How much does it cost to make an app?

“How much does it cost to make an app?” As a developer, this is the most common question I am asked. This is like asking “How much does it cost to build a house?” Following the house analogy, are you looking for a mansion or a shack? Do you want a house made of straw, sticks, or brick? Do you want a custom home or a tract home? Just like a house, the variables in developing an app are endless.

Develop a Storyboard

The first place to start is defining what you want your app to do. I normally recommend our clients storyboard their app (the technical term is wireframe). The wireframe is like the blue print in the house analogy. The goal for developing a wireframe (or storyboard) is to capture functionality and flow. This is not the time to worry about the actual aesthetics yet. It’s important to start from the beginning though, when a user first launches your app. Think about what’s the first thing they will see? On the home screen, if they tap the first menu selection, what happens next? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Sketch.  When I wireframe, I personally use PowerPoint.  My wireframes are ugly but effective.  I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.  My general recommendation is to use a graphics program that your’e comfortable with.

Other Factors

Beyond the storyboard, other factors that will impact the development and cost are:

  • Integration to an existing backend / Development of backend: Most of the apps we develop now either need to talk to an existing backend or we have to create a backend to support the app.
  • Integration to third party vendors: A lot of features that typically used to be expensive to develop can now affordably be added by leveraging third party vendors. Examples are push notifications and mobile commerce.

In addition to the wireframe, if you’re app requires extensive integrations to third party vendors, you may need to put together an architectural diagram.

Getting a Quote

For the most part, a developer should be able to provide you a quote to develop your app based on your wireframe (and architectural diagram). You can find reputable U.S. based developers at thumbtack.com and theymakeapps.com.

You can also find freelancers and offshore teams at upwork.com and guru.com.  Just beware. I’ve talked to clients that have used developers from these sites and it’s a mixed bag. I’ve talked to a few people that have had good experiences and I’ve heard of some horror stories.

If you feel like your app concept is the next Uber, it’s okay to ask the developer for an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or to ask them to sign your NDA. When you go through this process, you’ll find a vast range for the quotes. My recommendation is to look at other when selecting a developer.

(Shameless plug – we also would, of course, be happy to provide a quote for your project. Just visit us at Apptology.com)

Alternatives

App development, like most technology has become commoditized to some extent. If you have little budget for app development, you may consider DIY (Do It Yourself) App services like ibuildapp.com or seattlecloud.com. There is also a middle ground where a developer can create a robust but cost effective solution based on templates. Apptology offers a cost effective app development solution using templates (called ReadyBuilt). Mobile Roadie is another developer that uses template. Apps based on templates are primarily used to promote a business or to provide content and are typically a fraction of the cost of developing apps from scratch.

Final Thoughts

My answer to the question, “How much does it cost to develop an app?” is “It depends.” If you are thinking about developing an app, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a storyboard or wireframe. This step will help you flush out your concept and greatly assist a developer in providing a solid quote for your app.

Augmented Reality Use Cases (That’s Not Games)

Image Source: Gov Loop

Augment Reality (AR) has received a lot of attention with the success of Pokemon Go. AR aims to extract animations and place them into real-world environments. It has essentially merged the gap between reality and computer generated simulations by manipulating what the user experiences via sight, sound, smell and touch. In brief, AR integrates animations into your reality so the general setting looks the same but with some few added details. Although AR is related to Virtual Reality (VR), the two technologies are not synonymous. VR produces computer generated simulations of an environment that users can experience by wearing a helmet or gloves with built-in sensors. Read my previous blog on VR for more insight. AR on the other hand allows users to experience the technology simply by glancing into the screen of an Android, iPhone or other mobile device such as a tablet. AR is altering the world as we know it or at least changing the way people experience the world. The Pokémon explosion is probably the most well-known platform that has utilized AR for gaming. It may sound silly to some, but the game is highly addictive. To understand specific reasons behind this obsession, read my previous blog to learn why Pokémon Go has become so successful. To gain a better understanding of how app developers have taken advantage of this innovative technology, we will look at a few providers who have successfully used AR for non-gaming purposes.

