9 Mobile Development Trends to Watch in 2019

Originally published January 23, 2018, updated January 29, 2019.

Mobile development is one of the most innovative and fastest growing sectors of the tech industry.

The average American spends over three hours a day on their smartphones (not including calls) and companies are pushing to gain a share of that time.

As mobile continues to work its way into daily life, the technologies rising to the top are ones that make that constant usage easier and more enjoyable.

It should come as no surprise that practicality, good user experiences, and convenience are the keys to winning public support in 2019.

Consumers expect their smartphones to do more than take calls and check email. They want more connectivity with the world around them, and they want that connection to be as safe as it is convenient.

To that end, here are the trends driving mobile developers in 2019:

1. Mobile Application Security

Users share more personal data with apps than ever before.

Mobile wallets have banking information, social media and habit trackers store details about personality and routines, and navigation apps keep records of everywhere a user goes.

At the same time, there’s enormous pressure to put apps out fast enough to keep up with consumer demand. Data breaches can be caused when companies rush development – and the risks are only rising.

The average cost of a breach was $3.62 million in 2017. Last year saw a 6.4% increase to $3.86 million.

In 2018 experts began tracking so-called “mega breaches”. These are cases where between 1-50 million records are breached, and they’re becoming more common as the Internet of Things (IoT) makes more user data available.

Alarmingly, 10 out of 11 of this type of breach are caused by malicious actors as opposed to technical errors. That shifts the focus from passively securing connections to actively preventing criminal intrusions.

In 2019, look for developers to emphasize security from the beginning of projects, with encryption throughout and automated testing at regular intervals. Artificial intelligence will also be on the rise for mobile security applications.

2. 5G Wireless Connectivity

2019 will bring the first major wave of 5G phones and wireless networks to urban areas. AT&T, which switched on their 5G wireless network in 12 cities last year, will add at least 7 more during 2019.

Sprint announced a 9-city 5G presence in the first half of the year with potential for wider coverage depending on how fast they can build out their infrastructure.

There were some test programs and small-scale rollouts from Verizon and AT&T last year, but without the right devices to handle it those haven’t done much more than raise excitement.

Now Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, OnePlus, and LG have all announced 5g-ready smartphones to be released this year.

Why is 5G so exciting? For one thing, it’s fast. 5G is at least 10 times faster than 4G.

Users will be able to download movies and apps in seconds rather than minutes, and streaming mobile video will be as fluid as watching at home.  C

arriers are warning that it’s only a little faster than 4G outside cities, but it’s still a major improvement considering how well it handles high-resolution media.

Latency is another major draw. 5G’s incredibly low latency- under one millisecond- will let multiple devices communicate quickly enough to respond to the real world.

Experts are primarily thinking of self-driving cars and drones, but the technology will also take mobile gaming to a whole new level of user experience.

5G is about more than smartphones, though. The technology is part of an overall shift towards improving the wireless infrastructure to support the growing Internet of Things.

5G could mean major advances for smart cars, self-driving vehicles, smart homes, Augmented Reality devices, wearables, and other mobile connected devices.

3. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is a set of protocols focused around HTML, JS, and a Google Cache that boosts the performance of mobile pages.

AMP-compliant pages load twice as fast as normal pages and perform well across a variety of devices and signal ranges.

With their higher availability and faster loading times, pages that use AMP have lower bounce rates and longer average session times.

Users also find AMP pages easier since Google places them in a special carousel at the top of search results.

That’s very tempting for companies looking to increase their site traffic (and who isn’t?).

There are some functionality limitations to AMP, but for basic pages those limits are outweighed by the speed and SEO preference.

Look for companies to continuing moving some of their customer-facing content to AMP throughout 2019.

4. Instant Apps

The barrier to adoption for a lot of apps is the download requirement.

People only have so much memory on their smartphones, and they hesitate to download apps that could just sit unused on their phones.

That’s not an unrealistic fear: only 20% of apps are opened again after the first use.

Surveys show that 75% of consumers feel more comfortable using apps with helpful reviews or screenshots, but Instant Apps take that a step farther.

Users can access them directly from the Google Play store without downloading.

Companies don’t need to build separate instant apps to take advantage of the trend, either.

