Your customer base is migrating from desktop to mobile-first environments quickly and surely.
The cost of bandwidth is declining globally and more affordable mobile devices are hitting the market, both resulting in the increase of mobile internet usage.
Users spend as much as 87% of their smartphone time in apps, so whether you want to increase brand awareness, sales or ad-based revenue, developing one of your own is one of the most effective ways to accomplish your goal(s).
In this post, we look at Android app development and some of the best practices business leaders should be aware of before embarking on a project.
Given the ubiquity of Apple’s products, this is a legitimate question.
According to StatCounter, iOS - the operating system (OS) that powers Apple’s smartphones, tablets and wearables - claims over 55% of the US market.
But if you extend your gaze ever so slightly outside the US borders, the distribution of OS power tilts decidedly on the side of iOS’ main competitor - Android.
In fact, Android commands over 76% of the global OS market.
As of May 2019, over 2.5 billion devices run on Android.
We’ll let that sink in.
The latest stats also show that approximately 2.7 million Android apps reside in Google Play Store.
And while the idea of having to compete for attention in such a highly populated environment may be daunting, the benefits you could reap from developing an Android app largely outweigh the effort - if you are ready to put in the work, that is.
Android App User Demographics
Android, unlike iOS, is used by multiple device manufacturers. This is the main reason why it controls so much of the global market.
Moreover, Android-powered devices range in pricing and capabilities which makes them more accessible to a highly diverse user base.
As such, Android users are much more difficult to profile. General statistics and OS comparisons are typically too simplistic because they aggregate all Android user behavior data and produce averages which may not necessarily reflect the behavior of your target market.
So if you are comparing Android user behavior with that of iOS, be sure to recognize that
Android powers both low and high-end devices: High-end device owners make up 19% of Android user base, so the behavior of these users, including in-app purchases, average spend, engagement and retention, will not be reflected by the average Android user data.
Your business goals should inform your choice of OS: Typically, organizations that are mainly after increasing brand awareness choose Android because of its reach; Those that want to increase revenue via in-app purchases in the US market choose iOS; And many, if not most, choose both.
Here are some key facts about Android’s user base:
Android’s #1 market is China
Android dominates all markets except for North America, some of northern Europe, the Middle East, Japan and Australia
More than 19% of Android-powered smartphones are high-end, the leaders in this space being Samsung and Google Pixel
The most popular Android smartphone brands are Samsung (#1), Oppo (#2) and Huawei
How Much Does Android App Development Cost?
The cost of Android apps depends on several factors:
Where you choose to develop: If you choose to onshore your app development or to offshore it to a high-end development hub, expectedly, you will pay a premium. Offshoring can also grant you access to more cost effective app development companies, but these will require more research on your end as the output quality can vary.
How you choose to design: User experience (UX) and interface (UI) designs are extremely important for your app’s adoption and retention rates. The simplest wireframes and designs can sometimes be handled even in-house which can diminish the total app development cost.
App complexity: This is the biggest factor that determines the development cost.
The simplest Android apps with very few wireframes, no integrations, no backend and basic functionality like email subscription can range from $1,500 - $5,000.
Slightly more advanced, database Android apps with refined UX and UI, backend system, API integration and other functionalities like payment processing, can cost between $10,000 and $50,000.
Complex Android apps, such as games and other sophisticated systems with robust backends, integrations and high-end UX and UI, can be around $50,000 and go as high as $250,000.
Do note, however, that these estimates do not include app content, marketing budget or maintenance.
Android Application Development Companies: How To Find The Right One For Your Business
Most app development companies specialize in both Android and iOS, so OS-specialization will not be a relevant criterion in your search.
Besides looking at the ranking platforms like ours, what will help you narrow your options down are the following questions:
Onshoring Vs. Offshoring
What is your budget? If you are working with a limited budget, but require a relatively sophisticated Android app, your best bet would be to look for an offshore partner.
