We try (!) to explain our world (the terms, languages and platforms that we use)...
AI or Artificial Intelligence
The million-dollar question. At its most basic this is a description of computer systems being capable of performing complex tasks that historically only a human could do, such as reasoning, making decisions, or solving problems. Recently, there has been a lot of coverage of generative AI which is using AI to create content such as text (ChatGPT), images, music and video.
A term often used by developers to impress and confuse clients! It stands for "Application Processing Interface" and is essentially the set of rules one system requires to work with another system. For example "if you want the answer to this question, you need to ask me in this way and I will answer it in this way". Includes many different types like Push and Get calls.
The file format of compiled Android apps, so APK files are effectively Android apps. To install APK files outside of Google Play users have to grant additional permissions in their phone settings.
AR (or Augmented Reality)
Using software (such as a smartphone app) to add layers, for example, 3D or interactivity, on top of the "real world" as seen through the phone's camera. For example Snapchat's animated photo effects or Pokemon Go. Increasingly popular. Similar to and often confused with Virtual Reality.
App Store Optimisation. Like SEO but for the App Stores. The science of making sure your app ranks as highly as possible on the app stores by using things like app name, keywords, description, screenshots, and preview videos.
A modern project management approach to quickly and efficiently implement complicated development products. Project members are given specific tasks, such as "Scrum Master" and project deliverables are broken into lots of "Sprints", each with their own clear deliverables.
Google's open-source operating system is used by pretty much all smartphones other than Apple including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, Nokia, Sony, LG etc.
A cloud-based solution developers use to store, manage and update code and code versions. Similar to GitHub
A generative AI tool created by Open.ai that is generally recognised as the leading example of a Large Language Model trained on a very comprehensive dataset (essentially, the entire web). Has different versions like ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.
See hybrid.
When an API interacts with another system, the touchpoints of this communication are considered endpoints.
A relatively mature, well-documented and widely-used framework built by Google and written in the Dart language to work across Android and iOS (Apple) devices. Pretty much combines the best of hybrid (simplicity, cost, time) with the best of native (performance and UI).
FlutterFlow is a low-code visual app UI builder that also enables easy integration with backends and third-party platforms, and custom coding. Whilst it can’t always do everything app development requires it does a lot of it and totally rocks.
The approach of offering a free, "lite" version of the app that the user needs to pay (see IAP) to normally access additional content, value-added services or to remove adverts.
A cloud-based solution developers use to store, manage and update code and code versions. Similar to BitBucket.
A broad term to cover programming languages that are designed to work across iOS (Apple), Android and often web. It's a great idea - one code base means reduced time, cost, chance for errors to both build and maintain. But the downside is often reduced stability, performance and security and there are many hybrid languages and some are better than others. Popular hybrid languages include Flutter, Cordova, React Native, Xamarin and PhoneGap.
IAP (or In-App Purchase)
A paid product (once off or subscription) that is made from within a free app through the App Stores using the payment the user loaded with the store. The App Stores will take a 30% commission.
LLM or Large Language Model
LLMs are machine-learning models that can comprehend and generate human language text. They work by analyzing massive data sets of language to predict, based on the text written, the most likely meaning of prompts and generate replies using the same data set.
Low code development is a broad term for the space between no-code development and native/building-from-scratch development. Depending on the platform, it can address some of the issues of no-code development, but generally requires the support of a development team to complete the more complex tasks. FlutterFlow, Retool and Bubble are good examples of low-code platforms that we like.
MVP (or Minimum Viable Product)
An initial version of the app with just enough core features to appeal to early adopters and gain feedback on priorities for future development.
Code built in the phone's own operating language. For iOS (Apple) this is Swift and Android it is Java or Kotlin. However increasingly it’s used to mean “proper” apps, downloaded from the app stores and doing the things that only phone apps can do, rather than web apps or responsive websites.
No Code
An approach to development that, as it states, doesn’t involve actual coding. Typically it uses SaaS platforms and drag-and-drop interfaces to simplify the processes and open it up to non-technical people. However it often has limited flexibility, you can’t access the code, you don’t own the IP and it comes with license fees. But it can be useful for MVP.
Non-tabular databases that store data differently than relational tables. NoSQL databases come in different types based on their data model. They provide flexible schemas and are easy to create MVPs. Firebase is a good example.
POC or Proof of Concept
For us, this is the opposite of a prototype. We use it where we’re trying very new or complex technology or integrations. Rather than spending time and money designing something that might not be possible, we bite the bullet up front and take on the most challenging part of the project up front.
Progressive Web Apps are somewhere between websites and native apps. They should work offline and be able to do some things native apps can do, for example receive push notifications, use GPS and interact with the camera. But exactly what they can do differs between Apple and Android, and between for example Android 10 and 6. The nice thing about them is they can be downloaded outside of the App Stores so users can just download from any website. And they avoid that dreaded Apple approval process!
A powerful, open source object-relational database system suitable for complex backends that require their functions, services or integrations at scale. Supabase is a good example.
A pretty but dumb version of your app. So it looks great with the right designs, colour scheme, font, menus etc. but it doesn't actually do anything, although they can be installed on a phone with an icon and buttons etc. can be tappable to navigate around it. A very important step we do before we start to code (the clever but ugly bit!)
Push Notifications
Those pop-up notifications that smartphone users receive on some apps, for example when new WhatsApp's are received.
React Native
An open source, cross platform mobile framework developed by Facebook that can also be used for web development.
Software Development Kit that companies provide that is typically embedded in the code of an app to allow your app to access their services.
Search Engine Optimisation. The science of making sure your site ranks as highly as possible in organic search on search engines, in particular Google, using keywords, tags, load speed, mobile-friendliness, descriptions and minimizing errors. Ultimately the quality and interest of the content to users (shown by low bounce rates, time spent on site, pages visit) are the most important factors over time.
SaaS (or Software as a Service)
Increasingly popular business model for software development companies where you don't own or control the code but pay a monthly or annual fee typically based on the number of users or amount of usage. Used in particular for common apps that are based on third party platforms
A cloud-based platform used by over 800,000 businesses to quickly and easily develop world-class eCommerce websites. The Shopify ecosystem, with its own third party apps makes running a store simple, including payment and courier integration.
A popular project communication platform used by developers with different project chats and useful integrations. Think "WhatsApp" for desktop and geeks.
The combination of technologies, languages, tools and libraries that the project will be built on.
Test Flight
Apple's app that allows developers to distribute test versions of apps that are not yet available to the public.
Beloved by designers with oversized glasses and questionable facial hair, these terms actually stand for User Interface and User Experience. Used almost interchangeably but in theory UI is the actual design of the screens/ pages users will be interacting with and UX is their overall experience (e.g. journey or flow) through the app. Very, very important in creating successful apps.
VR (or Virtual Reality)
Using software (like AR) but also hardware (such as headsets) to create a completely immersive experience that replaces rather than builds on top of the "real world".
Web App
Well, wouldn't we like to know! It is often used as a fancy term by developers to cover up the fact that they've only built you a website designed for phones. In theory web apps should have some offline functionality and better performance and be able work with the hardware of the phone (e.g. photo upload, GPS). See PWA.
Apple's operating system for iPhone and iPad. Major updates are usually once a year.
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