Health and Education with AR: Anatomy 4D

This app is a cloud-based, interactive examining simulation resource for academic uses. It offers users with online access to anatomy data while analyzing detailed bone structures and organ systems. This can be done by downloading specialized research templates or by enabling structure projection and layer blending. Anatomy 4D allows project structures to synch with skin to analyze coordination and position. Users can also adequately balance the layers to reveal discrete anatomic implications. You can also hover over objects or images to reveal detailed information via label view. It is these perspectives that produce enhanced learning retention by granting students an in-depth look at any part of the body they are studying. This also is useful for medical instructors who can organize image and structure curriculums along with managing lessons and tests.

Image Source: mzstatic

Shopping with AR: Pair

This app enables users to place animated images of furniture into their space so they can perfectly visualize how it would look in real life.  Pair’s tag line is “The New Way to Try Before you Buy with Augmented Reality.” Indeed the app grants prospects an easier method to experience the end result of their interior design project. For example, let’s say you just purchased your first home and the space is completely empty. You would be able to walk room to room while viewing how you would want it to look through your mobile device. You’d be able to put furniture, pictures and other items in designated areas of the space, swap them out, switch them around etc. Cool right? Still, Pair has a much more expansive purpose than simply furniture and can enhance scientific, educational and commercial projects by giving spectators a 3D demonstration of what a particular vision would look like. I was able to see Pair in action during 500 Startups Batch 18 Demo Day and it’s pretty impressive.

Graphic Source: Google Plus

Mechanics and Construction with AR: AMA XpertEye

This month, AMA XpertEye will supply workers of the Keolis Commuter Services (KCS) in Massachusetts with AR smart glasses to improve communication and boost efficiency on their railway transportation system. These specialized glasses stream the video being recorded tethered to a mobile device. The remote supervisor monitors the recording over a laptop. From there, both parties can “exchange written messages and take screenshots of the video, annotate the images, and send them to each other.” Ultimately, their goal is to speed up delays caused from train repairs and other technical difficulties that may get them off track. Additionally, Keolis is considering the technology for training purposes so newcomers can literally see through the eyes of their seasoned field workers.

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Image Source: AMA XpertEye

Sports and Play with AR: RideOn Vision

This cutting edge technology created by Heads up Display is seen with their RideOn Ski Goggles. These one of a kind specs allow users to access heightened assistance while skiing or snowboarding the slopes. Map navigation systems can guide users easily through the rough and diverse terrain better than ever before. You can also communicate with other riders, see their whereabouts and even text them hands-free. In addition, the goggles allow riders to capture their surroundings and share them online for others to see. The company is also developing games that can be played directly through these exclusive lenses. And of course, users can jam to their own personalized soundtrack as they ride, jump, flip and recover from a wipe out.  Although the technology is geared for the snow, it’s useful for motorcyclists, ATV riders and other similar vehicles.

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Image Source: Pintrest

As technology progresses, it will be interesting to see what other AR use cases are developed.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

What is a Blockchain?

Bitcoins and Ether are forms of alternative digital currency that are decentralized; meaning the source of value does not come from one central source or authority. In fact, the functionality of its operation may be distributed among the collective creating a more communal type of currency. If you haven’t heard of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, chances are you haven’t heard of the blockchain. A blockchain is a structure that makes concepts such as cryptocurrencies possible and is one of the most innovative applications of the 21st century.

Image Source: Bitcoin Space

Blockchain Defined:

A blockchain is a data structure that produces a digital ledger of transactions and can be publicly viewed among a dispersed network of computers. The structure uses cryptography enabling those in the network to make transactions thereby adjusting the ledger without centralized supervision. The concept of a blockchain was introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto (his actual identity is still in question) when he invented Bitcoin in 2008. Bitcoin transactions are payments between key pairs that are broadcast[ed] on a peer-to-peer network.” In easier terms, it is a chain of transactions and the participants of that particular network contribute by adding blocks of value to the ledger hence the title: blockchain.

Image Source: Blockchain.com

How to Contribute to Blockchain:

When a party wants to contribute to the existing blockchain, users are able to run evaluations to determine whether a proposed transaction can be approved. If the majority of people conclude that the contribution can be done, than the new transaction will be carried out manifesting an additional block to the chain. Because the blockchain is a public ledger that cannot be manipulated, abused or altered, users are able to easily assess whether or not proposed transactions are valid. Once a block of data has been recorded, it’s nearly impossible to alter or eliminate. According to  Francisco Corella, CTO of Pomcor, there are potential loopholes to this theory. He has observed that, “the network by itself cannot guarantee that all transactions are seen by all nodes as occurring in the same order. So a cheater could pay for a good or service with the amount of bitcoin available to a key pair that he/she owns, receive the good or service, then make a second payment for the same amount to another key pair owned by him/herself, and pretend that the payment to him/herself happened earlier, thus invalidating the payment for the good or service.” He goes on to say that the, “blockchain prevents such cheating by recording all transactions in a particular order in a chain of transaction blocks, which are “minted” at the rate of about one in 10 minutes. Minting a block requires solving a computationally expensive puzzle.”

