Mobile Apps Development Trends: Voice-Enabled Apps

Businesses develop mobile apps for different reasons. The main objective is to improve their interactions and relationships with potential customers with higher sales in mind.

Today, every leading brand has a mobile app. Small businesses have also joined in and developed apps to keep up with the trends.

While businesses try to catch up with functional apps, the trends are already changing. Brands have moved from the usual type and swipe interfaces to voice search.

The latest trends in mobile apps development now include voice-enable apps. Some brands like Pandora and SnapChat have already shifted to this trend.

Here is the challenge with many brands. Technology changes every other day as brands try to give their users the best experience possible. Unfortunately, most brands are slow to implement new trends.

Do you remember the response when mobile friendly websites were introduced? Many companies continued with their old website designs until it began to affect their traffic and sales.

Voice search has been here for a while with the likes of Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa.  You must have tried these searches by now. The trend is now infiltrating mobile apps development.

Should you consider the trend or “wait and see”? Before you brush off the idea, let us look at some of the benefits of voice-enabled apps

Stay ahead of your competitors

Very few brands have voice-enabled apps at this time. In fact, some brands are still trying to fix bugs in their apps while the world is moving to voice search.

Your brand can be the first in your industry to add voice commands to your mobile app. Do not sit back and wait to see how the trend goes. Many phone users are already using voice search daily instead of typing.

You have an opportunity as a business or brand owner to stand out before the next trend comes. Voice capabilities can be a marketing tool on app stores and other platforms before your competitors catch up with the trend.

Hands-free operation

Why do users speak into their devices instead of typing? In most cases, they have no time to sit and type every letter. Phone users are looking for capabilities that minimise distractions from their work or activities.

Phone manufacturers identified this need and introduced voice recognition capabilities. Now, phone users can open their devices, call or send a message and exit without touching the screen.

The capabilities enabled phone users to multitask. They can confirm a meeting while on the move. They can order a product while working out.

Voice enabled apps provide the same convenience. Your target customers can search for a product or request for information about your brand while on the go.

Once users know they can give such commands easily and fast, they will interact with your app more every day. Increased interactions will lead to higher sales, especially from returning customers.

Quick search results and insights

Voice capabilities enable customers to find the information to make a purchase decision fast. Customers can easily find out if an item is in stock.

The search results are fast in comparison to a whole page of results that an app gives when a user types in a query.

Your business benefits further from quick insights based on the customers’ queries. You can tell the kind of products that your customers are looking for from their voice commands.

In addition, your app can recommend related or complementary products to the customer while they interact with the app.

All the customer has to do is answer yes or no to the queries and the items are added to their carts.

Low development costs

You might be thinking that voice capabilities will cost you an arm and a leg to implement. No, the trend is affordable. You can redesign your current app to include the capabilities.

When speech algorithm was first introduced, app developers would take years to fully implement it. It is now an easy and fast process with a speech SDK.

Your part is to identify the right mobile app developers that know how to embed speech recognition capabilities to apps.

If you are considering redesigning your mobile app or developing a new app, voice capabilities should be part of your list of features.

User friendliness

A simple task like checking the price of a product will take many taps or clicks to complete. Even if you try to minimise the number of clicks, the customer will still spend more time locating a product.

Voice search makes an app more user friendly because we naturally speak faster than we type. Some devices are also slow in responding to commands.

Speech recognition capabilities enable customers to bypass many steps, which improves their experience with your brand.

Users will begin to associate your brand with speed, convenience, and improved customer satisfaction. In addition to loyalty, you will get more recommendations to potential customers from your satisfied customers.

Remember that e-commerce is only getting better and more competitive. You need every opportunity to market and differentiate your brand.

Customers will expect it

Enabling voice search is not just a matter of keeping up with mobile apps development trends. Mobile phone users have already shifted to voice commands on search engines.

Speaking into devices instead of typing or swiping is the new norm. In the near future, customers will not consider the new technology as an advantage.

Instead, customers will expect competitive brands to have voice enabled apps. Customers expect that businesses follow and implement trends.

If you lag behind, you may lose some customers and opportunities to market your brand as a leader in the industry. Your competitors should not set the pace for your brand to follow.

