Flutter vs React Native: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your learning app

How to ensure your app runs across multiple platforms with the least effort?

The global online e-learning space received its biggest trigger in 2020, with the pandemic forcing closures of schools and colleges worldwide. The already buoyant market is forecasted to grow even further to a massive $374 billion by 2026, averaging a compounded growth rate of 14.6%.

If you are building an education or learning app, you probably want to know your development framework options. This article attempts to capture the essence of what stands out for each prospect, especially in developing a learning or educational app.

Flutter vs React Native: Mindshare

When it comes to cross-platform development frameworks, Flutter with 42% and React Native with 38% together controlled about 80% developer mindshare in 2021. This is as per the data drawn from the JetBrains Statista 2021 study with 31.7k developers surveyed worldwide. Essentially this means that you are in good hands between these two frameworks from a development stack perspective.

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Impressive Deployed base

React Native wins hands down when it comes to popular consumer apps with a large volume user base: For example, Pinterest with over 250 million MAUs (monthly active users) and with 82% mobile users, FB Ads with over 5.4 million advertisers and 18 billion ad variations market to over 1 billion users, Instagram with over 500 mil daily active users (DAUs) and with 1 billion searches per day, are all built using React Native.

Examples of popular applications built using Flutter are Google Ads, the world’s most busy e-com marketplace – Xianyu by Alibaba, PostMuse (Instagram photo editor), Groupon (discount coupon and group deals marketplace), and eBay Motors. These apps also have significant scale, seamlessly work across platforms, and provide a superior user experience.

Genesis

Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (software development kit) from stables of Google (2017) that helps develop cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and Web platform. The first version was code-named SKY and ran on Android. By September 2021, Dart SDK and Flutter version 2.5 were released. The update was targeted at improving Android, iOS full-screen mode, and other enhancements.

React Native is an open-source UI software framework created by Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) in 2013 and is used to develop applications for Android, iOS, macOS, Web, and Windows.

How Flutter Works

Flutter components: Flutter consists of the following parts briefly summarized here with their core functions.
Dart Platform Flutter runs in Dart VM with a JIT (Just in Time engine allowing stateful hot reload while the app is running, thus avoiding a restart or loss of state.

Flutter engine: C++ code is a portable runtime software for hosting Flutter applications and implements Flutter core libraries, file, and network I/O, plugin architecture.

Foundation Library: written in Dart, provides basic classes and functions used to construct Flutter apps and design specific widgets of 3 types: stateful, stateless, and inherited widgets. These are widely used for most Flutter applications.

How React Native Works

React Native runs in a background process, interprets Java Script directly on the end-device, and communicates with the native platform via serialized data over an asynchronous or batched bridge.

Syntax of React Native is like CSS, but it does not use HTML or CSS. The messages from JS threads are used to manipulate native views instead. React Native allows developers to write native code in Java, Kotlin for Android, Objective -C for iOS, C++, or C# for Win 10, making it even more flexible.

You may also like: Flutter vs Xamarin: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your project in 2022

Ease of Start

Kickstarting Flutter development is simple. All you need to do is download the file for the OS you need, and you are ready to go with all documentation built into the official site.

React Native is also easy to use. Since the framework uses the UI library developed by Facebook, code creation is further simplified.

Learning Apps throw unique challenges based on specific use cases: a substantial volume of simultaneous users for test prep, online class streaming lessons, or gamified lessons with animations.

Both React Native and Flutter have several examples of holding forth in such challenging environments.

Cross-platform framework capabilities

Flutter: A single code base allows programmers to quickly adapt to a new platform avoiding detailed system study and planning, saving time and energy.

Flutter comes with high-performance widget ergonomics allowing low data exchange between the app and mobile platform. It also comes with the ability to compile into native code for Android and iOS.

A React Native project contains an iOS directory and an Android directory. These directories act as entry points into each platform. They include the code specific to each platform, and this is where the JS code is bridged for each platform.

Code Reuse

Flutter’s components are all in-built, allowing cross-platform development from the get-go. Apps on Flutter are widget-based with customization allowing native-app look and feel. Code reusability in Flutter is about 80%.
With React Native, there are reports of large chunks of code base reuse – in many cases up to 80-85%.

Development Ease

Hot reload is a term used to describe a framework’s ability to insert code changes live on a running app without bringing it down and restarting. It is a powerful feature as it completely avoids restart and saves time in educational/learning environments.

React Native also supports the ‘Hot Reload’ feature allowing users to see code changes without compilation.

Developer Support

Google’s strong global support makes the developer community comfortable taking the plunge into Flutter.
Facebook has an enviable record of some of the largest software talent pools to support you on your development journey. On this front, too, there is not much difference between the two approaches, and either way, you will safely reach your goal.

End-user Experience

The amazing thing about React Native apps is that they render an on-par experience to Native apps. Whether the context is text-heavy or fast transactions with rapid-load requirements, React Native has delivered at scale. This is what you see on Instagram and Pinterest with hundreds of millions of simultaneous users.

However, some users believe that React Native adds unnecessary complexity and is not best suited for CPU-intensive applications, typically leading to performance issues or degraded end-user experience.

Flutter or React Native?

Both Flutter and React Native are powerful platforms running large-scale businesses with widely available global developer support. The key parameters that will determine the choice of the platform are app requirements, use cases, user experience, and budget. Sage wisdom recommends – bringing in the experts.

Work with a suitably talented, experienced partner who can take a consultative position and advise you based on the need.

Build your cross-platform app with Trigent

That partner could be Trigent: a software development partner who can bring in expert opinion on multiple frameworks such as Xamarin, Flutter, Angular UI, JQuery, Appium, Cordova, and React Native and deliver to your exact requirements.

Looking for an expert assessment? Call us for a quick consultation

Five popular databases for mobile apps in 2022 – Choose the right one for your application

Today, mobile apps are the face of any service or business online. One of the biggest challenges for a mobile app developer is to choose the right database to support the app.

The app can require a database for multiple reasons such as, to store the following information

  • user authentication information, 
  • transactions carried out by a user, 
  • listing and updating inventory,
  • offline state when out of network

The database for an app is selected based on the purpose of building the app. This blog aims to aid the app developer in choosing the correct database based on some specific criteria. In doing so, we have listed five popular databases for mobile apps in 2022, with their benefits and limitations to help an app developer make an informed decision.

Choosing the right database for your mobile application

Here are some of the vital pointers to look out for while selecting a mobile database 

Need for using the local store of the device

  • If the app does not have a server requirement
  • If the app needs to function everywhere, even when the network is off
  • If the app is a part of a distributed landscape and needs to store data pertaining to itself
  • If the load is to be shared with the app’s local store and a central database

Cross-platform support

  • If the app has to be built across ios or android or all platforms
  • If the app is hybrid

Data Model

  • A relational database would be the right choice if the schema is well defined and requires consistency, more writes and complex querying.
  • For a continuously evolving app, a NoSQL database makes sense.

Synchronization support

If the application needs to sync with peers or a central database, it is best to go with a database that provides a sync feature such as Realm or Couchbase Lite.

Type of database

One would need to go in for a structured RDBMS or an unstructured NoSQL database based on many factors. These factors are:

Schema evolution – A startup or, broadly, an internet company requires quicker Agile cycles of product changes and, therefore, a flexible data schema. Choosing an RDBMS would mean expensive Alter statements and time-consuming data migration. It would need a full-time DBA, whereas a NoSQL database is built for this kind of flexibility.

Fixed data structure – An RDBMS would make sense over a NoSQL. If the app requires a large volume of data reads instead of writes, a NoSQL could be considered. 

Storing large volumes of data – Again, a NoSQL database comes with sharding facilities out of the box. Large data storage can be achieved manually with RDBMS, but they are classically built for vertical scalability.

Transactions – While a few NoSQL databases ensure consistency, the more extensive set provides availability over real-time consistency. This is where an RDBMS works best. 

Analytics – RDBMS works best for complex analytical queries.

Caching – A good datastore for managing user sessions would be a key value of the NoSQL database.

Social network operations  – A graph-based NoSQL database would work best.

Cost – Legacy RDBMS requires expensive hardware and annual licenses. Cloud-based databases could run up a bill based on the kind of querying or updates required.

SAAS-based app – Ideally, the database would be on the cloud. Banking apps require high security and, therefore, might be on-premise.

App or platform’s technology–  Choice of the database can also be governed by the type of technology used. Mongo is popularly used with NodeJS, Postgresql with Python, and Mysql with Java. It is not a deciding factor but based on the skill pool. 

Have questions on which database would suit your application the best? Talk to us now!

Here are five popular databases available in the market today to choose from for mobile app development –

SQLite

SQLite is a lightweight SQL database engine following the principles of RDBMS. It is built into every mobile device.

Benefits

  1. Lightweight –  As is needed in a mobile device.
  2. Cost – Free and zero configuration.
  3. Performance – Very fast when compared to writing the file system
  4. Reliable – It updates content continuously so that data is not lost due to power failure.
  5. Platform support – It provides cross-platform support like iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

Limitations

  1. Not scalable and not suitable for large data storage.
  2. It does not support concurrent transactions
  3. Lacks built-in data security features
  4. It’s not a full-fledged RDBMS like MYSQL lacking fine-grained access control, support for joins, a GUI for ease of use.

REALM

Realm is an open-source object database for the mobile app by Mongo. It runs on the client device and is available for both native and cross framework apps.

Benefits

  1. Object-oriented data model and therefore easy for developers to understand and work with
  2. Realm is offline first. Data is read and written to the device. If server-side sync is required, then Realm sync can be enabled. This synchronizes data with the Mongo realm using a background thread on the server-side.
  3. Realm enables fast querying with its lazy loading and a zero-copy architecture. All Realm objects are live objects that reflect the most current data and can be subscribed to for changes. 
  4. Realm Triggers automatically execute a function at a scheduled time or when an event occurs, such as a change to a database or a call to an HTTP endpoint. 
  5. Data can be encrypted in-flight and at rest, keeping even the most sensitive data secure. Realm has built-in user management that can be integrated with third-party authentication providers such as Google and Facebook. Rules can be defined for controlling data access.
  6. Realm is open source. It is distributed under the Apache 2.0 license and backed by MongoDB.
  7. It is cross-platform and can be used with Swift, Objective-C, Java, Kotlin, C#, and JavaScript.

