Author - Nataliia Kharchenko

Alternative Android App Store: Is it worth the risk?

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After an Android app has been developed, every developer has to think about its promotion and about how to choose the best App Store to publish his masterpiece. We can take the well-trodden path and place an Android app on Play Market by Google, but there are several other options. There are many more Alternative App Stores which may bring more income and isn’t so competitive. Let’s look closer at the advantages of such markets and if it is worth going with the alternative.

Before anything else, we need to mention that you can develop an app and place it on different stores. Unlike Apple, that forces phone and tablet owners to use only their shop, Google gives you freedom to choose. Any Android handset owner has the right to install applications from any store, not only Google Market. All you need to do is to allow application installation from other sources in your phone settings. After you have done that, you can go on any alternative store where you’ll be offered to install a manager-app to simplify the process of downloading.

                What is Google Play?
Before we take a look at other markets, we need to think about what made Play Market so successful.
We know that Android has become one of the most popular operating systems in the whole world. Now, we have smartphones, tablets, e-readers, smart watches and even smart TVs that work on Android. If you calculate how many devices use this OS, Android beats any other system. More than a billion various devices are produced per year.

In no small part, Android owes its success to Google Play which is controlled by Google. The market now offers not only apps but music, books and movies. Nevertheless, apps are still the most popular product here. Today, there are more than two million different applications, which is twice as many as in Apple App Store. Yet, Google Play is not the only one market to place your application. Its younger brothers that are snapping at its heels.

  What are the benefits of the Alternative App Markets
There are lots of advantages to gain if you place your app there and here are the main ones:
The terms in such stores can be much more favourable than in the usual one. Rather often such small App Stores offer promotion actions, bonuses and discounts for users when great apps are free or very cheap.

Rating matters. And here your chances to reach the top are higher. There are more than two million apps on Google Play and to become top listed here is unbelievably hard. That’s why new programs often get lost on the store and even filtering doesn’t help.

Limitations. There are some limitations on Google Play. Some apps can be unavailable in some countries, because ads blockers are banned here as well as adult content.

Moreover, such stores can suggest recommended apps which you won’t find on the top of Google Play charts.
There are some App Stores which cover some countries and offer local apps which means that you won’t find them on, for example, Chinese markets.
As well as that, you the usage of an alternative App Store is a nice way to promote your app. Because they can show your app as an app of the day and charge a little money for advertisement.

 The risks and pitfalls of an Alternative App Store
But don’t consider Alternative App Stores as a panacea. There are some pitfalls as well. Think about them before your final decision.

The biggest risk is the security policy of such stores. Some Markets claim that their security check is the same as in Google. Yet, not always such claims are true. And even Google sometimes fails with such checks. Their control is not as strict as Apple’s, and there were situations when some malicious software that stole data or spied on users was found here.

The second issue can occur with bad experiences users had. We’re now talking about stores that can hold pirate versions of apps or malicious software. When choosing an alternative App Store you should be aware of the fact that your app can be subject to a hacker attack and piracy. As a result, the updates of your app will take more time.

Despite all issues and benefits, we believe that alternative stores still can’t compete with Google Play market until it is banned in a country. They definitely can attract additional downloads and show your app to more potential clients and in some cases, can even offer a better monetization strategy.
There are lots of alternative App Stores where you can sell your Android apps and each store has its pluses and minuses. Also, you don’t need any investments to publish your app on these stores. So let’s take a look which ones you can choose from.

Alternative App Stores
We want to introduce you to what we believe are the 5 most leading and useful alternative stores in 2017 according to the product recommendation community Slant:

F-droid-
 F-Droid is a store where the main criteria is to publish free and open source applications.

The advantages of the store are: 

  • All apps on this store are free with open source.
  • F-Droid is a commercial free voluntary organization. Anybody can join them to help or to contribute funds, which makes all processes transparent without any hidden monetization strategies.
  • F-Droid compiles all packages by itself which provides a high level of security. Other stores allow developers to publish previously made apps which means that they can include malicious components.

