Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps

    The amount of effort being put into developing mobile apps is staggering. When designed correctly, mobile apps become competitive weapons that can give a business the upper hand in the battle for market share. But there’s an obvious problem with the majority of apps: They’re not very good. They might do the job, but they’re missing key features that distinguish a truly effective and addictive app with a great user experience from a just “okay” app. If your app is missing any of these features, you need to rethink how and why you’re designing and building for mobile.

    In this slideshow, Alpha Software describes the seven features that all truly great apps share in common.

    Headquartered in Burlington, MA, Alpha Software enables developers to rapidly create and deploy robust and secure business applications for mobile devices and personal computers. Thousands of developers have built tens of thousands of business applications using Alpha’s development products.

    Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps - slide 1

    Creating Truly Great Apps

    Click through for seven features all great apps must include, as identified by Alpha Software.

    Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps - slide 2

    Touch Support

    Great apps support touch. A mobile app that requires a keyboard and/or a mouse to function is missing the point and squandering the value of being mobile. Mobile apps should be intuitively usable, immediate, and put the least amount of load on the users’ attention. This is what touch brings to the mobile party.

    Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps - slide 3

    Working Offline

    Great apps work offline. The reality of being mobile is that, far too often, wireless data services aren’t available. Mobile apps that can’t work in offline mode waste the value of mobility.

    Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps - slide 4

    Responsive Design

    Great apps have a responsive design. Responsive apps adjust their layout dynamically according to the screen dimensions of the device they’re running on. While you can achieve responsiveness by having the app detect the screen dimensions and load a different layout for every brand of smartphone and pad computer, this tactic will make your app huge, unwieldy, and very hard to maintain. The smart way to build responsive apps requires a development platform that provides an automatically responsive user interface model and generates an optimized experience on every device from a single code base so that you don’t have to worry about the details.

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    User Feedback

    Great apps provide user feedback. Mobile apps should be able to ask the user to rate or comment on features and functions as well as track user behavior to provide insight into ways the app is used and can be improved. In this way, businesses can constantly improve their apps to deliver the greatest value.

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    Great apps support customization. App customization might be as simple as allowing the user to select a “skin” or as complex as allowing the app’s menu to be reorganized. This matters because what works in the field is usually not exactly what was planned for, and successful businesses need to be nimble and adapt, which requires that their apps have to be just as nimble. Apps should also support customization to support the unique features of each device type, whether it be Android or iOS.

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    Great apps allow for updating. Mobile apps have to be easily updateable not only to fix bugs but to also incorporate user feedback and provide improved features and functionality. These updates should be easy to implement across all platforms and devices.

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    One Source

    Great apps have a single source. The unsophisticated and expensive way to achieve cross-platform support is to port your app to each target platform’s native development environment. This means you’ll have a version for iOS, another for Android, yet another for each Web browser, and so on. A great mobile app has a development environment that supports every target platform and handles varying screen sizes and features with one source – making responsive, agile development a reality in a cross-platform and mobile world.

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