Limitations

  1. Realm affects the apk size.
  2. Realm requires a schema to model the data and relationships. Therefore migrating to Realm DB comes at a cost. 
  3. Realm objects can be modified only within a transaction, making it cumbersome and requiring disciplined use of the database. 
  4. Auto-increment of primary keys does not come out of the box. It has to be taken care of programmatically.
  5. Closing Realm connection after use should be followed strictly to prevent memory leaks as the garbage collector does not know how to work with Realm objects.
  6. Realm Sync does not currently support sharded MongoDB Atlas clusters. However, a sharded cluster can be accessed as data sources through functions and MongoDB Data Access.
  7. Syncing to Mongo at the back-end comes at a cost.

Couchbase Lite

Couchbase Lite is another NoSQL-based mobile database for the offline-first experience. 

Benefits

  1. Couchbase mobile supports both native and cross-platform frameworks
  2. Couchbase provides an end to end data management solution referred to as Couchbase Mobile with –
    1. Couchbase Lite as the embedded store for the app, 
    2. Sync gateway synchronizes data over the web using constructs such as REST APIs, batch updates, events.
    3. Couchbase Server, which can serve as the full-fledged central back-end store
  3. Data security is provided across the entire stack, including user authentication, role-based access, and data encryption at rest and in motion.
  4. Data can be stored as JSON documents or blobs. Therefore storing multimedia, IoT, or regular data of applications can be stored easily. 
  5. Since Couchbase Mobile allows JSON documents, it is schemaless, and therefore migration comes at zero cost.
  6. It is lightweight, between 1-5MB

Limitations

  1. Arbitrary querying is not possible. It has to be done only through views which are indexes internally and therefore extremely fast. But views don’t work well with complex queries that might require more than one view to resolve.
  2. CouchDB does not work well with full-text searches.
  3. Doesn’t have an out-of-the-box object mapper. This needs to be coded in by the developer.
  4. Couchbase is shipped with a small instance of Memcache to handle the in-memory cache, which hogs memory for many documents and degrades performance.
  5. Enterprise support is expensive.

Cloud Firestore

Cloud Firestore is a NoSQL database provided by Google as a part of its mobile application development platform, Firebase. While the data storage is online-first, it does support offline data persistence. This feature, when enabled, caches a copy of the data to write/read when the device is offline. It syncs back to the server when the device is back on the network. The benefit of choosing Firestore is that it’s a part of Firebase, which provides a host of services to enable the app developer to use ready-made features such as user authentication to analytics with minimal customization and no servers to manage.

Benefits

  1. Data is stored in the form of documents that can be queried easily
  2. Provides automatic sync of data between devices offline data storage and notifies the app on data changes.
  3. Firestore provides strong authentication and authorization based on user identification and other criteria. It also integrates with Firebase authentication, which supports user/password and third-party authentication integration such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook.
  4. Very high performance.
  5. Backed by Google’s cloud infrastructure, Firestore scales easily.
  6. It provides excellent cross-platform support.

Limitations

  1. It can become expensive.
  2. Complex queries and full text-based search are not handled well in most NoSQL databases.
  3. Offline query performance is slow.
  4. Document size is limited to 1 MB
  5. Writes are expensive and limited to 1 write/second. It works best for read-intensive apps.

Oracle Berkeley DB

Oracle Berkeley DB is an open-source embeddable database allowing developers the choice of SQL, Key/Value, XML/XQuery, or Java Object storage for their data model. It is available in three versions -Berkeley DB, Berkeley DB Java Edition, and Berkeley DB XML

Benefits

  1. Provides a choice of schema between NoSQL and RDBMS
  2. Berkley DB provides a SQL API that is fully compatible with SQLite. This gives the developer an option to migrate to Berkeley or use SQLite under the hood.
  3. Provides cross-platform support
  4. Rich querying, indexing, and transactional support provide a tremendous full-text search for the SQL implementation.

Limitations

  1. Heavier footprint compared to the NoSQL option.
  2. It allows an open-source license as long as the developer’s code is freely redistributable. Otherwise, one has to go for the commercial license.
  3. Support under an open-source license is not great.

Ultimately, selecting an ideal database for your mobile application depends on its requirements and feasibility for the application. 

Build your mobile app with Trigent 

With decades of experience and highly skilled experts, our end-to-end mobile app development services are designed to ideate, build, update, deploy and maintain your mobile applications with ease.

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Flutter vs Xamarin: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your project in 2022

If you are considering a mobile application for your business or service in 2022 chances, are you or your software development partner, considering a cross-platform framework? Naturally, your search would entail several different frameworks and quickly bring you to a crossroads: Flutter vs Xamarin?

A bummer? Not really. Perhaps this brief analysis will help you make that call. 

Background: A quick look at the genesis of these cross-platform frameworks

Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (software development kit) from the stables of Google in 2017. It helps develop cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and Web platform. The first version was code-named SKY and ran on Android. By September 2021, Dart SDK – Flutter apps are written in Dart language, and Flutter version 2.5 was released. The update was targeted at improving Android, iOS Full-Screen mode, and other enhancements.

Xamarin, a Microsoft company produces open-source software that works in tandem with .NET. It is a part of the C# / Visual Studio suite, extending it with tools and libraries for building apps on the various target OS. The promise is that developers can easily reuse their C# code and port their code across platforms.

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Flutter and Xamarin: Architecture and components

Flutter components: Flutter consists of the following components briefly summarized here with their core functions.

Dart platform: Flutter runs in Dart VM with a JIT (Just in Time) engine, allowing stateful hot reload while the app is running, thus avoiding a restart or loss of state.

Flutter engine: The C++ code is a portable runtime software for hosting Flutter applications, and implements Flutter core libraries, files, network I/O, and plugin architecture.

Foundation library: Written in Dart provides basic classes and functions used to construct Flutter Apps and design specific widgets. Three types, stateful, stateless, and inherited widgets are used widely for most Flutter applications.

Xamarin has a Mono environment for use both in iOS and Android. Internally Mono is combined with components to give a smooth response. It runs along with Android Runtime on Android, Objective-C runtime in iOS, Linux kernel in Linux. 

Architecturally, therefore, there may be no significant edge in either of the approaches.

Kickstarting the development effort in cross-platform frameworks

Kickstarting Flutter development is a breeze. Just download the file for the OS you need and you are ready to go with all documentation built into the official site. But it is not so with Xamarin. Xamarin requires multiple steps starting with downloading the correct version of Visual Studio, installing Community, Visual Studio Professional and then reserving hours for documentation help which you will certainly need.

Economics of framework

Microsoft expects fees for commercial deployment from enterprise users that could range from $799 to $5999 per user. The fee can prove to be a clear disincentive to a developer considering a cross-platform app framework while Flutter is entirely free.

Code reuse

C# and its intrinsic .NET heritage enable easy reuse of LINQ and async programming features – a big plus for Xamarin. Together with Xamarin.Forms API, it is said code reuse is closer to 96%; which is impressive compared to Flutter. Xamarin’s Android and iOS tools to build platform-specific features also help code reuse. However, it is important to understand that code written with Xamarin is only reusable within the .NET technology stack.

Flutter’s components are all in-built, allowing cross-platform development from the get-go. Apps on Flutter are widget-based with customization allowing native-app look and feel. Code reusability in Flutter is about 80%.

Cross-platform capabilities

Flutter: A single code base allows programmers to easily adapt to a new platform avoiding detailed system study and planning, saving time and energy.

Flutter comes with high-performance widget ergonomics allowing low data exchange between the app and mobile platform and comes with the ability to compile into native code for Android and iOS.

Development ease

Flutter serves Hot! Hot reload is a term used to describe a framework’s ability to insert code changes live on a running app without bringing it down and restarting. It is a big deal as it completely avoids restart and saves time in rapidly changing business environments such as Q-commerce (quick commerce such as food service app, retail app, and mobility world apps).

Xamarin has an equivalent Hot reload feature, also called Live Reload, allowing users to see code changes without compilation. 

Performance

Flutter architecture obviates the need to use JS bridge to communicate with native components which uses Google’s Skia rendering engine. This boosts its cross-platform performance significantly with minimal dropped frames and low lag.

Apps built on Xamarin have performance that depends on the Xamarin framework used. For example, the performance of Xamarin.Forms, especially while handling graphics, falls short of expectations. Sometimes special components need to be developed for the iOS / Android world, thus losing its appeal for UI-heavy applications. 

Widget ergonomics

Widget library of Flutter is both convenient, beautiful, easy to use, and driven by contemporary design. A large customizable library of widgets with access to navigation, multiple options in interaction models, layouts is available with support for animation. Consistency in the look and feel of the app on different devices coming from a high-widget approach is easy on the eyes.

Flutter’s inherent performance on fast-moving graphics and animation stands head and shoulders above competing cross-development platforms. Its rapid growth within the developer community and la significantly large developer community built within a short span of 4-5 years indicate its popularity.

Developer support

Google’s strong global support makes the developer community comfortable making the plunge into Flutter. 

On that front, Xamarin stands as a formidable competitor to Flutter. As an established top global software product house, Microsoft pulls all stops to provide the necessary support to the developer with its established support processes. Besides, C# and.Net already have a large developer community, making it easier for Microsoft to extend support to new converts to the Xamarin turf. 

Xamarin or Flutter: Choosing the best cross-platform frameworks for your application

Not being tied to IDE is a big plus for Flutter users, whereas, for Xamarin developers, an intimate knowledge of Visual Studio IDE is critical for the smooth work of Xamarin. The concept of Visual Studio IDE is to be understood and implemented. However, it is not considered accessible by many. Apart from this, Microsoft also requires Visual Studio IDE licensing to be procured. 

Flutter comes with the flamboyance, aggression of a young, ready-to-go, open-source, free, and almost no barriers to develop and deploy. Xamarin has a more traditional evolutionary sense of growth but well-established clientele backing it globally. With myriad opportunities exploding on multiple verticals, Microsoft is not going to let this opportunity be lost either. Expect a robust battle between these technology giants on the cross-product platform wars.

Work with a partner you can trust

Working with a development partner with a full-stack skillset covering multi-platforms iOS and Android, and with development skills across the board from Dart, Swift, Java, JS, Kotlin, Objective C, and C# is naturally an advantage. If you have a software development partner such as Trigent, for example, who, in addition to the above, excels in multiple frameworks such as Xamarin, Flutter, Angular UI, JQuery, Appium, Cordova, and React Native, you are in safe territory and in trusted hands. 

When your software partner is multi-skilled, technology crossroads are certainly less daunting. 

