Best Practices for Creating Successful Android Apps

Android is the most widely used mobile operating system in the world available on phones, tablet computers and TV sets.

These apps will attract more users as well as encourage a higher level of engagement with those users – a very important factor when creating an app. For example, the 3-click rule (Click here to read about the 3-click rule) should be implemented – if users cannot apply this logical rule to the design, they are likely to discard an app that is poorly designed.

Design your UI with UX in mind

Because of this, users expect an app to be intuitive when they download it; it doesn’t matter if you separate UX and UI into separate silos, one is a funhouse mirror image of the other – neither one could exist independently from the other.

Visual hierarchies with prescriptive rules (best practices) and component libraries define the user experience. The presence of one comma too many in body copy can create mixed messages.

UX best practice suggests we keep our users front and centre: making sure all actions are executable with one hand, minimising search effort, and personalising the app to the point where it mimics exactly what you would wish to use: display the user’s name in the interface, offer content that’s relevant to them, run their favourite event this evening.

Don’t overcomplicate your app

In Android, developers make use of Activity and Fragment implementations to build the apps, but there are no architectural delimiters that say these glue classes are representative of an application’s logic or are bound together to serve a specific purpose. The operating system can sporadically and without warning disrupt these components due to the user navigating the app or other circumstances. Consequently, apps should minimise their reliance on a given set of components in order to maximise user experience and make maintenance easy.

This data, be it personal or sensitive, has high value to the owner of the mobile device, so it needs to be properly protected. Tough security, such as encryption, will give users the feeling that they are in a safe place with an app that has nothing malicious or intrusive in mind. From the user’s point of view, the increased security also leads to increased trust and safety outside the app – as the exploitation of app vulnerabilities by malicious cybercrime becomes more difficult. (This is especially the case if your app offers an API – so make sure you understand the general security best practices and keep up to date with new trends in threats and mitigations to keep one step ahead of the cybercriminals trying to take advantage of this.)

Make it easy to use

Apps require code components to talk to each other, fetch data remotely – or do anything else you’ve got listed. But app code components aren’t places for your app data and state to hang out. It’s better not to rely on them.

Instead of the simple example above, use a ContentProvider to track your app’s data and ensure that only your app can access it, keeping it safe from deletion, corruption or anything else that wouldn’t sit well with our square.

With this in mind, the best way to find bugs or problems is by running your app on as many Android devices as possible, but you should also invite beta testers with different mindsets to try out your app, and ask them how they feel about it. This way, you’ll enhance their user experience, and also build more successful apps.

Don’t overcomplicate your app’s features

Android is a good environment to build for because the language of android is good to use and a good feature to master. But if you make the app too complicated it will slow the system down and be unuser friendly to the customers experiences. You should do plenty of testing to make sure everything works correctly.

Don’t expose IPC mechanisms to the web, and don’t load code from untrusted sources such as insecure network connections or world-writable storage (like external memory) because it allows a malicious attacker on the web to manipulate content as it is in transit, or another application on your device to manipulate it locally.

A microsecond of our time is worth the clarity of those dependency abstractions that dependency-injection patterns and service-locator libraries give you, the compile-time guarantees they provide, and how they help reduce the number of classes in your app, and therefore make it simpler to debug and maintain.

Keep it simple

As an Android app needs to run on devices of different capabilities, speed and resolution, and with different-sized screens, you will always have to test and maybe update your app to make sure it works consistently with them all.

Keep in mind, they are not your components, you don’t own them, they could be destroyed at any point in time because of something a user did, or because the system needs some memory back. Store only the really important application data or state in these components.

App development can be complicated and time consuming, therefore you need to set milestones in advance. The ideas presented above show how a thoughtful approach to developing an app can lead to creating a user-friendly product, which can be also extended as business gets bigger.

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