Final thoughts

Mobile apps owners must wake up to the reality that the voice-enabled apps are now a trend. Voice search is becoming the most preferred way of interacting with brands, especially when searching for products or services online. As the technology advances, customers will prefer brands that keep up with trends to give the best experience possible. If you seek to maximise e-commerce sales and increase brand competitiveness, consider embedding voice capabilities to your app.

Show us some Love:

10 Ways to Identify Fake Loan Apps in Kenya

The debate on whether loan apps in Kenya are helpful or enslaving continues. In fact, some people have termed loan apps as modern-day shylocks.

The arguments do not matter much to those facing financial constraints. Most people borrow to meet their basic needs that their income cannot meet.

Recent reports from different groups including the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Digital and Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) warn Kenyans of rogue apps.

Are you using a fake loan app? Read on…

Statistics

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in association with the government and the FSD conducted a study on mobile lenders. The team produced the Digital Credit Audit report.

The study showed that by September 2018, the two main app stores, Google PlayStore and Apple’s App Store had 110 mobile loan apps.

According to the findings, 74 unique app developers had developed money lending apps.

By April 2019, 65 out of the 110 apps were no longer listed on the app stores.  Instead, 43 new developers joined the stores and introduced 43 new apps.

The changes within just a few months raise many red flags.

The team found out that most of the digital lenders are neither SACCOs nor banks. The lenders are not accredited to any financial institution.

This means that if you save with the lender, your savings are not secured in any way. In addition, such lenders are not insured.

If established banks go down, what do you think of unregulated digital lenders?

If more than half of loan apps are pulled down in just 7 months, why should you consider borrowing money from loans apps in Kenya?

Ways to identify fake loan apps

If your income can meet your bills and emergencies, you may not think of a loan. Again if you can access an unsecured loan from a local bank, an instant loan may never cross your mind.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of Kenyans. Many depend on loans to survive.

Banks have also turned to online lending after the stringent rules that the Banking Amendment Act 2016 introduced.

Hence, if you don’t land in the hands of private digital lenders, you will end up in Mshwari, KCB-Mpesa loan, Stawi loan app, Kopa Chapaa by Faulu, Timiza from Barclays, Eazzy loan from Equity or Co-op Cash.

You may not qualify for a loan from these apps. Your alternative is private or international lenders like Tala, Zenka, Branch, or Saida.

New names have also in the Kenyan market such as Berry Loan App, KopaKash, Okash, Tumiwa, Uwezo Kash and Pezesha among others.

How can you tell if you are just about to borrow money from a rogue digital lender?

1. High registration fee

According to the Digital Credit Audit report, rogue lenders charge anywhere between Ksh.200 to 400 as registration fee.

Of course, the lenders know by now that borrowers are looking for free apps. With the high number of apps in the stores, coming clean with the registration fee is not an option.

Look out for claims that the fee is for checking your CRB record or score. You will never see the evidence that they actually checked your score.

Actually, you may not have access to the app after sending your registration fee. Some begin malfunctioning immediately and deny a fresh registration with the same details.

2. Data access

Beware of the permissions you grant to any app including loan apps when installing. For instance, an app may request to read your exact GPS location, which is expected with loan apps.

However, why should you grant permission to your phone gallery or messages/SMS app? Some will not install until you grant access to your call logs or your device identity.

A genuine lender does not need such information. You never know how the app owners use such information in this age of cybercrimes.

Also Read: Top 5 Instant Loan Apps in Kenya

3. Mimicked names

We know about brands like Tala, Branch, Fuliza, and Coop Cash. As you search the app store, you will come across loan apps in Kenya with twisted names.

For instance, you may see Tala Kash, Fuliza Sasa, Tala Pewa Loans or Mkopo Branch Rahisi.

Such lenders target borrowers who are unaware of the right brand names of loan apps. Stay away from such apps.

4. Rewards or prizes for referrals

If you need to refer other borrowers to an app to gain points, rewards, or qualify for a higher amount, you are in the wrong hands.

Some fake apps will not even grant the first loan before you enlist other borrowers and earn enough points.

Your creditworthiness should be sufficient to qualify you for a loan from a genuine lender.

5. Minimal details asked

How easy is it to qualify for your first loan? Is the app promising a high amount even with a low credit score?