Build responsive and engaging cross-platform mobile apps. Contact us now

Challenges in Cross-platform Mobile App Development That I Wish I Knew Before

There’s a buzz around cross-platform mobile app development lately. From start-ups to entrepreneurs, everybody’s looking into the potential of cross-platform frameworks. While many are enticed with the speed of development and simplicity of having to manage a single code base, wider reach is a big draw for companies.

What’s tricky is that the mobile app development landscape is constantly evolving, with new frameworks and updates constantly being added. Ionic apparently is not great for gaming apps, while React Native is just not what you would want for large products or heavy industry applications. Flutter is the youngest, yet very powerful and popular platform. So how do you determine the way forward? While the choices can be overwhelming, you will need a perfect solution for your business yet not too much for your development teams to handle. 

The shift from native to cross-platform development may make good business sense, but you should be ready with hard facts to know it’s worth diving into. You will have to ask the right questions, understand things from a developer’s perspective without losing sight of your business objectives. A developer will be more inclined to choose a framework based on ease of development, programming language prerequisites, and the libraries offered. However, the organization may be keen on having something agile, effective, cost-efficient, and easy to maintain.

Cross-platform solutions for mobile app development

Cross-platform mobile app development continues to offer countless benefits to developers and users alike. User engagement with an app often depends on the ease of use associated with app navigation. Intuitive user experience increases the popularity of an app and, in turn, leads to better conversions. If you are battling with the native versus cross-platform dilemma to deliver fluid user experiences, you are not alone. 

While native and cross-platform strategies are strong contenders, cross-platform are gaining popularity and mobile time with apps that promise consistent user experience across mobile platforms, smoothness, efficiency, and flexibility. What’s more, they are a huge help while integrating phone functions and ensuring shorter time-to-market. A report by Statistica1 suggests Flutter is the most popular cross-platform mobile framework used by 42 percent of software developers, followed by React Native in popularity.

Things are often easier to manage at the start, with few features and user requirements. As the apps scale, new features are added and user needs grow, the development complexities and operational limitations emerge.  A classic case in point is Airbnb, which decided to invest in React Native to enhance agility and experience. In its post on Medium, the company highlighted the challenges they faced and called it immature compared to native iOS and Android. They grappled with JavaScriptCore inconsistencies, maintenance issues, and other challenges they were least prepared for, ultimately deciding to go back to native.

Native apps promise superlative performance since they are created for a particular platform and are fast and responsive. But developers need to code in 2 different languages for Android and iOS. Maintaining feature parity and consistent user experience across the two code bases is the biggest challenge – Invariably, there are situations where some features are available on Android, but not iOS, and vice versa. Version management and feature upgrades are doubled with 2 independent code bases. 

So how would you know if choosing cross-platform would be the right decision for your business?

Cross-platform solutions for mobile app development would be great for you if:

  • You need to target a large user base via multiple platforms.
  • If you wish to build it with a small team of developers using a single codebase. 
  • You want to build an app quickly and ensure that it hits the market fast.
  • You want an app that can be amended easily for changes and updates. 
  • You wish to save money with reusable codes that save development time as well as cost.
  • You want flawless cloud integration for better compatibility and versatility.
  • The app does not require high-performance access to device resources like GPS, camera, accelerometer, etc. unlike gaming and AR/VR apps.

Of course, there will be challenges, but none that cannot be fixed with proper preparation in the planning and design phase. 

Some of the top challenges include:

Coding issues in cross-platform mobile app development

Developers often use JavaScript objects for cross-platform frameworks that cause issues while using reusable codes. Finding and fixing issues in the entire code becomes an arduous task that eventually increases the development time as well as cost.

Also, there is the problem of slow code. It happens when inexperienced developers resort to cross-compliance while developing cross-platform apps. This results in sluggish code and a slower application.

A lengthy integration process

While using cross-platform, the integration process with local settings can take a long time. This further increases the development time. The integration issues with certain operating systems often impede performance due to the lack of compatibility between the native and non-native components of different devices.

User experience (UX) concerns

While cross-platform aids in ensuring feature parity and user experience, access to device-specific resources involves overheads. This slows the app load time and dampens the user experience. App abandonment is a major concern and the inability to deliver the perfect UX can be detrimental. As per Statistica2, 25 percent of the apps downloaded by users worldwide were accessed only once.

 Limited updates

The operating system may not always support all the features of a framework and thus affect the overall experience. For instance, every time there is an iOS update or a new feature gets added, you can use it only after updating the iOS version of your app. But until Google releases the same update or feature, you will not be able to update the Android version.

Security

Every app is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. While frequent updates give native apps the power to rectify loopholes, cross-platform apps struggle on the security front due to limited updates. Organizations that need to deal with colossal amounts of business data on a daily basis, therefore, are less inclined to use cross-platform apps. Cross-platform app development companies are now relying on cutting-edge tools and architecture to address this issue and enhance the security of their apps.

Understanding the unique challenges of iOS and Android

When considering native application development, companies must have the right skills. Both iOS and Android apps are expected to be identical in looks, functionality, aesthetics, and experience but the structural building blocks of both these applications are completely different. Besides, these apps need to be built for different devices and need very experienced developers to build flawless apps. Apps are being used on smartphones, laptops, and tablets which means the challenge is not limited to multiple operating systems but involves varying screen sizes too.

It is important to look into their user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) peculiarities and understand the acceptance criteria laid down by official app marketplaces. Apple is known for having very strict guidelines to ensure a certain look and feel of iOS apps. Apps that fail to adhere to these guidelines are often rejected by the App Store. On the other hand, Google Play Store despite not being so rigid does not offer much relief either. This is mainly because Android users are accustomed to a certain level of experience and performance from their apps and anything that strays from these de facto levels is likely to get low ratings.

Even UI rendering and hardware features for both these platforms differ. Each OS renders UI standards differently and calls for unique coding approaches. Having one codebase to manage all these requirements can be extremely challenging. Hardware features too are realized differently and each feature will work differently on multiple platforms. While a certain feature may be accessible on one platform, it may not be on another. The fact that both Android and iOS are constantly evolving further adds to the challenge of forcing developers to play catch-up all the time.

A robust team of developers that has adequate experience in using modern tools and frameworks can however build the perfect cross-platform app despite all these challenges. You need to determine the essential features you would like to include in your app based on customer needs and then work on other aspects such as timelines and budget.

The cross-platform mobile app development frameworks dilemma 

Among the many cross-platform frameworks available today, React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, and Ionic are some of the most popular ones. Greater device compatibility and faster development make them a dependable choice for building enterprise-grade apps.

The biggest challenge for a developer however is choosing the right cross-platform framework, especially since there are many distinct pros and cons.

Alibaba and Google Ads, for instance, use Flutter for their apps. It supports Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, and its architecture is based on reactive programming. But it comes with limited libraries and extensive application size. React Native, on the other hand, used by Facebook and Skype, comes with native functionalities and platform-specific code. However, its navigation is not as seamless as Flutter.

Companies like Pinterest and Slack rely on Xamarin which complies with native code for better performance and experience. But it has platform-specific limitations that hinder multi-touch functionality and platform-specific gestures. 

Others like Node.JS, Ionic, NativeScript, PhoneGap, and Sencha Touch are distinct and useful. It takes an expert to know what’s best for your unique business objectives.

Cross platform development services – Work with experts

If the whole idea of developing an app is overwhelming for you, you may consider partnering with app development experts. There will be crucial decisions to make both before and during app development. For instance, with windows becoming passé, how equipped is your app to serve Android and iOS users? Cross-platform technologies like Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin are all very popular, which one’s right for you? 

You need a development partner who not only understands app development but also your market to give you a competitive advantage. The experienced ones know exactly how to optimize to save costs. For example, the Facebook mobile app merely extends the same set of features as its web counterpart.

The development partner you choose can do the same for your company by extending your existing software’s logic and components to your mobile app using APIs. This ensures a consistent connected customer experience while keeping the development cost low.

 Build high-performing Omnichannel apps 

Enterprises are aware of the role apps play in augmenting their business revenue. You need a large user base to do so, and that will happen only when you are able to reach a broader audience in cost-effective ways with an app that offers excellent performance and experience. Industry experts believe cross-platform apps ensure a better reach. 

The only way to build a high-performing cross-platform app is to research, analyze, and choose the proper framework. What’s easier is to reach out to experts who know the app landscape like the back of their hands.

Build your app and customer base with Trigent

Trigent has been a tech partner for several organizations in diverse sectors offering unique solutions tailor-made for them. We leverage advanced tools and technologies to keep you on top of your game. 

We can assist you too in building your app to increase customer acquisition while minimizing development costs. 

Call us today for a business consultation

Mobility Is Changing the Transportation and Logistics Industry

The transport and logistics (TLS) companies operate in a decidedly complex market with numerous dynamic variables, including high investment, fluctuating oil prices, multimodal freight policies, large data, and human attributes. Mobility solutions streamline operations while offering substantial operational and cost advantages. Consequently, transport companies are able to extend the value to their customers by offering fast, flexible, and reliable services.

Operational challenges associated with the Logistics Industry

All businesses, regardless of the field of activity, must buy and sell products that have to be moved from one location to another. Also, people are swamped with work and prefer to buy things online instead of going to a supermarket. The need for logistics today is progressively increasing because eCommerce has become a major trend, and freight is considered the lifeblood of a country’s economic development.

However, dealing with logistics processes has always been a complex and arduous task. Companies with large fleet operations often struggle with operational challenges and inefficiencies.

Major challenges that logistics teams encounter:

  • Adherence to regulations
  • Organize and demystify operations
  • Offering categorized, custom-made services
  • Logistic and workforce management

Opportunities to reap the benefits from mobility solutions

By leveraging mobility solutions, TLS companies reap the benefits of operational efficiency, mainly reduced operational costs. Cloud-based mobile apps provide a bird’s eye view of the fleet and boost efficiency in functioning. These apps are delivered across devices and platforms enabling stakeholders, field personnel, and analysts to easily access and use them to monitor at any point in time. A connected fleet on a mobile app enables tracking of operational systems, preventative maintenance, hours of equipment usage, resource utilization, etc.

The GPS tracking systems monitor the movement of vehicles, shipments, and cargo in real-time accounting for any breakdowns, accidents, or delays. Automation replaces many laborious manual processes enabling legacy companies to upgrade to digital methodologies. Standardizing processes and workflows using mobile applications ensures a paperless workflow with digital dashboards that help in making quicker decisions. Automating sales and customer services’ communication cuts downtime/resources on repetitive and predictive tasks and reduces the scope for delays and human errors.

