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Wednesday, 14 October 2015 19:30

Bringing apps and technology into board games

In the last decade the board gaming hobby has made a triumphant resurgence into many people’s lives. Gone are the days where the only games families will play is Monopoly and Cluedo. On the popular board gaming website Boardgamegeek.com they have 79,944 board games registered in their database.

But with so many board games being published each year they are struggling to get noticed by the players and the market. To combat this, board game designers needed to think of an innovation to add to their games which would make their game stand out in an over saturated market and entice the players. This innovation started to take play in early 2014, and it came in the form of mobile apps to assist or enhance gameplay in board games. There are three primary board game app categories:

  1. Full gameplay. These apps would consist of being the entire game in digital form.
  2. Buddy apps. These apps would help the users track game information such as their health points and score.
  3. Core apps. These apps are the core foundation of the game, and without the app the game is nigh on impossible to play.

Buddy apps have always gone down well with the board gaming community. They are not aiming to replace any gameplay functionality and just aim to support the current user’s play, or enhance it. A popular example would be One Night Ultimate Werewolf’s app. It merely adds narrative, and sound effects to the game which could have easily been read out and played by a player.

The controversy comes from core apps. With these apps most of the gameplay elements are captured in the application, making players concerned that if the app or devices are no longer supported in the future then it renders their game unplayable and obsolete. This is not an uncommon fear with technology outside of board games.

Often technology companies are scared by how software scales, and its longevity. However, many board game players were quick to defend apps in gaming as a principle of “If the game is good, the app will be supported for a long time”.

Popular core apps games include Alchemist and XCOM.

Alchemist is innovative with its use of apps as it allows the player to play the game to acquire ingredients to use in his alchemy, then input those ingredients into the app to determine if the potion worked. This can all be done without an app (so longevity is preserved), but is a long winded process.

XCOM on the other hand, uses its app to set real-time mission objectives, and tells a player what is going to happen on a given round which that player must then communicate to the rest of the team.

The reason I say popular is because these are the only two games in boardgamegeek’s top 500 which have core app games.

So what does this mean for technology in board games? Well, this has happened before. In the 80’s and 90’s board games used conventional electronics and motors to enhance gameplay. Case in point, remember the game Operation. There hasn’t yet been a game released in 2015 with a core app game.

Seeing as this is still a experimental concept to the board game industry I think it would be very risky to create a startup which caters to this niche of apps. However, board game mobile apps (full gameplay) are on the rise. Carcasonne (ranked 112 on BGG) is currently sitting #2 on Google Play’s board game listing with 100,000 – 500,000 installs at SGD$4. So if you are looking for a technology startup in an industry in its golden age, then maybe board games are just for you.

App Annie is one of the tech industry’s most important sources for tracking app trends and performance across the globe. For the first time, the firm is leveraging its extensive data to make predictions for the global app landscape in 2016.

Danielle Levitas, App Annie’s senior vice president for research, shared key insights from the company’s just-released report at Infinity Ventures Summit in Kyoto today and sat down with Tech in Asia to elaborate on her predictions for Asia.

Here are five things to keep an eye on in the coming months, from App Annie’s Top Predictions of 2016 report:

1. Asia’s ‘platform messengers’ will continue to lead in terms of average sessions and time spent in-app – but watch out for Facebook

Asia’s ubiquitous messaging giants offer more than cute stickers – they’ve evolved into all-encompassing wonderland of services in a bid to keep users in-app. Line and WeChat now offer ecommerce marketplaces, taxi hailing, games, and much more.

“[They] started as messengers and turned into platforms,” Levitas tells Tech in Asia. “There’s a dramatic difference between Asian and Western messaging apps, but Facebook wants Messenger to become a platform as well.”

App Annie predicts that average sessions per user will increase “incrementally” in western markets, but continue to trail competitors in Asia.

“Asian messengers have more than two-times as many sessions, and that means more opportunities to ultimately monetize,” she continues.