Lending online does not eliminate the need to verify the identity and creditworthiness of the borrower.

If the lender needs few personal details to issue loans, chances are they have obtained the information illegally. Else, the app may go down at any time after earning a high interest from you.

See Also: Safaricom’s Fuliza Wins a Prestigious Award Months after Launch

6. Fake physical address and contacts

Most borrowers do not bother to check the contacts and address of digital lenders until they run into trouble. Check this information first no matter how pressing your financial need is at all times.

If you cannot get through the phone numbers given at any time of the day, discontinue the service. A loan app should be accessible and functional 24/7 with a quick support team.

7. Negative reviews

Do not believe every promise that an online lender makes. Check other borrowers’ reviews on the app store.

If all you read are complaints, do not ignore and assume that your experience will be different. Check the lender’s response to the complaints as well.

8. Exorbitant interest rates

Even the best loan apps in Kenya charge higher interest rates than banks do. However, rogue apps go beyond the normal rates for apps.

Compare the interest rates from established brands first to determine the prevailing interest rate.

9. Sudden changes in terms

Have you ever used app, qualified for a certain amount but your limit went down after payment? Loan apps promise to increase your limit when you pay in full and on time.

If the terms change suddenly, you are probably dealing with crooks who cannot sustain their business.

They come up with excuses for penalizing defaulters or changing loan limits even with evidence of previous communication.

10. Frequent breakdown 

Here is one more red flag for rogue loan apps. An app hangs when you are trying to request a loan or choose a longer repayment period.

The malfunction rarely comes before you repay for the first loan or send the mandatory registration fee.

If you can hardly complete a process without a dysfunction, you are most likely using a rogue app.

You will not miss the red flags if you do your homework. Do not take chances. Seek for information before you share your confidential data with unknown digital lenders

Show us some Love:

Bulk SMS Kenya: Should you Choose SMS or Push Notifications for your App?

Bulk SMS Kenya is a service that many app owners do not think about until the last minute. The greatest concern is always the number of downloads. When thousands of people download an app, the owner relaxes and assumes all is well.

The expectation is that the engagement rate will increase with each new download. Here is the reality. Downloads do not lead to engagement. You must give users reasons to open your app every day where possible.

Two ways to do that is through push notifications and SMS. The effectiveness of these methods of communication is the subject of this discussion. Let us start with the definitions.

Definitions of Push Notifications and SMS

Push notifications are messages that an app send from its server to the user’s interface. The user view notifications on the mobile device or desktop depending on the settings. Some apps allow users to choose the type of notifications that an app sends to their interface.

Apple was the first company to introduce the service in 2009 before Google introduced its service in the following year. Since then, companies have been adopting the form of communication for their solutions. The trend has been introduced in mobile apps development as well.

SMS stands for Short Message Service. Text messages have existed throughout the history of mobile phones. However, their popularity increased in the 1990s when companies adopted the service for commercial activities.

Bulk SMS Kenya is a popular service. It has attracted many providers because of the increasing demand. As mobile apps and e-commerce platforms become popular, entrepreneurs realise the need to invest in the service.

Mobile Engagement through Push Notifications

It is important to note that every method of user engagement has its pros and cons. Push notifications offer the option of combining both text and images. The notifications often play a sound and show an icon to alert the user.

You can play around with notifications to include interactive buttons that allow users to respond to the notification. Push notifications are associated with a higher level of user engagement. They do not just remind the user of the app but prompt a specific action.

By clicking on the notification, the user may go directly to the app when a link is provided. Another advantage is that users can opt or out of the notification. Users can either block all notifications from the settings or choose the type of notifications to receive.

The downside of push notifications is that is they can be disruptive and annoying. Think of apps that are highly interactive such as social apps. Notifications for every time a connection takes actions are too much for some users.

Users end up either blocking all notifications or logging out of an app. Such actions mean loss of opportunities to convert for app owners. Hence, the timing and content of notifications must be right.

One advantage of push notifications over SMS is that they are free and unlimited. As a mobile app owner, you can send as many notifications as necessary at no cost. Some companies that offer Bulk SMS Kenya charge after a specific number of messages.