How important is your app development partner’s on-site and real-time accessibility? If you need your partner to visit you on-site frequently, of course, your best option is to partner with a local Android app development company. If their physical presence is not necessary, but you need them to be available for impromptu conference calls and/or to overlap with your in-house team, then look for development hubs closer to your time zone such as Central and South America, and Eastern Europe.
Which countries would you offshore to and why? You will find companies anywhere in the world. The question is: What do you need from your development partner? Research the major offshoring destinations to learn what you can expect in terms of English language proficiency, education quality, talent pool, average app development cost and other details relevant to your organization.
What does their past portfolio say about their capabilities? Put their work to the test. If possible, download the Android apps they’ve developed and assess their usability, design, functionality and attention to detail.
Have they had previous exposure to your industry? Industry exposure can help your Android app development partner understand your product and users better. Otherwise, they would have to invest additional time in research to develop important insight that would guide their app design process.
Have they developed Android apps similar to yours? If you are building an eCommerce app for your menswear brand, it would reassuring to see an eCommerce fashion app in your prospective development partner’s portfolio - right? This could give you a better idea of what you can expect, as well as reduce the development time that would otherwise go into knowledge building.
How would their past clients rate them? Look beyond marketing. Check out their client reviews and, once you’ve narrowed your options down to a few candidates, get in touch with their references to get more perspective on your potential partner.
7 Android App Development Best Practices [Business Leaders’ Guide]
Developing an app is a hefty investment and quite an undertaking, so it’s needless to say that you must go in prepared.
This guide should help get you started.
It should give you an idea of what goes into the development process (on a high-level, of course) so that you can converse with your app development partner easily, set realistic expectations and start developing an effective project plan.
1. You Have The Idea. Now Back It Up With A Solid Business Plan
A business-savvy leader than you are, you may find this point obvious.
But what if we told you that only 0.01% of consumer apps are considered a financial success?
Developing a detailed, research-based business plan and strategy is imperative for the success of your Android app.
Be sure to address the following:
Why Android? Run an in-depth analysis of your target market and map out their typical online journey focusing on the OS’ they use, marking all the touchpoints and analyzing their in-app behavior. To give you an idea of how this data can shape your strategy, here is a (super) high-level example: If your goal is to increase sales of high-end goods in the US, then you may want to reconsider your Android app development project; The iOS user base in the US is not only larger, but also has a bigger purchasing power and is more inclined to in-app purchases. However, if your goal is to increase sales of low to mid-range goods globally, or even better, to generate ad revenue, then Android should be your first choice because of its immense reach.
Competition analysis: What better lesson on Android app development than spying on the feats and mistakes your competitors have made?! Run an in-depth analysis of your competitors’ Android app performance, trying to recreate their business plan and marketing strategy. Focus on their launch date, downloads, updates, ratings and reviews, usability, UX and UI, marketing and retention strategies. Identify their shortcomings and find creative solutions for your own app.
Define goals: Define clear, realistic and measurable goals you hope to achieve with your Android app.
Define metrics: Define the key metrics that will act as a barometer of your app’s success. Go beyond the number of downloads, and define other relevant metrics like the number of active users, stickiness ratio, retention, user demographics, etc.
2. Let Experts Manage Your Expectations
Technology is powerful, but it is still not limitless, especially when budgets come into play.
Having said that, leave your business plan open-ended.
Together with your development partner, you will create a product roadmap that will break down all the stages of your app development process, help you visualize the end result and the evolution of your app post-launch.
The input you will get from your Android app developer or a qualified consultant should guide your strategy to a technically feasible solution that will lead you to your business goals.
3. Master The Basic Android App Development Concepts: Programming Languages, Open Source Platforms, IDE, Development Methodology
Software professionals sometimes have a hard time switching from tech jargon to the plain ole English.
The following two points (#3 and #4) will catch you up to speed on some of the lingo used in Android app development.