See: The amazing ways WeChat is used in China

2. Move over in-app purchases, subscriptions are the new hotness

Speaking of monetization, App Annie expects to see more loot coming from subscriptions, following the strong performances of music streaming apps, HBO Now’s on-demand video service, and dating kingpin Tinder’s premium “Plus” tier.

“In-app purchases have traditionally been a fantastic revenue driver […] but what we’re starting to see, and expect to see more in 2016, is subscription revenue through the app in the form of premium services and content,” Levitas says. “Dating apps, especially, have seen significant increases in subscriptions over the past year.”

More broadly, in-app advertisements are also set for a boost. Safari ad-blocking in iOS 9 is expected to push mobile ad publishers (at least those targeting iOS) deeper into the app ecosystem, which could translate to dollar signs for app publishers that rely on ads.

3. VR and AR will be big in Asia, especially Japan – but it’s still in the ‘hype’ phase

Asia’s rich gaming culture will likely translate to early adoption of virtual and augmented reality.

“Core gamers, especially Asian gamers, have proven to have a propensity for buying things before the general population does – broadband subscriptions, high-definition TVs and monitors, advanced peripherals,” Levitas says.

Samsung’s tie-up with Oculus is noteworthy, but she predicts the Japanese to dive into virtual worlds first.

“Japan has always been a country that adopts new technologies faster than other parts of the world,” Levitas says. “The Asian market, and specifically the Japanese market, wants virtual reality.”

 

She notes that mass adoption is still a few years off, but “hype” for VR and AR will continue to increase in 2016.

4. Consolidation coming to the crowded O2O space

App Annie’s new report says that the last two years represented the “innovation phase” of the online-to-offline (O2O) ecommerce industry. Growth breeds competition, and in the ecommerce world, competition often drives down prices. That’s great for consumers but it creates a spike in user-acquisition costs for ecommerce companies.

“The game space is constantly evolving, with new upstarts getting bought by big publishers – just look at Activision and King.”

For Japan’s notoriously RPG-heavy domestic gaming market, she says that acquisitions could help domestic publishers enter genres that are popular in foreign countries.

“If you think of arcade-style games, casino games, they do really well in North America and you don’t see them here,” Levitas adds. “In order to grow revenues outside of the home market, acquisition makes sense if you buy into genres that aren’t germane to the local market.”

5. All eyes on India

OK, we get it – India is hot, hot, hot right now. App Annie’s excitement adds substantial fuel to the fire.

“Globally, the market that we’re really focusing on is India. There’s been a lot of stagnation in mobile phone adoption in more mature markets, but India has had phenomenal growth,” Levitas says. “Given the sheer size of India, and with [smartphone] penetration still so low, it’s going to be an exciting market to watch.”

She points to fintech, news, and education as potentially hot verticals.

“Connecting individuals from a business and finance perspective, helping the average consumer get access to news and educational resources – the need-based market will evolve alongside the want-based app economy.”

Since mobile apps are usually free to download, we often think that these apps are free. But this is not the case.

To create great apps, an efficient mobile app development process requires a number of efforts, a strong foundation, excellent planning, an extraordinary ecosystem, and a perfect team with skilled human resource.

The cost of apps varies due to a number of factors and the market conditions at a particular point in time. It also largely depends on the type of the app which needs to be developed.

According to a survey in which almost 96 app developers were interviewed, the average cost of developing a mobile app is US$6,450. There are various components which derive the cost of an app and it may differ from market to market and product to  product.

Let’s take a quick look at the factors which can truly determine the cost of developing a mobile app:

1. Research

The first and foremost phase of developing an app is research. The success of your app largely depends on the amount of research done before the execution of the plan. Hence, it is the first area in which we need to invest in, and that too very cautiously.

Good research does not mean more cost for sure – it depends on the type of research and the data collection methods. The primary purpose of research is to understand the market needs and demand.