Push notifications are suitable for apps whose functions require constant reminders. For instance, fitness apps need to send constant reminders to users to work out. Users sign up for social apps for engagement with other users and so push notifications are less disruptive.

Bulk SMS Kenya

Travel apps such as airline apps need to send notifications to users to remind them of scheduled flights. In short, if you need to remind users of important activities or actions, push notifications are recommended.

For push notifications to work as intended, avoid sending them in the morning. Nobody wants to wake up to the sound of a notification.  Avoid sticky notifications and ensure that the message is relevant.

You do not need to send a notification every day unless your app requires that. For instance, working out or adopting a new diet requires daily reminders. Make the messages relevant, useful, and engaging at all times.

Engagement through SMS

The alternative to push notifications is SMS. Some apps require that you use both bulk SMS and push notifications. Why send text messages while you can send notifications? One, you may need to confirm the identity of users.

Consider finance apps or delivery services that require user authentication. The mobile phone number is often part of the verification process. You need to send a message to confirm registration or provide a verification code.

Delivery and transport services require SMS services. Think of users that book a service online and then switch off their data. How do you deliver their orders without an alternative communication channel?

Transport companies will often send a message to both the client and courier to confirm an order and delivery time. You can also send alerts or warnings to clients via SMS. For instance, you will find banks sending SMS alters to all clients of new fraudulent activities.

Healthcare services use SMS to reach a wider market with warning or alerts of outbreaks or new services. Text messages are a great way of introducing discounts or offers to clients. Clients are prompted to log into the apps and view the products or services on offer.

The downside of SMS is that they may attract an additional cost.  Bulk SMS Kenya is free to a limited number of messages. Sometimes you may need users to reply to a message, which attracts a cost for them as well.

Another downside of using SMS is that some users consider them as spam. It is difficult to personalise every SMS. Hence, companies end up sending the same message to all clients. Sometimes the same message will appear in a day and users dismiss them as spam.

Conclusion

Choosing the right engagement tool is now easy with this information. The first question to ask before contacting any service provider or developer is, does my app need this service? Will it improve communication with clients or annoy them? Consider the type of app you have developed and the kind of alerts that the user needs. Think about the frequency and timing of both SMS and push notifications to maximise on open rates. Remember that Bulk SMS Kenya services may attract a cost. There is no harm in exploring both tools at the same time to optimise user engagement.

Show us some Love:

How to Maximise App Downloads Through Social Media (Updated Guide)

As the leading software developers in Kenya, we took you through the process of generating a new app idea. You got an outstanding idea, built an app and made it available on all major stores. The big question now is, how do you maximize downloads?

You probably know that social media is an effective marketing tool. You could be using it for your business but, have you thought of the app? Many app owners miss on potential users by ignoring social media.

In this guide, we will show you how you can use different social media platforms to leverage the usage of your app. Remember that the more social platforms you engage the wider the audience you reach.

Let us know look specific platforms.

Facebook

Do you get tired of scrolling your Facebook timely? Yes? Well, social media users still think Facebook is the best way to connect. Look at the statistics on the figure below.

Figure: Active Social Media Users as of April (2019) in millions

Source: Statista

Facebook has maintained its top position as the most popular social platform. It has over 2 billion users worldwide. Facebook Messenger has over 1 billion users already.

The statistics show the potential reach when using Facebook as a marketing tool. If you target users beyond Kenya, you could reach millions or even billions of users with your app. How do you get there?

Creating an account on the social platform is just the first step. You need to keep your followers engage with relevant content. Choose high-quality images and video content with catchy captions.

Explore Facebook groups in your niche. You can start a group if none exists or engage those in relevant groups. You need not talk about your app all the time. Participating in discussions keeps your business visible.

Even with the best content and activity on the platform, you can only get so many pages likes. Facebook offers opportunities to promote your content and page. The good thing about the ads is that you can customise the audience to reach your target users only.

Instagram

Visual content sells faster than textual content on social media. Instagram is the perfect platform for pictures and images. From the statistics shared above, the platform has more than 1 billion users already.

About 70% of Instagram users are below 35 years. Hence, as you plan your Instagram marketing campaigns, think about this age group. About 60% of all Instagram users check their accounts daily.

