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Developing Mobile Apps: What You Need to Know for Emerging Markets

by
Varun Mehta
September 2, 2021
Min(s)

Life without the Internet. Hard to imagine that, isn’t it? But unfortunately, it is a bitter truth in emerging economies in Asia, South America, and Africa. This has seen a positive change over the past few years with a massive increase in the popularity of smartphones, leading to a wave of first-time Internet users.

You might be wondering what mobile apps have to do with emerging markets. The truth is, many people in emerging markets don't have access to a desktop or a laptop. Instead, they rely on their phones for everything from checking the news to managing their finances. Mobile app developers realize that it is important that their applications work equally well on phones with lower specs.

These markets offer excellent opportunities for technology providers and top app development companies. Yet, they have their set of unique challenges that mobile app development companies have to face. 

So, if you plan to develop an app for this ‘next billion’, there are certain key aspects you must keep in mind. 

Before moving on, you might be wondering what this ‘next billion’ is. This was a term devised by Google meant for these new-age Internet users. For this ‘next billion’, the Internet refers to the applications and services primarily accessed on mobile devices. Thus, making it critical to focus on designing web-based and native mobile applications. 

Now, let’s take a look at the aspects you must keep in mind when developing mobile apps for these emerging markets.

Keep it Offline-Friendly

These emerging markets may have access to the Internet. Still, there are times when the Internet is either slow or unavailable. Hence, it is crucial to create an app experience that is not affected by the quality of the Internet.

Furthermore, the app should also resume from where the user leaves the window. There are numerous ways to go about this, but Firebase is one of the best available options. Even though it is a real-time database, it has top-notch offline capabilities that can be attributed to critical features like:

These emerging markets may have access to the Internet. Still, there are times when the Internet is either slow or unavailable. Hence, it is crucial to create an app experience that is not affected by the quality of the Internet.

Furthermore, the app should also resume from where the user leaves the window. There are numerous ways to go about this, but Firebase is one of the best available options. Even though it is a real-time database, it has top-notch offline capabilities that can be attributed to critical features like:

  • Disk Persistence
    Disk persistence in Firebase permits the app to write and store the data locally to the device, thus maintaining its state even when offline.
  • Persistence Behavior
    When persistence behavior is enabled in Firebase, the online data will sync, allowing you to access the data on the app, even when offline. Furthermore, if you use Firebase Realtime Database, it would record all the operations you carried out while offline. Once connected to the Internet, this record is transmitted online to the Firebase Realtime Database Server.
  • Querying Data Offline
    The Firebase Realtime Database also stores data for queries that occurred when offline. In this case, the data is loaded from the local cache. Then, when the Internet is available, the data reloads right away.

Providing offline capabilities also requires time and effort for implementing and maintaining it.

Test Devices

It is necessary to test apps on native devices when they are being developed for emerging markets. The important aspect here is to understand the target audience and then test the app by selecting the right set of mobile devices.

Keep the Design Basic

When designing apps for emerging markets, it is vital to keep the design basic. To do this, you can focus on bold fonts, big images, and whitespace, which improves the user experience. It also gives the app interface a clutter-free look.

Emphasize Performance

You must consider the app’s performance when developing apps for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. Here, you can use a globally distributed content delivery network (CDN), which helps speed up transfers. You can also opt for other technical approaches like higher compression for media, a lazy-loading content approach, and optimizing the mobile app for small file size.

Focus on Low-End Hardware and Smooth Animations

Achieving 60fps on popular Android phones is hard enough. Imagine trying to do that on phones with around half a Gigabyte of RAM. On low-end devices, it is common practice to disable complex animations or run simpler ones instead. If most of your users have low-end hardware, this option goes out the window.

A piece of standard advice for engineers is to use low-end hardware while building apps and smooth animations. You could also simulate a real-world environment by installing the most popular apps used by your target audience. This would help you gauge the performance of your app on smartphones with limited resources.

Develop Mobile Apps With Mutual Mobile

Creating apps for emerging markets introduces some unique challenges for mobile application development companies. Once you know the issues, they are not difficult to solve. To recap, always remember to:

  • Pick the suitable target devices based on user research.
  • Use real devices, not simulators, daily and set them up to mimic a real user scenario.
  • Work closely with designers to iterate on different options for animations and transitions.
  • Provide a compelling offline experience using technologies like Firebase.
  • Choose the right payment platform, if necessary, for your target audience.

We always love solving new and challenging problems our customers face, whether related to web or app development, cloud migration, Augmented Reality, or Artificial Intelligence. If you encounter any such issues for your business, you can contact us, and we’d be happy to help you scale and elevate your business.

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