Best App Developers Companies in 2017

App Developers

Going Mobile – How popular is it, really?

Back in the 90s, and even more so in the early 2000s, people were telling you how important it was to get your business online in one way or another. You needed an online presence, even if it was fairly basic. Those people were right, and now those same people have been telling you that you need to get mobile. They have been saying it for years and, just as before, they were right. If you’re not mobile-friendly these days, then you’re basically just trying to sell horses to people who want to buy cars – they will give you a strange look for a few moments, and then move on to your competitors who better understand their needs.

We’re not just talking about getting ready for the future here, or making predictions that may or may not come true, because we are already past the point of no return. The future is now, as they say, and people want to access your content and services on their mobile device right now.

In 2013, the amount of time the average person spent on digital media by mobile and on a desktop computer was almost an even 50 / 50 split. By the end of 2015, time spent on desktop had dropped to only 35%, with time spent on mobile devices going up to 65%. Now, in 2016, is only going up and is expected to continue that way for the foreseeable future.

However, there is always a catch, and most things are never as simple as they first appear to be. The catch here is that most online sales are still carried out via a desktop computer. A lot of people are browsing on their mobile, checking their email and social media accounts, sharing pictures of cute kittens and whatnot, but for the most part they are making purchases on a desktop computer. So, the trick is to bridge the gap between mobile devices and desktop computers.

You need to get their interest, and get them connected to your brand on a regular basis, so that they won’t forget about you when they are at home or work in buying mode. Finding the sweet spot between being too pushy and being too relaxed in your marketing efforts is what small business app development is all about.

Platforms for Mobile Apps – Which Should You Cover?

It can be tempting to try to cover as much ground as you possibly can, and get your app out on every possible device and also get in to web app development, but is it really worth it? The fact is that some devices are more popular than others, by a very large margin. The time, effort, and money it will cost you to get your app designed and ready for every device may not bring in enough revenue to justify doing it.

For example, mobile devices that run the Windows Phone operating system make up less than one percent of the market (0.7% in Q1 2016, to be exact). This means that if you took a random selection of 100 of your potential customers, you would be lucky to find 1 person who possibly wants to use your app on a Windows Phone device.

Can you justify spending the money to not only design an app for these devices and make sure it works properly, but also to maintain it and provide support, for such a small chance of bringing in more revenue with it? It’s possible that you can justify it, if your budget is big enough or you represent a large enough business, but many developers end up skipping these devices altogether.

Android

When it comes down to market share, devices that run the Android operating system take the largest slice of the pie. In Q1 2016 the Android share went up about 5% to give this operating system an 84% market share. In other words: you need to make sure you have an app that works well on Android devices – no question about it.

The most popular Android devices as of now include the Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S, and Galaxy Note series of phones. For tablets, the Google Nexus, Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy Tab series. On the cheaper, but lesser used, end of the scale there is the NVIDIA Shield tablet.

While you are in the process of Android app development, you can’t just test it out on whatever device you happen to own and then expect it to perform the same on all popular devices. There will be differences in display that you will need to account for. You can find these differences by using an online testing service which will run your app through many different OS, browser, and device combinations in the latter part of your development stage.

In general, newer Android devices have more RAM (memory) when compared to newer devices that run the iOS operating system. However, iOS uses this RAM more efficiently so in reality the difference in the amount of RAM on each type of device is negligible. As always, it is best practice to try to develop your app to use as little RAM as possible, no matter which type of device you are designing it for, because users will not want your app to hog all of the resources and slow down their other operations.

When it comes down to the programming language that powers each different type of device, for the most part you will need to use either Java or Swift / Objective-C, for Android and iOS respectively. For devices that run the Windows Phone operating system, you will need to have XAML skills for the user interface part of the app, and either C# or Visual Basic for the actual code that powers the app.

There are restrictions on which types of apps are allowed to be published on the Google Play Store. These restrictions cover the usual, such as sexually explicit content, violence, harassment, hate speech, encouraging illegal activities, and so on. There is also a restriction on providing “real money” gambling services.