The most important feature of a mobile app is it facilitates gathering and synthesizing data. Firms mine data for better insights into customer preferences, performance enabling critical decision making. According to a report from McKinsey Global Institute, companies that embrace analytics can generate additional 3 to 5 percent return on sales.*

Leveraging Mobility Solutions by Logistics companies (Surge, HDFleet, and ReedTMS)

In the last several years, logistics has been seeing significant growth because of developments in technology, and organizations are tempted to make the most of the new-fangled innovations and continual evolutions. The augmented demand for mobility has created the need to focus on challenges such as investment and capricious gas prices. The logistic business has created a mobile transportation system that can satisfy the imminent requirements of the economy and society. The main goal of mobility solutions in the logistics industry is to improve the efficiency and safety of transportation, coupled with bettered environmental sustainability.

  • Operations – Fleet management solutions enable tracking multiple vehicles with their latest location, generating MIS reports for analyzing productivity.
  • Route planning – Mobility solutions bring the capabilities of planning the best routes – a factor critical in logistics to save time, fuel, and thus optimize costs.
  • Geo-fencing – A Geo-fence configured into an app prompts or triggers a pre-programmed alert when a mobile device enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location. They are particularly useful to monitor the fleet so as to reduce cost and trigger warnings to drivers entering uncharted territory or deviating from their route.
  • Control & Safety – The apps monitor the driving pattern and in turn, provide the safety index of the driver. It’s an excellent tool for performance analysis and to incorporate performance-related incentive systems. It also helps in continuously tracking vehicles with location and real-time photos & videos that in turn help in claiming insurance. The systems can also constantly monitor driver’s conditions and alarm us in case of violation of traffic rules such as usage of phone while driving, rash driving, overspeeding, and stopping at unauthorized locations.
  • Documentation – Freight documentation is completely digitized, cutting down manual labor and errors. In case of accidents, providing documentation is easier for claims and procedures. The digital driver’s license or digital copy of a driver’s license, stored in a smartphone can be used to authenticate documentation.
  • Influences decision-making – Applications gather data about demand and supply, observe business performance, and help in making key decisions for a company.
  • Customer Services – Mobile apps improve the quality of customer service by providing a friendly user interface, end-to-end shipment tracking, manage customer complaints, act as proof of delivery, alerts, and notifications.

The Fitting Solution for Your Enterprise

Trigent’s Mobility Services team is well-equipped to develop applications and tools whether it is for your existing systems or new business needs. We develop solutions that have the ability to seamlessly integrate with the existing systems. We explore the progressive web, native, cross-platform, and hybrid applications and our experts prescribe the most suitable one keeping in mind your current and future requirements. Our secure, reliable, scalable apps enable you to achieve operational efficiency and reduce costs significantly.

Get in touch with our team to take the next step.

Hybrid vs Cross Platform Apps – The Right Strategy for Retail Mobile Apps

Here’s a take at the hybrid vs cross platform apps development dilemma to make an informed decision

In the digital world of today, it’s impossible to run any business without a mobile application. But developing multiple apps for different platforms is challenging and expensive. The pandemic has created a huge surge in mobile adoption as consumers went mobile to learn, work, and shop to cope up with the pandemic.

But even before the pandemic, popular Dutch lingerie designer brand Marlies Dekkers saw more than 75% of their revenue through mobile. Brands like Nike and many others had already started diversifying business practices to avert the retail apocalypse. Walmart had begun consolidating multiple apps into a centralized one to bring in greater choice and diversity to consumers.

Leading eCommerce major Shopify achieved 10 years’ worth of growth in just 90 days. Retailers are having to roll out new features faster in their mobile app experiences while ensuring feature parity across the different platforms. To meet this challenge, popular brands such as Amazon, Apple, Remote POS, and Baskin Robbins have gone the hybrid way.

Why cross platform mobile app development?

A hybrid app is your best bet if you wish to launch your mobile app quickly. According to a recent report, 74% of the top iOS retail apps are hybrid apps. These statistics might defy the conventional wisdom that was once in the favor of native apps for their superlative performance and the seamless user experience. After perfecting the infrastructure built for the web for several years, it didn’t make much sense to rebuild it for mobile. That would duplicate effort and result in a huge loss of time and resources. But then, the game changed altogether with hybrid apps.

While offering total value for your investments, hybrid proved to be a smart choice thanks to low-code development tools. A hybrid app would mean 60-80% savings as compared to a native app with a 234% ROI. But despite being a time and money savior, hybrid does pose a challenge in achieving the ideal UI and UX. These overheads of having to develop separate native apps for iOS and Android are effectively addressed by cross-platform apps that offer an elegant means to code once for both platforms.

Today, there is a growing inclination towards cross-platform apps that ensure feature parity and work equally well for all platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows. Hybrid apps followed by cross-platform apps have ushered in so much functionality that both strategies are adopted as needed. The world clearly cannot stop raving about cross-platform apps. So if you are wondering if a cross-platform app is right for your retail business, here’s what you should know.

Migrating to cross platform

The truth is that you get to experience just the tip of the iceberg when you download an app. The infrastructure behind the app is evident only after you start using it as you browse through product catalogs, access purchase history, view shipping information, etc. The modern cross-platform apps now respond and react as quickly as their native counterparts providing users everything they need. With a full-fledged native-quality mobile experience, retailers are now jumping onto the cross-platform app bandwagon.

Experience matters

A bad mobile experience will drive away customers. A cross-platform app offers the perfect solution to the changing needs of businesses. It is a single-codebase app created using tools like Flutter, Kotlin, Xamarin, React Native, etc. and common examples of this app include Facebook Ads Manager, Airbnb, Reddit, and Zipcar. Cross-platform app development is now gaining a lot of momentum allowing hybrid mobile app development companies to create cross-platform apps that deliver exceedingly well on the performance front too.

Benefits for migrating to cross platform

  • Efficient use of developer resources – Developers need to maintain just a single code base when building these apps thereby saving a huge amount of time typically required by native apps
  • Maintain feature parity across platforms – Brands can ensure common experience and functionality independent of the platform capabilities
  • Faster time to market – Once app development teams learn how to handle the OS differences or platform-specific store publication procedures effectively, the design-to-launch time will drastically reduce. Cross platform apps also enable simpler and quicker updates, a boon considering the speed with which updates keep coming up.
  • Lower development and maintenance cost – They are easy to create and maintain with simple tools that can be used in-house thereby eliminating the need for hiring new talent for the job.
  • Consistent user experience – Due to the cross platform approach with just one codebase running on desktop, web, and mobile, redundancies across channels are removed ensuring better design and UX consistency across platforms.

Cross platform vs hybrid app development

A mobile app is rarely made for just one platform since users would want to use them across devices and platforms. Unlike a native approach that requires separate apps for each mobile platform and sometimes with very specific customization for tablets and smartphones, the cross-platform approach offers adaptive styling to ensure that the look and feel of your retail app automatically adapts to each platform. It enables retailers to reach out to a wider audience while saving cost and ensuring platform consistency.

With immense potential, it serves as the perfect gateway to opportunities for custom mobile app development companies. Accelerating your mobile app development with cross-platform therefore makes a lot of sense.

Build with Trigent

As you re-evaluate your Mobile App strategy to address the scale and speed expected by your consumers, consider the Hybrid & Cross Platform alternatives. We, at Trigent, have powered apps for some of the coolest companies out there. We choose the right architecture, the ideal cloud computing platform, and an appropriate technology stack to ensure that the cost of building and maintaining an app is minimal while the experience is seamless. We also pay a lot of attention to security and compliance testing to ensure you get a secure, high-performing cross-functional app.

Embark on a software development journey with our experts. Contact us today to give your retail business a digital high.

Top 20 iOS 14 features which you cannot ignore

They say patience is a virtue, and the ones who are patient do get rewarded. It stands to be true for many of the iOS aficionados, if not for all. The latest iOS 14 release has unveiled many features that stand out and command attention. Here is a list of the top 20 iOS 14 features that can enhance your mobile experience.

  1. App Clips – The feature allows the user to use micro parts of the app, meaning performing a small task under 10MB without downloading the complete app. An example is purchasing coffee from a coffee shop (Without downloading the entire app) by signing in with Apple/Apple Pay (So, there is no need to create a new account) and get the rewards into the account. The user can download the app if the performance meets the user’s expectations in App Clip.
  2. Picture-in-picture – From this version of iOS 14, all iPhones have picture-in-picture support as part of multitasking. Previously this feature was available only on iPad, not on iPhone.
  3. App Library – Customize the home screen by organizing the folders by categories like Sports, Health & Fitness, Business, Travel, etc., to maintain apps in a single home screen instead of using multiple home screens with swipe gesture navigation.
  4. Widgets Enhancement – A new widget like “Today View” has many more information accommodation facilities and draggable onto the home screen with different sizes as per user’s preferences. A “Smart Stack Widget” is used to organize and swipe through the recent and liked widget.
  5. Siri Interface – Siri interface will appear like a blob at the bottom of the screen instead of occupying the whole screen for Siri functionality and shows the results as rich notifications at the top of the screen.
  6. Message Stack – User can pin nine message chats as favorites, and those pinned conversations will appear in the “Message Stack,” which is relatively easier for fast access to messages.
  7. FaceTime has performance increments, and Memoji has updated with different icons, Augmented Reality and Machine Learning has new efficient tools for better performance.
  8. Keyboard Tweaks – Emoji picker has a search bar to pick out a specific emoji faster.
  9. Camera Improvements
    • Quick Take Video feature is there in all iPhones by the press and holds the shutter button under photo mode to switch into video mode
    • Camera App can change video resolution, frame rate directly instead of using Settings
    • Picture quality and its performance has been enhanced
      Guidance Indicator will show the status of camera shot
  10. Maps Improvements – Maps has new features as well
    • The “Cycling Directions” feature has been added in Maps for the areas such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Beijing. Later on, the feature will expand to other areas in upcoming versions
    • “EV Routes” feature has been added to denote the “Electric Vehicle Charging Stops” for charging “Electric Vehicles” along the traveling route, initially supported car companies are Ford and BMW
    • “License Plate Access” feature will show whether that particular vehicle has the privilege to travel for that specific route or not
  11. Default Email and Browsers Customization – User can set their preferred third-party email and browsers as their default email and browser
  12. Translate App – Apple supports the default “Translate App” in landscape mode by splitting the screen in a 50:50 ratio. Hold on the microphone button listens to input the word/sentence to translate in the left pane. Once the microphone button is released immediately, the translated output will get displayed on the right pane. Users can select languages for translation. Currently, it supports only 11 languages.
  13. Privacy Enhancements – iOS 14 majorly concentrated on “Privacy Policy” for data security as follows
    • Permission added to access approximate location instead of sharing the exact location
    • Permission added to access only specific photo instead of providing access to the entire gallery
    • If the Microphone is running, then the status will be indicated on the status bar with a little amber dot
    • If the Camera is running, then the status will be displayed on the status bar with a little green dot, which is easy to track the Background process of an app for security purposes
    • Mandatory addition of “Privacy Policy” in App Store pages to publish the app to show the data collection on the app from the users, which maintains data security
  14. Apple Arcade – Provides quick access to recently played games, and “Game Center Friends Preferred Games” will be stacked here for gaming.
  15. CarPlay – Provides new EV Routing in Maps, Parking, and Food Ordering apps under categories, new development tools have been introduced to integrate audio, text messages, and VoIP apps.
  16. CarKeys – Initiated better-digitized car keys via iPhones with Tesla Manufacturers.
  17. Safari Enhancements
    • Safari can access Privacy Reports of websites
    • Monitors “Saved Passwords” to prevent security breaches
    • Translate the entire webpage by using Apple default Translate App
  18. UIWebView – Deprecated and suggested to use WKWebView. UIWebView usage in the app will block the app publish from December 2020.
  19. Daylight Saving Time Issue – Under iPhone Settings in iOS14, the Automatic time setting has an improper time and timezone. So, suggested setting the time and timezone manually under Settings. Then either restarts the phone (or) Turn ON and Turn OFF Airplane Mode, saving user time to restart the phone. Now, the DST time and timezone issues are fixed.
  20. A new cell registration technique has been introduced where a new configuration API will encapsulate the cell’s contents and background view properties. It works based on “States” to set and update data into the cell. So, the user doesn’t have to use “Cell Identifiers” to register the cell in UICollectionView.