Image Source: Rublacklist

For instance, let’s say an organization has 5 transactions every second. Each of these transactions contain an exclusive digital signature. Utilizing a chain framework, these signatures are then blended together and receive an individual online fingerprint i.e. a unique symbol representing that particular transaction. This procedure will occur for every entity that made a transaction in that specific time frame as well. Once approved, the fingerprint is stored and made public in the blockchain so users and miners can confirm a transaction’s validity. This enables ultimate transparency and security for all parties involved.

The Significance of Blockchain:

A blockchain is a substantial step away from conventional financial and authoritative systems because it does not rely on a central monitoring party or source. Because the blockchain requires collaboration, it encourages a communal atmosphere where people are able to transfer value independently and places power back into the masses. Rather than having a central entity dictate the activity of consumers, people are able to monitor, enhance and manipulate transactions thereby disabling any chance of foul play or fraud. Francisco concurred with these implications saying, “the blockchain was significant because it made it possible to achieve consensus (on the order of transactions) without relying on a central authority.”

Image Source: Coin Telegraph 

The Future of Blockchain Technology:

The possibilities are endless with the blockchain and to an extent, the future of its uses are already here. For instance, Ethereum allows users to integrate business applications into the blockchain. This means that unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum’s platform will increase in value because business applications will continue to be added. Moreover, the idea of a trustworthy and honest financial system is appealing to virtually everybody. Although its unregulated, the transparency factor has the ability to weed out risks before they become too big to manage. The blockchain can quite possibly stop any chance of future financial disasters. This is why banking institutions are betting on the future of blockchains while some have already adopted its practice. Even some online casinos are accepting BitCoin.  Francisco expressed his excitement over Ethereum’s use of the blockchain saying, “The scripting language in bitcoin is simple, but blockchains invented after bitcoin, such as Ethereum, feature scripting languages that are Turing-complete, i.e. as powerful as any general-purpose programming language. Such blockchains have the potential to disrupt the financial industry because they make it possible to write smart contracts that are executed automatically and do not require trusted arbitrators.”

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Announcements from Apple’s WWDC Keynote 2016

Image Source: Mac Rumors

On June 13th 2016, Apple’s first day of its annual WWDC Keynote Conference  was held in San Francisco, CA making some new and exciting announcements to its four pillars: watchOS (Apple Watch), tvOS (Apple TV), OS X (macOS), and iOS (iPhone/iPads). The event will continue until the 17th of June. Most of these items and updates will launch during Fall of this year.

watchOS 3 Updates

-Upgraded app downloads for optimized performance

-Dock interface that allows users to easily manage multiple apps that are open

-New and improved faces for watch

-Face exchange allowing users to cycle between watch faces based on preference

-New “Scribble” function allowing easy fingertip swiping

-Advanced support for wheelchair users

Image Source: Gadgets Global

tvOS Updates

-“Single Sign in” eliminates having to manually login to each AppleTV app

-“Dark Mode” for night owls or those that prefer a dim looking screen

-Automatically downloads associated AppleTV app after downloading iPhone video app

-Advanced “Siri Voice” search capabilities

Image Source: multimedia.bbycastatic

iPhone Updates

-iPhone now has remote control capabilities

-Emulates touchpad letting users to easily manage AppleTV’s Interface

-Utilize iPhone’s keyboard on AppleTV

-Gyroscope now can be used as a game controller

-Advanced lock screen and 3D touch support; “deep press” for more app details and simply move body away from phone to lock

-Automatic voicemail transcriptions

iPhone Updates

-New “Swift Playgrounds” allows users to get their feet wet in coding by offering how-tos, tutorials, and user-friendly lectures for the building blocks of app development

Image Source: 9to5mac

OS X Updates

-Rebranding OS X to simply macOS  (first name change in over a decade)

