Consumers and businesses continue to demand more from their apps, and developers are responding by building in new features that take advantage of advancing technology and meet evolving needs and expectations. Almost every app could benefit from one or more of the powerful features listed below.
One of the most exciting recent technology trends is to enable users to seamlessly combine virtual and real-world experiences. A Clutch survey found:
For example, a retailer’s app could let consumers use the camera in their device to envision how a particular piece of furniture would look in different places around the home or how a particular cosmetic product would look on a user’s face. A children’s drawing app could come to life with 3D animations. A browser app could draw on partner services to show geographically or historically relevant information or to give directions to the nearest coffee shop or ATM, when the device’s camera is aimed at a particular landmark.
Here’s how GAP found a creative way to engage with customers: the retailer built the “DressingRoom” app that uses augmented reality to let shoppers “try on” clothes without having to step into a store:
Image source: engadget.com
Users highly value apps that offer personalized experiences. No one wants to feel like they’re just a number to you or a cog in a machine. Developers can use demographics information, geolocation, a user’s past behavior and other data to make interactions feel natural and personal. A sports team’s app could use a mobile marketing service to send updates on parking, food ordering, etc. A retailer may enable users to create wish lists and then push a notification when a listed item becomes available or goes on sale. A music app might track a runner’s pace and select songs that match the tempo. Few features are more valued, and more impressive, than intelligently rendered personalization.
For instance, Spotify’s playlists customized to its individual users – like Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mix – have been a key draw for its service:
Image source: medium.com
One of the factors most effective at getting users to return again and again to an app is awareness that many other people are also using it. Fitness, dieting, and health monitoring apps let people read and share progress reports and advice from fellow users. Recipe and travel apps let users share comments and favorites, as well as compile ratings. Gaming apps, of course, let players measure their success against others. Apps can sustain engagement via community in many ways – highlighting new content from around the community, inviting users to participate in surveys and games, and so on. Just ask the social media giants: Community keeps them coming back for more.
For instance, after Fit Woman app had added a social layer to their applications, in one month the retention rate increased by 35%:
Image source: blog.apps-builder.com
SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
Tap into the larger communities that already exist by enabling users to share their experiences, progress, and likes and dislikes with friends in the wider world. Social media not only increases engagement but also gives your app an exposure boost. Every time a user shares contents from your app, your presence grows in the social media universe and your content has a chance to start trending. Another popular feature is to enable users to sign up for – and subsequently to sign in to – your app/service via one of their existing social media accounts. This saves time and trouble, and no one wants to have to create a new username, password, and profile if they don’t have to. Integrating social media feeds into your app is yet another way to expand users’ in-app experience and to keep them on your platform. Of course, you’ll also want to use social media to promote your app at the outset when you’re getting ready to launch.
Users enjoy being able to customize an app to their personal preferences. They may be accustomed to a certain layout on their computer screen, on a website they use regularly or on other mobile apps. They may want to see certain information by default and other information only when they call it up, or they may want information organized in a particular way on the screen. Users may want to receive some types of notifications but not others. Giving people these kinds of choices introduces a warm feeling, a sense that the app is working with them rather than telling them what to do and how to do it.
Here’s a story of our collaboration with Netpulse, a fitness technology company, and a provider of branded mobile apps for health clubs. Thousands of health clubs, fitness centers and gyms have launched custom-branded mobile apps by Netpulse:
SECURITY AND GDPR COMPLIANCE
Security has always been critical to successful app development, and the General Data Protection Regulation imposes new requirements to protect EU residents’ personal information. Developers must now come up with a more detailed, up-front policy for collection and use of users’ data and must present it transparently to users. Some security practices – data encryption, making sure to use the latest and most trusted authorized APIs, continual testing – will be invisible to the user. Others, such as high-level and multi-factor authentication, convey the message that you take users’ privacy seriously and that they can trust you with their data.
DATA SCIENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING
Whether your focus is B2B or B2C, a business or e-commerce app that integrates machine learning can enhance users’ experience and in many cases save you money. E-commerce apps, for example, can use data science to predict weekly demand, suggest associated products, and offer targeted discounts – all while keeping inventory minimized. Consumer apps, meanwhile, are using machine learning in all sorts of ways: identifying objects the camera is pointed at, suggesting ways to save battery life based on a user’s smartphone habits, and suggesting the perfect emoji based on the content of a message. Some features, like Snapchat’s or Facebook’s facial recognition, have become so common we forget they’re rooted in machine learning.
Here’s how TripAdvisor used machine learning to improve customer experience. They noticed that photo selection of the particular location usually doesn’t make the most useful first impression. So the team decided to build a machine learning algorithm that would choose which photos the customers see and in what order for different contexts.
After the team developed and deployed the model, the algorithm selected relevant photos and provided good default sort order:
Image source: engineering.tripadvisor.com
As the IoT grows, mobile apps will need to integrate with other devices  using the latest as well as the most common connectivity standards: WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy, LoRa and whatever the future brings. Flexible interoperability combined with robust security will become increasingly essential for apps that need to link with banks, provide access to physical facilities, operate appliances and more.
Here’s how Amazon app stepped up in the IoT game. Amazon Go app is an e-commerce store where customers do not need any checkout – just grab and go. The app tracks every movement whenever the customer grabs a product from shelves. After the customer leaves the store, Amazon charges from your Amazon account:
A rich in-app experience with the right features in place will show that you care about your customer and respect his time. The customer does not care about how many features you’ve developed or what technologies you used, all he cares about is how fast and hassle-free he can achieve his goals. Be it a fintech, AR-powered app for retail or ICO app, Ciklum App development team will take care of the experiences your customers get through the application. Have a project in mind? Drop us a few lines in the contact form and we’ll get back to you with our ideas.