Since they’re effectively features of an existing app (for example, the map section of a store app) which are used independently via a website, they use the same APIs and source code.

Developers only need to update their existing apps for Instant App functionality.

Instant apps offer some enticing benefits:

  • Instant apps open in seconds while the supporting website loads behind, giving the customer-facing impression of instant access.
  • Consumers can use just the feature they need or test-drive apps before downloading them.
  • Businesses can offload more functions (returns, coupons, and the like) to their app since customers can access them without having to go through the download process first.
  • Instant apps can be shared via links, which friends can view without downloading anything.

Early adopters have seen significant increases in full app downloads and engagement.

Updating for Instant App compatibility can take as little as a single day.

Instant Apps have become available on over 500 million devices worldwide since launching.

With satisfied customers including Vimeo, The New York Times, and the Wal-Mart owned shopping service Jet, it’s a sure bet that they will continue to rise in popularity.

5. Mobile Payments

Digital payment options are seeing a slow but steady transition to the real world. 2.1 billion consumers worldwide will use mobile wallets to make payments in 2019, a 30% increase from 2017.

Mobile payment has already become commonplace in China and India, where some stores accept nothing else.

Outside those markets mobile payments have been slower to grow, though they’re still gaining ground. In 2018 20% of Americans were using mobile wallets and payment options.

Experts predict that number to rise nearly 40% over the next year as mobile security improves enough to lend consumers confidence in the technology.

The leading general-purpose mobile payment systems in America are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. At least half of US retailers accept these, which makes it easier for consumers to leave their wallets at home.

Look for more brick and mortar businesses to begin accepting mobile payments. There’s also a trend towards loyalty programs with integrated mobile wallets that bears watching.

The Starbucks app’s mobile payment option saw over a million more users than Apple Pay in 2018, and over twice the number of Google Pay users. It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2019.

6. Mobile AI

Mobile AI is being fueled by edge computing and the rising demand for on-device processing.

A variety of mobile applications which were once unreliable are now maturing into enterprise readiness.

  • Conversational interfaces have improved along with advances in Natural Language Processing. Chatbots are leading the pack. In fact, 80% of businesses plan to release some kind of chatbot by 2020. Expect to see more chatbots and personal assistant AIs this year (especially on social media).
  • Recommendation engines are the power behind upsells at online checklists, but they’re also used in evolving applications like smart travel planners and health care apps.
  • Enterprise AI is a core component of digital transformation. Insights gained through enterprise analytics and predictive marketing will continue driving business in 2019 and beyond.

7. Wearable Devices

Technology has become a constant, reliable presence in daily life, and nowhere is that more obvious than with wearable devices. Users enjoy having increased control and persistent access to their data.

Most wearable devices on the market are smartwatches, with fitness trackers close behind. The category is broad, though.

New applications are constantly under development: wearable cameras, augmented or virtual reality headsets, and even smart clothing.

As a whole, the category is growing faster than predicted last year. It’s expanded from 84 million units in 2015 to an estimated 245 million units this year.

With companies like Apple offering products for a wide range of consumers and Google rumored to be working on a new wearable, this is definitely something to watch in 2019.

8. Augmented Reality apps

Although Augmented Reality has been tossed around for years, it’s coming into its own as a mainstream feature.

Both Google and Apple have released toolkits (Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit) that make it possible for more businesses to take advantage of AR features.

The enterprise applications of AR are as varied as businesses themselves. One exciting use-case is the IKEA Place App.

IKEA has 411 stores in 49 countries, but for many people visiting a showroom still requires a road trip and significant planning. Enter IKEA Place, an Augmented Reality application that displays furniture at scale over a live camera image.

Users can then see how catalogue items will look in their home and whether larger furniture will fit. AR is seeing a rise in usage in fields like healthcare, engineering, and real estate as well.

Industry analysts predict that the AR market will reach $108 billion in revenue by 2020.

9. Beacon Technology

Beacon technology isn’t new. It’s been drifting around for a while in highly niche use cases, but it’s beginning to find its place as mobile technology becomes more advanced.

The idea of beacons is simple. A Bluetooth transmitter emits a signal visible only to compatible devices within a limited range. Smartphones with the right app can pick up that signal to receive timely, location-specific information.

