Tag Archives: App Development

Data Encryption

How to Safely Encrypt Sensitive Data in Your Mobile App

In November 2014, cybercriminals perpetrated one of the biggest cybercrimes of the decade. They hacked into Sony’s computer systems, stole sensitive data, paralyzed the company’s operations, and gradually leaked embarrassing information to the media. The hackers threatened to continue until Sony agreed to pull the controversial comedy The Interview from its theatrical release.

As the headlines will tell you, the encryption of sensitive data is one of the most important investments a company can make. Facebook is currently under heat for data protection practices. The UK National Crime Agency called WannaCry a signal moment for awareness of cyberattacks and their real world impact. With the stakes higher than ever, the encryption of sensitive data in apps has never been more important.

Here are our top tips on how to safely encrypt sensitive data in your mobile app.

TIP #1: Coding and Testing

Writing secure code is fundemental to creating a secure app. Obfuscating and minifying code so that it cannot be reverse engineered is critical to keeping a secure environment. Testing and fixing bugs when they are exposed should be an ongoing investment of resources as it will pay off in the long run.

Tip #2: Scramble Data

Sometimes, the best method of encrypting data is scrambling. Software and web developers often become obsessed with storing every bit of data in databases and logs, assuming it may be useful later, but doing so can create a target for cybercriminals.

Cunning developers will only store a scrambled version of the data, making it unreadable to the outside eye, but still useful for those who know how to query it correctly.

For an in-depth dive into scrambling data, check out this awesome essay on how Amazon does it.

Tip #3: In Transit Vs. At Rest Encryption

There are two types of data to be encrypted: in transit data and at rest data. In transit data is moving data, be it in transit via email, in apps, or through browsers and other web connections. At rest data is stored in databases, the cloud, computer hard drives, or mobile devices. In transit data can be protected through the implementation of robust network security controls and firewalls. At rest data can be protected through systematically categorizing and classifying data with data protection measures in mind.

Tip #4: Secret Vs. Public Key Algorithms

Secret Key Algorithms are algorithms that use the same key for encryption and decryption. Public-key algorithms us two different encryption keys, one for encryption and the other for decryption. The public key is how the data is sent and the private key decodes it. Public-key algorithms are more secure, but require more computer processing power.

Tip #5: Blockchain Cryptography

We’ve covered the Blockchain in our past article on The Revolutionary Mechanics of the Blockchain. Blockchain cryptography has been on the rise because blockchain databases are distributed and thus more resilient in the face of a DOS attack.

Tip #6: Apps that Clean Up after Themselves 

Apps that collect sensitive information don’t necessarily need to store it. It is wise to delete sensitive data from mobile apps when the data is no longer in active use.

Tip #7 Choose the Right Algorithm

There are several popular pre-existing algorithms in existence that can be used to encrypt sensitive data in mobile apps. Check out UpWork’s awesome rundown:

  1. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  2. RSA
  3. IDEA
  4. Signal
  5. Blowfish and Two Fish
  6. Ring Learning With Errors or Ring-LWE

Over the last 10 years, enterprise-wide use of encryption has jumped by 22 percent according to the Ponemon Institute. When building a mobile app, investing in encrypting sensitive data will pay off in the long run and haunt those that short-change it.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Break the Bank with Achievers

Last week, the Mystic Media Blog covered Richard Bartle’s taxonomy of player types. Over the next four articles, the blog will be conducting an in-depth exploration of each of Bartle’s four player types and how to attract, reward and ultimately monetize them.

The Achiever is the most basic player type. They seek to conquer the obstacles set up by the game. They look to act upon the world within its limitations. Achievers are generally the most important Bartle Type to maintain in your core userbase since they seek to play the game by the rules, as it was intended. Nicknamed “Diamonds” by Bartle, Achievers are interested in rewards, recognition and glory. They won’t settle for beating the game and will attempt to attain high scores in the leaderboard. If there is more than one difficulty, then they must learn to master it. In short, they look to attain any and every badge of honor they can.

