[ 3 features your Android app can benefit from (part 3/3) ]

Customizing default applications Android is famous for its customizability. A great example of that is the possibility to change default applications to open different kinds of data. Think of a web browser, camera, gallery, music and video player. It is good for healthy competition and for users that can take the most out of the apps they love. Even better, that default application can be yours! Undoubtedly, it is good for user retention and their usage activity. iOS doesn’t allow to change default applications globally. Applications there are allowed to open only links to their websites. Gmail, for example, has internal settings where you can change what applications will be opened by default to view certain kinds of content. But these settings apply only to Gmail itself. So, your app can definitely benefit from being a user default application on Android, but how do you get the user to choose yours? It is important to provide a great user experience and meet user’s expectations. Your application doesn’t necessarily need to be just a photo viewer to become a standard application to view photos. You can have a cloud synchronization application that has a photo gallery functionality. If you also give users an ability to take great photos with the phone’s camera, your application gets a chance to become also a default Camera application. You have a chance to score already in 2 default application categories by just adding new functionality that would be useful to the user in any case. It is a win-win situation. But keep in mind — that functionality must really stand out, as the competition is strong. Similarly, you can have a chat application, but you can also allow the user to view their SMS messages. So they don’t need to switch to another application when receiving a 2-factor authentication key. And vice versa: when receiving an SMS users would also be able to see other latest updates in your application. Facebook Messenger and Skype Lite allow also to view and send SMS And how do you encourage users to choose your application as a standard one? If users have installed your app, you are already halfway to success. After an application that handles a certain type of content is installed, Android resets default application settings for that content. Next time the user attempts to open a photo, video or whatever your application also handles — they will be prompted with a picker where they would be able to choose from all applications that handle the data. Users can choose to open content permanently with a particular app or just to open it with any of them once. So it is very important for your application to pass this trial. Make sure you proceed straight to showing the user’s content, without showing advertisements, what’s new, onboarding or even worse — login prompt. It might be tempting to do that, but that’s a decisive moment when you can lose the user’s trust or patience. If you manage to achieve the love from the first sight effect — there would be many more chances to engage customers to use your applications and services. Unique opportunities Mobile applications do not always enjoy as much attention as corresponding websites or desktop applications. Due to that fact they often remain an inferior version of the websites, or even worse — just represent its copy, not adapted to the mobile world. However, mobile phones and tablets, as the users’ most personal devices, can deliver much more traffic. The fact that they don’t might be a sign of lack of a good mobile user experience. Besides the common and anticipated UI patterns, this includes features that are specific to each mobile platform. In this part we considered some unique Android features that can push forward your Android app: Notifications make an extension of an Android application, allow to see and control its background activity, like music playback, backup or content synchronization; Google sign in/Smart Lock (and in future One Tap sign in) can make the login process as simple as just clicking one button, without compromising the application security. Account Manager in turn allows to share credentials between several applications that use the same account and makes it visible to the users where they are logged in and what information is being synchronized by each account; Ability to customize default applications on Android creates additional use cases where your application can take action. It can be chosen to play audio files, browse or take photos, read and send SMS, view or edit office documents, even though it might not be its primary usage scenario. To put it briefly: plenty of unique opportunities to make your mobile application stand out and increase customer conversion and retention. It might be tempting to save costs on mobile development, expecting that it would be enough for users to install a mobile application as a reminder of its website. But ask yourself, would you rather spend money on a product that you use occasionally when working on a laptop or PC, or on a product for a mobile device, that you use on average four hours a day? That’s why it is important to consider mobile products as full featured applications and use the unique features that a particular mobile platform has to offer. The insights we shared in this and previous blog posts will help you to give a boost to your applications on Android.