The primary source of data collection is much more expensive compared to secondary sources, but is definitely much more reliable. You can also interact face to face with the users, which gives a better estimation of their requirement.

This helps in enhancing the quality of the end product. But for this type of data, we first need to identify our consumer segment, where secondary data comes in handy at a very reasonable cost.

Now, the ball lies in the smartphone app developers’ court to make the decisions of investment. Startups usually do not have sufficient time and resources to pay more heed to this very important segment, while already established companies can afford to make a huge investment in research.

2. Human resource

One of the most crucial factors which determines the cost of your app is the people working on it.

It is very important to understand this fact that skilled labor makes a big difference, although they can charge a bit more than the inexperienced, but then they come with a quality and guarantee.

The next element in this phase is to decide whether to go by the in-house developers, or get it done offshore. The cost varies widely between both these components. While in-house developers are a reasonable cost, offshore developers are expensive to hire.

Had I been in your place, I would have opted for a blend, a mixed team of all these different resources. A team of experienced developers for their skills and attention to detail, and a few fresh developers to put in those extra efforts and their innovative ideas.

This can help you to maintain the budget of the mobile app, while working with people who can get you to the timely completion and success of the app.

3. Regular updates/ maintenance

Whenever you see that a new version of an already installed app is available, you tend to update the app as soon as you can. Sometimes the updates is so minor that you wonder what has been updated.

But what is minor for someone may be important to others.  A team of developers are always working to provide the users with the best possible technology that they have.

It is one of those significant levers that enable an app to retain its position in the market. The average maintenance cost of even the smallest of projects is not insubstantial – it’s almost US$3000 per month. This is one of the lowest estimates. The size of the project and the cost of maintenance goes hand in hand, and could cost up to US$25,000 per month.

Again, it depends on the companies, and how often they update their apps. The cost will largely depend on this decision.

Almost 30 percent of the existing mobile apps are being updated at least once or more in a month, while another section of 52.8 percent apps are updated in a gap of six months.

4. Testing

Testing is a symbolic element to determine the cost. It is ultimately important to conduct an extensive testing before the launch of the app.

The first testing may not be the last testing. So there is a possibility of repetitive testing in case of non-achievement of the desired success rate. To add to that fact, you may need to make some changes based on external feedback.

This will add an extra burden to your budget, but it is hard to avoid this cost as it directly impacts the success rate of the app.

5. Mobile platform and devices

Defining the mobile platforms for which you are developing the app is sensitive in determining the cost of the app at large.  Four major platforms which are available in the market are iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows. Each platform is different and will have different sets of integration.

Different platforms mean different costs. If you choose to develop an Android app, it will give you a pain in your neck as it has more than 18,000 different devices and screens and will pose a difficulty to ensure that the app is working fine on all the devices.

This segment needs multiple efforts to make the app available on all the devices, whereas iOS needs to support only a handful of devices, so Android apps are said to be the most expensive apps to develop.

6. Time

Time is another factor which can conclude the cost. The more extensive an app would be, the more time it will take. More time would definitely mean more cost as it requires an additional consumption of resources.

7. Native apps or hybrid apps

Native apps are those apps which are designed for a particular platform and can be installed through app store while hybrid apps are not designed for a particular platform.

It is said that native mobile apps are relatively faster but costlier to create than the hybrid apps, and thus both types of apps can hugely affect the total cost of developing an app.

Conclusion

There are no such definite factors which can lead you to calculate the cost of development of applications. Here, I have tried to quote all the possible factors which significantly impact the cost of development.

There could be different factors or different market conditions which have an impact on the cost and cannot be determined as such. The actual cost all depends on the time and the people associated with it.

Increase in mobile wallet usage

In 2015, we saw the emergence of mobile wallets that have made payments much easier. People who were once wary of sharing their bank information online thought of mobile wallets as a great way to pay for products and services online. In India, many mobile wallets like Mobikwik, Paytm, PayUmoney, Oxigen grew in prominence. Globally,Google Wallet, Apple Passbook, and Paypal have revolutionised the way people shop online.

