Apple closed out 2017 with an announcement that sent shockwaves through the mobile app development-community and that is slowly reverberating throughout the business world. If your organization has an app available in the iStore, or plans to in the future, you need to be aware of how the game has changed.
Effective January 1, of this year, the Apple iStore will no longer accept apps from third parties. Instead, the actual owner must submit these apps. Additionally and perhaps more alarming, clones, apps created from “out-of-the-box” templates, and those lacking rich and original content will not be accepted. The third-party rule means that neither small independent contractors, nor the large houses with thousands of clients, will be allowed to submit apps for their customers on their accounts, but instead each business for whom the app is created must have their own account. The clones and rich content is a little less clear, and seemingly subjective, but in general indicates that websites merely wrapped in an app, copies of existing apps, or those quickly created using templates will not pass muster.
The policy applies only to new apps, so those already approved will be grandfathered in…. for now. That could easily change and likely will, and it is also not a stretch to think that Google Play Store may also soon follow suit with a similar set of guidelines for Android apps in order to remain competitive with iStore. Either way, with Apple’s new rules alone, literally thousands of businesses across multiple sectors including the restaurant and retail industries (to name a few) will be negatively impacted by this update and will need to scramble to create mobile app solutions that meet the new guidelines. This is an update that can have a potentially devastating impact on a business financially.
Apple has some very legitimate reasons for what some believe to be a draconian approach. A lot of apps created with templates or cloned en masse disable iOS security features, leaving the user and networks vulnerable to malware or other attacks. Cyber criminals will spool out, in droves, all manner of nefarious apps, like music services that don’t pay royalties and shut down when discovered, or those used to merely collect user’s personal information for future scams. The mass production of apps, which are often more website than app, tend to clutter the store, and probably help to explain why 80% of downloaded apps are churned within three months as they just don’t really offer the user anything of value. A little housecleaning is in order.
So, what’s a small or medium enterprise, which may be caught up in the crackdown, to do? Businesses can choose to pack up their tent, abandoning the thriving app market and missing out on the opportunity for a deeper connection with their customers, which is short-sighted and hardly the spirit that made them the successful endeavors they are. Or, organizations may retrench and commit to delivering a truly unique and worthwhile app that customers will use and appreciate. We at GeneXus suggest the latter, and stand ready to offer our assistance in helping businesses develop the sort of resource and tools that will resonate with their audience, as well as conform to Apple’s strict criteria for submission. And best of all, the GeneXus solution for automating mobile app development is cost-friendly and flexible compared to other platforms.
It is because of our platform’s ease of use and flexible pricing (in addition to our high customer satisfaction), that Gartner named GeneXus NEW Challenger in its 2017 Magic Quadrant for App Development Platforms Report.
Mobile apps have an enormous capacity for a deep connection with users because, for one, they are on mobile devices and are consequently with or available to the user at most anytime and in most any place – that’s a marked advantage over a desktop and should be exploited. Nearly all mobile devices have cameras and GPS, which can be used to enrich an app. With GeneXus, taking advantage of these inherent accessories is a snap, and even a non-tech type can develop a vibrant, mobile app in less than an hour, using natural language instead of intimidating computer coding. Businesses just need to put some thought into what they can offer, maybe survey their customers or see what competitors and even other organizations outside of their sector are doing, and of course, consult GeneXus staff or their community of users for ideas. We allow employees to bring their creative ideas to fruition, while we do all of the heavy-lifting on the back-end – you create, we automate.
Here are a few suggestions for what is possible when developing a mobile app with GeneXus:
- An electronics or mechanical parts supplier may offer a feature that allows users to snap a picture of a particular, unidentified “thingamajig”, which they need to replace. The app could search a database for a matching pic and return possible suggestions, pricing, stocking status, specs and other pertinent information, then process an order for the part. Doing so would save the customer and supplier the excruciating game of 21 questions so often played, when trying to figure out what “doohickey” someone is trying to describe.
- Health clubs can provide a virtual, training coach, even speaking words of encouragement, and allow for tracking of workouts and overall progress. Functionality could also be implemented that enables members to monitor one another’s attendance at the gym, and send messages of props when they are showing up and admonishments when not.
- Taking advantage of the push notification, a restaurant or store might offer flash specials, if it is a slow day to pump it up a bit, and at other times just to keep interest.
- Loyalty programs are a breeze to administer, when customers are able to flash a QC barcode from their phone.
- Through GPS tracking a business can, in combination with a check-in feature, run a scavenger-type hunt of places to visit, or maybe push out a notification of a special offer to folks when they attend a certain event.
- Eateries can provide a calculator that determines the total calories in a particular order, or suggest an off menu or chef’s special based on previous orders.
All of the above and more is possible. To nail it will probably require some creative thinking, but that’s what made so many businesses what they are, today. With GeneXus’s live-editing, adding or removing a feature is a quick walk in the park. And once an app has been created for Apple iOS, it can be easily regenerated for use with Android and other platforms. All apps created using GeneXus are automatically cross-platform compliant.
Another benefit of note that comes with a successful app launch is that it can help with search rankings. Google factors in the usage of mobile apps, in determining rankings for search results. Solid app shows a commitment to digital presence and online customer experience, and Google rewards that.
The best approach to Apple’s new policy is probably to view it as an opportunity to excel and to take your business to the next level and into the future. A chance for affected businesses to further digitally transform and fully adopt automated software generation. A stepping stone to creating programs for every group within an organization, for both internal and customer-facing operations, and for mobile and desktop units. These new Apple policies might be frustrating and seem like a major disruption to business as usual, but change can ultimately be a good thing (and change is constant so maybe we should have the tools that allow us to maximize opportunities from change).
To see just how easy GeneXus is for the Average Joe or Jane to master, I encourage you to attend our upcoming, live event “How to Build Enterprise Mobile Apps for Android and iOS in Under 1 Hour,” which will be held in New York on January 30th (6pm-8pm). If you won’t be in NY on that day, then you can sign up for our newsletter (below) to receive video of the presentation.
We’ve got you covered.
It’s a New Year and it’s going to be a great one. There are lots of cool features in the pipeline for our platform that we will be rolling out over the next several months, so stay tuned.
I hope that you are as jazzed about the next 12 months as we are at GeneXus and that 2018 will be your best year ever.
Much appreciate your continued readership and please feel free to contact me directly to discuss your company’s technology needs.