Are you looking at developing a mobile application loaded with the latest features or exploring the best mobility technology platform to create an app that meets your immediate business needs? Explore how our mobility experts can help you grow your returns and influence through contemporary mobility solutions.

Keychain – An effective way of securing sensitive information on iOS mobile apps

Mobile devices are a significant propellant for modern-day digital technology. Mobile devices are compact and the quickest mode to establish instant communication, eclipsing long distances. The underlying element that enables this exchange between individuals using their mobile devices is data. It is data exchanged between two or more devices that make communication or any other activity possible.

The digital mobile technology baseline is a vast data collection, stored either locally or remotely, sharing numerous information fields for multiple purposes. Flexible Image Transport System or FITS is a digital file format useful for storing, transmission, and processing data that in common parlance refers to information or data related to people such as photos, audio, video, text formats, travel itineraries, or shopping details. Private data can never be seen in a silo. It has to coexist with privacy policies that ensure optimal data security.

Mobile devices are inevitable in modern life, and securing mobile data is a critical concern in a digitally-driven world for quite. While there is increasing awareness among individuals to safeguard their data, cybercriminals are always on the lookout for loopholes. There are umpteen safeguards in place to thwart cybercrime, but the slightest of negligence can be an invitation to trouble such as phishing or data theft.

This post is a DIY for iOS developers to enable Keychain wrapper to secure small chunks of data on applications and secure services.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of setting up a keychain wrapper for your iOS app, here’s what Apple has to say about the keychain wrapper API.

‘The keychain services API helps you solve this problem by giving your app a mechanism to store small bits of user data in an encrypted database called a keychain. When you securely remember the password for them, you free the user to choose a complicated one.

Keychain – An effective way of securing sensitive information on iOS mobile apps

Keychain wrapper can be considered to be one of the most secure technologies to store sensitive data, such as passwords, authentication tokens, or session data. Its security stems from the automatic encryption of data that is enabled before the file is stored in the system without the need of building encryption algorithms.

Following are the details on how to use keychain wrapper in mobile application development.

Install SwiftKeychainWrapper framework either by cocoapods or carthage. Sample code for few of the common usages are as follows

Add data value to keychain:
let saveThe Data: Bool = KeychainWrapper.standard.set(“Some String”, forKey: “myKey”)
Retrieve data value from keychain:
let retrieveTheData: String? = KeychainWrapper.standard.string(forKey: “myKey”)
Removedata value from keychain:
let removeTheData: Bool = KeychainWrapper.standard.removeObject(forKey: “myKey”)

Developers can do the following in Keychain Wrapper:

“Service Name” – used to customize bundle identifier value. By default, app Bundle ID is used to store the data in keychain
Data can be shared between applications using keychain by “Access Group”
By default, all items saved to keychain can only be accessed when the device is unlocked. To change this accessibility, an optional withAccessibility param can be set on all requests to select the accessibility level desired
To access the data in keychain in all the different devices used by the users, we can synchronize the data in iCloud
Unlike “User Defaults” – Data stored in Keychain will not get deleted while app cleared from cache (or) uninstalled from the device

Are you looking at developing an iOS application with robust security features? Trigent’s expert developers with decades of experience in iOS app development can help you with end to end development of secure and robust applications. Here’s a solution that was developed with an emphasis on personal data security.

Twitter propels its mobile business using progressive web apps

Pattern of app usage among users – prevailing scenario

The smartphone user base has experienced an exponential boom in the past few years to reach 2.97 billion users worldwide. A recent study notes that an average US adult spends about 3 hours 10 minutes on his phone every day. 90% of mobile time is spent on applications. The increase in smartphone users and their usage pattern indicates that the mobile screen is the more preferred screen than the computer. The usage pattern is also a clear indicator that businesses vying for their customers’ attention must adopt a mobile strategy.

The world of native applications – challenges galore

Though users spend 90 percent of their mobile time on applications, they are quite picky. Users spend 77% of their time on only three apps. What’s more, 96% of that time is spent on their ten favorite apps. The interest in applications makes the mobile application space highly competitive. The chunk of these applications is native applications primarily categorized into Android or iOS apps. Statista 111 thousand applications are released on the Google Play Store every month, making it the most prominent online store for applications. Following toe is the Apple App Store, which has an approx 1.8 million applications available for download. The numbers are proof of the stiff competition applications face to garner interest among users and survive. Besides the stiff competition, many other reasons can sometimes weigh against building a native application. One of the foremost considerations a business looking to upgrade their mobility capabilities the native way has to address is cost followed by compatibility. Native applications are platform-specific as they are developed for a specific platform, either Android or iOS, and can limit your reach to a particular platform user set. Maintenance and upgrades can again have a significant impact on your spending.

A progressive mobile experience – the solution

Progressive Web Apps – PWA has been a boon for businesses trying to make immense in the mobile age. A PWA is built and lives on the web but has capabilities similar to the native apps. The look and feel or how the app behaves is quite similar to native apps.

Progressive web apps provides easy optimization of your website to enable mobile experience for your users irrespective of the platform. It renders a seamless experience across iOS and Android platforms and does not require uploading on any app stores. This also eliminates the need for users to install updates on their phones. Every time there is a new version of the app, it just needs to be deployed on the webserver and is automatically available to the users when they visit next.

Benefits

World-renowned businesses utilizing PWAs are reaping some impressive benefits that demonstrate that PWAs are an excellent proposition for online entities looking to initiate their journey and association with their users on their mobiles. Businesses are looking at an economical solution to make their foray on the mobile or companies already having a native app but looking to expand their reach using a web-based mobile app.

The following compilation lists out the businesses that have adopted progressive web apps to garner impressive gains.

Renowned publisher – Forbes

Renowned Publisher

Headquartered in New York, Forbes is an American business biweekly. Steve Forbes is the editor-in-chief of the widely recognized magazine. Two of its distinct offerings are the Forbes 400 that lines out the richest people in the world and Forbes 500 that lists out the top performing companies in the world. Forbes launched its mobile PWA couple years ago and has experienced a favorable outing.

  • 0.8 seconds average load time, faster loading
  • 100% increase in user engagement
  • 43% more time spent in user session
  • Increase in scroll depth by 3 times
  • Advertisement views up by 20%
  • Average size of web pages reduced from 2MB to 30KB

Social media biggie – Twitter

Microblogging Site

A popular microblogging platform launched in 2006, Twitter is the second most successful social media platform after Facebook. Twitter introduced Twitter Lite, a PWA variant for smartphone users. An optimized version of the app Lite requires less data and storage space and loads quicker even on slower connections. The app occupies 1 Mb space on the device.

  • 65% increase in pages per session
  • 75% increase in tweets
  • 20% decrease in bounce rate
  • Loads quickly on 2G and 3G networks
  • Enables optimal utilization of data by only downloading content that the users clicks on
  • Significantly smaller size of the PWA app at 600 Kb compared to the size of the 23.5 Mb native app

Global coffee house chain – Starbucks

Global Coffee House Chain

Starbucks, an international coffee house chain and a popular brand, wanted to create a web based application. An app with dynamic functionalities and a native feel. They wanted to integrate a user-friendly ordering that could be seamlessly accessed through a url without having to install the app. Starbucks foresightedness to invest in a progressive app provided it with some healthy benefits.

  • High on performance, intuitive app for its users
  • Ability of the app to function across regions with low or inconsistent internet connectivity

There are many other international businesses that have benefited going the PWA route. You can read about them here. Do you know of a business that has benefited immensely using progressive web applications? Share it with us in the comments section.

The progress of PWA (Progressive Web Applications) mobile apps

The first part of a two blog series on Progressive Web Application introduces the easily adaptable and popular PWA and a very distinct history behind it. It also lines out the future and advantages of the web-based application. The second blog post will line out the adoption of PWAs among some of the recognized businesses and the benefits they have incurred.

The two blog posts will help digital business owners make up their mind on utilizing PWA to either make a foray into the mobile screens of their user base or complement their native app offering to reach out to a wider audience.

The first time the idea of Progressive Web Applications (PWA) was coined way back in 2007. Albeit, it was not christened PWA then. At the launch of the iPhone, the legendary Steve Jobs shared his idea of web apps developed in HTML5 using AJAX architecture that would be fully integrated into the device through the safari browser engine.

In 2015 Frances Berriman and Alex Russell, senior engineers with Google, observed a new class of websites providing a better user experience than traditional web applications. These applications rated high on user experience were independent of the browser tab and lived on their own while maintaining their ubiquity and linkability. Berriman and Russell named this new breed of applications as Progressive Web Applications.