Beacon locations are much more accurate than other locational data, which creates opportunities for more tailored interactions. Some examples:

  • Unlocking a hotel room as the registered guest approaches their door
  • Sending seat directions, game updates, and important alerts to fans within a sports stadium
  • Alerting loyalty club members passing a store of current sales

Since the technology has been around, what will expand in 2019 is the number of beacon-oriented apps for smartphones, wearables, and other connected devices.

Best Mobile App Development Company in Orlando

Concepta maintains their position as one of Orlando’s best mobile development agencies by creating dynamic technology solutions for modern business challenges.

Right now, that means staying on top of mobile trends.

Mobile development is one of the biggest enterprise priorities of 2019.

Companies need to be where customers are, when customers need them, and that means going mobile.

With that in mind, Concepta recommends investing in a right-sized mobile presence.  

It takes some planning, but sound mobile development is a solid path to winning new customers and improving the overall customer experience.

In the long run, that’s a competitive edge that pays off.

Interested in how these trends can help grow your business in 2019? Get a free consultation with Concepta’s experienced developers to explore your options!

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Choosing an App Development Platform: Firebase [REVIEW]

Firebase is a backend as a service mobile and web app development platform from Google. Although developers have the option of skipping server-side programming, Firebase’s powerful suite of cloud-based features can expand functionality using server side code.

BaaS

Backend as a Service platforms provide a subscription-based backend so developers don’t have to write one.

App development platform: Software that allows developers to create and deploy applications.

What problem does Firebase solve?

Firebase helps developers build dynamic, scalable mobile apps quickly. It negates most (if not all) of the hassle of creating and managing infrastructure.

Benefits of Firebase

  • Hosting
  • Realtime database
  • Authentication
  • Ad management
  • Analytics
  • App Indexing
  • Remote configuration variables for apps
  • Performance monitoring/Crash reporting
  • User management system
  • Cloud storage and functions
  • Test Lab for Android

Strengths

Users like Firebase for its huge feature set (currently 16 well tested features). Developers don’t have to pay for the complete package; they can pick and choose which features they want to use independently of each other. Besides the features listed above under benefits, Firebase offers push notifications, Google Analytics, dynamic links, invites, cloud messaging, AdMob, and Adwords.

Mobile apps are Firebase’s strong point. It’s cross-platform friendly and optimized for realtime apps. Firebase is also scalable; the number of users can grow very quickly without an appreciable affect on performance.

Firebase excels when it come to prototyping. Freed of the need to recreate a custom stack for each mobile app, developers can focus on building their front end and begin generating revenue up to four times faster than possible through non-BaaS methods. In addition, a mobile developer without backend experience could conceivably test a new idea without involving a full-time backend expert. (To be fair, that method would be much slower than traditional app development since one person would be doing all the work. The savings there would be financial.)

Speaking of financial matter, projects with slim budgets are a good fit for Firebase. The large up-front investment associated with backend development is broken into more manageable subscription payments. Shorter app development also leads to lower labor costs since the time of skilled programmers is one of the most significant costs of any development initiative.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness of Firebase is that, while it’s great for prototyping and scales well, it only handles a certain level of complexity. Embedding third party services requires adding a server code. Users also need to to create their own API to integrate their app with Firebase. To build a truly robust application developers use cloud functions to create custom logic for different flows and to integrate with other third party services. This means that once an app grows past that certain level of complexity developers can find themselves doing much of the work Firebase was intended to avoid.

As a NoSQL database, Firebase is not the best solution for large amounts of structured data. It doesn’t easily support transactions and is not HIPAA compliant. There are limits on queries imposed by the streaming data structure.

With subscription services like Firebase, it’s important to remember that this leaves apps vulnerable to potential Firebase issues (company changes or closure, fluctuating prices, disruptions to uptime, etc). Closure isn’t a serious threat since Firebase is a Google project, but there have been notable periods of downtime in the recent past. Migrating to another service could be a significantly difficult experience, too.

Comparison

Kinvey: While Kinvey is easier to implement with a shorter learning curve than Firebase, it’s priced accordingly.

Couchbase: Couchbase is similar to Firebase. While it is open source, it lacks the bevy of features that attract users to Firebase.