The Achiever plays by the rules with the aim of progress. In order to entice them on a most basic level, they need to be engaged by gameplay from the outset. Games which are too difficult will discourage them from playing on, while games which are too easy will not be worth the time.

As they navigate through the game, giving Achievers finite goals and recognition for achieving these milestones will keep them engaged. They don’t just want to achieve, they want to be acknowledged for their achievements. A solid reward system with a steady stream of achievement-based unlockables and trophies will retain Achievers. As a game designer, using sound and visuals to create a positive emotional reaction upon in-game achievements should be among your top UI concerns.

One of the major visual opportunities to get users invested in your game is the Game Board. Check out a portion (57:20-59:09) of this awesome lecture by Nicolas Lovell where he breaks down how the Candy Crush board appeals to all different levels of player:

Game designers can monetize Achievers in a number of ways. Offering new game modes or difficulties through in-app purchases offers a tempting proposal to the Achiever, who will likely go ahead, buy and conquer if they are into the game. Having a difficult game with high level unlockables also available for in-app purchase can entice some Achievers to taking a shortcut. Offering an ad-less option is another enticing low-price option for the impatient achiever.

Achievers want their victories to become a part of their identity. They want to be known as winners and are looking to the game for fulfillment, so an alternate avatar for players who conquer the game is enough to retain them. Offering customizable avatars for in-app purchase is a simple way of appealing to all gamers’ desire to make their character their own. Candy Crush monetizes Achievers by limiting the amount of time they can play per day without paying, enticing many daily players to extend their time for a cheap price.

MMORPGs and warfare games capitalize on Achievers with special weapons and characters available for in-app purchases. Games with a social component make it easier to capitalize on Achievers since they are a sucker for status. The social component adds a major competitive edge which will cause some Achievers to jump at the opportunity to gain an advantage.

The difficulty in monetizing Achievers lies in offering a fair game experience with in-app purchases. Purchasing a competitive edge can dilute the amount of new users in a game. Achievers want their achievements to be sacred, so while offering purchasables is important, it shouldn’t make the game a landslide for those who invest. Some glories should be unlockable purely through game progression, rather than for purchase. Another way of regulating is to set a limit on in-app purchases. If you only have $5 to work with, it creates an element of strategy for Achievers which makes both the game and the purchase appealing.

Finding a balance between enriching gameplay with in-app purchases and maintaining a fair and engaging game on a free level is the difficulty of the Freemium model.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Explorers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Money in the Mind: How Bartle Types Can Help You Effectively Monetize Your Mobile Game

As a mobile game developer, understanding demographics is equally as important as understanding gamer psychology. Due to the emergence of the Freemium model, profits depend less on acquiring downloads, but on retaining your user base. The key to retention is to understand not only who your game appeals to, but what they are looking for in their gaming experience and how to creatively capitalize on their desires with an effective monetization strategy.

Richard Bartle is a video game writer, professor, and researcher best known for creating MUD1, Multi-User Dungeon, the first and oldest virtual world in existence. One of the major pioneers of the MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) industry, Bartle penned a paper called “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs” which has become one of the fundamental reference texts for analyzing player psychology.

Bartle classified behavior into an axis which evaluated their tendency to act vs. interact, with players vs. the world.

Character Theory Chart (Via Wikipedia)

The Bartle Types break down into four categories:

Achievers

Achievers seek to achieve a high status within the game. They favor acting upon the world. They put the most value in points-gathering and make it their mission to rise in levels. They will work diligently to overcome obstacles presented by the game and generally take on the challenges laid before them. Achievers can also seek social fulfillment, deriving pleasure from public knowledge of their achievements (online leaderboards, statistics, unlockables etc.). They are drawn to RPGs, arcade games, anything where they can attain a high score or achieve goals.

Socializers

Socializers make the most of the game’s communicative facilities. They favor interacting with other players. They seek a social experience. Socializers are drawn to multi-player and online gaming. Their social tendencies may also cause them to engage with the games’ storylines, especially in open world games such as the Legend of Zelda and Grand Theft Auto.