Eric Bidelman, Senior Staff Developers Programs Engineer, introduced PWA at the Google I/O event in 2016.

The potential of PWAs can be gauged in the fact that two of the world’s biggest tech rivals Microsoft and Google, joined hands to make room for the technology.

Since becoming a widely recognized term in technology, PWA’s have made rapid strides towards widespread acceptance. Apple Inc., whose founder had first proposed web-based mobile applications, is actively pursuing it but calling it by a different name. They use the term: “HTML5 Apps” and “Home Screen web apps” instead.

Inside PWAs

A PWA is built and lives on the web but has capabilities similar to the native apps. Be it the look and feel or the way the app behaves it is quite similar to native apps.

A progressive web application leverages the website, adds some extra features that enhance the web properties to drive capabilities on mobile. In technical parlance, that would mean serving your web site over HTTPS and having a service worker and manifest.json file to turn your website into a PWA.

A service worker or a JavaScript enables the website to function in the absence of an internet connection. The service worker acts like a proxy server and acts as a bridge between the browser and the network and helps intercept network requests and serve custom responses.

PWA – How it works

PWA provides easy optimization of your website to enable mobile experience for your users irrespective of the platform. Simply put it renders a seamless experience across iOS and Android platforms and does not require uploading on any app stores. This also eliminates the need for users to install updates on their phones. Every time there is a new version of the app, it just needs to be deployed on the webserver and is automatically available to the users when they visit next.

PWAs are in demand and for legit reasons

Talk of PWAs and the discussion invariably steers towards a comparison between a native application and PWA capabilities. Listed below are a few factors enticing businesses to take a plunge into the mobile-first world with a PWA. It also is a viable option for businesses looking to complement their existing native application to expand their reach across devices and platforms.

  • Truly progressive: PWAs work for every user irrespective of the browser or the platform because the base is built with progressive enhancements.
  • Highly responsive: Progressive web applications are highly responsive and seamlessly adapt to the various screen sizes be it desktops, different mobile devices, and tablets.
  • Closely replicating native apps: The user experience and interface match up to that of native applications.
  • Easily and regularly updated: The process of running updates is convenient thanks to the data update process offered by service workers.
  • Secure: As PWAs run through HTTPS, it ensures safety in content delivery and content interaction.
  • Searchable: Indexed by search engines PWAs show up in Google search results.
  • Installable: Installing PWA applications is an easy affair as it does not require users to download it from the app store or play store, consuming little space.
  • Linkable: A clickable link is all it takes to install or share the application among users.
  • Offline functionality: PWAs work without the internet connection leveraging data cached from the last instance the user interacted with the application

We are confident that with the evolution of PWAs there will be many more benefits that may come to the fore. Are there benefits or interesting facts about PWA that you have come across and would like to share with us? Drop it here in the comments section.

Read the next blog on the adoption of PWAs among some of the recognized businesses and the benefits they have incurred.

Will Dart and Flutter Lead the List of Mobile App Development Frameworks?

Dart, as we know, is an open-source, object-oriented, general-purpose programming language developed by Google in 2011. It uses a `C’ style syntax and optionally trans-compiles it into JavaScript. While it is frequently used from client-side and server-side web development it is also used actively for mobile app development – both native and cross-platform. As per the TIOBE 2019 ranking – the de-facto standard for gauging the popularity of programming languages, Dart is in the 26th position, halfway through the listing of the top 50 preferred languages. Delphi and R, are however in the 15th and 16th position, which essentially means that they continue to remain popular programming options.

Dart’s entry timing might have been wrong, and its position amongst giants, makes it seem a negligible option. This could be the reason for its infamous ranking in Codementor in 2018. Codementor, listed Dart back then as the number one not to be learned the language. This period in its evolution was also not very encouraging if you see the lackluster demand in the job market for programmers with Dart skills. This, in spite of the fact, that Dart offers programmers ease of use and is naturally lightweight. With these two classical features, it should have been a programmer’s best friend, but in the competitive world of languages, Dart’s better features were ignored. That is until recently! Now, what could be the clincher for Dart is Google’s recent Cross-Platform mobile development Framework, Flutter completely supports Dart. This is definitely changing Dart’s fortune for the better. Flutter is popular and Dart is back on track.

Flutter – Understanding the mobile app development frameworks

Towards the end of last year, Google’s new cross-platform mobile app framework Flutter released its first version. Though initially it was intended for mobile app development, now they are making it as a multi platform framework. Let’s take a closer look at what Flutter is doing for app development today.

Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform mobile app development framework. It currently supports iOS and Android development, with potential for other platforms including web and desktop support. Flutter sets itself apart from competition like React Native and Xamarin through consistency across platforms.

A Flutter app made using Material Design will look exactly the same on iOS as it does on Android. Additionally, Flutter is powered by Google’s Dart programming language, which should feel familiar to developers of various backgrounds.

Flutter first entered the programming world as `Sky’ and it ran on the Android operating system. Now Flutter completely supports Dart platform and uses its advanced features. On Android, iOS, Linux and Windows, Flutter apps use just-in-time and ahead-of-time compilations. Special feature of it is `hot reloads’, i.e. make modifications to running apps. This feature sets Flutter apart from the crowd.

Flutter support’s Google’s Skia graphics library, opening the world to its core world of animation and graphics.

Flutter – a game changer for Dart

Forbes.com’s Todd Fabacher, Experienced Chief Executive Officer, with an extensive history of working in the computer software industry for over 25+ years, says that he is constantly asked a fundamental question by companies, “What development language should I choose, and what tech is coming around the next corner?”

His answer is Flutter and Fuchsia. He also says that these two words will dominate all programming discussions in 2019.

Flutter is footloose and free and ideal for young, cash strapped developers. `Download it and start’ is the mantra.

Fuchisa is Google’s take on Android and is an operating system of the future. But then aren’t there enough operating systems? Why bother to create a new one? According to Todd, the answer to this question is three simple letters: IoT. It’s all those hundreds of millions of devices that are starting to be embedded in our everyday lives: Amazon’s Alexa, self-driving cars from Tesla, intelligent temperature control devices and even smart locks for our homes. Fuchsia might make is home in the billions of IoT devices in the next few years, and its secret will be Flutter. Flutter makes the development look easy, and it is built for the future.

The three forces, Dart, Fuchsia and Flutter are gearing up to take on the world of hybrid and cross-platform mobile application development and in a few years, they will be most programmers best friends.

Mobility for workforce and customer engagement

We, at Trigent, have crafted and implemented comprehensive mobility solutions for large enterprises and SMBs. We can extend this capability to design, develop, and provide mobility solutions to empower you with seamless ecosystems that transcend distances, devices, and distribution models. To know more about our mobility offerings, click here.

Kotlin on Android – Is it Good for Developers?

After the Android team’s announcement of first class support for Kotlin in the Google I/O keynote in 17th May 2017, Kotlin came to limelight and Android developers started thinking of using Kotlin as the programming language instead of Java (ADT).

Kotlin is a statically-typed programming language developed by Jet Brains that runs on the Java virtual machine (JVM) and also can be compiled to JavaScript source code or uses the LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine) compiler infrastructure. It is designed to interoperate with Java code and is dependent on Java Class Library, such as the collections framework. Kotlin is a fully supported programming language on Android. Kotlin was written by the same folks who created Android Studio, so its background comes from the mobile industry.

According to jetBrains, following are the reasons to use Kotlin for Android development.

  • Concise – Drastically reduces the amount of boilerplate code. More concise than Java. The code looks clean and easy to understand.
  • Interoperability – Use any existing library on the JVM, as there’s 100% interoperability. Target either the JVM or JavaScript.
  • Safe – Prevents more kinds of errors than Java and avoid entire classes of errors like null pointer exception.
  • Simpler – Way simpler than Scala! For a Java developer, getting started with Kotlin is very easy. The automated Java to Kotlin converter included in the Kotlin plugin helps with the first steps.
  • Performance – Compiles as fast as Java.
  • Small footprints – Kotlin has a very compact runtime library, which can be further reduced through the use of ProGuard. In a real application, the Kotlin runtime adds only a few hundred methods and less than 100K to the size of the .apk file. This means Kotlin adds just a little to .apk file size.

Installation:

The Kotlin plugin is bundled with Android Studio starting from version 3.0. If you use an earlier version, you’ll need to install the Kotlin plugin.

  1. Go to File | Settings | Plugins | Install JetBrains plugin…
  2. Then search for and install Kotlin.
  3. You’ll need to restart the IDE after this completes.
  4. After restarting, Android studio will prompt to configure the Kotlin plugin, select the latest version and click OK.
  5. It will again prompt to sync the gradle, click on sync.

Create a Project or convert existing project:

  1. Create a project normally.
  2. If you have existing code and want to convert in Kotlin then press ctrl+shift+A to find action.
  3. Write convert Java file to Kotlin file and press enter or press the shortcut ctrl+alt+shift+K (this will convert only the current file).

Related: Collaboration, Communication & Connectivity for future-ready organizations, leveraging mobility to create inclusivity, speed and cohesiveness.

4. Or start writing code with Kotlin to call methods written in Java or vice-versa as it is 100% interoperable with Java.

Everything is now ready to build the application and run it on an emulator or device. You can make a release or build an APK of the application and sign it similarly. Kotlin compiler produces byte-code, thus there really is no difference in terms of look and feel of Kotlin applications versus those written in Java.

Nice features of Kotlin:

1. Completely Null safe:

Kotlin completely removes null references by making all datatypes non-nullable (by default) i.e. the compiler won’t let you to use a non-initialized, non-nullable variable. To declare the type as nullable, add a question mark after the type. The compiler will enforce a null-check before accessing the variable. This practice drastically reduces bugs.

You can check if it’s nullable variable in two ways.
(a).The first is a traditional if statement:

if (nullVar != null)
 nullVar.fooboo();

(b).The second is with NULL safe call operator:

nullVar?.fooboo()

For example:

println(nonNullVar.substring(0, 3)) //prints first 3 characters
 println(nullVar?.substring(0, 3)) //prints first 3 characters if the string is not null, prints null otherwise

In some cases programmer may need to test the code if it is null pointer exception or not ,or if he knows the variable is nullable. Then he can use it as the compiler will not check for the null, and if it is null then throws null pointer exception.

println(nullVar!!.substring(0,3)) //prints first 3 characters if the string is not null, crashes with a NullPointerException otherwise.

