Getting apps right - lessons from the Guardian and Glastonbury

Mobile access is no longer niche - it is mainstream. Two speakers at Online Information shared lessons in how to develop successful mobile apps.

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Tips for mobile success - don't forget the dull stuff

Tom Hume, the founder of Future Platforms, believes that the development of successful apps can often depend on getting the ‘boring' stuff right.  In the same way that Apple's success was as dependent on logistics as it was on great design, app developers need to think about more than the bells and whistles. 

Hume's company has been developing mobile apps for 11 years and has developed 150 mobile products.  Last year, Future Platforms worked on a successful app for the Glastonbury Festival.  He shared some lessons learned.

Battery life

Despite the availability of ‘chill and charge' tents, many people will not recharge their devices for the duration of the Festival.  The app needed to be designed to use as little battery charge as possible.  The choice of background colour can make a difference to battery usage and a small minority of vocal users will make it known if they discover your app is draining their battery. 

The internet is not free!

The app should be designed to use the network efficiently.  App developers should keep an eye on what is going over the network and ensure that data usage is minimised.    The Glastonbury app was designed to ensure that, when changes to the Festival programme were made, only small bits of data needed to be updated.


Some Android device users will want to be allowed to store your app on their storage cards.  Once again, if you are making this available to them, a small but vocal minority will let it be known!

Some app trends

An increasing interest in 'the quantified self' will see more apps providing measurement tools as a means to self improvement.  Examples are sleep pattern monitoring apps, and Nike's tracking apps for runners. 

Developers will make more use of sensors to extend and augment the senses.  These apps will provide new ways to see, and map, the world.

And finally....

Mobile is no longer a 'project' - it is simply too compelling to ignore.  And judging by the numbers of people in the auditorium who raised their hands when asked if they were currently working on developing apps, it is something that information professionals are well placed to focus on.

Steve Wing and Tom Hume were speaking at Online Information 2011.

Photo by Christiano Betta courtesy of Flickr.

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