Killers

Killers seek to utilize the tools offered by the game to cause distress and assert their dominance over other players and elements of the game. They favor acting on players and thrive on imposing themselves on others. They may seek to gather points and rise in levels, but only to better assert their dominance over others. Killers care less about storylines than they do about action and are drawn to shooters, sports games, and online RPGs with combat.

Explorers

Explorers seek to learn as much as they can about the world before them. They favor interacting with the world. They enjoy exploring both worlds and the mechanisms of the game. They are interested in testing all of the characters, wearing different gear, playing different game modes and levels, etc. The more complex, the more a game will appeal to explorers.

In his book Designing New Worlds, Bartle has gone on to add a third axis of implicit/explicit, leading to a total of 8 player types. While players generally skew toward one player type, any given user has a variety of desires and appealing to each Bartle archetype will ensure the game will provide an emotionally fulfilling experience to a wide audience.

While Bartle Types are vital in effective game development, the template can be used or abused if not taken with a dose of creativity and common sense. Learn from the master in this lecture on how to properly and improperly utilize the Bartle Type Theory:

You can learn what type of player you are and take your own Bartle Test here.

Are You Cashing Out? Rule the Mobile Game Market with Top Monetization Strategies

The ultra-competitive world of mobile game development leaves many game developers in the red. Less than 1% of mobile game players contribute 48% of revenue to game publishers. With the rise of the Freemium model, many feel paid apps are essentially dead. Without a price to download, app publishers can no longer rely on a single method of monetization.

Here are some of the best methods for mobile game monetization:

SEGMENTATION

Segmentation, the division of profit streams, is key to any mobile game monetization plan. By understanding the many different ways in which one can create a revenue stream out of their game, developers are able to tactically decide which streams they want to pursue and how they want to pursue them.

App monetization revenues stem from three major categories: in-app purchases, subscription-based premium upgrades, and ad revenue. Highly-successful games can also bring in money through sponsorships, merchandise, and even big-budget Hollywood movies, but the bulk of app developers generate revenue from inside the phone. Experienced mobile game developers give individual attention to their apps, analyze what monetization streams will be the most effective, and design individual strategies for each stream.

REWARDED AD FORMAT

Ads and in-app purchases are both great assets to mobile game developers looking to monetize, but what if you could play them off each other to increase both sources of revenue? That’s the idea behind  the rewarded ad format. Games offer its users in-game rewards in exchange for watching full ads. The incentive increases video completion rate as well as ad revenue. By giving users a free in-app purchase, developers are not only able to increase ad revenue, they also preview the premium features, enticing more in-app purchases.

While the rewarded ad format can lead to a surge in both in-app purchases and ad revenue, it still requires strategy. Keeping the audience in mind by ensuring the user will find the ad interesting will increase completion rate. Considering the best time to show the ad also will affect whether the user is frustrated or eager to view the ad. Showing an ad after every level can be overkill and limiting the amount of rewarded ads can help strike a balance between user experience and monetization.

For more tips on rewarded ads, check out this awesome article by InMobi.

The following is an example of a rewarded ad:

Castle Clash Rewarded Ad via AdWeek

FREEMIUM

The popular Freemium monetization method entails a free download of the most basic form of the app to entice the user, then offering a price for premium services and features. Freemium apps can also profit through ads, but in order to be considered freemium, they must offer in-app purchases or premium versions for a subscription fee.

Apps like Tinder and Candy Crush have capitalized on acquiring a massive user base then enticing users to make in-app purchases and update to premium accounts. Candy Crush also intelligently uses social to allow users to receive premium features in exchange for sharing with their friends.

Candy Crush Social Share via BeatCandyCrushLevel.com

NATIVE ADS

Native ads are advertisements which are designed to match the form and function of their surroundings. Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Instagram all offer native ads and tools to help developers create and customize their ads. Native ad placement increases the chance of engagement by seamlessly blending the design of the ad in with the UI of the app. While many ads stand out in the context of a mobile app, native ads look like they are a part of the app rather than an advertisement. In 2013, Twitter upped their ante on mobile ads with the purchase of MoPub for $350 million.