According to Verifone, mobile wallet users have increased by 4 percent in the US. The primary reason behind this increase is due to the amount of money that the customers are able to save by using these wallets. These wallets tie up with popular ecommerce companies and other service providers to simplify payment processes for the users.

There are the three main benefits of mobile wallets. Firstly, users are able to make hassle-free online payments. Secondly, the mobile wallets benefit from the commission they get from ecommerce sites and thirdly, revenue is generated by ecommerce companies due to increased sales.

Personalised push notifications

Mobile apps are not something that can just be launched and forgotten. In order to increase the chance of app retention by the user, the app must be able to offer a user experience exclusive to the user. For instance, if you book a flight ticket using a mobile app, the app should be able to provide you with the status of the flight or deals on the hotels in the city you are visiting.

Personalised push notifications change the perception users have of the app.

Everyone loves receiving attention, and such notifications that put users in the center of attention have always been well-received. Ecommerce apps can also take advantage of this trend in their own ways. A user can be informed of a drop in price of the product that he or she already has in the cart or has recently searched for.

Deeplinking everywhere

48% of mobile users look for a product or service using a search engine. This is where deeplinking comes into play. Search results should be programmed to take the users directly to the section of the app where the searched product or service is located. If the particular app is not installed on the user’s mobile phone, the user should be taken to the app store.

Deeplinking, however, should not be confined to search engines. It should be everywhere, particularly on social media websites. An ad on social media pages should be deeplinked to the app, so that when the users click on them, they are directed to that product in the app. Deeplinking has reportedly boosted the sale of ecommerce companies by 12-15%.

App-only offers for user acquisition and retention

Businesses are going mobile. 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and mobile apps account for more than 89% of the time a user spends on the mobile phone. These stats clearly show that mobile apps have finally arrived, but a low retention rate becomes a trouble. Surveys suggest that 25% of the apps were used just once in the first 6 months of ownership.

App-only offers have helped brands retain their users on the app. Many users have been driven towards installing apps and retaining them in their mobile phones when they were offered deals that could be used only through these apps.

Increase in purchases through mobile platforms

With an increasing number of smartphone and tablet users, the purchase of goods and services through mobile devices has increased manifold. The add-to-cart conversion rate is the highest for the tablets at 8.58 percent. Tablets are handy and due to their bigger screens, and are the go-to device for online shopping. Another survey suggests that 56 percent of users prefer making purchases from a mobile phone or tablet over desktop or laptops.

In 2016, we are likely to see a greater surge in the number of purchases made through mobile devices. This is due to the availability of cheap internet usage and inexpensive smartphones.

Metrics necessary to calculate app retention rates

“If you can measure it, you can improve it.” There are certain metrics that need to be tracked, calculated, and analysed. App retention rates are one such metric. If surveys are to be trusted, an average app loses almost 77 percent of its users within three days of installation.

Specific data about app retention rates, including the stages leading up to when the users abandoned the app, need to be tracked and calculated. This helps the developers work on problematic areas and create a better user experience.

Responsive email a must

Moving on to the marketing aspect of the app, email is a crucial factor to consider. Opening emails on mobile phones has increased by 180% over the last few years. Emails sent to users for promotional purposes must be responsive so that they render well on smaller screens. Over 22 percent of companies optimise their emails before sending them to prospective customers.

Now that the trends are quite clear, devising a mobile strategy for your business for 2016 will be an interesting task. Having said that, it is also evident that mobile platform is moving very fast and it is impossible to predict everything that might be coming. However, at least, we will be better prepared to take on challenges as they show up.

Whatsapp just hit a billion monthly active users this morning. It’s a big deal for Facebook, because that means it owns the top two messaging apps in the world by user count.