Hoodie: Hoodie’s advantage is its offline support. It has a very small developer community, though, and few of Firebase’s trademark features.

Parse Server: Parse Server was popular, but after struggling with some intrinsic faults Facebook (who owned it) decided to shut it down earlier this year. It is still brought up as a comparable tool to Firebase, though it’s been shuttered.

Real-life application

NPR uses the analytics feature of Firebase to improve targeting and insights. Playbuzz employed a combination of Firebase features to increase campaign efficiency. TradeFix.io, a real time stock/option trading company, uses Firebase in its mobile app.

Conclusion

Within its area of focus, Firebase is enormously successful. Most criticisms of Firebase can be attributed to using it outside that area. For rapid prototyping and deployment, there are few tools that match Firebase for features now that Parse Server is out of the picture.

If you need highly experienced backend developers who know Firebase, share with us your challenges and we’ll help come up with the right solution tailored to fit your needs.

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Top 10 CIO Technology Priorities in 2017

CIO Technology Priorities

As a CIO, you have a lot on your plate as technology and markets change quickly on multiple fronts: time-to-market and speed of IT innovation, tighter budgets, and the demand for technical innovations to produce a higher ROI.

Last week we talked about how you can help your CEOs with their priorities, here are 10 CIO technology priorities you should be managing in 2017.

Skill Shortages

According to a Society for Information Management (SIM) report, skill shortages are a top concern for 24 percent of IT leaders.

You need better trained workers with hard skills such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and software and Web development, as well as employees who can combine technical skills with soft skills such as leadership and strategic thinking.

Bimodal IT

One approach to managing IT services delivery and development is bimodal IT. With this model, one area focuses on agility and one on stability.

It’s a simple but effective way to organize things that are known and understood in your organization, while helping you come up with innovative ideas, approaches and technologies.

Increasing Digitalization

The Gartner 2017 CIO Agenda study reported that top IT performers are significantly ahead of marginal companies when it comes to spending on digitalization.

They look for and develop ways to move traditional business processes to a digital format to improve service delivery and cut costs.

Intelligent Networks

As machine-to-machine connectivity continues to expand, and the Internet of things (IoT) creates intelligent networks, data must be distributed in real time.

The networks must be able to increase and reduce in size based on demand, providing users with relevant information at a glance.

Meshing IT and Business Goals

The SIM study reports that CIOs are taking on increasingly strategic roles in the enterprise. More than 46 percent report to the CEO, followed by smaller percentages reporting to the CFO or COO.

With a higher profile and increased responsibility to maintain a healthy bottom line, you must be able to communicate goals effectively to business leaders.

Cybersecurity

Every day, another high-profile hack of a company or government organization is announced. CIOs are concerned about traditional security challenges such as hackers and internal vulnerabilities.

But IoT and data networks are bringing a whole new host of security concerns.

Driving Innovation

As the IT role shifts from a cost center to a profit driver, it’s vital you keep pushing innovation in technology and service delivery.

IT, cloud computing and intelligent machines are changing almost every business sector.

Because organizations rely so much on IT in today’s business climate, innovation must happen faster than ever.

Optimizing the Digital Experience

From operations to customer service, how customers experience digital transactions will rapidly separate winners and losers in your industry.

Top firms will ensure the CMO is involved in every market-facing implementation to help create a smooth, seamless digital customer experience.

Cost Reduction and Improved Efficiency

Changing technology has moved the CIO role to front and center in the organization, helping you garner more resources and services to deliver results for the company.

But you are also being asked to do more with less by cutting budgets and wring savings from every corner of your operations.

Data Governance and Compliance

A growing number of privacy laws and data protection rules are making it more difficult every year for you to stay in compliance.

For example, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply from 2018, one more challenge in your battle to meet complex industry and government rules and guidelines.

The rapidly changing face of data and tech has helped raise your profile in the organization. At the same time, new challenges test your ability to adapt and lead in the coming months.

For help on any of these priorities…

Share With Us Your Challenges

Choosing the Best Cloud Storage Site for Your Business

best cloud storage

Storing data in the cloud – on secure offsite servers – can be an efficient and economical solution for businesses of all sizes.