    The disadvantages of F-Droid are:

  • There are no rates/ comments/ download statistics. All apps are introduced in the same way. It’s difficult to estimate the quality or popularity of an app before you’re tested it. On the other hand, the description is fair (they are written by F-Droid developers, not by the app developer).
  • There are no screenshots.
  • In comparison with other large Android stores, F-Droid has little range of applications. We can explain it with the demand to publish only apps with free open source and a very few developers, after some hard work, agree on such conditions.
  • No automatic updates. A user should do it manually.
  • The apps in the store are in different languages, however, the descriptions are only in English. So users have to understand English to be able to find an app, even if it’s multilingual.

    Aptoide is an apportioned market of Android mobile applications. Unlike Play Market, Aptoide doesn’t have centralized storage. Every user manages his store.

  • The pluses of this store:
  • You target specific countries and increase the ads’ relevance.
  • The store is absolutely free.
  • Aptoide guarantees that the safety of its ecosystem is free from malicious programs.
  • Large users database. It was estimated that there are 120 million devices with Aptoide installed.
  • Wide choice of applications. Now, there are more than 35,000 various applications including the most popular ones here.
  • A special program for publishers which helps them to publish and monetize apps.
  • Aptoide offers partners program where partners can manage their retail stores.
  • There is an open source Aptoide store. With this version, anyone can use the code and create their own App Store.
  •  The store is multilingual (has 40 languages) and is used in almost all countries. Even in those where Google Play is unavailable or limited, like in China or Iran.

    The minuses of the store:
  • The presence of illegal applications. It means that here you can freely download an app which isn’t free in other shops and was stolen from there.

1.AppMarket is a really convenient service which has high load performance in comparison to many other stores.

The benefits of the store are:

  • Fast load
  • Portal for developers
  • All apps are free
  • There are no malicious programs
  • Is available in many countries

    The drawbacks are:
  • The store is young and has only a few apps.

LG SmartWorld. The store is mostly oriented on LG devices.

The bright sides:

  • Perfect store for LG devices.
  • LG SmartWorld can recommend you an app analysing your age, gender or a type of device. This creates a personalized attitude towards users, so they can find apps based on their preferences.
  • Here you can pay via PayPal or with credit a card.
  • Easy installation

    The minuses are:

  • It’s difficult to install apps on any other device except for LG.

Amazon Appstore is an online store that specializes on Amazon phones and tablets but its apps are compatible with any Android device.

Pluses of the store:

  • Amazon App Store checks the app before publishing it. The system controls the security issue.
  • It’s very easy and convenient to use the store as almost everyone has an account on Amazon.

    Minuses are:

  • Any app downloaded from Amazon AppStore doesn’t work if Amazon AppStore is deleted from device.
  • There are fewer apps here than on Google Play Store. Also, the apps here get updated slower as the store is less popular and because of the checking process that Amazon performs to make sure that the app is of high quality.
  • The interface for developers is rather unhandy.

The other subject is the Chinese market. As Play Market is banned, there are lots of App Stores with a huge number of users. If you decided to target this audience, you can consider publishing your app on such stores as Xiaomi or Baidu.

           What gives you Google Play?
This part is not about pros and cons. It’s about some unique features of Google Play that make our life a little bit easier. And if you decided to go with that alternative, take into account the things which you will have to do by yourself now.

Publish the app. If you are used to Google Play’s publishing procedure, you may find that some stores are not as convenient as the previous one. It may take you a bit longer to publish your app on the alternative store, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it.

It is difficult to answer the question whether it is worth it to place your app on alternative App Stores. We believe you can get a huge number of users as a bonus here. Yet, don’t think that it’s easy to get on top here. The most important things is to create a nice, seamless and unique application which the users would love.

When you have your app ready, you want to publish it in an app store as soon as possible. The first choice is the native store of your app: Apple App Store or Google Play Store. However, we believe that alternative app stores are also worth considering. We have gathered some useful points regarding this to help you make up your mind.

Wireframes, Mockups, Prototypes: How They Serve For Perfect Design?

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Wireframes, Mockups, Prototypes: what is their role in the design development?
It is impossible to make an attractive web or mobile app design without thorough elaboration of every item. Although there are many variants to develop a good design, but web and app designers usually resort to already approved schemes like wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.

Do you know what does these strange words mean? We propose you to consider it in more detail.

