasingly moving forward to mobile search and browsing. Companies that do not offer mobile apps will quickly become obsolete in the future market. A younger demographic may never encounter your business as the future of mobile apps moves forward, especially those that connect with social media.
If you are still uncertain whether a mobile business app is worth paying for, the great news is you have options. Start out small before making a major investment. Design your mobile app as a prototype, include only features that will generate the most value. If the prototype does well, you can start adding more features and device types in the future.
You owe it to your business and customers to at least try a mobile app, especially because it is relatively inexpensive to test. If the app does do as promised, a responsive design website might be a better fit. But remember, whatever option you choose will allow you to build your customer base, drive sales, and engage with your customers.
Spending time to develop an app that is accessible to all is an important task to empower potential users.
Android has built in accessibility features to help users who interact with their devices in different ways. These include autocomplete, a screen reader (TalkBack) and Text-to-speech output. So why create your own custom accessibility service?
Making your own accessibility service allows you to customize an app for a specific group of users that suits your app.
Android Studio is now the official Google IDE designed for native Android application development. Based on JetBrains’ IntelliJ IDEA, it was first announced at Google I/O 2013 as the successor to Eclipse and was generally welcomed by the Android community. After a long beta phase, the final version was announced in December of last year.
Android Studio is a fully-featured development environment equipped with everything needed to develop Android applications for all devices, from smart watches to automobiles. There is always room for improvement and Android Studio offers support for third party plug-ins, and this article will list some of the most useful.
H.A.X.M is the best way for developers who use the Android Emulator to execute their applications faster. H.A.X.M provides hardware acceleration for Android SDK emulators on Intel systems. It uses Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) built on top of virtualization hardware VT-X. This means processors that support virtualization, giving the fastest way to run applications on simulated Android environments. I think that H.A.X.M is the most useful plugin that an Android developer can have to run the latest Android version on the emulator as fast as possible.
Open the Android SDK Manager, select the “Intel x86 Emulator Accelerator (HAXM installer)”, accept the license and install the package.
This process has downloaded the package but not installed H.A.X.M. To finish the installation go to the SDK path shown in the image above
C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Android\sdk\ (This installation is on a Windows machine) and try to find the download folder. Mine was
C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Android\sdk\extras\intel. Open the installation folder
Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager, click the executable
intelhaxm-android and continue the installation. After this installation you are ready to use the emulator.
Genymotion is the ultimate tool for testing your Android application and enables you to run custom versions of Android. It’s built for execution inside VirtualBox and equipped with the complete set of sensors and features needed to interact with a virtual Android environment. With Genymotion, you can test your Android applications on a wide range of virtual devices for development and its emulators are a lot faster than the default emulator.
Every developer who wants to make sure their application runs smoothly on every supported device and has trouble troubleshooting specific device errors should make use of this great plugin.
To install Genymotion follow our previous tutorial .
To adapt to all Android screen sizes and densities, each Android project contains the drawable folder. Any developer with experience of Android development knows that to support all the screen sizes you must import different drawables for each screen type. The Android Drawable Importer makes this job easier. It reduces the effort needed to import scaled images into the Android project. Android Drawable Importer adds an option to import drawables in different resolutions or scale a specified image to a defined resolution. This plugin speeds up every developer’s work with drawables.
Android ButterKnife is a “View Injection Library for Android”. It gives a better view of code and makes it more readable. ButterKnife allows you to focus on the logic rather than glue code for finding views or adding listeners. Programing with ButterKnife you have to perform injection on arbitrary objects, they take this form:
@InjectView(R.id.title) TextView title;
If you have one or two injections, writing them is not a problem, but if you have more, you need to refer to all the layout XMLs to write them in the source file.
Android ButterKnife Zelezny is a Android Studio Plugin for generating ButterKnife injections from selected layout XMLs in activities, fragments or adapters. The plugin will provide the fastest way to generate your XML object injections.
Here is an example of how code looks before using Android ButterKnife:
To develop Android applications you should need a great design and layout. The Android Holo Colors Generator is the easiest way to customize your Android application, matching your own preferences. Android Holo Colors Generator is a plugin that allows you to create Android layout components from your own colors for your application. This plugin will generate all the necessary assets associated with XML drawables and styles to use in your project.