However, there is a way to get around these rules, and for good reason too. For example, most legal gambling websites have an Android app by offering the APK file to users as a download from their own website, bypassing the Google Play Store completely. It requires a little bit more of an effort from users, and you won’t bring in any new users who may just stumble upon your app in the store while looking for something else, but it’s not too bad.

iPhone

Despite what you may have previously thought, devices that run on the iOS operating system such as iPhones and iPads actually have less than a 15% market share – 14.8% in Q1 2016, to be exact. This is much less than the market share of Android devices, as described earlier, at just over 84%. However, it also depends on which country you are in and who your app is targeted toward. For example, in the United States, just over half of smartphone users have an iOS device.

When developing an app for iPhone, it is important to remember that most people do not have the latest and greatest model. In fact, the second most used iPhone as of now is the 5s which was released over three years ago. Apart from the obvious differences such as having a smaller screen, the 5s just isn’t as powerful as the newer models. So, if your app is struggling to run or acting sluggish on the newest iPhone then you’re going to be in trouble when someone on an older phone attempts to use it.

This is where the testing part comes in to play. You probably can’t do this yourself, unless you have every popular model of iPhone sitting around, and you want to take the time to load them up with every possible combination of OS version, browser, and so on. So, in order to properly give your app a test run that will bring in useful information, you will need help. You can try the “Test Flight” beta testing service from Apple which allows real people to use your app while you’re still in the iPhone app development stage, hire an outside app tester, or use one of the online services available.

Apple is always very secretive when it comes to talking about the specs on each iPhone. They don’t like to give out basic information such as the amount of RAM, or even the battery capacity, but people always find out anyway. So, we now know that the newest iPhones – the 7 and 7 plus – have 2GB and 3GB of RAM respectively. The extra RAM on the plus has a lot to do with the added camera features that the regular 7 does not have. Others have been running tests between the two latest iPhones and have found that the difference in RAM has little to no noticeable effects to normal phone operations such as browsing or using apps, which seems to confirm that it’s just the new camera that needs it.

As far as the programming language goes on apps for iOS, the newest one is called Swift, which was released by Apple itself. It is the successor to, and a simplified form of, Objective-C. It is a much newer language compared to those used to develop apps for other operating systems so there is not as much information and access to tutorials right now, but this is sure to change as more and more people jump on to it in order to keep up with the demand for iOS apps.

As with the Google Play Store for Android, the Apple App Store also has a number of restrictions on which types of apps they will publish. These restrictions cover things such as defamatory or “mean-spirited” content which targets specific groups of people. Your app will also be rejected if it contains realistic portrayals of people or animals being killed or tortured.

As far as games go, the bad guys (enemies) cannot solely target a specific group of people, including race, culture, government, corporation, or other real world entities. This is one of the reasons why zombie games are so popular – zombies don’t get offended enough to protest or boycott after millions of their kind are gleefully mowed down.

Your app also cannot contain content that is deemed to be overtly sexual or pornographic, although some nudity is allowed in cases that do not fall under those categories. Other restrictions include bans on depictions of illegal or reckless use of weapons, and all buying or selling of firearms, as well as “trick / joke” apps such as fake location trackers and other misleading apps.

If you intend to develop an app which as medical purposes, such as providing a diagnosis or drug dosage calculator, you will come under much more scrutiny than other types of apps before it is published.

Your app will also be rejected if it contains any content or behavior that reviewers believe is “over the line”. They go on to somewhat explain that vague statement by saying they will know it when they see it, and that you should already know you have crossed the line before submitting an app.

An interesting difference between the Apple and Android App Store is that Apple does allow gambling for real money. You will most likely be put under more scrutiny than with any other type of app though, as they want to protect their users from falling victim to scams and misleading information.

While it is possible to get around these restrictions and provide the app to your users as an external download, the process for this is much more complicated than on Android devices.

iPad

Since the release in 2010, there have been over 225 million iPads sold. However, this only gives it a market share of 22% when it comes to the overall tablet market. Every iPad runs on the iOS operating system, which makes it much the same as an iPhone as far as app development goes. The main difference, obviously, is that it has a larger screen.

