I’m not going to bore you with numbers and percentages on the size of the app market, because everything’s already been said. What you might not know, however, is that there are (relatively) new technologies out there that can help app pros, like yourself, differentiate themselves in the market. In such a highly saturated, brutally competitive market, having any edge is a huge advantage that can mean the difference between success and failure. Read below to find out which ‘new’ mobile technologies you can use to set yourself apart from the competition and hopefully earn that living, and then some.

 

1. User Session Recordings

user session recordings

One of the newer mobile technologies app pros are increasingly going for are qualitative analytics tools, like user session recordings. These tools allow app pros to see, firsthand, what users do when they bring up the app. Recording every and all interactions, including every screen, tap, swipe and pinch, session recordings can help app pros spot issues like bugs and crashes, unresponsive gestures, poor UI design or troubles with user flow. They are also great for discovering why users sometimes abandon registration screens, or quit the app altogether.

 

2. Feature Flags

mobile feature flags

Image Source: Apptimize

A feature flag allows app pros to turn different features on or off easily, without the need to deploy new code. Basically, it separates the code from feature rollouts. The technology has quickly become essential among many developers, as its usefulness was proven in various scenarios.  For instance, sometimes you’ll want to push a new feature into the live version of the app, but you don’t want to make it publically available until it’s fully functioning. Likewise, you might want to disable certain features if the load on the app is too high and you need to reduce database queries. Feature flags provide you with these simple yet powerful capabilities.

Feature flags are extremely beneficial for app performance as it reduces the strain of releasing new features, and allows the customization of content based on different user groups (power users, paid users, free users, etc.).

 

3. Touch Heatmaps

mobile touch heatmaps

This technology tracks all the gestures users make when interacting with the app. All taps, double-taps, pinches and swipes are collected and aggregated into a visual heatmap. With this technology, app pros can spot where users are tapping and which screens they’re focusing on the most. It helps them spot unresponsive gestures and unused features that can easily be removed to reduce clutter. It can be used to identify interface barriers that prevent the app from being used to its fullest.

Unresponsive gestures are something app pros should pay close attention to, as those can easily undo much of the hard work they put in. It shows how many users tapped (or swiped) somewhere and got no response from the app. That can mean a few things: users are either tapping on a button that’s not working, using a different gesture (swipe vs tap or double-tap, for example), or they’re gesturing somewhere where they *assume* an interface element should be located.

All scenarios are game-changers for the app. A broken feature needs no special explaining. Assumptions are more subtle, yet can still define how successful your app can be. If users’ expectations about how an app should be navigated are different from the app’s actual navigation, and that difference hasn’t been properly communicated, it can cause a lot of hiccups in the user experience.

The feedback touch heatmaps give app pros allows them to repair and modify the app’s navigation, offering users a better, more intuitive solution.

But there are other important KPIs that can also be tracked with touch heatmaps. First gesture on a screen, for example. This KPI allows app pros to tap into users’ habits, seeing which gestures they usually use first. Again, if it’s not how the app was intended to be used, it could signal an issue with user journey or user progress within an app.

 

4. In-app surveys and ratings

mobile app surveys

Image Source: Apptentive

Receiving feedback from the very people your product was built for is the absolute best way of discovering what you did good, what you did bad, and why. Getting that feedback from mobile users is particularly challenging because mobile app users are, generally speaking, always on the run, easily distracted, and not quite interested in going out of their way to tell you what they think.

Still, the feedback is essential, so app pros need to offer ways of giving feedback which are fast, simple and convenient. That can be achieved through in-app surveys and ratings, like the ones Apptentive builds. The technology does not require any updates to the app, offers simple and easy to implement surveys.

 

5. Chatbots

mobile chatbots

Image Source: Duolingo

Chatbots are (one of) the biggest crazes of 2017, and with good reason, too. They’re the next step in the evolution of the app interface. The technology taps into the very core of what it means to be human – conversation, and bases human-app interaction around it. There are two important arguments as to why app pros should consider chatbots as a supplement to their app’s interface:

In short, more people could use more services thanks to chatbots and their promise of an improved user experience.

 

Wrap-up

As the mobile app market grows and matures at the same time, the battle for users’ attention and time intensifies. App pros need to nail every aspect of their product, otherwise users will simply drift away. Currently (and in the future, most probably), the focus is primarily on the user experience. Chatbots are changing the way us, as users, are interacting with apps, making it more human and in a way more natural. For mobile publishers, feature flags make sure implementing new features flow seamlessly, and that differentiating between user groups doesn’t get too time and code consuming. User session recordings, in-app surveys and ratings, and touch heatmaps are redefining the way mobile publishers look at user feedback. They offer invaluable information about the quality of mobile products, allowing mobile professionals to get an unaltered, unbiased understanding of their users. This enables them to custom-tailor apps exactly for their target audience. Building a high-caliber app is a tricky endeavor, but with the right tools, everything is possible.