With everything you have to keep in mind while building a mobile app, it's easy to forget these details
While there are more 4.9 million apps in both Google Play store and the App Store combined, statistics show that smartphone users only use about nine apps daily. A lot of this comes down to the quality of the products and failure to address significant features that enhance the app’s performance. To be on top in the already competitive mobile app market, you have to make sure you don't overlook the small details.
You might not be developing your mobile app yourself. You might be looking to work with a freelance app developer. Regardless, you'll want to make sure that all the app development boxes have been checked. Here are some of the mobile app development details that are easy to forget.
Deciding what user data to store and where to store it
When developing a mobile app, one of the details you need to consider should be the type of user data you want to store and where exactly to store it. Factors such as the size of data to be stored, the structure of the data, ease of data accessibility and the speed should be considered when deciding where to store data. Also, scalability, ease of integration and whether or not the product is fully open-source should be considered.
Mobile apps store sensitive user information such as location, passwords, bank accounts, as well as controlling IoT devices at home. As such, mobile apps are continually targeted by hackers. You need to secure your app, your customers’ data and your data. To avoid leakage of sensitive data, ensure that your app’s code is secured with encryption using innovative APIs and algorithms. You also need to ensure that the servers and cloud servers that your app uses are packed with security measures to prevent any unauthorized access. You can do this through methods such as containerization and encrypted connections with SSL and VPNs among others.
If that all sounds confusing, don't worry. Containerization is basically a method of bundling your app files so they don't embed in the user's operating system. SSL is a technology that establishes an encrypted link between a browser and a server, and a VPN is a virtual private network, which shields your users' activities on the app.
You also need to ensure that authorization and identification measures are put in place. When it comes to security, it is essential to put in place strict authentication strategies in addition to undertaking thorough testing on the app in order to identify possible points of vulnerability. This is especially true if your app collects sensitive information from users.
Testing all inputs
One of the key security challenges facing mobile apps development is preventing user information leakage. One way of enforcing your security measures is by testing inputs including the camera, GPS and sensors to identify any possible security threats that could lead to data leakage.
Hackers can use certain rogue apps to gain unauthorized access to a user’s camera. Carrying out tests such as performance tests and integration tests not only analyze the functionality of an app, but also highlight any security warning that the developer might have missed in earlier stages of the development.
In addition, testing all inputs will allow the developer to implement further security measures that they deem necessary. In addition to carrying out security testing, it's equally important to undertake other fundamental tests that may highlight any security threats such as compatibility testing, performance testing and functionality testing.
Testing all payment services
Smartphones have become an integral part of e-commerce by being used as payment methods for goods and services. If you're building an app that uses a payments system, you need to know how to integrate a payment gateway. The integration process works through the SSL protocol that transmits purchase requests to the bank and ultimately connects the seller, the bank and the buyer in the entire transaction process. If you want your e-commerce app to actually make money, you'll need to make sure your payment gateway is properly integrated and working.
You also need to make sure your payment system is compliant. Credit card payment security is overseen by a system called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It's a standard set by major credit card issuers, and administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.
There are several steps to be undertaken to ascertain your PCI compliance. For starters, you have to define the level of your PCI compliance based on the number of safe and successful transactions undertaken. You then have to study the PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), which is basically a set of requirements. This is followed by an Attestation of Compliance (AOC) exam, which is based on the PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire. You are then required to undertake an External Vulnerability Scan by the Approved Scanning Vendors and finally, take the documents to the acquirer banks.
Run stress testing on the app
Having a lot of users is a great problem to have, but not if it crashes your app. For instance, remember the launch of Pokemon Go? The app developers didn't anticipate the flood of users, and the app crashed constantly in its early days.
Running stress tests on the app goes a long way towards preventing permanent damage resulting from stresses caused by overloading or increased activity. Stress tests, especially on commercial apps, financial apps and social networking apps, evaluate the level of stability of the app during an overload. Stress tests entail identifying the breaking point of an app (numerically), then coming up with a solution for it.
Test app on corporate-controlled devices
To further guarantee that the app is bulletproof, you need to provide a testnet version for system admins to try before rolling out to users. This goes a long way in ensuring that the app’s operating system is well configured. A testnet further allows you to supervise and track possible errors that may occur on the app.
Check app will work for people with visual and hearing impairments
Over 15% of smartphone users globally have some form of disability. Developers are increasingly including features and functions that cater to people with different special needs.
Check that your app has features such as video calls and multi-media sharing options. Also, ensure that the app has messaging options for users with hearing impairments. Check for additional features such as visible alerts to give them phone notifications and volume controls that can be adjusted to their level of comfort. For people with visual impairments, check that your mobile app creates an ease of accessibility for them through features such as screen magnifiers, screen reading tools, voice overs and voice synthesizers.
Set up customer support platform
Customer support programs are pivotal in your mobile app in that they enable the developer to interact with and address customer issues. Always ensure that the customer support portal is easily accessible to your customers. You should consider an in-app messaging service to make it easy for you to address customer concerns within the mobile app.
A customer support program like Live Chat puts you in a position to not only tackle challenges facing customers, but also allows you to initiate live chats and conversations with the customers to offer help.
You might also consider integrating other customer support platforms such as communities and help tickets so your users can actually see the steps taken to tackle their concerns. Also, features such as communities provide discussion forums that allow your customers to communicate with each other and help solve tech issues without involving your customer support team.
Test GDPR system
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) contains rules and provisions that regulate how organizations use consumer data. According to the GDPR, data protection is a prerequisite for mobile app developers. Check that your app is GDPR compliant by adhering to the GDPR checklist.
For starters, evaluate the type of data you want to collect from users and ensure that your app only collects data that's necessary. If you're using cookies in your app, you're required to notify the user and give them the option of either accepting or rejecting the cookies. You should also be able to destroy the cookies when the user logs out.
Also, check that the app has permission based user tracking features that request the user’s permission before tracking their online activities. Additionally, apply open protocol tools like OAuth that enable users to open accounts by only providing the authentication ID.
To enhance secure communications and improve on the app’s security, check that the app uses HTTPS and SSL. Other GDPR regulatory measures include the use of complex algorithms in the "Contact Us" forms, implementing strong data encryption to protect the users’ data, as well as notifying them of the security measures, avoiding using personal elements in user ID confirmation, notifying users about logs in the event that your app tracks their IP address and further encrypting the logs, deleting data of logged out users, informing users of your data sharing policies and, finally, request users to view your app’s terms and conditions before granting permissions.
This may sound like a lot, particularly if you have a great app idea but aren't particularly tech savvy. But don't worry. A professional app developer can cover off all these details. But, even if you have hired a developer, it's important you're aware of some of these easily missed details so you and your developer can communicate and make sure your app is ironclad.