Because developing for iPad is so similar to an iPhone, this segment will be much shorter. Just about all of the information contained in the iPhone segment will be applicable here, so keep that in mind.

Having said all of that, you will still need to test your app on all popular devices and screen sizes to make sure no important content is missing. There are a lot of tips and tricks that come in to play when trying to make sure your app looks good from the smallest iPhone to the largest iPad, but that goes outside of the scope of this current article. This information may be covered at a later date in a separate article, or you could always go and ask your favorite search engine right now.

Windows

Microsoft dominates the home desktop computer market, but they have not had as much luck when it comes down to mobile devices. The Windows Phone operating system has a market share of less than 1% – 0.7% market share in Q1 2016, to be exact, a large drop off from the 2.5% it had in the same period of 2015. As mentioned earlier in this article, it may be difficult to justify the expense (or time and energy if you do it yourself) of developing an app that very few people will actually use.

The most popular Windows phones are in the Lumia series, with the 535 model in first place and the 520 coming in second. It is worth noting that these are not the newest phones available from Windows, but the newer models are quickly catching up in usage rates. The most popular Windows tablets are in the Surface series, but there is also some growing use of tablets developed by Dell and HP.

Of course, as with any other type of device, you will need to test your Windows app on multiple setups and different combinations of OS, browser, screen size, and so on. You can carry out this testing much like you would while developing for other devices – by using online tools, an emulator running on your desktop computer, or by paying professionals to do the testing for you. There is also a beta testing program available at the Windows Dev Center which will allow you to get “real world” testing by actual humans.

The amount of RAM on newer models of Windows phones is comparable to that of newer iPhones, although the CPU is not quite there yet. Recent speed tests have shown that the iPhone 7 performs much better than both Android and Windows phones. This should not present much of a problem to app developers though, as it is always best to try to minimize your usage of both RAM and CPU to keep customers happy and maintain a good performance level, particularly during multi-tasking.

There is more than just one option when it comes to which programming language you use to develop an app for Windows mobile devices. Most developers like to use the C# programming language, although it is not as easy to learn as some of the other options for both Windows and other operating systems.

If you want to eventually get your app published and accessible on the Microsoft Store, the basic rules are that your app must offer some kind of real value to people (a reason to use it), it cannot be misleading in any way, and it cannot cheat customers or manipulate the ratings and review systems in place at the store.

Those are just the basic rules though – there are more restrictions that you need to know about while developing your app. As you would expect, you must have the legal right to use any text, image, sound, video, and so on, contained in your app, and the content must not be defamatory or threatening in any way. Your app cannot glamorize gratuitous violence, human rights violations, or facilitate the creation or use of weapons in “the real world”.

The next rule is where it gets a bit tricky – if your app contains content that is “potentially sensitive or offensive” then it may be restricted in certain countries or regions because of differing cultural norms. In any case, your app will not be published at all if it contains content that advocates discrimination, hatred, or violence that targets any particular race, gender, religion, and so on.

Again, as with the above rule, the Microsoft Store is vague about which types of “adult content” they will allow you to publish there. Their rule is that if a “reasonable person” considers your app to contain pornographic or sexually explicit content, then it will not be published in the store. The same basic principle applies to any alcohol or tobacco use that is seen or described in your app.

It is not currently possible to offer your app to users from any source other than the Microsoft Store, as opposed to what you can do with Android to get around the restrictions in place. This is because all Windows devices only allow “signed” apps to be installed, ever since the Windows 10 OS update.

App Functionality – What Will Yours Do?

Every app needs a purpose, a reason for existing, and a reason or justification for why a person would want to have it on their mobile device. Is it entertaining? Is it interesting? Is it more convenient than the other options currently available to people? What does it do, exactly? If you can’t think of a good answer, and you don’t take this in to account while developing an app, then there is a high probability that your app will be lost in the clutter and barely used. It could be a waste of time, money, and energy.

News

You don’t have to be the New York Times or CNN to have your own news app. Of course it won’t be realistic to think that just anyone could compete with the big news organizations, but you can still carve out your own niche and take a smaller slice of the pie.