But the news is meaningful in another way. Whatsapp now has as many users as Gmail, the most-used email service ever. In other words, mobile chat is now as popular as, or more popular than, email.

Whatsapp’s fast rise to the top is remarkable considering it started from nothing in 2009. Gmail already had 150 million users then.

The story doesn’t end there. Other chat apps like WeChat and Line are getting staggering user figures, and they’re making tons of money as they suck up more of their users’ time.

Sure, business chat apps like Slack and Flowdock are still in their infancy, but companies are increasingly using them for internal correspondences. Whatsapp is also being used for such a purpose.

While communication between companies is still mostly done through email, chat apps are more than capable of handling that, as Japan’s ChatWork shows.

Email seems destined for relegation to the museum, as text chat is being used for a rising number of things, from customer service to product updates to buying things.

Gmail grew in spite of mobile chat’s rise because it adapted to the rise of smartphones by developing mobile versions of its service.

But its growth is likely to peter out soon. There was only so much the horse carriage could be reinvented before the car took its place.

The mobile app market is overcrowded with millions of apps. In order to stand out, your app needs to bring in a combination of exceptional performance and great design.

What first attracts a user to the app is its look and feel. The functionalities and features are important, but come into play only when the design is successful in engaging the user. Moreover, the functions of an app has to be in sync with the design, so that app screens are optimised and can handle the user heavily navigating the app.

We often see app designers make terrible mistakes with the app design. The mistakes may be attributed to their lack of knowledge and experience, or inability to understand the specific need of the app and its target audience. App design mistakes can make or break your app. The first impression of your app means a lot and if the app fails to cast a good first impression, it rarely gets a second chance to prove itself.

Common app design mistakes lethal to your app

Cluttered app design

A mobile app is accessed on a device with a small screen. Stuffing too many things on the app screen may lead to an app being illegible, which would dissuade the users from continuing with the app, especially when there are similar apps in the market.

A minimalistic approach needs to be followed while designing the UI/UX of a mobile app, and only the most vital components should be there in the app design. Distributing these components among different screens of the app is also a good way to decongest the app, and at the same time offering the same functionality to users.

Lack of visual cues

A design may appear very simple to the app designers, as they spent a lot of time building it.

However, for a first time user, the same design may appear vague. If there are no visual cues, the users may get perplexed and abandon the app. To prevent such an occurrence, it is advisable to make the designs intuitive and provide universal cues like conventional symbols and navigation models.

The design principle should be uniform, so that once the users get used to the initial navigation, they can move across the app using the same principle without getting stuck.

Lack of standard icons

At times, in order to be unique, app designers do away with the standard icons that have been designed by acclaimed mobile designers.

As the users might be more familiar with these icons, doing away with them can spell confusion and might lead users to abandon the app. With the plethora of options available, a user might be able to uninstall your app and look for a replacement in a shorter amount of time than it takes to learn to use a complicated app.

App design not in sync with the operating system

Every mobile operating system has a unique design layout that makes it stand out. When a mobile app is in coherence with this design layout, it would appear to be integrated into a part of the platform. The users too, would tend to trust such apps more as it better aligns with the standard of the operating system.

For instance, the latest Android version has a specific design pattern with a set of UI elements themed in a particular manner. Stick closely to that, and you can’t go wrong.

A mediocre first impression

The first impression of the mobile app design largely decides whether the users will continue with the app or abandon it.

If your app is able to cast a gripping first impression, chances of the users going ahead with the app increase manifold. The rate of users abandoning the app on first impression is relatively high, at 20 percent. It is therefore important that your app passes ahead of this stage and offers quality features at later stages to engage the users.

Design inconsistency

There should be a consistency in the design of your app. When a user navigates through the app for the first time, he or she picks up the pattern that can be used to better understand the app. If there is no consistency, the initial learning experience of the users is wasted. This is one of the reasons that fuel the abandonment of the app at a later stage.

