February 11, 2019 | Written by: Thejaswini Ramachandra and Girish Dhanakshirur
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IBM Cloud Mobile Foundation’s top-10 features that increase user engagement and app ratings
Users only want to download top-rated apps from the App Store, and app owners love to see their apps among the top-rated few.
- In-app feedback: Allow your users to provide direct feedback. This gives you a chance to act before they provide you with a bad app store rating. Offering end users a quick way to take a screenshot, annotate, and send that across provides a channel to receive direct feedback from end users. Provide a fix in the upcoming release and wow your user. Mobile Foundation Analytics offers precisely this feature—check it out.
- App authenticity: App developers are always paranoid about a hacker building a look-alike app and inserting malicious code or adware and distributing it to users. Developers spend a considerable amount of time to defend against such exploits by blocking access to backend systems. An app built with Mobile Foundation already comes with enough security built-in. All a developer has to do is to toggle the App Authenticity check for that app. It’s that simple. Read more about App Authenticity.
- Offline synching of data: Offline availability is a key aspect for many apps. Caching catalogs for offline browsing is a common use case. Developers always look for automated ways to securely cache structured, unstructured, or binary data on the device securely to support multiple offline use cases. Mobile Foundation JSONStore feature offers a rich set API for developers to synchronize data from a backend data store, such as Cloudant. The SDK APIs allow a user to perform queries against the cached data while the SDK takes care of synchronizing the data from remote data stores. Check out this blog that provides easy-to-do steps for automated synchronization of Cloudant data.
- Feature management: The A/B test is an age-old technique to gauge user’s acceptance of a feature, and Canary release is another technique to control rolling out a feature to a small target audience. For example, an app developer decides to add a chatbot to his/her app and roll it out to only a small segment of users before rolling it out to everyone—this is a Canary release. Or, the developer may decide to use two separate sets of dialog prompts and later decide which one worked the best —this is an A/B Test. Mobile Foundation offers a feature called Live Update which allows you to do both Canary release and extensive A/B Test. Use them extensively to test layouts, personalization, user interviews, etc. Read more about Live Update.
- Enhanced and personalized notifications: Push notifications are a great way to engage your app users, especially if you would like your user to take action. They are also a great way to offer “mobile moments.” Plain old push notifications are a thing of the past. You can send rich content including title, sub-title, launch image, style, etc., as well as a picture notification or a silent notification. You can even make it interactive with interactive notifications. Check out the latest Mobile Foundation iOS and Android SDK documentation and refer to REST APIs for help.
- React Native SDKs: With the introduction of React Native framework, the battle between hybrid and native is put to rest since developers can write code in typescript and the app renders native widget. Mobile Foundation now offers first-class SDKs for React Native developers. Refer to the short tutorial that explains how to get started.
- Tracking installs, metrics, and user journeys: Once developers are done publishing the app to app stores, the very next thing is to start tracking downloads, user journeys, app crashes (if any), etc. Mobile Foundation Analytics offers a comprehensive way to track downloads, app usage, app crashes, and many other exciting features. There’s hardly any coding required since many charts are available out of the box. Please refer to this video for a quick glimpse of features.
- Over-the-air update: Pushing updates to apps is always a tedious and time-consuming process, either during pre-go-live or post-go-live phases. If app users start complaining about a broken feature in the latest updates, developers will have to wait for weeks to get the fix approved and push the changes to app stores. The unwanted result of this is a considerable delay in the release of the fix. Given a choice, the developer would love to push an update over the air during such incidents. Mobile Foundation offers just that with a feature called Direct Update. Developers building apps using Ionic or Cordova can push an update to the app in a secure way. Read more about the details here.
- Distributing apps for testing: Every developer needs a way to distribute Android and iOS apps to a closed group of users, especially during the test phase. Using Watson Content hub with Mobile Foundation, developers can set up an app distribution application so that test users can download apps and offer continuous feedback during testing. Take a look at this short blog on how to set up one.
- Progressive web apps (PWA): PWA’s are web apps offering an app-like experience so that app users don’t have to download an app from the app store. Both Chrome and Safari offer full support for PWA’s, so iOS and Android developers should consider offering a PWA version of their mobile app. If your app is developed using Ionic or Angular frameworks, with Mobile Foundation, it’s a few steps away from making it a PWA. Check out this quick tutorial.
The above is our list of the top-10 features in Mobile Foundation that help developers build 5-star apps, but Mobile Foundation addresses a long list of Non-Functional Requirements (NFRs) too. Stay tuned for more.
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