Some myths just don’t die.
Goldfish don’t have short memories. The Great Wall of China is not visible from space. Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’.
Apps are similarly clouded by misconceptions.
People often come to us with incorrect assumptions about mobile tech, which we’re keen to clear up. After all, misunderstanding what apps can do, and how they do it, can make their potential seem limited when the opposite is true.
So: here are the 8 incorrect assumptions about apps that we hear most often, and the truth.
Myth #1: Apps are just for fun
Apps are hugely flexible tools, covering everything from work organisation to social media to health and wellbeing. But many still hear ‘app’ and think Candy Crush or Angry Birds. Don’t get us wrong; apps can be great fun, but there is much more to them than simply entertainment.
Our interactive digital tours for The National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and other heritage organisations bring history to life. The effect is increased visitor engagement and interest – but also the creation of rich hybrid spaces that bridge the gap between the digital and the physical.
Other apps are useful. The likes of Google Maps and Uber are designed for a broad user base; others like Háblame Bebé, our Spanish-language app for young mothers, are more targeted.
Many more are designed for private use by employees and stakeholders to make organisational processes easier or more efficient – like our Cabling Science app for electricians in the field.
In each of these cases, apps have had bottom-line impact and made a measurable difference to the organisation in question.
Myth #2: Your app should do everything
Smartphones and tablets present businesses and organisations with a world of opportunity, via cameras, GPS, biometrics, cellular and other technology.
It’s tempting, then, to try and make your app replace your website and cram as much functionality into it as possible. Tempting, but not wise.
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The best apps do a small number of specific things very well – working with, not against, the particular strengths of mobile technology. Why? Because apps with a small number of functions offer a simpler, smoother and therefore more satisfying user experience. They’re also easier to support from a development perspective.
Myth #3: Every business needs an app
No, they don’t. Apps are excellent for several things: encouraging short, repeated interactions between brand and customer; performing functions on a mobile basis; offering rich, immersive content – and much more besides.
But other tech platforms do better elsewhere. A website is better suited to delivering sales information or video content to customers, for example.
Organisations shouldn’t invest in app technology unless they have good reason to do so, and can expect reasonable ROI or ROO.
Organisations definitely shouldn’t build an app purely to generate press. Apps are (thankfully) now late in the hype cycle and no longer attract the same column inches as five years ago. That’s a good thing: the maturity of the app marketplace means that those apps that do make it to the App Store are generally higher quality than before.
Think you might need an app? Find out if you’re right with our guide, here.
Myth #4: Apps don’t work well offline
This myth persists because many apps aren’t designed to function well offline.
Offline-first development is certainly tough, but can be highly valuable in the right context. Our app for Yachting Pages, for example – the international telephone directory for shipping crews – makes it possible to access comprehensive business listings in the middle of the ocean, where connectivity is impossible.
Building apps like these requires skill and experience, to ensure the offline app is fast enough to offer a good user experience, and offers valuable content without eating up excessive device storage. But the benefits are speed, accessibility and improved user experience. Limiting the amount of data your app uses is a benefit to the user, too, as it cuts down their mobile bill.
Myth #5: You need to create different apps for IOS and Android
The app ecosystem has matured considerably since Apple opened the doors to their App Store back in 2008. Most people think that if you want to offer apps to to both Google and Apple, you need to create two versions of their app.
There is an alternative, however. React Native apps – which we build here at Calvium – work across both operating systems, with little noticeable tradeoff in speed or functionality. To find out more about React Native, click here.
Myth #6: Apps are easy for in-house IT teams to develop
There are no two ways about it. Building an effective app can be a considerable financial investment. For this reason, businesses are often persuaded to allow their in-house IT team to develop their app. Often to their own cost.
App development is a specialism; it’s complex and time-consuming, and experienced app developers are better equipped to understand how development frameworks work and to deal with technological issues when they come up. They can also help set expectations – so you don’t waste time and budget on features that aren’t ever likely to work as you need them to.
Of course, we would say that, so we’ll say no more. (But if you’re interested, we’ve written more on the subject here.)
Myth #7: Users want notifications
But how effective are these notifications? According to consultancy Accengage, fewer than 44% of iOS users choose to subscribe to notifications. Across both Android and iOS, their average clickthrough rate is just 7.8%.
When it comes to push notifications, less is more. Ill-timed or repetitive notifications are likely to encourage users to delete your app – exactly the opposite of their intended effect. For more on push notifications, click here.
Myth #8: Building the app is the end of the process
Having your app listed on the Apple App Store or Google Play is not the end of the development process – only the start of the second chapter.
In the past five years, both Apple and Google have made it increasingly necessary for app owners to invest in maintenance and updates for their software. Today, apps that are incompatible with the latest versions of their operating systems will be delisted from either store.
That’s no bad thing, as we’ve explored in this article. But it means that the costs associated with app development don’t end at the build stage, and should be factored into organisations’ ongoing budgets.
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