Robotium Recorder is a test automation framework for testing native and hybrid mobile applications on emulators and Android devices. With Robotium Recorder it’s possible to record test cases and user actions. You can view functions of system and user test scenarios on different Android activities.
With Robotium Recorder you can see what’s happening with your application when it runs on your device, if it’s working as expected or if it reacts properly to user actions. For everyone who is looking to develop stable Android applications this plugin is helpful for thorough testing.
Here is an example of my application recorded on Robotium Recorder:
To install Robotium Recorder visit the official page and in the Installation section choose the version of Robotium Recorder based on your Operating System.
Android Studio is equipped with a visual layout editor, but a static preview of the layout might not be enough. With a static preview it is not possible to preview animation, colors and touch zones, so jimu Mirror is a plugin that allows you to test your layout on the fly on a real device. Jimu Mirror gives you on-device previews of Android layouts that update as you code. This plugin offers a realistic context before you start coding.
Strings-xml-tools is a small but useful plugin that can be used to manage the string resources in Android projects. It provides basic operations for sorting entries in Android localization files and adding missing strings. The plugin is limited but if your application has a large number of string resources this plugin might be helpful.
What Android Studio plugins have you tried? Let me know if the comments below.
When Google announced Material Design, it caused a splash in the Android community and beyond. It’s been a Long Road to Google’s Material Design, but the journey has been worth it.
Material Design is no longer new, but it’s as popular as it was on launch day. Material Design has a lot of good resources, but if you are new to the concepts, you are probably wondering where to begin.
The most logical (but not the easiest) place to start, is the Material Design specification itself.
The Material Design specification from Google is an introduction to the main goals and principles of Material Design. It defines the basic concepts, such as material, material properties, elevation, animation, style, layout, components, patterns, etc.
If you are a developer, you might also want to read the Material Design for Developers guide.
Specifications are helpful, but nothing beats a good tutorial with practical advice on how to implement specification. One of the best is the Android Getting Started with Material Design tutorial. This is an in-depth, yet easy to follow tutorial, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. I bet even those with more experience will learn plenty from this tutorial.
Another in-depth tutorial that I find useful is this one. It covers the main aspects of Material Design, such as view elevation and shadows, clipping views, SVG drawables such as palette and color extraction, animations, etc. Unlike the previous tutorial, this one doesn’t contain much code. It’s more of a clarification of the specification than a tutorial that produces a deliverable.
Many designers prefer video tutorials, so here is a series of video tutorials on Material Design. For video tutorial maniacs this is a treasure trove because the series has over 58 video tutorials, most of which are 10+ minutes long! They are HD tutorials, so you won’t have to strain your eyes with blurry images.
Material Design frameworks are an essential part of Material Design – it’s hard to work without them. I am not going to cover these in detail because they have already been covered in the Top 5 Material Design Frameworks to Use in 2015 article. The article includes the major frameworks you’ll need, such as:
Icons are an interface component you can’t do without. While you can always design your icons on your own, ready made icons are more efficient. For instance, these Material Design icons are a good repo to pick from. This is a large collection of icons, most of which are submitted by the community and are free to use. Before you use them, especially in a commercial project, always check their copyright / license.
As you can never have too many icons (or other design resources), make sure to look at these Material Design icons. These are easier to navigate because they are arranged thematically – i.e. Alert, Communication, Content, Device, Navigation, Notification, etc.
Ready-made Material Design themes that can be customized quickly are a must-have. Material Design themes are a good starting point. The site offers free and premium themes, both in HTML and for WordPress.
Here is a widgets kit, a pack of 16 colored Material Design widgets. The widgets are in PSD format and you can use Photoshop to edit them. What I like about this pack is its clean forms and bright colors.
Roboto & Noto fonts are the official fonts for Material Design. You can’t do without them! Roboto is designed for both mobile and Web use. It comes with a specimen booklet.
Noto is the standard Android typeface for all languages not covered by Roboto. You can visit the Roboto & Noto fonts page and download them from there.
Material Design is here to stay. It makes sense to become familiar with it. I hope the resources included in the article are a great start for both newbies and more advanced designers/developers alike. Let me know which ones you like working with and I welcome any comments.