For this platform, you need to share catchy images with a short description daily. The story feature gives you an additional platform to market your app. Most users spend time checking recent stories.

The advantage of Instagram is that you can posts several images, videos or a combination of both as your story. The story will disappear after 24 hours but your app will remain visible to users for as long.

You can also promote your content on Instagram to reach a wider audience. Target the younger audience when defining your target market. If your app targets young phone users, you have one strategy to explore.

Encourage your followers on Instagram to post their content for a prize. Contests will always attract new users to your business or brand. For instance, users can share their experience with your app through photos or videos.

You can also request screenshots of your downloaded app for a prize. Remember that users want to increase their followers as well. Hence, posting their content on your account makes them visible to a wider audience as well.

Twitter

Twitter has a relatively lower number of users compared to Facebook and Instagram. However, you cannot ignore the 300 million plus users on the platform. Look at the growth in the number of users since the first quarter of 2010:

Source: Statista

You have less characters and a limited number of pictures to share on Twitter. However, if you can keep up with daily trends, you will keep your app visible all day. Use the relevant hashtags for the day to make your tweets visible.

You can also search Twitter and discover the most relevant conversations in your niche. The conversations may not be trending at the time. However, your participation increases your visibility.

Here is another visibility strategy on Twitter. Follow influencers and participate in their conversations. Reply to their tweets and tag them in new tweets as well. One mention by an influencer with millions of followers makes your brand visible to all the followers.

Twitter has an advertising platform as well where you can promote your brand or tweets. The ads will show in all major hashtags of the day. Choose the content of your ads carefully to attract new followers.

YouTube

The demand for video content has been increasing over time. More than 87% of all marketing professional user video content and so should you. Software developers in Kenya will tell you that social media users cannot get enough of viral videos.

Consider the following statistics:

Consumers prefer YouTube videos to all other types of videos. Hence, you cannot run a social media campaign for your app without a YouTube channel. You have a potential audience of1.9 billion YouTube users.

Keep your video clips short, enticing, and relevant. The first few seconds should entice viewers to keep watching the video. Give tutorials on how to use your app in the videos.

You can also create slideshows of different features on the app. The videos are not limited to the app or your business. Think about interesting topics that are relevant to your target users.

WhatsApp

In the past, WhatsApp was an alternative way of texting and sharing files. Today, WhatsApp has become a major business tool. About 1.6 billion people have downloaded the app.

One way that businesses have been using the app for marketing is creating groups. You can invite new users to join your group and share content. Keep the content relevant and useful to retain your group members.

WhatsApp is also an excellent way of answering questions from consumers. Many would rather type in a question and get a prompt response rather than call or visit a website. In addition, the channel gives you a platform to collect feedback from actual users.

Additional tips for marketing an app on social media

1. Start marketing your app on all platforms during the development process. Do not wait until the app is launched to talk about it.

2. Gain as many followers as you can on all platforms including less popular platforms such as Snapchat or Pinterest

3. Leverage influencers on all platforms to make your app visible to their followers

4. Share live videos on Facebook, YouTube or IG TV before, during, and after the app launch

5. Use your target keywords on social media to make it easier for target users to find information about your app

Conclusion

Social media is a cost-effective method of promoting any product include a new mobile app. While still working with software developers in Kenya, get the word out about the upcoming app. You already know the features of the app. Hence, you have more than enough information to start social media campaigns before the launch. Sustain the social media campaigns even after the launch to retain acquired users and get new downloads.

Show us some Love:

Safaricom Results in the Eyes of Software Developers in Kenya

Why would software developers in Kenya be interested in Safaricom’s financial results? Well, there are enough reasons to keep up with the performance of top companies. Investors anticipate such results for the dividend payout. Software developers see beyond the numbers.

One of the questions that arise every time Safaricom PLC announces its results is the low financial status of its clients. The company has maintained the largest share of the market since it was established 18 years ago. Other mobile services are still trying to catch up with the company’s strategies and increase their market share.

For software developers, the interest is in the products and their contribution to the company’s profits. Developers are also interested in the company’s technology and business strategy, given that many of them are entrepreneurs. Let us first look at the numbers that interest developers.