News apps can gain traction in the already crowded marketplace by providing original content, or by aggregating the content of other news services in to a feed that is targeted at a specific audience. You can get as specific as you like. The more you narrow down the focus of your news feed, the less people who will be interested in it, but on the other hand you will also be competing against fewer other apps and news services.

Games

Games that are designed for phones and tablets are extremely popular, and can also be extremely profitable. If you have kids, and they have a phone or tablet or have used yours, then you will know that the first thing they are interested in is a game. You will also know that even the so-called free games will have them begging you to buy them some kind of “in-game currency” in no time at all.

This currency is usually used to speed up things like building a town, or adding more farm land to grow crops in, to buy more lives, or just to remove the advertising that inevitably comes along with free apps. Whatever the case may be, people spend a lot of money for this convenience. However, game app development companies will want a lot of your “real life” currency as well, being one of the most expensive categories to create apps for.

Utilities

This is a type of app that “does something. That something usually involves performing a useful task for the user, such as a fairly simple calculator or displaying weather information. These apps are used a lot, when compared to other types, but the amount of time spent per use is lower. For example, when using a weather app you will probably just glance at it for a few seconds, maybe a minute at the most, and then you’re done with it until the next time you need it.

Entertainment

If it is not quite a game, but it is fun and entertaining for the user, then it belongs in this category. These apps can be educational as well, such as Duolingo, or just downright silly like Face Juggler. Duolingo is educational because it is a language learning platform, but it is also entertaining because the experience has been “gamified”.

As you may have already assumed, to gamify something means to take something else – something educational for example – and then add in elements that would usually be found in games. This makes the process more engaging, and is a great way to catch the younger audiences who may not be willing to go for a more serious educational app just yet.

Productivity

These are apps that help people be more productive, obviously. This can come in the form of something as simple as a calendar, or a shopping list, but this category also covers a wide range of other useful things such as translation software and management of personal finances.

These apps can carry out fairly complex functions, but it is still important that they appear to be clean, simple, and easy to use. If the user interface looks cluttered, or the descriptions of the functions are poorly worded, it will be a big turn off to users. After all, people want your app to make them more productive and save them some time, not make things worse by offering confusing solutions in a clumsy package.

Lifestyle

This category of apps is highly competitive among other developers, and also in high demand from users. This is where you will find dating, fitness, food, travel, and other similar types of apps. Depending on the type of app in question, they could also fall under a few other categories such as entertainment or utilities, but they deserve a category of their own anyway.

The monetization of lifestyle apps is relatively easy when compared to some other types of apps, because you don’t need to rely on old fashioned banner ads to make your money. For example, you can create partnerships with the goods or services that your app promotes, such as restaurants or fitness products.

Social Media

This is perhaps the most difficult category of apps for a new player to get in to. Of course, you will need some serious cash reserves if you plan on tackling the giants in the industry such as Facebook or Twitter. However, as with the news category of apps, you could set your sights a little lower in the beginning by narrowing your focus to a certain segment of the population. For example, you could create a social network for people who are interested in a particular hobby. Ideally, this would be a hobby that relates to your existing business and provide you with potential customers.

Cost of Developing an App. 

There is no easy answer here, for many reasons. Asking how much it will cost to develop an app is a bit like asking what is the price of tea in China, or how long is a piece of string – it varies. Of course, if you do it yourself then it is basically free, after paying for any software that you need for developing on a particular OS, but that is only true if you do not place a value on your own time and energy.

Average Cost To Make An App

If you absolutely must have a simple answer to the complication question of app development cost, it will be at least $1,000 to get an app developed that has any chance of getting published in any app store, and the price just goes up from there. If you decide to go it alone, using one of the popular mobile app builder websites that you can find online, you will only have to pay a relatively small monthly fee plus whatever your time is worth to you.

The developer you choose will play a big role in how much it costs to get your app developed, and just as much of a role in how good the finished product is. As with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. A developer with less experience, who lives in a country with generally low wages, will obviously work for less money but may not produce an app that is up to your standards or those of the app stores that you wish to get published in.