-Upcoming OS will be called macOS Sierra

-Auto-unlocking capabilities; Sierra can detect when you’re next to it by identifying your iPhone or watchOS

-copy and paste between any device; copy something from iPhone and paste into Sierra

-Advanced storage space reduction capabilities; removes temp files, old mail, etc. while auto-downloading when needed

Apple Pay integration allowing complete secure and anonymous transactions with fingerprint authentication

Picture in Picture (PIP) allowing seamless window management; watch YouTube while working without taking up space on screen

-Advanced “Siri Voice” capabilities; from generic to complex queries

-Debut of iOS 10; Craig Federighi said it will be “the biggest iOS release for users ever”

Image Source: CultofMac

Widget Updates

-Access an app’s widgets by 3D touching its icon

Siri Voice Updates

-Integrates Siri Voice for 3rd party apps

QuickType Updates

-If someone asks via SMS, “What will the weather be like this week?” QuickType will conduct an automated search and provide an accurate response

VoIP Updates

-Skype and WhatsApp will now be integrated eliminating outdated notifications when people call

Map Updates

-Maps will now have the ability to access your schedule and whereabouts to provide accurate directions

“Extensions” enabling users to integrate 3rd party apps to easily call Uber for example

Image Source: SearchEngineLand

Apple Music Updates

-Better appearance and easier navigation capabilities

HomeKit Updates

-The standard app for smart home/IoT devices now has features such as “Night Mode” that automatically locks your doors and dims the lights

iMessage Updates

-Online previews of links rather than an ugly url code

-Auto-emoji matching with text; type in “happy” and a correlating emoji will pop up

-Invisible ink; messages that will only appear when you allow via swipe

-3rd party access; allowing developers to incorporate their use into messages. For example, pay a recipient within messages via Square Cash

 

If you do decide to use “Swift Playgrounds” to develop your own mobile app, check out the 5 challenges commonly experienced by a modern appreneur to stay ahead of the curve. We don’t know about you, but we are excited for Fall to experience Apple’s new products firsthand. Check out Apple’s official website for more information and ordering process!

 

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur in 2016

Source: http://www.kic-innoenergy.com/

The new millennium has opened up the market for mobile application development transforming entrepreneurs into appreneurs. In the last decade, we’ve seen the rise of Billion Dollar App Companies such as Uber and Airbnb. Setting sail on your very own appreneurship comes with challenges exclusive to the tech community. If you’re thinking about launching a startup or developing your very own mobile app, here are some common challenges to be aware of.

 App Development Challenge 1: The Need for Speed

A typical theme is the demand for having things not now, but yesterday. The demand for faster and more efficient solutions will only increase as time moves forward. As such, there’s an advantage to being being quick and beating your competitors to the punch.  If you streamline your product and cut down on features by focusing on developing a Minimum Viable Product, you’ll find a swifter time to market.

App Development Challenge 2: The Need for Cross platform and Backend Development

An app based startup up must realistically develop apps for both Android and iOS devices (which make up 98% of the smartphone market). In addition to developing an app, typically it needs to have a cloud-based backend to support it. It’s rare for one developer to be proficient at all so you typically need a team of developers.

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Image Source: unpauseasia

App Development Challenge 3: Focus on Design and Usability

The simple truth is that your app needs to be visually attractive.  If it ain’t people won’t download it. After they’ve downloaded it, it has to be intuitive and user friendly. If it ain’t, it won’t be used again.  Before your team starts coding, nail the user interface.

App Development Challenge 4: Nail it then Scale it.

One of the things that an apprenuers needs to do is a plan to grow their business. I’ve seen many startups fail because they didn’t have a growth plan. My suggestion is to focus on growing your concept in a certain geography. Once you figured out a successful formula, you can attack other geographies. This is how Uber, Facebook, and Airbnb grew their businesses.

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Image Source: CapitalFM

App Development Challenge 5: Cash is King

Cash is the oxygen for any business. Not enough and it dies. Typically, I see appreneurs bootstrapping (and working day jobs) while working on their MVP. Once the product goes live, it’s a race between burn rate and generating revenue and it’s game over when the cash runs out. This is where you need a CFO that will help you navigate expenses, revenue and fund raising.