Safaricom financial year (2019) results at a glance

The telecommunication company gained 63.1b in revenues in the financial year ending 31 March 2019. One of the notable figures in the results is the contribution of Mpesa to the revenue. The platform now contributes 31.2% of the revenue.

Related: The Success Story of Mpesa in Kenya

Safaricom has been improving the Mpesa service. Today, the platform can handle about 1,200 transactions in a second. Think about this level of efficiency and processing capacity. Kenyans are still signing up for Mpesa services include new merchants.

In the reported financial year, the company registered 2.1m new customers. The total number of active Mpesa users is now 22.6m. Safaricom also introduced the Fuliza service that allows customers to overdraw their Mpesa account.

About 8.8m customers had already opted into the services within 3 months of its introduction. The transactions for the Fuliza service in the 3 months were estimated at 29 billion. Safaricom has also been building its global partnership.

Based on the results, more than 11,000 customers transact on the Mpesa-PayPal service per month. Mpesa customers are also using the service to purchase apps. The customers have purchased more than 5,200 app from Google PlayStore and paid via Mpesa.

The recently launched partnership with AliExpress is also taking shape. Money transfer via Western Union is possible to more than 500 agents and over 3 billion bank accounts around the world. Safaricom customers can transfer and receive money from any part of the globe.

Lessons for software developers

Reading the number is interesting, especially if you are a Safaricom customer or shareholder. However, we will go for the lessons and not the numbers for now. What can lessons can software developers in Kenya take home from these results?

1. The contribution of software developers

Safaricom’s largest service to its clients is voice calls. However, the Mpesa platform has grown to become one of its largest contributors to its revenues. In the reported financial year, the service contributed 31.2% of the revenues.

Mpesa is of interest to developer for several reasons. The service started as a software development project in school. Safaricom bought the idea and developed it to a popular means of mobile payments around the globe. How much more would developers achieve if their engaged their creativity right from college?

Software developers in Kenya can create similar solutions that can revolutionize business or any other field. The question is, are developers thinking beyond the current trends? Kenyan developers have the capacity to set new trends instead of copying global trends.

The increasing popularity of Mpesa is of interest to developers. The current demand in the market is for software development and Mpesa integration services in one package. As more clients sign up for Mpesa payments for local and global transactions, the demand for the integration services increases.

2. The rising demand for loans

Developers have introduced many loan apps in the Kenyan market. However, Kenyans are still looking for alternatives. In less than 3 months, more than 8 million Mpesa customers had already tried the Fuliza service.

The tough economic times are pushing mobile phone users to look for quick soft loans. The reality is that most loan app users are subscribed to more than one service. One is never enough because of the low limit at the beginning.

The market for loan apps is still ripe. With the right information on how the financial market works, new entrants will make money through loan apps. Another requirement is choosing the right developers.

Safaricom is already revolutionising the loan market with Fuliza. The company has also signed partnerships with financial institution to enable clients to access soft loans from their accounts. Hence, new entrants must think beyond the available services in the market.

We cannot emphasize the need for differentiating solutions enough. The tendency to copy ideas has moved to the software market as well. Differentiation sets a solution apart in the market, which translates to a higher number of active users.

3. Providing high-capacity solutions

Software developers in Kenya need to learn the art of introducing functional solutions from Safaricom. The Mpesa processes more than a thousand transactions in a second. The challenge here is for developers to create such efficient solutions to their clients.

Phone users have no time to wait for minutes for a page to load. If an app is slow or unreliable in delivering a service, users look for the next best alternative. Such moves are bad news to appreneurs.

If you want to get referrals from your clients, create outstanding solutions. Push every solution to the best performance level possible. Give the right advice to your clients to improve the performance and speed of their solutions.

Software engineering is not a walk in the park. It takes months to create an outstanding solution. However, developers can improve their speed of delivering their services. In addition, developers can learn some business development strategies from Safaricom such as product diversification.

Final thoughts

Software developers in Kenya have a lot to learn from one of the leading companies in Kenya. Safaricom has set the pace in the telecommunication industry. Modern technology including software engineering technology has contributed to its outstanding results over the years. The consistency in offering reliable services in a turbulent economy is a challenge to all entrepreneurs including developers.

Show us some Love: