In 2010, the average individual watched 3.75 hours of television every day. Fast forward to 2021, that number has dropped to just 2.38 hours. Today, the modern consumer spends 3.25 hours of their daily time on their smartphones.
Today, the modern consumer spends 3.25 hours of their daily time on their smartphones.
The writing on the wall couldn’t be more explicit. Smartphones are the future of entertainment, information, communication, and escape from reality for consumers. For businesses, this means creating mobile apps that offer superior user experiences and engage them more effectively.
How do you create engaging mobile apps? Several factors determine whether your mobile app offers an engaging user experience, but the most prominent among them is its performance.
96% of respondents in a survey identified app performance as the most critical factor determining the quality of their experience on an app. This leads us to the question – how do you create a high-performance mobile app that your customers love?
What app users experience as “performance” is actually a product of several backend elements – server speed, page load speed, connectivity, latency, etc. – that work together to deliver a seamless experience. So, creating a high-performance app entails improving everything that affects its speed.
Here are some ways you can improve your app’s speed in ways that matter to the users:
Whenever there’s information exchange between your app and the server on which it is hosted, the users experience some degree of latency in the app’s response. So, the farther your server is located from your users, the higher is the app’s latency. The obvious solution to this problem is hosting your app closer to your users.
It begs the question: what happens when your app users are located worldwide, or at least in multiple distant geographies?
A content delivery network (CDN) duplicates your app’s data and hosts it in multiple locations worldwide. Every time the app needs to connect to its server-side data, it connects to the server closest to it on the CDN and fetches data swiftly.
There are numerous CDN providers in the business, including Cloudflare, Akamai, Amazon CloudFront, Microsoft Azure CDN, and many more. Find one that works best for your needs and give your users the high-speed experience they deserve.
5G is here! But it still has a long way to go before it becomes the mainstay of wireless communications. Its availability is limited to a few locations across the world, and even in those locations, it’s not widely available. For now, the bulk of the world uses 4G and 3G connections on their smartphones.
When your app, which is on slow 4G or 3G connections, has to load heavy media files like high-resolution images or HD videos, there’s a perceptible buffer time. Depending on the size of the media file being downloaded, the buffer could last a few seconds or a few minutes.
For the user, this feels less like a data connectivity problem and more like an app problem. The solution for this unique problem can be borrowed from our experiences with websites. Webmasters optimize images and videos on the website to load quickly and easily on browsers, even on patchy connections. The same lesson can be applied to mobile apps.
Caching is the answer to the question: How do we get the app’s data closer to it, even better than a CDN?
In simple terms, caching stores some of the commonly used app elements on the app’s device. This makes it available for reuse, thereby eliminating the time delay involved in slow round trips between the app and its server.
Networking and image-loading libraries, for instance, make it possible for you to cache a variety of app elements and even mark them for reloading from the network when the cached data are determined to be outdated.
To be sure, some elements of apps can be cached, while some cannot be done. For instance, the product page details of an e-commerce app need not be fetched every time and can be cached instead. However, the review section may need live fetching, as it may change frequently.
So, determine which parts of your app can be cached and optimize them.
Profiling is the first step of the app optimization process once the app is developed. It helps you determine whether your app is fully optimized to use memory, graphics, battery, network, CPU, and other resources efficiently.
A good profiling tool brings your attention to latency hotspots – the specific app processes that are consuming the highest resources or taking the longest time to execute. Then you can focus on improving those processes.
While it’s easy to identify and improve the front-end process, the server-side elements require considerably more time and effort.
Your app likely uses a ton of APIs to pull data from the server. Of course, the CDNs can help you resolve the app API requests swiftly, but it’s still plenty of data that goes back and forth between the app and the CDN. So, why not reduce the size of the API data requests and responses?
Using Colfer and Google’s Protobuf, instead of JSON data formats, can drastically reduce the size of API requests and responses, ultimately delivering a faster and smoother experience to the app users.
There are hundreds of ways to improve your app’s performance, but they all do not deliver the same level of speed improvement. So, you must prioritize the areas that can deliver the most noticeable gains in speed and focus on them.
Usually, you will find several opportunities where you need to combine two or more of the tips we discussed above to optimize your app. For instance, you can optimize media files and cache them on the app’s device for a more fluid user experience. Likewise, API responses can be cached and auto-updated based on predetermined rules.
Ultimately, create a comprehensive app optimization plan that allocates your development team’s resources in a way that maximizes the impact with the available time, effort, and money.
Vitec GmbH specialists are there to support any needful optimization requirements for your app, so please feel free to contact us with any query.