The ease with which the users are able to use the app must also be maintained.

Web design influencing the app design

When you design a mobile app, you need to come out of the skin of a web designer as the two are different from many standpoints.

In the case of a mobile app design, the emphasis has to be on making the design legible for mobile users. The buttons should be large enough to ensure that the users are able to click on them without fiddling with other buttons. Only relevant design elements should be used so that the app screen does not appear congested.

Concluding thoughts

These mistakes need to be avoided at all cost if you want your app to be widely accepted by the users. The app should be made as intuitive as possible. App designers should take note of these pointers so as not to repeat them while designing their apps.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 18:05

How to make your mobile app go viral

Let’s admit it — we are addicted to our phones. An average mobile user checks their phone150 times a day. It comes as no surprise that we will be ever more addicted to technology in the next 40 years.

Is it merely luck that apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Candy Crush have become deeply ingrained into our daily lives? Not at all.

Through careful research, analysis and experimentation, these companies have cracked the holy grail of hooking users on their app by creating a habit out of its use. This is a technique that most companies have not heard of, much less experimented with.

This is what separates apps that are used every day from the majority that are used exactly once.

How do these apps create a habit anyway?

Nir Eyal, through his research and experience in applying techniques to manipulate and motivate users toward desired behavior, proposes a 4-step cycle for which habit-forming products are created, called the “Hook Model”.

1. Trigger (cue):  A trigger is what makes your brain go into automatic mode and perform an action. This could be external triggers (push notifications, emails, paid advertisements) or internal triggers (loneliness, boredom, fear, discomfort) creating the urge to perform an action.

For example, an external trigger through a Facebook push notification when a friend posts on your wall causes you to perform an action.

2. Action (behavior or routine): A behavior or action is performed in response to the trigger.

For example, opening your Facebook app to read your friend’s post after receiving the trigger in the form of the push notification.

To initiate a given action or Behavior (B), a Trigger (T) is required to activate the behavior, along with the user having sufficient Motivation (M) and Ability (A) to complete the action. This is the Fogg Behavior Model, and is represented in the formula B = MAT.

3. Reward: The reward or benefit of performing the routine tells your brain if this particular loop is worth repeating in future. This can be in form of receiving attention, feeling accepted, feeling important, having a sense of competency, etc. For example, a sense of feeling important upon reading the Facebook post.

B. F. Skinner has found that making rewards unpredictable and random amps up effect of the reward. This is commonly found at casino slot-machines.

4. Investment: Allowing user to put in a small amount of effort, an “investment” while using the product.

This makes the user place a disproportionately higher value on the product, as they partially helped create the product. This is also known as the “IKEA effect”.

These investments are about the anticipation of long-term rewards, not immediate gratification. For example, to reply and start a conversation on the Facebook post. While there is no immediate gratification, the reply makes you anticipate a response, which keeps you coming back for more.

How do you create habit-forming product?

Building habit-forming products is an iterative process. There are three main steps to create a habit-forming product.

1. Recreate the journey of a successful user

The first step of building a habit-forming product is to understand what works. To do this, take a successful user (a paying customer, an evangelist) and retrace their steps to success. Map out all the touch-points from the first interaction up till when they become a successful user.

Then, using the “Hook Model” discussed above, identify weakness in the existing product and evaluate new ideas that are potentially habit-forming. The journey will be tailored toward taking all users in the direction of your successful user.

2. Iterate touch-points that are potentially habit-forming

Charles Duhigg, in his book, suggests a method to alter habit. He suggests that to adopt a new habit or to change an old one, start by identifying the cue (trigger) and the reward of an existing habit and then replace the routine (action) of the old habit with the new.

He also recommends to keep the cue and the reward as similar as possible, because habits are so ingrained in our brains that we are frustrated by any change in the routine, even when it’s for the better. This is very clear from our experiences, with the outcry that happens every time Facebook pushes a redesign, even when it’s for the better.

Here are few things to consider when changing a routine.

Make incremental iterations. Reduce the impact of change by changing only small things at any one time. Use A/B testing tools such as VWO and Optimizely to conduct incremental iterations without coding.

Consider allowing opt-ins to the change, so you do not annoy your existing loyal users.

Use onboarding tools. While the iteration ideally should be intuitive enough that it doesn’t require onboarding, you might still need to guide users along with the new processes. Tools such as Walkme and MyTips are useful to help familiarize users with the new changes.

3. Run both qualitative and quantitative analyses

Analyze the effects of changes using both qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate if the journey you have iterated is moving users towards the direction of your successful user.

Quantitative tools for data analysis

Use quantitative analytics tools such as Mixpanel and Amplitude to understand which users are along the journey to success.

Through data analysis with these tools, we are able to form hypotheses on what can be improved and test them out.

Qualitative tools for UX analysis

Use qualitative analysis tools such as UXCam (for mobile) and HotJar (for web) that, through Session Replays, allow you to see how users are using your product and understand where they are struggling.

These tools let you see how users are completing an action in real time, to better help understand whether users are doing a task habitually (or not). This helps in identifying cues and routines that impact the user’s behavior.

Going Beyond

Companies are using habit-forming techniques to build products that “hook users” and make them regularly come back for more. While it’s a space that has recently started to gain traction, the techniques for building habit-forming products are advancing as we speak.

Smartphone applications have completely changed the way of our life. They have opened up a world of possibilities, from ordering your favorite food to saving money, shopping, booking tickets and much more anytime, anywhere, without any restrictions. In particular, ecommerce applications are opening incredible opportunities for businesses to find the new customers. 

You might have heard that “India is the largest country in terms of WhatsApp users” or that “Android is one and only winner in number of app downloads.” These facts never fail to amaze us.

As such, I have collected 15 interesting facts about mobile apps you probably never knew.

1. In summer 2015, more than 100 million apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store.

In summer 2015, Apple saw a huge growth in the number of application downloads, with more than 100 million downloads in total. Gaming apps were the most popular category with the share of 22.49 percent of all downloads, and business apps were the second most popular category with a share of 10.38 percent.

2. Android is king with 1.6 million total available apps

The Google Play Store is the leading app store with a total of 1.6 million Android apps. On the other hand, Apple’s iTunes is the second largest app store with a total of 1.5 million apps.

3. The average Android development rates per hour are the lowest in India and highest in North America

Research shows that the average price for Android development in India is just $26 per hour and is the highest in North America at $168 per hour.

4. India has the largest number of WhatsApp users, at 70 million users

WhatsApp is a global application with a strong user base of around one billion users worldwide, among which India is the largest country in terms of monthly active users. In May 2014, India had 50 million active users on WhatsApp, which increased drastically by 20 million within a short duration of 5 months. By October 2014, the total number of Indian WhatsApp users crossed over 70 million.

5. The most popular Android applications are downloaded more than 1 billion times

The most popular Android applications including Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook and 8 others have more than 1 billion downloads each as per June 2015. Also, the majority of free and paid Android apps are downloaded more than 100 million and 1 million times respectively.

6. Facebook is the most used mobile application in 2015

Facebook alone acquired 76.8 percent of total smartphone users and the Facebook Messenger is the second most downloaded application at 62.5 percent. The other most used phone applications are YouTube and Google Play.

7. 66% of users spend most of their time on social apps

In 2015, most of the traffic observed was from social networking applications, and it is reported that around 66 percent of people were on social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, for a longer duration than on other apps.

8. Android has more downloads, but iOS has a much higher revenue

While no other operating system beats Android in terms of total app downloads, revenue generated from iOS is significantly higher than that from Android. In 2015, the number of Android applications downloaded was twice that of iOS. Despite this huge difference, iOS raked in 75% more revenue compared to Android.