Wireframe – the blueprint of the future product
Practically, everything is simple. You are an engineer, for example, and you make a draft of structure that is scheduled to be built. The process of the web and app development has much in common with the engineering process. As to wireframes, they allow determining functionality and interaction between screen templates of various products.

Wireframe aims to display the following:
Content group
Plan of structure
Short description of the user interface

More simply, it means you must have a visual idea of what you want to get in the future app. It is the basis of any development. It will make it possible to avoid mistakes during the implementation process. Especially because rework may cause large costs and other problems related to discrepancies in the work process.

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Mockup – the graphic outline of the future product
Technical characteristics of this feature are not difficult to understand as well. They are almost the same as these of a wireframe. Three-dimensional mockup serves the purpose to provide clients with a deeper vision of their final product.

Mockup features include:
1). content visualization
2). structurization of information
3). displaying of static functionality

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For example, due to mockup, you will be able to evaluate the colorful design of your future website. Thus, it will be possible to make your remarks for improving the product. The interface is not active yet, but it enables to understand how it will look. In this case, the client can give designer his feedback, whether he is satisfied with the product or not.

It is worth noting that mockups are the necessary feature not only for the client but also for designers. Designers can consider every small detail that may significantly affect the result. So it is one of the main items you should pay attention to during the app and web development.

Prototype – the interactive model of the future product
As you may know, there are a lot of meanings of the word “prototype”. Actually, it depends on an area it is applied in. But now we are talking about software. So prototype is a partial or possible implementation of the new product.

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It serves 3 main purposes:

1). Clarification and clear formulation of requirements. Designers create a preliminary working version of app/website part, and it is tested. It enables developers to detect errors and defects in its part before it is turned into the complete product.
2). Looking for alternative solutions. Prototype as the technical tool allows developers to scrutinize various steps of user interaction implementation as well as to apply possible technical methods. Prototypes make it possible to show the requirements feasibility.
3). Development of the complete product. Eventually, functional implementation of basic app functions using prototype enables to create working app.

So it means that the main goal of prototype building is to eliminate all obscurities at an early development stage. And it is no less important than all the above.

The best designing tools to use
Designing is nothing without tools. Even if you are really skillful in this area, you can not work without appropriate programs. So we decided to list a few tools which are the most popular in the world of design.

Balsamiq Mockups. One of the most convenient and easy-to-use service. Using this tool, you can build mockups of user interfaces for websites, mobile apps, and common software. For basic functions, you can download a free version, but for professional designer paid desktop version will be preferable.

You can purchase it for $90.

Axure. A desktop app for the development of interactive HTML-prototypes. It allows to insert widgets simply by dragging. It is a full-fledged UX tool, which cost varies from $29 to $495. Although you can test a 30-day free trial as well.

Pidoco. The tool for creation of graphic user interfaces in real time. It is mostly used for the improvement of software since it saves time and redesign probability comes to naught. Apart from the desktop version, it can be used on iOS and Android devices.

Pidoco cost: $12-175 per month

Penultimate. If you are an iPad fan, pay attention to this app. Moreover, if you miss good old pencil and paper, this tool is up to you! Use a stylus instead of pen and iPad instead of paper. Perfect alternative for wireframing. Thus, you will be able to make a basic design of the future app with this tool.
Its cost for today is $12-23.

InVision. A cloud platform for quick conversion of the web and mobile designs into clickable prototypes and mockups with interactive elements. This app is perfect for collaborating and sharing with all its elements. If you need it only for creating one prototype, use this app for free.

The cost of three prototypes is $15 per month. An unlimited number of prototypes development cost from $25 to $100 depending on professional and team versions accordingly.

Build your own success
As you can see, making a good design is not easy but rather captivating task. However, such techniques as mockups, wireframes, and prototypes will surely help you create something peculiar and crowd-pleasing. And moreover, appropriate design tools can become your best friends and assistants.

An ability to make use of professional experience and achievements of other people is priceless in the present-day digital world. Nevertheless, you should remember that even the most innovative IT tools will not replace your hard work and creative efforts. You use your brain – tools do the rest. All the tools above can be necessary for expressing your creativity and ideas to change the world for the better.