The Perils of Mobile App Bloat

Keeping trim isn’t just a commandment of fitness buffs – it’s also a goal for many mobile app developers. As you develop your next mobile app, it’s important to keep in mind the dangers of bloat and how you can work to prevent it from happening.

Where Bloat Comes From

In the beginning, PC users relied on “anchor apps” – in other words, a mainstay app such as a word processor that a user is likely to work with on a daily basis. As competition among anchor apps increased, so did the number of features they offered. This resulted in an abundance of features and supporting functionality comprehensive enough to keep users from venturing to another app or the operating system itself.

Of course, this also led to developers duplicating a large number of common features within their own anchor apps. The advent of graphical user interface (GUI) resulted in innovation, but each addition of an innovative feature also introduced levels of redundancy, as new mechanisms were simply added on. The end result usually manifested itself in the form of a sluggish, bloated user experience (UX) that also made it difficult for developers to add new features.

The Potential for Mobile App Bloat

Considering the prime motivators of software bloat, it seems that the mobile app’s inherent nature helps mitigate such worries. Unlike a word processor, most mobile apps are tightly focused in purpose and, given the consideration of mobile developers for the hardware and operating systems they’re working with, often designed with the limitations of those ecosystems in mind. As a result, it would seem that mobile apps shouldn’t be subject to the same bloat worries as those surrounding PC-based apps.

However, the advent of more powerful platforms combined with feature creep threatens to introduce mobile app bloat. It’s tempting to accommodate the needs of all mobile app users by adding more features, commands and controls, but doing so can also introduce multiple redundancies that ultimately weigh an app down. For example, creating your own mechanisms that are already present in cross-platform app development could lead to inconsistencies that make it difficult for users to take advantage of what’s already offered by the platform itself.

Trimming the Fat

Overall, there has to be a balance between adding innovative features that’ll enhance a mobile app and allowing feature bloat to take hold. For instance, a creative staffing app might benefit from the ability to upload resumes and update work availability, but features that are not tightly focused on helping users and recruiters should not be introduced unless their functionality is absolutely necessary.

In the end, remember that people want to maintain control of their devices and not let their apps take over. Although you might be tempted to use the OS to gain visibility or attach entry points, it doesn’t mean you should at every turn.

Ensuring that mobile apps don’t succumb to the problem of bloat helps keep both the purpose of an app and the end goals of the developers highly focused and on track. In order to find out more about the perils of mobile app bloat. Contact us today.

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