With options ranging from secure data protection alone to storage plus a full suite of business support services, choosing the best cloud storage for your company can be a challenge.

To find the right service for the life of your business, look for providers offering stability, security and scalability.

Data Storage and More in the Cloud

Cloud, or online data storage, is a broad term for a variety of services offering solutions to cumbersome and limited in-house storage of company files and other kinds of material.

From traditional file cabinets to document storage on office desktop computers, storing business data locally can be limiting in an increasingly mobile, global business world.

Adding more storage can become expensive – and because files remain local, you’ll create problems when those who need them are out of the office.

Enter cloud storage – parking company data on remote servers provided by a third party. Cloud storage makes files accessible anywhere, from any device, and offers large amounts of storage for monthly or annual fees.

Cloud storage can include pure storage options such as the popular file sharing app Dropbox, full-service business solutions or a combination of these, so it’s important to consider not just the storage you need now, but also for the future.

Stability: Long-Term Reliability

When you’re entrusting your company’s sensitive data to a third party, it’s essential to ensure that your provider will be reliable and stable.

Because of the growing popularity of cloud storage, new providers are always appearing. But they may also disappear, leaving users with the messy task of switching storage to another service.

Look for stability offered by established providers with a long-term customer base and a well-developed infrastructure.

A stable, long-established storage provider should also offer a comprehensive service-level agreement (SLA) and third-party accreditation that confirms the company’s ability to comply with international standards.

Security: Keeping Data Safe

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a small startup or a leading enterprise, keeping your data secure is essential.

When you’re entrusting that data to a third party, it’s important to look closely at the protections a potential provider offers.

One of the major advantages of cloud storage is that data remains available in case of a computer crash or other on-site event such as a fire. But these things can strike a third-party location too.

A key consideration for secure cloud storage is whether a provider offers multiple data centers that are geographically separated.

A quality cloud provider should also include robust encryption at a level that suits your needs. That could include options such as personal key encryption, which limits data access to only those with that unique key, or limited permissions.

When storage comes with additional services, separate security measures might apply individually to each service.

Scalability: Looking Toward the Future

Today’s small startup could be tomorrow’s megacorporation, and your cloud provider should be able to accommodate the growth of your business. Most providers offer expanding levels of storage on tiered subscription plans, so it’s possible to scale up at need.

You may also need additional cloud-based services to help manage your business, so it’s important to look for a provider that offers multiple plans for adding services as your business expands.

Cloud data storage can be an affordable and secure solution for businesses of all sizes. The best provider for your business should offer the stability, security and scalability you need – now and for the future.

For more information, contact us today or visit our website.

How a Salesforce Integration Can Help You Run Your Business

salesforce integration

Salesforce is a popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) product that was one of the first to see the power in setting up as a Software as a Service (SaaS).

Salesforce gives you excellent tools to build sales pipelines, create support services and track interactions with customers. However, your other company data can be cut off from the customer information unless you take the time to initiate Salesforce integration to mesh the disparate systems together.

Here are some things to consider when you integrate Salesforce with external systems.

Integration with Current Applications

In today’s IT landscape, many companies have both cloud-based and on-premises applications.

When planning to integrate Salesforce with existing systems, especially on a large scale, you must determine the best “pattern approach.” This method was developed by Salesforce to provide a matrix for you to decide what options are best for your individual situation and quickly became a set of Salesforce service cloud integration best practices.

The patterns were refined by Salesforce partners and developers after many successful implementations. Each pattern has a name, context, problems, forces, solution, sketch, results, sidebars and example that you can review to see how closely it matches your challenges.

Here is an example. One pattern is called Remote Process Invocation – Request and Reply.

Salesforce starts a process on one of your internal programs, waits for the process to complete and then determines the state after evaluating the response it receives from your application. For instance, you might have a separate system that creates and processes orders.

While Salesforce is great at nurturing new customers, what happens when a new client places an order?

In this case, Salesforce needs to contact your ordering program to create a new order.

The ordering app tells Salesforce the order status and number asynchronously, and Salesforce updates those details internally. The order number is the foreign key for any further changes or updates to the order management software.