The debate surrounding the morality of native ads is still ongoing. Some say they are unethical and deceptive, but few argue against the fact that they lead to better customer targeting and enhance content to reach more customers by blending in with surrounding content. The number one rule of native ads is to know your audience. While some will be bothered by the deceptiveness of native ads, if the developer can incorporate relevant content rather than ads for random products, native ads can appear to become more of an enhancement than an interruption.

Here is an example of a native ad by Google’s service AdMob:

AdMob Native Ad via The Next Web

FEEDER APPS

Feeder apps are simple games with addicting gameplay which app developers utilize to spread brand awareness. Feeder apps often feature such simple gameplay, in-app purchases and ads would feel intrusive. Instead, push notifications and links in the main menu  redirect users to their company website or another one of their games in iTunes. Many mobile development companies develop a network of feeder apps as a part of their publication and monetization strategy.

By utilizing a well-integrated native ad for the company or the game the developer intends to monetize, developers can turn viral feeder apps into profits. This comprehensive article by Scientific Revenue offers a great example:

ZeptoLab cross-promotes their featured app King of Thieves through their feeder app Cut the Rope.

Succeeding in the world of mobile gaming requires the same intense flare for competition which fuels mobile gamers. Experienced game developers know the stakes and come out swinging, ready to capitalize on every strategy they can to create a revenue stream. With the right combination of smarts, app development, promotion and strategy, mobile game monetization can rake in the big bucks.

For help with your next monetization strategy, contact Mystic Media today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Scopes: How Ubuntu Is Changing the OS Landscape by Eschewing Apps

In the world of operating systems, Android and Apple reign supreme. According to leading research firm Gartner, about 97% of new smartphones sold are either iPhone or Android devices. While Windows, Firefox OS, and Blackberry all attempted to take a seat at the OS table, no company has been able to top Android & iOS. With the landscape more fixed than ever, Ubuntu has entered the arena with a different strategy which may break through the noise and catch on.

Ubuntu managed to stir up publicity in 2013 when they launched the largest crowdfunding campaign of all time through IndieGoGo—and failed. They attempted to raise $32 million in one month, but only hit $12.8 million and received none of the funds. Regardless, the stunt captured the attention of many and helped make a name for the young company.

Ubuntu has made waves in the tech world with an innovative strategy which eschews traditional OS models. Instead of apps, Ubuntu uses Scopes. Scopes are home-screen dashboards which present content from various sources alongside each other on a page. For instance, the music Scope puts songs stored locally on the device side-by-side with Youtube, Apple Music, and other music library services. The video Scope allows users to search for a title and see where it is available for viewing rather than forcing the user to to search individual video streaming libraries like Netflix and Hulu. Instead of forcing the user to search for content within a specific app, Scopes present the content from all providers that have it available.

If apps are folders in a computer, Scopes allow the user to search through the entire local storage disk rather than have to check each individual folder. The philosophy is intended to provide a more intuitive user experience. When a user wants to find content or information, they care less about where it’s coming from than receiving the content with the highest quality attainable.

Check out this awesome video walkthrough of Scopes functionality to better understand how they work visually:

Scopes are easier and less time-consuming to design than native-apps. Scopes also appeal to mobile developers as they offer more discoverability for their companies than apps in the app store. The lack of division in presenting search results ensures the best content will rise to the top, rather than the most popular brand. Given the lower price of entry and the innovative approach, Ubuntu parent company Canonical has managed to bring name-brand content providers to build Scopes, including Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, SoundCloud, and more. Communities are also developing Scopes for other apps, including Dropbox and Spotify, using their APIs.

Meizu launched the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition in February 2016. They currently have four phones on the market, including BQ Aquarius E5 HD, and the previous versions of either device. Windows 10 with Ubuntu recently went into public preview. Going forward, Ubuntu must become available on enough devices to gain traction and popularity if they want to compete with Android & iOS. Given the amount of resources at their disposal and the clear innovation on display in Ubuntu’s philosophy, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple or Android took a shot at figuring out a way of applying Scopes within their OS.

Mobile Website or Mobile App: What Should I Build?

Mobile commerce will reach approximately $142 billion in 2016 according to Mobile Commerce Daily. Promoting business through mobile platforms has become an essential part of many IT and marketing departments worldwide. Mobile phones allow businesses the opportunity to share information about their store, such as hours and nearest location, as well as offer exclusive deals through branded apps as well as third-party apps like Yelp & GroupOn.

The necessity of a mobile presence is evident. When developing for the mobile platform, one has the choice between building a mobile website or a mobile app as the avenue of preference. Obviously developing for both platforms is ideal, but it’s important to realize the strengths of each platform when developing a mobile strategy. Many businesses don’t take into account the importance of the mobile web when it comes to driving revenue.

If you read Cashing Out the Smartphone, you know that while 85% of time spent on mobile devices occurs in apps, 80% of that time is spent on the user’s top 3 apps, a web browser often being one of them. 82% of smartphone users reference their phones when deciding what to buy. When it comes to eCommerce, mobile websites drive twice as much traffic as mobile apps.

Thus, while mobile apps are more expansive, mobile websites are in many ways more important to retailers. Utilizing both in tandem and playing to each platform’s strengths will maximize mobile presence to bring in revenue. Here are the top factors to weigh when deciding between building a mobile website or a mobile app:

DISCOVERABILITY

Due to the omniscience of Google, mobile websites are much more discoverable than mobile apps. Although it is good to have a presence in the app stores, it’s often more important to be discoverable on the web since the web is where the majority of customers go to find information. Mobile websites share a common publication format, making them almost universally accessible across smart devices. As we detailed in our article on Responsive Design & SEO, optimizing a website for mobile is not only a vital SEO practice, it also lowers the price of keywords in Google Adwords.

IMMEDIACY

The immediacy of mobile websites make them an asset to companies looking to disperse information about their products. Mobile websites can be found from any smart device with a single Google search. Mobile websites are quick, easy to find, and direct to the point. Mobile apps, on the other hand, require the user to go to the app store, search, download the app, then often sign up for an account. The distance between initial engagement and action/conversion depletes the chances of a mobile app acquiring new customers without a clever strategy, while mobile websites are more likely to pique new customer interests.

Many retailers have turned to mobile apps to manage loyalty points and increase customer retention through exclusive discounts.

Here are some popular third-party apps for increasing customer loyalty:

Shopkick: Shopkick offers customers rewards the moment they walk into a store. It is the most-used US shopping app connecting shoppers to retailers.

Flok: Flok is a customer loyalty and engagement platform which uses automated messaging, digital punch cards, and direct customer rewards to power lasting and rewarding relationships between merchants and customers.

Belly: Belly is a digital loyalty rewards program which serves over 12,000 businesses and has more than 6 million members across the US.

COMPLEXITY

While mobile websites are great for dispersing information, apps typically can do much more. Native apps are designed specifically for a device and OS, thus ensures maximum performance. With mobile commerce on the rise, apps can help make the check-out process seamless. The process of approval required by the app stores assures users that any given mobile apps will be safe and secure. The complexity of mobile apps also makes maintenance more expensive.

Mobile websites are easier and less-expensive to maintain since they have a common code across platforms. Developers can release and update without worrying about being approved by the app marketplace. Mobile websites can only utilize a limited scope of a given mobile device’s features, although mobile browsers are in the process of getting more powerful and enabling more power over the device.

COST

Mobile websites are less expensive to develop and maintain since they use common code across devices. While cross-platform app development tools ensure a cheaper way to make an app usable across Android, iOS, and other operating systems and devices, they also can dilute the functionality.

In our opinion, it’s often better to start with a mobile website which disperses necessary information and calls attention to the business before creating a mobile app to supplement with additional functionality.

