We reinvent the wheel all the time, literally every day, but sometimes, we rely on existing platforms or services. This is because they provide capability we couldn’t otherwise achieve, or just provide a high quality service at such an affordable cost that we’d be foolish to not take advantage of their offering. We’re talking about third party services, and they are a fact of life in app development. Here are some we use a lot and recommend:
Depending on your needs, there are very low cost web hosting packages available and numerous hosts. For a more robust solution, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the world’s largest online storage and hosting capacity. Their services are long established, well featured and well priced (comparatively). If you’re hosting a simple landing page, then a the former is likely the simplest option for you. We tend to recommend AWS (or one of the competitor products like Azure or Digital Ocean) for anything more complex, such as a web portal or the CMS for a mobile app.
Simple Email Service (SES) is an email service provided for free as part of AWS. There are some hoops you need to jump through to set it up, but it’s relatively painless once you know how and we’ll do this for you. You’ll need something like SES if your product includes a web server that needs to send emails.
Apple Developer and Google Play accounts are needed to publish iOS and Android apps on their respective app stores. This is literally where your app goes up for sale so your customers can download it. These accounts are inexpensive, but require annual renewal. Both Apple and Google also provide Enterprise level accounts that allow you to deploy internal apps to staff directly from your company web site.
Google Maps and HERE Maps provide excellent mapping services, for a hefty price. Google allows some use of their mapping capability for public use without charges, but in other circumstances you will need to pay ongoing fees for these services. You’ve also got native mapping systems such as Apple maps which are also an option.
Wowza provide excellent video and audio streaming servers. It isn’t cheap to use Wowsa. There are free products and open source code available that provide streaming capability, however we haven’t found an alternative product that is fully featured, well supported and maintained – so Wowza remains our h4 recommendation in this field.
You’ll be familiar with push notifications if you have a smartphone. They’re those little messages that pop up and tell you something about an app you have on your phone. It might tell you that you have a new message, your Bluetooth is turned off, there’s a sale on, your app needs updated or your car is arriving now for example. These are generally handled through third-party providers that we integrate your app with.
Analytics are powerful and highly recommended, no matter what type of app or website you’re creating. There are many different types available on the market and Apple developers get some essential analytics built in like learning how many downloads they’ve had and what countries they are coming from. Google Analytics is fairly standard, but there are countless options that we can run you through. Understand your customers, improve acquisition and drive retention/sales.
Many of our apps connect with social media platforms. You may wish for users to sign in using their Facebook account, share content to their Twitter feed, save an image to Pinterest or perhaps track conversions from advertising conducted on social media. Social media is widely used and relatively easy to integrate with, subject to your objectives.
Many apps require payments to be processed. This is a prime example where it is not worth the time and money reinventing the wheel. There are fast, secure and clever payment providers that we can connect your app with. Whether you want to use Stripe, PayPal or something else, taking payments from customers for goods or services is a breeze.
There are other services that might apply also, depending on your circumstance. We’ll help you identify the services you might require, and what the associated costs might be.
We do ask client to setup their own accounts with these service providers, for two reasons:
These accounts may require ongoing renewal and payments for the lifetime of your app, so it is important that you be aware of what these services are and how to access your accounts. We discuss this further in the topic maintaining accounts.
There are Terms and Conditions associated with the accounts that you will be bound by and will need to acknowledge (or disregard) at your own discretion.
We can reassure you that setting up these accounts is not at all difficult. In many cases we can provide documents with step-by-step instructions and pictures to guide you through the account registration process. Alternatively, we’re happy to sit with you and do it together for a small charge.
Similar to third party services, we’re also likely to talk to you about SSL early in your project. We discuss what SSL is, when you need it and why, in the next topic.