This pattern must also consider error handling and recovery as well as security. In addition, the call and response must be fast so users and clients don’t have to wait around for the software to update. For that reason, the Salesforce integration best practices for this pattern is to only use it for small volume scenarios.

Other patterns you might use include:

  • Remote Process Invocation – Fire and Forget
  • Batch Data Synchronization
  • Remote Call-In
  • UI Update Based on Data Changes

Integration Paths

Like all major web services, Salesforce has a robust API for Salesforce integration with third-party application systems.

Transactions through the Force.com API have surpassed Salesforce page views and now make up the largest percentage of the more than five billion service transactions on the site every quarter.

But depending on your Salesforce integration project, there are different paths you can take through the Force.com Connect system.

For example, Singapore Airlines used the AppExchange marketplace for e-marketing; Infoworld used a Native Connector for contact management and Symbol Technologies used it for forecasting and order management; Karl Strauss Breweries tapped the Partner ecosystem for order management solutions while Magma used it for account and customer master programs; ADP invested in custom development for order management, and Heald College did the same for student recruitment.

As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when planning Salesforce integration with other applications, as well as various paths to take to solve your particular challenges.

Salesforce cloud computing is a powerful way to maintain the advantages of reliability and consistency of your current solutions, and then tapping the power of Salesforce cloud integration for a truly effective combination of cutting-edge applications.

For more information, contact us today or visit our website.

How a Quickbooks Integration Can Help You Run Your Business

quickbooks integration

If you have a small business, there is a very good chance you use Quickbooks for your accounting solution. QuickBooks has an incredible 80 percent market share — that means 29 million small business owners count on the program to keep their books organized. It’s also likely you use a number of other cloud-based apps to help run your business.

Take a look at why you should integrate Quickbooks with these other programs.

Quickbooks Integration

You’ll find there is a wide variety of cloud-based applications you can integrate into your Quickbooks business workflow. For example, let’s say you use Square for processing transactions in your retail store. Using the Sync with Square app, you can auto-import your sales and expenses into Quickbooks. The advantages include:

  • Eliminating manual entry of data
  • Saving time, money and worker hours that can be better used helping customers
  • Simple reconciliation to match deposits, fees, refunds and payments against your bank statement
  • Automatic invoice creation, including product details and category
  • Viewing all payment processing fees in one location

Square is just one example. There are hundreds of apps you can integrate with Quickbooks. For example, you can:

  • Sync Quickbooks with Constant Contact to nurture better customer relations
  • Connect Quickbooks with Google Calendar to track important dates and events
  • Track time sheets and employee work schedules with TSheets Time Tracking
  • Sync receipt data with Receipt Bank
  • Receive quicker payment using InvoiceSherpa

Webhooks for Quickbooks Online API

With a talented developer, you can create your own Quickbooks cloud accounting software integrations. Developers can use the Webhooks for Quickbooks Online API, which features a push model instead of periodic polling for data changes.

For instance, you might want to get an alert when a customer’s data changes. All you have to do to achieve this is create an endpoint that the online API can contact for the change information.

Webhooks aggregates data for each request and sends a notification to your API. You can learn more from the Intuit Developer page, which includes SDKs, developer guides, informative hangouts, sample code, a developer sandbox and tutorials on working with the Quickbooks enterprise cloud.

You are also free to use the API for your own app as long as it passes muster with the Quickbooks marketing, security and tech guidelines. Once complete, you can post it on Apps.Intuit.com, the Quickbooks app marketplace.

ERP Systems

There may come a time when your business outgrows Quickbooks and you need to move up to a full-blown Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. With an ERP, everything is self-contained, so there’s no need to integrate Quickbooks with third-party vendors. When you make a sale, your General Ledger and Accounts Receivable automatically update to the new status.

Your staffers may lobby for Quickbooks online integration because the interface is effective and familiar. However, a modern ERP system offers functionality, internal integration and seamless operation benefits that far outweigh familiarity and comfort. Over time, your team will get used to the new system.

Exceptional and Versatile Accounting Software

Quickbooks offers you versatility in the way you run your business — you can select from hundreds of apps covering project management, scheduling, manufacturing, membership, non-profits, retail operations and more. So, if your first choice isn’t a good fit, you have many others to choose from.

For more information, contact us or visit our website.