Any given business or organization has unique needs which must be attended to when establishing a mobile presence. Experienced web and app developers should ask the questions which get to the root of what is needed and can design creative solutions which maximize functionality for any given platform in accordance with the project budget. Be it through a mobile website or a mobile app, the mobile platform allows for any number of possibilities which can make any business more efficient, attractive, and profitable.

Cashing Out the Smartphone: How Mobile Commerce Is Changing Retail

This week, we wrap up our five-part series on Top App Development Trends for 2016 with an article on mobile commerce! For a recap, take a moment to review our last four articles on cross-platform app development, cloud integration, mobile security and IoT.

Smartphones have brought about unparalleled convenience in our daily lives. We are constantly connected to our rolodex of contacts with a variety of methods of communication. We can access all the information available on the world wide web anytime. We can find the nearest store of choice anywhere we go. For businesses, the mobile platform represents not only a major avenue for advertising, but an opportunity to give customers the ultimate convenience when purchasing products.

According to Internet Retailer, mobile commerce represents 30% of all US e-commerce and rose by 38.7% from 2014 to 2015. According to The Mobile Playbook, the absence of a mobile presence is the financial equivalent of closing a store for one day a week. Suffice to say, mobile commerce is only on the rise in the coming years. Here are the top mobile commerce trends for 2016:

INTEGRATING PHYSICAL WITH DIGITAL

Although the digital world is virtually omnipresent in households, the appeal of immediately receiving one’s purchases remains attractive. Retailers are offering an increasing variety of online + in-store options. Apps like Curbside have partnered with Target & Kroger’s to enable customers to skip the line when picking up their purchases.

PERSONALIZED MOBILE PAYMENTS DRIVE LOYALTY

Although services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay were once hailed as the future, they have had a hard time receiving mass adoption. This hasn’t stopped the impact of the mobile wallet on commerce. Starbucks drives 16% of transactions through its mobile app. Walmart Pay arrived in December 2015, and now Target is next in line to develop their own payment app.

WEARABLES ON THE RISE

According to Arc, there will be a 61% growth in wearable ownership in 2016. App developers and retailers are still plotting on how to capitalize on wearables. Many anticipate a hands-free shopping experience in which one can simply walk out with their purchases and have automatic charges through wearable devices. Wearables represent a major avenue for retailers to create innovative strategies and dictate trends to come.

MOBILE WEB DRIVES PURCHASES

While about 85% of time spent on mobile devices occurs in apps, the mobile web has actually proven to be a more successful in driving website traffic. Consumers spend 80% of their app time on their top 3 apps. The mobile web drives twice the amount of site traffic than mobile apps. With 82% of smartphone users looking to their phones in stores when deciding what to buy, many anticipate the mobile web to surpass apps as the largest revenue driver in the next few years.

This concludes our five-part series on Top App Development Trends for 2016! Follow the Mystic Media Blog for more awesome articles on app development, website design, strategic marketing and more!

Safety First: Mobile Security Is More Than Worth the Investment

Having established the top mobile app trends for 2016 with our blog App to the Future, the Mystic Media blog is currently exploring each of the top trends in greater detail with a five-part series. This week, in Part 3 of our Top Mobile App Development Trends series, we will be examining security.

2015 saw several major data breaches, including 87 million patient records from Anthem and 21.5 million security clearance apps from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The European Union is currently crafting a General Data Protection Regulation designed to strengthen and unify data protection.

Gartner correctly predicted that over 75% of mobile applications would fail basic security tests in 2015. Many mobile companies are sacrificing security to attain quicker turn-around on smaller budgets, and the result has been disastrous for many. Even Apple hasn’t been safe from mobile app hacks.

Mobile application security is an integral part of the app development process worthy of the same level of attention as app creators give to design, marketing and functionality. With that in mind, here are some of the top app security trends for 2016:

DevOps Protocol on the Rise

In a recent RackSpace Survey of 700 IT manager and business leaders, 66% of respondents had implemented DevOps practices and 79% of those who had yet to implement DevOps planned to by the end of 2015.