2. Extension functions:

With an extension function, you can call a function from an object as if it were a part of its class. Kotlin lets you extend a class by adding additional functions to it without manipulating the original definition. Such functions are known as extension functions. The names of these functions should be preceded by the names of the classes they extend.

For example, to add an extension function isTeenager to the Student class, you write the following code outside the class:

fun Student.isTeenager(): Boolean {
 // If age falls in the range
// 13-19 return true
 return age in 13..19 //range
}

In Kotlin, it is compiled to a static function that returns a boolean value. You’d call it as if it were a member function, like

var student = Student()
 student.isTeenager()

as if it is a member function of Student class

3. Data Classes:

We all know that most of our apps are data dependent, we often find ourselves creating model classes to hold data. In Java, this can be very tedious task, generating getter and setter functions for each field. With Kotlin, we can declare the class and all its properties in a single line. The compiler will generate all getter and setter functions, as well as the equality members, toString() and a copy() function.

For example, take this in Java:

public class Student{
 private String name;
 private int age;
 public User(String name, int age) {
 this.name = name;
 this.age = age;
 }
 public void setName(String name) {this.name = name;}
 public String getName() {return this.name;}
 public void setAge(int age) {this.age = age;}
 public int getAge() {return this.age;} 
}

To run the same function in Kotlin, all we need is:

data class Student(var name: String, var age: Int?)

You just have to add data keyword before class keyword and the compiler will take care of generating constructor and getter setters.

4. Singleton: Kotlin doesn’t support static member for class. So, how can we create singleton class in Kotlin?

A thread safe singleton design pattern

In Java if it is like:

public class SomeSingleton {
 private static SomeSingleton instance = null; private SomeSingleton(){
 }
 private synchronized static void createInstance() {
 if (instance == null) {
 instance = new SomeSingleton();
 }
 }
 public static SomeSingleton getInstance() {
 if (instance == null) createInstance();
 return instance;
 }
 }

In Kotlin, it is

object SomeSingleton

The object will be instantiated and its init blocks will be executed lazily upon first access, in a thread-safe way as constructors are private and in case programmer need to initialize something.

With an object declaration, you are getting a safe and efficient singleton class.

object SomeSingleton {
 init {
 println("init called")
 }
 }

5. More features that will save you from some more keystrokes:

(a). Type aliases: Assign an alias to any given type. This is most useful for long types with many generic parameters.

E.g.

typealias MofL = Map<String, List> fun useMap(map: MofL) { }

(b). Clicklistners:

Consider this click listener

In Java:

view.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
 @Override
 public void onClick(View v) {
 // perform click event
 }});

In Kotlin:

view.setOnClickListener { // perform click event }

(c). Semi colons: It is sufficient for Kotlin to sense the end of the statement through a line break. So if you forget to add semicolon at the end of the line, it’s okay!

(d). Constructors: Kotlin’s syntax to create a constructor is very compact. You don’t need to write a constructor separately to initialize member variables but you can add it to the class header only like in the example shown:

class Person(var name: String, var age: Int, var school: String?) {}

If you don’t need to write anything in class then you don’t even need curly braces.

You can add other constructors as well and are known as secondary constructors but you have to delegate it to the primary constructor using this keyword.

constructor(name: String, age: Int, school: String?, email: String) : this(name, age, college) {
 this.email = email
 }

Limitations:

Whenever a new programming language is launched, it takes some time to get into the market. When Kotlin launched, it wasn’t as mature and proper as it is now. Looking at the limitations, as it is new in town, you will not get proper tutorials and learning stuff. Programmers who already worked with Java can pick up Kotlin in a day just by going through the documentation. Kotlin has its own library that will be added on top of Java’s standard library, so file’s build size increases by 100kb and gradle build also takes little more time.

Conclusion:

So you can saw that Kotlin doesn’t have any ground breaking characteristics. While the goal was not to create something revolutionary, but to provide something that is usable and familiar to modern enterprise developers. Kotlin helps us in avoiding some common pitfalls which are common with Java like null references, which increases code efficiency and product quality and it is 100% interoperable with Java.

How to Programmatically Make your Android Phone Look Like an iPhone

In Android Operating System (OS) based on mobile phone or devices, the UI screen that appears first after the user presses the ‘Power on’ button is called the “Android Launcher Screen”. It is possible in Android to construct a custom launcher application, which can be used as a replacement for the default launcher application that comes along with Android phones. Unlike the iPhone, this is one of Android’s best features which lets you design your phone’s interface.

Android Launcher concept

The Launcher falls into one of two categories: ‘design’ or ‘smart’.

Design launchers focus on User Interface. You can change the entire layout of your Android phone’s home screen, application icon shape, icon drag and drop concepts, image gallery etc. You can customize everything it has to offer, including the themes, animations, layout, shortcuts and colors. Some of its interesting features include unlimited scrolling, customize app drawer layout, download-able themes and widget customization.

Smart Launchers learn the most relevant information about you which can be your wake up time, head out on your commute, work at the office, most favorite spot of city etc. You also can add custom gestures to your phone such as double-tapping the screen to open a specific application, web-page or specific setting.

Requirement

You need to have the following installed and configured on your development machine:

  • Android SDK and platform tools
  • Android Studio
  • An emulator or Android device running Android 2.2 or higher

Project Manifest.xml File Modification

In manifest.xml file add two activities. First activity displays the home screen and the second activity needs to display the applications that are installed on user’s device. It is also responsible for launching the installed applications. We don’t need any special configuration for this Activity.

Add the following two categories in Manifest.xml file to the intent-filter group. This intent-filter is associated with the Activity.

 <category android_name="android.intent.category.HOME" />
 <category android_name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />

We also need to set the android:launchMode to “singleTask” to make sure that only one instance of this Activity is held by the system at any time. To show the user’s wallpaper, set the theme to

android:theme=”@android:style/Theme.Wallpaper.NoTitleBar.Fullscreen”

 <activity
 android_name="ah.hathi.simplelauncher.HomeScreenActivity"
 android_label="Simple Launcher Home"
 android_theme="@android:style/Theme.Wallpaper.NoTitleBar.Fullscreen"
 android_launchMode="singleTask"
 android_stateNotNeeded="true">
 <intent-filter>
 <action android_name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
 <category android_name="android.intent.category.HOME" />
 <category android_name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
 </intent-filter>
 </activity>

Add one more activity in Manifest.xml file for displaying the applications that are installed on user’s device.

<activity
 android_name="ah.hathi.simplelauncher.AppsListActivity"
 android_theme="@android:style/Theme.NoTitleBar.Fullscreen" > </activity>

Launcher Main Activity Layouts

Add UI design code in Activity_HomeScreen.xml file. Here layout has a single Button that responds to click events. Clicking the button takes the user from home screen to the list of applications.

<RelativeLayout xmlns_android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
 xmlns_tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
 android_layout_width="match_parent"
 android_layout_height="match_parent"
 tools_context=".HomeActivity" >

<Button
android:id=”@+id/home_screen_apps_button”
android:layout_width=”wrap_content”
android:layout_height=”wrap_content”
android:layout_alignParentRight=”true”
android:layout_alignParentTop=”true”
android:layout_marginRight=”10dp”
android:layout_marginTop=”10dp”
android:text=”Show Apps”
android:onClick=”showApps”
/>
</RelativeLayout>

Next is to create an XML file for the AppListActivity class in the project’s res/layout folder and name it as activity_apps_list.xml. The layout contains a ListView that takes up the entire screen.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
 <LinearLayout xmlns_android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
 android_layout_width="match_parent"
 android_layout_height="match_parent"
 android_orientation="vertical" >

<ListView
android:id=”@+id/apps_list”
android:layout_width=”match_parent”
android:layout_height=”match_parent”
>
</ListView>

</LinearLayout>

Finally, create a third XML file in the same location and name it as list_item.xml. This file defines the layout of an item in the ListView

 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
 <RelativeLayout xmlns_android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
 android_layout_width="match_parent"
 android_layout_height="match_parent"
 android_padding="10dp"
 >

<ImageView
android:id=”@+id/item_app_icon”
android:layout_width=”wrap_content”
android:layout_height=”wrap_content”
android:layout_alignParentLeft=”true”
android:layout_centerVertical=”true”
/>

<TextView
android:id=”@+id/item_app_label”
android:layout_width=”wrap_content”
android:layout_height=”wrap_content”
android:layout_toRightOf=”@+id/item_app_icon”
android:paddingLeft=”10dp”
/>

<TextView
android:id=”@+id/item_app_name”
android:layout_width=”wrap_content”
android:layout_height=”wrap_content”
android:layout_below=”@+id/item_app_label”
android:layout_toRightOf=”@+id/item_app_icon”
android:paddingLeft=”10dp”
/>

</RelativeLayout>


Implementing the HomeScreenActivity Classes

With the layouts of the application created, it is time to create two Activity classes. When creating the two classes, make sure the name of each class matches the one you specified in the project manifest file earlier.

Create a new class named HomeScreenActivity and set android.app.Activity as its superclass.

Add this code in your HomeScreenActivity class or your main Activity class in onCreate method.

selectButton.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
 @Override
 public void onClick(View view) {

Intent i = new Intent(this, AppsListActivity.class);
startActivity(i);

}
});


We create an Intent for the AppsListActivity class and start it.