 

Being an appreneur isn’t for everyone but with a lot of fortitude, courage and a good dose of luck, your startup has the potential of being the next Uber. By recognizing these challenges, build a team with the proper skills and strengths. Also if you have an app already in the works and are looking for stakeholders, check out 4 tips how to not scare away investors. Believe me, we see it happen all the time.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

4 Tips to Attract Mobile App Investors

If you’re thinking of starting a new business, you’re not alone. With so many new applications being developed in recent years, it seems that the young entrepreneurs are taking over. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, new businesses (0-5 years old) make up almost 20% of all of the net job creation in the United States. The hardest part of a new business, though, is finding the funds to get it up and running. Here are some things to keep in mind when pitching to potential investors without scaring the living the daylights out of them.
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Mobile App Tip #1: Be original

Before an investor gets involved, he or she wants to be wowed. In short, they’re unimpressed until they’re impressed. This is clearly demonstrated by Angel Investors’ deal acceptance rate of 21%. They’re not going to shell out thousands of dollars just to produce a copycat product of something that has already been invented.
Your product needs to be fresh, it needs to be relevant, and it needs to be a sure thing. Investors are more likely to give their money to people who produce an original product than those who try to recreate the wheel.

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Image Source: Technology Pep

Mobile App Tip #2: Put it all on the table

Investors value honesty above all else, since the lack of information can come back to bite them more often than not. As of 2011, the percentage of “bad exits,” or bankruptcies were as high as 24% – so you could see how they would be a little sensitive

Make sure that from day one you are as honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your product as possible, because if you aren’t, investors will sense it and back off. The people you are pitching to didn’t get to where they are by being stupid. They most likely have a keen sense for when something isn’t right, so be respectful of that.

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Image Source: PCMA

Mobile App Tip #3: Be flexible.

Nothing turns an investor off faster than an attitude of “my way or the highway” from an entrepreneur. An investor wants to feel involved from the very beginning, and wants to feel their entrepreneur is coachable. More deals happen in the early stages of the company’s life than any other stages for a reason: The investor wants to have had enough time to see potential, but wants to get in early enough to ensure their role in its growth. You may have birthed the idea for this company, but if you want the investor on board, you’re going to have to be flexible and let them develop it.

Mobile App Tip #4: Have the Four M’s in place.

Mark Suster, a successful entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, outlined in his article The Four Main Things That Investors Look For In A Startup that an entrepreneur should demonstrate the four golden M’s: fast, upward Momentum, a stellar Management team, a large Market, and, of course, a great deal of Money or earning potential. This should all be demonstrated very early on in the first presentation.

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Image Source: MarketUmbrella

As with anything else, put yourself in the investor’s shoes and you’ll understand why and how they do the things they do. Do your research, not just on venture capitalists, but on the specific people you’re trying to meet – and you will go far. When you’re able to seal the deal, the next phase is to maintain it. You should read the 5 challenges of a startup appreneur so you can best prepare for the journey ahead.

 

Written by guest writer: Jeanine Amella

Mobile apps: Time to jump on the bandwagon?

Vector mobile app - email marketing and promotionLet’s face it. Mobile apps are hot. More than60 percent of adults in the U.S. have smart phones, and their use of apps is on the rise. Some might argue that in the B2B market, apps are not as “sexy” as in the B2C market. While not necessarily used to make online purchases, their importance and impact can be just as powerful. Like B2C apps, they offer a 24/7 connection with the marketplace. Plus, they provide a platform to support key functions including (but not limited to):

  • Making presentations
  • Improving internal processes
  • Distributing product information
  • Enhancing customer support
  • Accessing sales CRM
  • Monitoring inventory
  • Managing projects.

What does this mean for B2B companies? It means, it’s time to evaluate the potential benefits of a mobile app for your business.  And, if appropriate, it’s time to develop a “use” strategy, along with a design, testing and implementation framework.

The Framework for Developing Mobile Apps

Strategy: Before investing a dime, consider the target audience, whether it is internal or external. How do they like to receive information? What is the real goal of a mobile app? How will it make a difference in your business operations? Is it a core issue? Do you have the resources to develop and implement it? If internal developers are not available, what external options exist?

Design: Do your research. Does a similar app already exist? Can it be customized, or do you need to start from scratch? Involve potential users in the design process. Create a storyboard where you can see frame by frame what the app will do and how it will look. Make sure the end product is consistent with your brand. Develop code documentation and have it peer reviewed during the process. Build in analytics for future data gathering. At the same time, keep the end product simple and easy to understand to ensure maximum use.