Here (#3) we look at four of the most basic concepts in app development for Android devices:
Programming languages: Java is the official programming language for Android. Other languages are C/C++, C# (read: C sharp), Kotlin and more. Android Authority has a handy overview of these, so check it out to learn a bit about each and their uses.
Open source platform: Open source platforms, as the name suggests, are publicly accessible platforms with source codes that can be modified by anyone. Android, i.e. Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is an open source platform itself, but it also supports other open source platforms such as Firefox and VLC.
Integrated Development Environment (IDE): IDE is an environment, i.e. a software suite that provides Android app developers with basic tools for code writing, testing and debugging.
Development methodology: This refers to the way your development process will be planned, structured and executed. It also defines the way you and your Android app developer will interact during the process. The most popular methodology, by a mile, is Agile - a type of iterative development that focuses on flexibility, evolving requirements and collaboration. Other popular app development methods are Rapid App Development (RAD) and Waterfall.
4. Know The Basics Of The Android App Development Process: Information Architecture, Wireframing, Prototyping, UX & UI Designing, Development, Testing And Deployment
The following are the parts of a typical app development process:
Information architecture: This is the part where you and your Android app developer decide on the type of data your app will collect, and the functionalities and features the app should have.
Wireframing: If information architecture is sort of a checklist, a wireframe is the blueprint of your app. It distributes the functionality and features you listed, deciding where those would reside and, thus, molding the basic structure of your app.
UX design: Wireframing is a part of UX. UX designers will map out, test and improve the user experience on your app throughout the development process
Prototyping: Once the basic concept is defined, the development team will quickly build a very rough app prototype, allowing the UX designers to test and optimize its usability.
UI design: UI is what your users will interact with as they are using your app; It is your app’s face and voice. UI design includes (but is not limited to) touchscreens, sounds, lights, and on an even higher level, buttons, icons, menus, and more.
Front-end development: Front-end refers to the design and development of the “front-facing” elements, including UI & UX. In essence, front-end developers are in charge of the way your users see, hear, feel and experience your app.
Back-end development: Coding, editing and testing the content management system is part of back-end development. It is called “back-end” because it defines the way your app functions below the surface level.
Testing: Your developers will test the app throughout the development process to ensure the code works smoothly and bug-free.
Deployment: When the app is built, tested and ready to go, it is time to deploy it for launch. Your Android app development team will submit it to Google Play Store, i.e. Play Console, for review and system approval. Once approved, your app will be live and ready for use.
5. Know How Google Play Console Works
Besides giving you the option to deploy your Android app to the Play Store, Google Play Console also gives you:
Stats, i.e. app performance insights where you can track how your app is delivering against your pre-defined goals and metrics
Android vitals which tells you how “healthy” your apps is and indicates if there are any problems or bugs
Release management which helps you deploy updates to users
Store listing where you craft the presentation of your app in Google Play Store including descriptions, icons, screenshots, video, etc.
6. Have A Go-to Market Strategy In Place
Your app in now live and available for download on Google Play Store, but very few, if any, users are going to just stumble upon it.
You need a comprehensive marketing strategy that will introduce your app to your target markets, incentivize them to download and keep them engaged continuously.
7. Have A Post-launch Plan
Development and launch are not, or certainly should not, be the end of your Android app development process.
Thanks to your carefully devised and executed marketing strategy, your app will hopefully gain traction fairly quickly.
You will see a lot of important user behavior data poor in; What they like and dislike, where they have issues understanding the functionalities, which functionalities are underused and why, etc.
This insight is invaluable for your app’s evolution.
Therefore, be sure to discuss a continuous development and maintenance plan with your app development partner.
Try to determine how you want your app to evolve and scale, and how you are going to execute those updates over time.
Takeaways On Android App Development & Extra Resources
Android app development is a costly venture that requires continuous commitment.
Its success depends on the thorough research, business validity assessment, preparation, flexibility, marketing and engagement.
Go into this venture prepared, but also ready to modify your plans and expectations with the expert input; This process is complex and it has its limitations, as well as surprisingly powerful features you may not even be aware of.