DevOps is an approach to app development that emphasizes collaboration between software development, IT operations, security and quality assurance through all stages of the app development process under one automated umbrella. Utilizing a DevOps protocol improves app security by bringing the IT security team in at an early stage to guide the development process away from potential security threats. App Developers gravitate toward DevOps since it speeds up the time to market while increasing innovation. Like a conveyer belt, DevOps puts a system of checks and balances in place at all stages to ensure that the product will be sufficient for delivery.

By opening up the app development process, security team members can inject security into the code early in the development process and eliminate vulnerabilities before they become threats.

Security Risks In Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is on the rise not only in the marketplace, but as a major security vulnerability for businesses. With the technology in nascent stages, developers have been more concerned with creating a functional strategy for the wearable platform than they have been with improving security. Health and Fitness apps leave users the most vulnerable by constantly monitoring the user’s heartbeat, movement and location. With limited UI and an emphasis on usability, wearables severely lack in security features. App developers looking to create safe apps for this platform will have to innovate and dictate the trends in order to create apps that don’t put the user at risk.

IoT (Internet of Things) & BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device)

With the workplace increasingly becoming virtual, malicious hackers acting through the Internet of Things are targeting personal mobile devices in order to find vulnerabilities in businesses.

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has increased in popularity in work cultures, each of which represents a potential vulnerability . Smartphone owners generally don’t invest in security on their personal devices with the same thoroughness as a business would when issuing work devices. Due to the boon of mobile work apps, many app developers are cutting corners to meet demand by sacrificing security in service of quicker turnover.

Wise and experienced app developers know you can’t put a price on safety, and they take the necessary precautions to protect the integrity of the app for its users and the app owner.

Major organizations must understand IoT and how it can improve or threaten their business through their employees’ mobile devices. By encouraging a culture of collaboration and welcoming unique expertise into the app development process at an early stage, DevOps practices help ingrain necessary knowledge about IoT and mobile security into organizations.

That’s it for app security! Be on the lookout for part 4 of our series on the top mobile app development trends for 2016 next week when we explore the Internet of Things.

Can Cloud Integration Take Your App to the Next Level?

In continuation of our exploration of the top 5 app development trends for 2016, this week we will be exploring cloud integration. Check out our master list in our blog App to the Future and be on the lookout for next week’s blog when we explore Security.

While the ethereal nature of the cloud makes it a mystery to many consumers, the cloud has engrained itself in businesses across the globe. Studies show the global market for cloud equipment will reach $79.1 billion by the year 2018.

A lot has changed since we last tackled the cloud in our 2013 blog What Can Cloud-Based Mobile App Development Do For Your Company? The aspects which haven’t changed are the basics: the cloud reduces operating costs by taking the computing load off of local and dedicated servers, it improves collaboration, and it fosters a streamlined collaborative environment.

CLOUD FOR CONSUMER USE

In the past 5 years, Amazon, Google and Apple have all monetized clouds for consumer use. These cloud offerings break up into two categories:

PUBLIC CLOUD: iCloud, Google Drive and Amazon Web Services, in addition to Dropbox and Box, all offer public cloud storage offerings. These clouds are accessible to the public through the Internet.

PRIVATE CLOUD: While the public cloud is available on the public web, the private cloud is designed for a single organization. These offerings are often crafted by cloud providers such as Rackspace, VMware, Microsoft and OpenStack.

HYBRID CLOUD ADOPTION

One of the major cloud trends in the past few years has been the adoption of the hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and the public cloud to customize storage needs. Hybrid cloud adoption jumped from 74% in 2014 to 82% in 2015. The hybrid cloud has gained popularity because it allows businesses to section off their storage needs and leverage the advantages of the private cloud and the public cloud while keeping the disadvantages at bay.

CLOUD INTEGRATION

One of  the most interesting trends in the cloud for mobile developers is cloud integration. Device integration entails that multiple applications share data in the cloud and communicate either directly or through third-party software.

