Juha Riippi

By Juha Riippi

Back at Coding


Digital products are faced with constant changes. Software keeps evolving and, at the same time, the market and consumer demands are increasing. Further development is crucial to maintain the reliability and continuity of the mobile app. In this article, I have highlighted six key areas that help you to ensure the reliability and competitiveness of your mobile app for its entire life-cycle.

1. Regular OS updates

When it comes to the OS updates of mobile devices, the further development of a mobile app is often a recurring event. New versions are regularly launched for both iOS and Android operating systems, which always introduce new features. Supporting the new features in apps is highly recommended to keep the apps fresh and competitive. For example, last autumn, both Apple and Google launched a new ‘dark mode’ feature, which enables the user to change the background colour of the whole user interface to black. To ensure the best user experience, both OS manufacturers strongly recommend supporting this feature in all mobile apps.

2. Flexibility with an application server

It is very rare for a mobile app to be a fully standalone service. Usually, the app is connected to pre-existing data systems to read or write data. It is important to consider already at the design stage of the application what changes may be forthcoming to the data systems during the mobile app’s life-cycle. A good way to manage changes is to implement a dedicated application server between the mobile app and the data systems. A dedicated application server adds flexibility to the development and maintenance of the service because updating it is usually fairly straightforward.

Updating the mobile app is easy from a technical point of view but, for some reason or another, users don’t always use the latest available version of the app. Using a dedicated application server makes it possible to implement part of the service logic there. By moving all of the critical functions away from the app helps to extend the life-cycle of the mobile app and potentially ensure that the app works (partially) even if some of the services behind the application server are down. Usually, this solution also makes the mobile service more secure because the user’s phone and other mobile devices (including their OS and security updates) are not managed by the service owner or developer.

3. Regulations that apply to everyone

A source of grey hairs for many of us are the changing legislation or other regulations that make it necessary to develop the app. As an example, the upcoming SCA2 regulation will result in a comprehensive overhaul of all payment transmission applications. In all likelihood, the new regulation will make it necessary to always use strong authentication to verify the identity of the user when entering a purchase or payment method.

4. Utilising analytics

Analytics is something that should be taken into account at the development stage as it makes it possible to receive up-to-date information about the application and the errors occurring in it. Analytics data makes it possible to maintain and further develop features that help you to meet your targets or, equally, remove or trim down superfluous features. You can combine analytics with A/B testing to simultaneously test several different methods (usually two) to implement a feature for different user groups. You can choose the implementation method to use based on the received data.

5. User experience-based development

Because you can’t touch digital products, user experiences provide valuable information of them. User feedback makes it easier to identify the areas in need of development.

You can add a feedback solution to your apps, such as Instabug, which enables the user to give feedback directly by shaking their phone. There are also other solutions for monitoring user activities that provide valuable data: for example, it shows the features frequently used by the user and, on the other hand, the features that the user is not drawn to.

6. Making the most of new features

The further development of a mobile app provides an opportunity to make the most of the new features introduced by the platform as well as the mobile devices. The new features may include, for instance, support for Apple Pay or Face-ID, which enables the mobile device to use facial recognition instead of an access code. The new features help to create new user experiences and improve the existing ones.

To wrap up

Just like any information system, a mobile app requires TLC and maintenance after the initial investment. You must ensure that your app works and is up to date and remain up to speed regarding the various legislative and other environmental changes. Very rarely is the application alone enough to produce significant added value unless the application provider is also ready to develop and maintain other information systems (of its own or its partners).

You could compare the app to a car: the initial investment is significant but a shiny new vehicle is nice to use and it may even make your neighbours stare in admiration (or, as the case may be, enviously). However, if you forget to have your car regularly serviced and fill its tank or charge its battery, it will soon be of no use to anyone. The same applies to applications. An application that doesn’t work properly or is not up to date makes a bad impression on your customers regarding the level at which your company operates. Whereas a carefully built application that is up to date and provides the users with added value will keep producing value for a long time.

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