5 Faux Passes Every Mobile App Developer Should Avoid
There was never a better time than the present to become a mobile app developer. The smartphone has become the new Swiss army knife and the main reason for this is mobile application developers blurring the line between hardware and software functionality on a mobile device. Software development for smartphones is a lucrative industry in itself and its rock-solid relevance is what’s powering today’s as well as tomorrow’s smartphones.
Case in point – Smartphone manufacturers are increasingly partnering with software vendors for adding further value to their product. Popular cloud file-syncing service Dropbox gave away 50GB worth of free space to its subscribers who got select HTC phones.
Keeping in mind the indispensability of smartphones in today’s world, aspiring and veteran mobile application developers alike should be aware of certain guidelines before delving into making that next big app.
1. Start and Stick with Hi-Res and Preferably Vector GraphicsI doubt people still use scalar images as graphics assets. Scalar graphics are prone to degrading in quality if you enlarge them. With rumors swirling of the next iPhone boasting a bigger screen size, it’s never too late to make it standard practice to work with vector images. Vector graphics maintain their visual fidelity and no quality is lost even after transforming and resizing them countless times. They can be easily enlarged and shortened without any drop in quality. For developers who want to waste minimal time in pushing their app out the door with updated hi-res graphics, go vector.
The iPhone 4 and 4S boast the sharpest pixel density in their screens e.g. 326 ppi vs. the Galaxy Nexus’s 315 ppi. This gives mobile developers all the more reason to use high-quality and big-resolution graphics in their mobile apps thus increasing the overall quality of the app. There is simply no excuse left for using shoddy and pixilated graphics in today’s world.
2. Too Much Emphasis on Graphics Spoils the App
Every mobile developer wants the end users to keep using their apps. Some of them, in their over zealousness, cram every single pixel real estate into aesthetics and skeuomorphism. Sure, the iOS calendar app looks a whole lot like its physical wall-hanging counterpart as the familiar feeling draws the user right in. But consider this – owing to our hectic lifestyles, all we need is a calendar that conveys the required information easily and swiftly. No one needs a pretty looking calendar where its excess visual glut serves as a distraction more than anything.There is a lesson to be learnt here. Keep it simple and smart. Your graphics should serve as a guide to the user not an unnecessary hindrance.
Instagram is THE killer app because of its adherence to simple yet elegant design principles.
3. Give your app that distinct visual flavor and function that is unique to other ecosystems
Everybody knows how Steve Jobs vowed to crush Android for ‘borrowing’ ideas from iOS but the truth of the matter is that every platform is easily distinguishable since they vary in UI elements as well as function. Windows Phone 7 is radically different yet really easy on the eyes when it comes to displaying information on its Live Tiles. Android has widgets which vary from incredibly essential to downright useless. Apple is debuting iOS 6 which promises deeper integration into social media than ever before.
Since every platform has its pros and cons, developers shouldn’t hesitate in giving their apps a ‘native’ do-over if it enhances its utility further.
4. Bake in Social Media Integration as well as Search Engine Optimization
Ever get that nagging feeling like your app won’t get the attention it deserves? A little foresight into why apps get resigned to the dark and undiscoverable corners of App Store hell has got to do with lack of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as social media functions.
Suppose you develop a basketball game. Naturally you are going to think about how the user can find your particular app by using search terms and keywords like ‘free basketball game’. Make sure you get in that mindset and incorporate some SEO magic into your finished product.
Still, there’s the nagging issue of app discovery. If you manage to integrate social media functions into a baseball game such as posting your high score on Facebook, chances are more people will become aware of the game and try it out. Social media can be an amazing means to cultivate interest in a new app.Last but not the least….
5. Never rule out developing for other platforms
Gone are the days of a mobile app developer remaining platform-exclusive. Apple Inc’s iOS ecosystem was widely believed to be king-of-the-smartphone-hill last year. That is, until Google started to boast an impressive 700,000 Android devices per day as of Dec 2011. Windows Phone 7 debuted last year and its app library is already registering phenomenal growth with 100,000 apps submitted to the Windows Phone App Store in a mere 5 months.
If anything, the data proves that people are into smartphones more than ever and all the major mobile ecosystems are registering growth. It makes sense to invest in cross-platform app development tools now more than ever.