Games are one of the most expensive types of apps to develop, with prices of up to $100,000 or even more, depending on the complexity. However, even a simple app that only serves up static content to the user can cost you up to $10,000, again depending on the complexity and other factors involved in creating the app.

When you are trying to find out the cost breakdown of your app idea, you will also need to consider things that you will have to pay for in the future, after the app is “finished” and has been published. For example, did your developer give you the source code and graphics that are used in the app, or are you stuck going back to them every time you need small changes made?

Methods of App Development

Using Software

It is possible to do it yourself using app development software, some of which are fairly easy to use, but the end product will be severely limited by how much experience you have with this kind of thing, and how much time you are willing to devote to this project. This is the cheapest way to get an app developed, but if it lacks features and is not useful enough to your potential users then you may have just wasted your time.

There are many different app development tools to choose from, with prices ranging from $1 to $5,000 per month, depending on what your individual needs are. Some of them don’t require any coding knowledge at all, and many of them give you access to a lot of training videos and articles on subjects that should help you along in the process of how to develop an app. However, you need to ask yourself, are you really going to create a competitive app on a service that charges $1 per month, while your competitors are paying thousands of dollars up front to get their app made by professional mobile app development companies?

Freelancers

There are many freelancers offering their services in custom mobile app development. They may work solo, or they may be part of a small team. In either case, hiring a freelancer to develop your app generally brings in more risks than hiring a professional agency. Of course, the cost will be lower, but it will most likely take longer and just won’t be as polished as it would have been if you spent the extra money.

You can find plenty of mobile app developers who are ready to take on your project on freelancing websites such as Upwork and others. Don’t be tempted to simply choose the cheapest one you find though, as this is usually an indication that they do not have as much skill or experience to bring to the table.

Agency

This is where you go when you want one of the best app development companies to handle your important project from start to finish. It is the most expensive option that you can choose from, but it is also the most likely to produce a finished project that will be published in the app stores you want to be in, and also enjoyed by users. Depending on what you want your app to do, you could easily pay over $100,000 to these top app development companies.

As you would expect, with this higher price comes more experienced developers, designers, and product managers. Most agencies will also do more “before and after” work that freelancers won’t touch, and that you would have to do yourself if you used some kind of software to develop an app.

This extra work may include things such as brainstorming ideas with you, analysis of competing apps, and so on. Also, after your app is finished, they may help you to make sure it gets published in the app store of your choice, and provide a plan for future maintenance and / or updates.

It is worth noting that many in the app development agency field will not do anything related to the Windows operating system. This is usually because the market for Windows apps is so small that they don’t want to hire new people and / or learn new skills that would most likely not be profitable in the end.

Before You Hire Anyone

Questions To Ask Yourself

It is important that you have a fairly good idea of what you want to get out of this app, and that you are able to clearly communicate your wishes to the freelancer or agency that you are working with. No matter how much money you throw at them – they are not mind readers.

  • How big is the project? Is it static content only, or are there databases and other moving parts that need to be integrated?
  • How much of the content can you provide? Do you already have the graphics and text that is needed? Should you hire designers and writers yourself, before approaching an app developer? This is even more important if you are thinking about hiring an app development agency based in a non-English speaking country such as India.
  • Which types of devices do you want your app to be available on? Android, iPhone / iPad, Windows?
  • Do you want to pay an hourly rate or a fixed bid? You will need to shop around different mobile app developers based on this answer.
  • Will your developer give you the source code for the app after it is finished? If not, you will be forced to go back to that developer every time an update or change is needed.
  • Do you want an exclusive design? It is possible that your developer will offer you a design based on an existing app template, which is cheaper but may mean that your app ends up looking similar to others in some ways.
  • Will the developer give you any kind of warranty or help with the maintenance in the short-term?
  • Does the developer or agency you are looking at have a real portfolio of verifiable work they have completed in the past? Or, can you find anyone who will recommend them? Are there any positive or negative app development company reviews for this particular service online?

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