A great test case is Apple’s use of the iCloud to promote device continuity. Apple uses the iCloud to make sure files and apps which are synced to the user’s MacBook are also synced to iPhone, iPads, and Apple Watch. This allows the user to alternate between devices seamlessly and encourages them to buy Apple products.

For app developers, cloud integration is a major trend within the industry. With Apple leading the charge, many app developers and their clients want their iOS apps to integrate with iCloud with the intention of luring users to download apps on multiple devices and use them seamlessly. Cloud-integrated apps represent an investment in both time and money for developers.  In order to justify the effort, the app should appeal to tablet, smartphone, and perhaps also desktop users. Cloud integration represents a major opportunity for developers to increase brand continuity by creating a user experience which is consolidated across devices and informed by data across the enterprise.

Learn more about device integration with the iCloud via Apple’s Developer website.

For those with their sights set on cloud integration, here are some of the best third-party cloud data integration software options on the market:

Jitterbit

Zapier

Microsoft Azure

Informatica Cloud Integration

Crossing Over: Best Cross-Platform App Development For Your Business

Over the next month, the Mystic Media Blog will be delving into the top app development trends for 2016. Check out our master list in our blog App to the Future and be on the look out for next week’s blog when we explore Cloud Integration.

Since the dawn of the iPhone, smart devices have become omnipresent. With Apple, Google, Microsoft, and more jockeying for position in the device and operating system market, many app developers will be investing in cross-platform development tools in 2016 to ensure their apps function on all operating systems and thus reach the widest possible audience.

Cross-platform development offers an extremely fast, simple and cost-effective method of creating an app. By building apps on a common code which can be easily ported to fit any OS, developers can focus more on a single universal app rather than divide their attention over multiple native apps. Developers also reduce the amount of maintenance necessary since they only have to update one app.

We have previously tackled this subject in our 2013 blog Should Your Company Develop Native Apps or HTML-5-Based Apps?

It’s important to understand that cross-platform app development also comes at a price. Developing for multiple platforms prevents app developers from maximizing the capabilities of any individual OS. Some apps may be too advanced to develop using a cross-platform tool, in which case, developing native is the best and only option. Android and iOS have different design schemes for apps on their respective Operating Systems. Customizing app design to match iOS or Android aesthetics improves ASO in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Apps can also have trouble integrating with devices due to the variety of storage options available on devices. We recommend you always discuss the project with your app developer before committing to developing using a cross-platform tool.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of resources. Developing an app natively for iOS and/or Android will yield a better product optimized to the device. While any company would love to be Facebook and have the money to invest in completely different native applications for iOS and Android, some have to be pragmatic about their budget. Once the decision to build cross-platform is made, the all-important question of which app development tool to utilize arises. Here are some of the best cross-platform development tools on the market in 2016.

PHONEGAP 

Adobe PhoneGap is one of the most popular cross-platform development tools on the market. PhoneGap is based on the open source Apache Cordova project, making it free to use. Adobe also offers an enterprise version of PhoneGap – it integrates with Adobe Marketing Cloud to not only focus on app development, but to ensure apps reach their audience and experience success. PhoneGap not only creates apps for iOS and Android, but also BlackBerry and Windows, making it an extremely versatile tool.

XAMARIN

Xamarin recently attracted a great deal of attention when it raised $54 million in its Series C round of investments. Xamarin is utilized by over 20% of Fortune 500 companies. According to IDC, those developers will be delivering almost $5 billion to the marketplace in 2017. Xamarin separates itself from the pack by using native UI components from each platform, allowing users to create their app with the native look app for each platform.

APPCELERATOR TITANIUM

Appcelerator Titanium uses Javascript to create native iOS and Android apps while giving developers the ability to reuse from 60% to 90% of the same code for all apps. Appcelerator is a major time saver. It’s also an open-source tool, meaning hundreds of developers are constantly adding to it and improving its functionality. In January 2016, Appcelerator was acquired by Axway, a software and services company. Axway plans on making it easy to integrate Appcelerator with their existing digital business enablement solutions.

For more great cross-platform development tools, check out these great curated lists by AppIndex and TechBeacon.