Testing: Even the most competent designers will find bugs in their newly created apps. What works in the lab doesn’t always work in the field. Test it with a variety of users and find out where the bugs are and how to eliminate them. Use this part of the process to create documentation for training and implementation purposes.

mobile app iconsImplementation: One of the biggest mistakes in app development is the lack of a defined implementation process. According to Rich Foreman, CEO of Apptology, “One costly error businesses make is developing an app that no one uses.” Companies can reduce the likelihood of this occurrence by doing their homework upfront and creating a well-defined and shared marketing and communications plan to introduce and support the app. Remember to measure user experience and feedback, and respond accordingly.

In the end, it’s not just whether or not you jump on the mobile apps bandwagon. It’s how well you do it that counts.

This post was written by Gerri Knilan and originally posted in her Trade Secrets Blog.

9 Factors for Hiring the Perfect Mobile App Developer

9 Factors in Evaluating a Developer

Over the years, we have had several clients that have come to us asking to either fix or complete an app from another developer. One client had spent over $50 k with another developer and had nothing to show for it. For all of you that are looking to hire a mobile app developer, this post will go over several factors you should consider when evaluating a developer.

Mobile App Developer Factor #1 The Source Code / Ownership:

An easy way to weed out a developer is to find out what their policy is on the ownership of the source code and intellectual property upon completion of the project. If they won’t release and / or make a claim, keep moving. I discuss the source code issue more in this post.

Mobile App Developer Factor #2 Technical Capabilities:

Is the developer you’re looking at technically capable of completing your project? In your evaluation, realize that it takes a team. So for example, the a complex app development project will have:

  • iOS Developer
  • Android Developer
  • Backend Developer
  • U/X Designer
  • Project Architect
  • Project Manager

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Image Source: Goforthapps

Be cognizant that it’s very hard for one person to do everything and you may need to hire multiple developers with different disciplines or go with a development team that has all the capabilities you’re looking for. For better communication, the ideal situation is where all the developers are under one roof so that problems can be solved quickly.

Mobile App Developer Factor #3: Portfolio

Ask to look at the developer’s portfolio. Download their apps. Evaluate their body of work. What you see is probably a good indication of what kind of app the developer can create for you.

Mobile App Developer Factor #4: References

Ask for a list of references from your developer and take the time to contact them. Some good questions to ask them:

  • Did they have a good process?
  • Were they responsive? How was the communication?
  • Were they helpful with other issues like setting up an iOS account?
  • How was the quality of the work?
  • How well did they resolve problems?

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Image Source: JCount

Another great place to check their reference is to see if they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. For example, Apptology’s BBB rating is summarized here. If they are a BBB member, this also gives you a venue to handle disputes. If the developer wants to keep an A rating with the BBB, they are forced to address your dispute.

Mobile App Developer Factor #5: What If You Got Hit By A Bus?

Ask your developer what happens if their main developer got hit by a bus. I know it’s a strange question but it’s important. I had a client that was developing an app and the developer they were working with just disappeared. He didn’t answer any emails and phone calls for a couple of weeks and they were forced to find another developer because they were hitting a deadline. It turned out that their developer had a DUI and was in jail for a few weeks. So, if you ask the “Bus” question, hopefully the developer will have some sort of backup plan for you.

Mobile App Developer Factor #6: Development Process

My undergraduate degree was in Industrial Engineering so I am a stickler about process. That said, when evaluating a developer; ask them about their development process. Some questions to ask:

  • How and when do you provide feedback?
  • How are scope changes handled?
  • Is there a project manager that you work with?
  • Are there regular project meetings?
  • How is communication handled?
  • What types of project management tools are used?
  • How is quality assurance (QA handled)?

In evaluating their development process, see where you fit in. Where do you fit in the design and approval process? What you don’t want is to work with a development team that goes away for 3 months and comes back with crap.

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Image Source: Appectual 

Mobile App Developer Factor #7: Maintenance Plan / Upgrades

All the major platforms upgrade their software roughly once a quarter. Unfortunately, these upgrades may actually break your app. When I first developed my app, Apple just released iOS 4 and our app was developed on an older SDK. To our horror we found that half the sound files on our app didn’t work and we had to spend the weekend troubleshooting the problems generated by the upgrade.

So, when choosing a developer, ask them how they handle maintenance. Also, your app should always be evolving. Make sure you also ask them how they handle upgrades.