AppsListActivity Class

Create another Activity class named AppsListActivity and set android.app.Activity as its superclass. In the class’s onCreate method, we invoke setContentView, passing in the activity_apps_list layout we created earlier.

import android.app.Activity;
 import android.content.Intent;
 import android.os.Bundle;
 import android.view.View;

public class AppsListActivity extends Activity {

@Override
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
setContentView(R.layout.activity_apps_list);
}

}

AppDetail.java class file

Create a class named AppDetail that will contain the details of an application, its package name, label, and application icon. The interface is pretty basic as you can see below.

public class AppDetail {
 CharSequence label;
 CharSequence name;
 Drawable icon;
 }

Fetching installed Applications

In the LoadApplication method of the AppListActivity class, we use the queryIntentActivities method of the PackageMangaer class to fetch all the Intents that have a category of Intent.CATEGORY_LAUNCHER. The query returns a list of applications that can be launched by a launcher. We loop through the results of the query and add each item to a list named Apps.

private PackageManager manager;
 private List<AppDetail> apps;

private void loadApplication(){

manager = getPackageManager();
apps = new ArrayList<AppDetail>();

Intent i = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_MAIN, null);
i.addCategory(Intent.CATEGORY_LAUNCHER);

List<ResolveInfo> availableActivities = manager.queryIntentActivities(i, 0);
for(ResolveInfo ri:availableActivities){
AppDetail app = new AppDetail();
app.label = ri.loadLabel(manager);
app.name = ri.activityInfo.packageName;
app.icon = ri.activityInfo.loadIcon(manager);
apps.add(app);
}
}

List of Applications

The Apps variable containing all the details we need, we can show the list of applications using ListView class. We create a simple ArrayAdapter and override its getView method to render the list items. We then associate the ListView with the adapter.

private ListView list;
 private void loadListView(){
 list = (ListView)findViewById(R.id.apps_list);

ArrayAdapter<AppDetail> adapter = new ArrayAdapter<AppDetail>(this,
R.layout.list_item,
apps) {
@Override
public View getView(int position, View convertView, ViewGroup parent) {
if(convertView == null){
convertView = getLayoutInflater().inflate(R.layout.list_item, null);
}

ImageView appIcons = (ImageView)convertView.findViewById(R.id.item_app_icon);
appIcons.setImageDrawable(apps.get(position).icon);

TextView appLabels = (TextView)convertView.findViewById(R.id.item_app_label);
appLabels.setText(apps.get(position).label);

TextView appNames = (TextView)convertView.findViewById(R.id.item_app_name);
appNames.setText(apps.get(position).name);

return convertView;
}
};

list.setAdapter(adapter);
}

ListView OnClickListener Method for List item

When the user clicks an item in the ListView, corresponding application will be launched by our launcher. We use the getLaunchIntentForPackage method of the PackageManager class to create an Intent with which we start the application.

private void addonClickListener(){
 list.setOnItemClickListener(new AdapterView.OnItemClickListener() {
 @Override
 public void onItemClick(AdapterView<?> av, View v, int pos ,long id) {
 Intent i = manager.getLaunchIntentForPackage(apps.get(pos).name.toString());
 AppsListActivity.this.startActivity(i);
 }    
 });<br > }

Putting It All Together

We need to invoke loadApplication, loadListView and AddClickListener in the onCreate method of AppsListActivity class as shown below.

protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
 super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
 setContentView(R.layout.activity_apps_list);

loadApplication();
loadListView();
addClickListener();
}

Conclusion

Build and run your application once more to see the result. You should now be able to see the applications that can be launched when you click a button on the home screen of our launcher. Click on an item to launch the corresponding applications. That’s it! Now, try to mimic the UI look and feel of iPhone in your launcher application as you have got complete control over everything!

Here’s a quick read to help you update Android apps outside of Google Play.

Five of the Most Popular Databases for Mobile Apps

Mobile OS is growing bigger and bigger and recently Android mobile OS surpassed Windows OS as the most used Operating System in the world. As mobile OS is growing larger and hardware as powerful as any normal computing device, data computation from mobiles is also increasing.

The database is the most common way of storing and managing data. For quite some time now,  databases are handled on server-side or cloud and mobile devices only communicate with them through the network. However, to make applications more responsive and less dependent on network connectivity, the trend of offline usage or less dependency on the network is gaining popularity. Nowadays, applications keep DB locally or make a copy of DB over the cloud onto local devices and sync with it once in a day or whenever there is network connectivity. This will help in faster and responsive applications that are functional even when there is no or limited internet connectivity.

Databases for mobiles need to be:

  • Lightweight as storage is limited on mobile devices.
  • No server requirement.
  • In the form of the library with no or minimal dependency (embeddable) so that it can be used when needed
  • Fast and secure.
  • Easy to handle through code, and the option to make it private or shared with other applications.
  • Low memory and power consumption.

There are lots of mobile databases coming into the market but not all of them satisfy all requirements mentioned in this article. Let us discuss a few of the most popular databases for mobile apps and try to highlight their characteristics, pros, and cons.

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SQLite

SQLite is relational DB, a lighter version of SQL designed for mobile. It is an in-process library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine. It is an embedded SQL Database engine without any separate server process, unlike any other SQL database.

SQLite supports all the relational database features and is an open-source compact library which is by default, present in two main Mobile OS i.e. Android and iOS, and supported by blackberry and windows phone.

SQLite can be stored both on disk as well as in-memory and each database file is a single disk file and can be used cross-platform. It is very fast and needs very little memory to operate.

Realm DB

The realm is a relational database management system which is like conventional databases, data can be queried and filtered, interconnected, and persisted but also have objects which are life and fully reactive.

Realm DB is developed by Realm and specially designed to run on mobile devices. Like SQLite, Realm is also serverless and cross-platform. It can be stored both on disk as well as in memory.

Realm has so many advantages over native SQLite, like:

  • Objects in Realm are native Objects, You don’t have to copy objects out of the database, modify them, and save them back—you’re always working with the “live,” real object.
  • Objects always stay in sync.
  • The realm is much faster than SQLite. Realm can query up to 57 records/sec, whereas SQLite can do only up to 20 records/sec.
  • Data can be secured with transparent encryption and decryption.
  • Realm has a reactive architecture, which means it can be directly connected to UI, if data changes it will automatically refresh and appear on the screen.
  • It automatically syncs to Realm Object server (if present) when there is network connectivity present.
  • One application can have multiple Realms, both local and remote
  • Can set different permissions for different users.
  • Available for Android, iOS, JavaScript, etc.

ORMLite

ORMLite is a lighter version of Object Relational Mapping which provides some simple functionality for persisting Java objects to SQL databases. It is ORM wrapper over any mobile SQL related DB.

ORMLite is used to simplify complicated SQL operations by providing a flexible query builder. It also provides powerful abstract Database Access Object (DAO) classes.

ORMLite is helpful in big size applications with complex queries because it handles “compiled” SQL statements for repetitive query tasks. It also has support for configuring tables and fields without annotations and supports native calls to Android SQLite database APIs.

But ORMLite does not fulfill all the requirements like it is bulky as compared to SQLite or Realm, slower than SQLite and Realm but faster than most of the other ORMs present in the market.

All in all, ORMLite is a good SQLite replacement if the application is big and complex in terms of DB usage.

Berkeley DB

Berkeley DB is an open-source high performance embedded DB that allows us to handle data in different ways. It was developed by Sleepycat Software but acquired by Oracle in 2006. It provides API for so many languages including Android and iOS.

Berkeley DB can handle data in many ways. It can be in a relational way like SQLite (by replacing SQLite with its own library), or it can be in Key/Value pair data as byte arrays and supports multiple data items for a single key. It also supports java objects as data or it can also be XML documents. Different libraries provide different types of API to handle multiple formats but all packaged Berkeley DB.

Berkeley can work as relational DB as well as NoSQL DB (Depends on which library you are using).

The good thing about Berkeley DB is that the API provided by it are compatible with SQLite. So one can use Berkeley DB without rewriting the whole code again. The combination of Berkeley and SQLite is considered faster and perform better in concurrent and single writing multiple reading operations.

Berkeley is relatively faster than SQLite but because of so many different features, it is bulkier than any other discussed DBs. So if the size of the application is a criterion try to use some other DB, unless you want a feature exclusively provided by Berkeley DB.

Couchbase Lite

Couchbase Lite is a powerful NoSQL embedded JSON database. It is a highly scalable DB with enterprise-level security.

Data in Couchbase Lite is stored as JSON documents. Each document can have one or more attachments which are stored and loaded separately from documents.

Couchbase Mobile is the solution provided by Couchbase Lite for mobile applications. It is comprised of three different components: Couchbase Lite, an embedded NoSQL database, Sync Gateway. Couchbase is an offline-first DB and sync with Cloud is needed or when the network is available.  Couchbase Lite runs locally on the device and persists data as JSON and binary format. All crud operations performed on local DB. The developer does not need to write sync code (if needed) to sync local DB with the cloud, it is handled by Sync Gateway. Couchbase Lite comes with a conflict resolution mechanism that is quite similar to the one used by Git.

Another advantage of Couchbase Lite is that it provided native APIs for Android and iOS and plugins for Xamarin and PhoneGap.

So if there is a requirement of any NoSQL DB in mobile OS, Couchbase lite is the best bet as it is very fast, reliable, and moderate in size.

In the end, it totally depends on the requirements and feasibility for the application to choose which DB will fit in. But every mobile DB should fill most of the above-mentioned requirements if not all.

Our end to end mobile app development services can help ideate, build deploy, update, and maintain your mobile applications without a worry.

Different Types of Mobile Applications – Native, Hybrid and Web Apps

Every day we use so many Apps (Applications) on our mobile devices for various purposes. Generally we classify these apps into three different categories like Native, Hybrid and Web. Reading this blog content will help you to understand and differentiate these apps.

These days we see the mobile devices mainly running on Android,  iOS or Windows 10. These are known as operating systems or platforms. Native apps are developed to target one specific platform like Android, iOS or Windows. Hybrid apps are developed to target multiple platforms whereas web apps are mobile-optimized web pages that look like an app.

Native apps are built for a specific operating system. A native app developed for iOS operating system won’t work on Android devices and vice-versa. If an app is developed for iOS, it will remain exclusive to that operating system. If at all the app has to support Android version, new app has to be built again for Android operating system. Softwares’ used to develop native apps generally would be Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java and ADT for Android operating system and .NET(C#) for Windows operating system.

Mobile web apps are the web applications to render/deliver pages on web browsers running in mobile devices. Since these apps target browsers, they work on different mobile operating systems. You can view a mobile web app on Android, iOS or Windows tablets and phone devices. They also work on PC web browsers. Softwares’ used to develop these applications are generally HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery

Hybrid apps are a mixture of both native and mobile web apps. This type of application has cross-platform compatibility but can still access phone’s hardware. Softwares used to develop these apps are generally HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, Mobile Javascript frameworks, Cordova/PhoneGap etc.

Native Apps

Hybrid Apps

Web Apps

Skills required Objective-C, Swift, iOS SDK, Java, ADT, .NET(C#) HTML, CSS, Javascript, Cordova/PhoneGap, Cross platform Mobile Development Frameworks HTML, CSS, Javascript, JS frameworks
Distribute Apple iTunes, Google Play store, Windows App store, Amazon App Store Web
Development effort More Medium Less
Performance Good Average Good in PC’s and Average in mobile browser
Good for Games or consumer-focused apps where performance, graphics and overall user experience are more important Apps that do not have high performance requirements, but need full device access Apps that do not have high performance requirements, and do not need push notifications or access to device hardware/functionality

Thanks for reading blog.

Exit mobile version