As a rule, the term “micro” is used to express a smaller size of anything related to computing. Initially, there were first computers or mainframes, followed by minicomputers and finally the micro ones appeared. Currently, the term “micro” is mostly used to describe software, e.g. micro services or micro applications.
You might heard about micro application for the first time, however, you had already used it. Micro apps have already been used in the desktops as small system admin utilities (for example, an application to report on the free volume of your hard drive). A micro app is an application with highly task-based functionality oriented to the consumer. Due to this highly focused and targeted functionality, the micro apps are very important for the strategies of enterprise mobility. The micro apps provide maximum efficiency of interaction and task performance.
The concept of micro applications covers two main principles: targeted capabilities combined into a mobile app and tasks performance at maximum level.
Micro apps is a perfect solution, since they can serve as separate apps or as components integrating together in order to fulfill the working requirements.
Where and When You Should Use Them
The micro mobile apps are not the mobile apps, which represent a reduced version of a website, PC application or service. They are the best option for enterprises, which can quickly develop many of micro solutions (backend services, improved user interfaces, etc.), which may be used as separate applications or elements for the fulfillment of employees’ needs.
Look at an example: Some manager enters an HR micro mobile app and approves timesheets for the week being on the way to the office. In a moment, he/she receives some email and approves vacation requests. Thus, several administrative tasks have been performed faster than the boot of the office PC. That is how micro mobile apps work.
Micro apps simply access individual processes within the underlying enterprise system and turn them into easy-to-use mobile applications. Quick and uncomplicated, these micro apps remove complexity from common tasks, while maintaining the integrity of essential business information. Built with a specific, common task in mind, each micro app zeros in on that task, removing clutter and any non-essential information, allowing your people to accomplish common tasks in minutes, wherever they may be and on the devices, they prefer to use.
Micro mobile apps will be a perfect choice of companies, which want their personnel to use a particular enterprise application. Therefore, the app must be better than its alternatives. A perfect micro mobile app increases the user’s’ efficiency and productiveness, saving their time.
A micro mobile app has many advantages of use:
Fast and simple access. Most of a company’s employees abandon enterprise software due to poor usability and slow operation. A micro app is an option of fast interaction with the required functionality, since the ability to work quickly is important for users for both business and personal needs.
Customized interface. Micro apps can be optimized for various demands and categories: a specific user type, a specific set of devices, a specific workflow, etc. The end users will appreciate an application interface, which will fit to their specific use. Companies often make mistakes when creating the same software interface for all departments and employees.
Micro applications can be used on all devices, both desktop and mobile. It is very useful for employees, the working process of which may require using of several devices. They must be flexible and dynamic to follow the needs of modern environment.
Micro Mobile Apps Trends
Micro mobile apps are becoming a major trend in the application development space. The markets of applications (Apple Store and Google Play) are overfilled with micro mobile apps – 2 million and 2.2 million respectively. On average, every user installs no less than 40 apps, however; only 3 or 4 are of active use.
One of the major trends of micro mobile apps is the replacement of paper-based processes. A variety of paperwork and processes may be eliminated in favor of mobile transformation. In addition, it will result in optimization of the processes themselves and improved time management. This replacement does not require any tortures of developers in creation of micro app, since there is no need in fancy interface or design. The main objective is to achieve simplicity and speed for the process. As a result, some clicks, swipes, drag and drops will save a great amount of time and tons of paper. Here is the benefit of a micro app in a large enterprise.
Another trend of micro apps is Disposable Mobile App (DMA), which lies in a specific need of a particular function (camera, location, etc.). Such applications will be highly used in cases, requiring fats response and reaction. The cases of use may include disaster management, service disruption or other critical events, in which a micro mobile app may become a key mean of remedy or help. Here is an example of such benefit: in 2014, the severe storm damaged the rail infrastructure in the UK. The operator managed to deploy an engineering workforce quite fast (within 48 hours) in order to make the appropriate repairs. It was possible due to the use of an app, which allowed capturing of pictures indicating the major damages and their location.
Micro mobile apps can benefit a lot to any scenario or process, providing the essential information.
The advantages of micro apps can be highly appreciated in the following cases:
- Driving test. Examiner’s assessment of a learner;
- Registration of customers in loyalty program by a retail manager;
- Inspection of store by mystery shopper;
- Inspection of building by construction manager;
- Conduction of consumer survey by market researcher.
There are many other examples of micro mobile apps use and potential. Many companies utilize such simple drag-and-drop apps for various needs in their areas of activities. These apps do not require astonishing and laborious development and can be quickly realized, tested, improved, and deployed as a full working application.
How to develop Micro Mobile Apps
The development process of any micro mobile app should include the key elements of a successful and useful application. A micro app must be easy and usable in order to perform its main purpose. The development of a micro app should be relied on the following:
1) Locate the main functions upfront to engage the users.
2) Make label menu categories user-friendly.
3) A “go back” step should be simple, avoiding return to home screen.
4) Manual change of location should be easy to deploy. Auto-detection is not always preferable.
5) Search field is one of the important elements. Make it prominent.
6) Use an effective search indexing, including spelling correction, root words recognition, prediction of text and other interesting features.
7) Sort and filter options will improve the organization of results.
8) Allow the application to keep previous search data.
9) If an app is used for shopping, provide comparison features.
10) Offer several payment options in order to increase the customer flow.
11) Be careful with registration inquiry. An app will be abandoned if asking about personal information upfront.
12) Make the authentication procedure as simple as possible by using different authentication methods (e.g., fingerprint touch login)
13) Avoid any limitations for information entering forms.
14) Deploy an appropriate keyboard to enter data.
15) Helpful tips in context of forms will be very welcomed.
16) Try to avoid specific terms or phrases in order not to scare a user away.
17) Visual information should be accompanied with visual keys or text labels.
18) Any action should have a visual feedback.
19) Zoom level of image should be controlled by the user.
20) An app must request permissions from user for important actions.
Considering the amount of micro apps available in the market, it’s a trial to draw attention of potential users. For this reason, your micro app must excel from abundance of various other products in order to be found and used. If it was downloaded, it is only half of success. According to statistics, about a half of all downloaded applications is removed in a minute after the download. To prevent it, your micro app should show its value from the very beginning.
Micro Mobile Apps Development Costs
The cost of development of a micro mobile app depends on the following factors: platform, timeline, resources, category of an app, post-launch maintenance, developer’s brand name, technical complexity, design etc.
A simple micro mobile app for one platform (e.g., Android/iPhone/Windows Mobile) will cost around $5000. The average price fluctuates from $8000 to $15000. Actually, in most cases a micro mobile app is a kind of investment, which will bring money after its launch. Therefore, you should understand that the money you invested should provide value to your business.
If you have a limited budget, you may focus on some particular features of an application, meanwhile reducing costs for less important functions or options.
The main thing to be remembered is that a micro mobile app has to attract and restrain its potential users.