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What Users Really Care About: The Key to Developing Successful Mobile Apps

Mobile developers often work in a vacuum, guessing at what their users want when they build mobile apps, but not really knowing it. They need to guess no longer. The U.S. Mobile App Report from the analytics firm comScore offers plenty of help for app developers.

The report, available free here, provides a snapshot of overall mobile use, including how fast mobile app use has been growing, the most popular types of apps, how often people use mobile applications on each individual device, how iOS and Android application users differ behaviorally and demographically, and much more. It's well worth a read.

The Takeaways for Mobile Applications

There are a very high-level takeaways from it that developers will find extremely useful. The first is very good news: Mobile app usage has surged 52 percent in the past year. It shows no sign of letting up, and so app developers can look forward to increasing demand for their work. In fact, app usage far outpaces Web usage on mobile devices, accounting for seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption.

More than one-third of smartphone users in the U.S. download one or more apps per month. And 79 percent of them used apps at least 26 days a month, while 52 percent of tablet owners used them at least 26 days a month.

So it's clear that people are highly dependent on apps. But what kinds of apps? Knowing that will help developers in several different ways. Independent developers can know what types of apps might sell, and can focus their efforts there. Developers in businesses or who develop for businesses can use the popularity of certain types of apps to guide their enterprise-focused development efforts.

Social networking, games, and radio apps such as Pandora account for nearly half of all the time that people spend on mobile apps. As for the top apps, Facebook is far ahead of the pack, followed by YouTube.

What Does This Mean For You, the App Developer?

When possible, build social features into your apps, even if social uses are not immediately apparent. Simple features such as Share buttons are easy enough to add, and can engage users far more than you might realize. And people clearly care about interactivity and graphics. So pay attention to that as well when designing your apps. If you follow your users' lead, you'll find out that they'll end up following you as well.
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About Author

Dion McCormick
Dion McCormick

Dion McCormick, Lead Solutions Engineer at Alpha Software, is a recognized expert on agile application development. He helps enterprise development teams around the world transition from slow legacy approaches to high-performance mobile, web, and desktop development using the Alpha Anywhere platform.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.