Mobile App Developer Factor 8: Warranty

Ask your developer if they will warranty their work in writing. So, after the project is delivered and submitted to the various App Store, ask what happens if a bug is discovered? To be fair, the warranty can only be applied to the specific version of the SDK that the app was developed on. As discussed in the previous section, the developer really can’t be responsible for issues caused by an upgrade to the Operating System.

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Image Source: searlesgraphics

Mobile App Developer Factor #9: Pricing

I saved this for last. I’m not going to go with the cliché that you get what you pay for. I think you can find a quality developer that is still cost effective (shameless plug: like us). I had a client that revealed that the bids for her project ranged from $7 K to $50 K. I personally would throw out the high bid. I’ve heard some vendors just throw out large quotes to weed out their prospects. If there is a bid that is dramatically low, my gut is that they didn’t understand the scope. However, before throwing them out, talk to them first as they may have a template or process that gives them some sort of advantage.

Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought in evaluating developers for your project. If you want to evaluate how much your app will cost to develop as a whole, check out this informative blog now! 

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

3 Steps to Develop Your Mobile App Idea

You’ve been thinking about an idea that you think can be the next Uber for weeks. So what do you do? Here are three steps you can take that will help you develop your idea.

1. Research Your Mobile App Idea:

The first thing you want to do with your idea is to research it. I had a client that spent a considerable amount of time having me do an NDA dance before speaking with me. Once we finally started talking, I quickly did a search on the Apple App Store and found there were over 25 similar apps listed; he quickly lost interest in pursuing this project.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you find another app that does what you’re trying to accomplish. You just have to figure out how to make your app better. Remember, before Google there was Yahoo; Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s not so much who goes to market first, but rather who executes best.

In doing your research, you need to also look at the market potential. For example, let’s say you had an app that was geared for veterinarians. A quick Google search shows that there are 90,000 veterinarians in the U.S. Now, you just identified your market potential.

Developing-Your-Mobile-App

Image Source: AppsCollections

2. Create Storyboard for Your Mobile App:

Now it’s time to put your idea down on paper and develop a storyboard (or wireframe). This is where the rubber hits the road and you put yourself in the shoes of the user. For instance, what’s the first thing they see once they launch your app? The first screen takes you to the main menu; the user taps the top button, where does it take the user? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Balsamiq. I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.

The advantage of creating a storyboard are:

  • It helps develop your idea
  • You have something to show as you try to recruit people or investors
  • Provides direction for your development team

storyboard-login

Image Source: spordipartner

3. Develop Mobile App Business Plan:

After you’ve done the research and developed a storyboard, if you decide you have something viable, you need to put together a business plan. After you’ve followed these 3 steps diligently, I suggest reading the 5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur to know what you’re up against and strategize accordingly. Good luck on your start up journey as you recruit co-founders, get funding, etc.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

The Irony of Apple Pay: Apple’s Need to Support Android

A year ago, I wrote a post basically predicting the demise of NFC (Near Field Communication) because there was no support for it on the iPhone 5s/5c . My contention is that if you had to choose a short range mobile protocol, you need to pick one that has the broadest support.

Well, to my surprise, with the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, Apple now supports NFC, so I pretty much have to eat my words. However, there’s a twist. The Cult of Mac has confirmed from Apple that NFC functionality is locked out to developers and is to only be used for their new Apple Pay mobile payment system. So, those mobile payment systems, eager to leverage the iPhone 6/6 plus’ NFC capability, are left out in the cold.

I don’t foresee Apple opening NFC’s capability anytime soon. For Apple Pay’s plan of world domination, they do not want the iPhone to work with other NFC enabled payment systems. It’s Apple flexing their monopolistic power of their platform. I do, however, predict lawsuits from other mobile payment systems to try to force Apple to provide access to the NFC functionality.

Ironically, for Apple Pay to be successful, it will have to support the Android platform. If you are a retailer, you’re going to choose a payment solution that works for all (or most) platforms (iPhones only made up 11.7% of the smartphones shipped in Q2 2014). Fortunately, for Apple, many of the Android devices out there support NFC. Although I find it hard to fathom, to make Apple Pay ubiquitous, Apple may have to swallow their pride and develop their first Android app. To their credit, they’ve had to make similar decisions in the past when they developed iTunes support for Windows (Steve Jobs was actually opposed to this). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.