9. Mobile applications are predicted to drive $77 billion in total revenue by 2017

Since the inception of Android and iOS, there has been a huge growth in app revenue every year. By the end of 2017, the total revenue from mobile applications is predicted to hit $77 billion, a huge increase from the $18.56 billion in revenue in 2012.

10. By 2017,  the number of application downloads is expected to hit 268.69 billion

The increasing number of smartphone users daily is resulting in a huge growth in the number of application downloads. In 2009, a total number of 2.52 billion smartphone apps were downloaded, a small fraction of the nearly 268.69 billion smartphone apps predicted to be downloaded by the end of 2017.

11. Apple users spend 24% more time on iPhone apps than on iPad apps

On average, Apple users spend a total of around 40.4 minutes on iPad apps and 50.3 minutes on iPhone apps. However, the session length is higher on iPad apps compared to on iPhone apps.

This means that while Apple users tend to check their iPhone applications more frequently, they spend a longer time on iPad apps than on iPhone apps each time the app is opened.

12. Personalization applications were the fastest growing smartphone application category in 2015

Personalization applications such as wallpaper and emoji apps were recorded to be thefastest growing app category with an increase of 332 percent in session duration. On the other hand, news and magazine apps have seen a growth rate of 135 percent, placing them in second position after personalization apps.

13. In the US, adult users spend an average of 4 hours 39 minutes per month on communication apps

Adult US smartphone users spend an average of 4 hours 30 minutes per month on communication apps, which include Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder.

14. Smartphone users spent the most time on gaming apps and the least time on lifestyle apps

Users spent almost 43 percent of their total smartphone usage time on gaming apps, with time spent on social networks coming in second at 26 percent.

They spend around 1 percent of their total smartphone usage time on health and fitness apps and lifestyle apps each.

15. Push messages lead to higher app user engagement

Push messages in phone apps are really useful to increase the user engagement. According to research, push notifications led to a 28 percent increase in engagement in news applications and 60 percent increase in engagement in social media apps.

Know of any other little-known interesting facts about mobile apps? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Since Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, there is no question that photo apps are a very hot place to be for startups. I think they’re still ripe for disruption, Instagram has only about 400 million monthly active users.

There are still hundreds of millions of untapped smartphone users out there who could easily be swiped away from Instagram. Here’s a look at the best out of Asia. (I’ve excluded popular folks like Instagram or Tuding because they weren’t built here in Asia, the latter being from Finland though mostly used in China).

But the truth is, it seems users don’t even care about filters, more than half of Instagram users don’t even use filters.

I think most of the draw of Instagram has been the social network that’s built and ease of use. Some of the apps below do a good job of that, others not.

The nice thing about these photo apps, is it gives you a good idea of how each of these countries is innovating.

Vietnam-based fintech startup Momo today announced it obtained US$28 million in series B funding from Standard Chartered Private Equity and global investment bank Goldman Sachs, which is an existing backer.

Launched in 2014, Momo is an ewallet and payments app that allows users to pay online and transfer money to each other digitally. At selected stores, the app can be used for cashless payments.

The company also has a physical network of over 4,000 over-the-counter agents where people can remit money and avail of other financial services through Momo.

Momo claims to process millions of transactions daily for its over 2.5 million users in Vietnam, where banks and smartphones are not accessible in some areas.

CEO Pham Thanh Duc says the startup will use the fresh investment to “accelerate Momo’s growth by continuing to invest in the launching of new products and services, expanding bank and merchant connectivity, and extending the nationwide installation of Momo point-of-sale terminals at retail outlets.”

He adds that Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs are the right partners because of the synergies Momo could create with them.

Goldman Sachs previously invested US$5.75 million in Momo. Standard Chartered, for its part, teamed up with Momo to provide the “Straight2Bank” wallet payments for the bank’s corporate clients in Vietnam.

The service enables corporations and government organizations to make payments directly to their beneficiaries via the Momo wallet.

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