App Integration: Building Apps that Interface with Others
App integration, in a general sense, is the process of bringing resources or capabilities from one application to another. As the world of apps continues to evolve, app integration is becoming expected in many contexts. For example, if you’ve ever used your Facebook credentials to login to another app, you’ve taken advantage of an app integration. The developer of the second application spared you the hassle of providing personal details by integrating their authentication process with Facebook.
Not only can the creation of your app benefit from your developer leveraging app integrations, but you can also create your app in a way that allows it to be integrated into other apps. This could either lead to a revenue opportunity for you or help to broaden the reach of your app or platform.
Almost every new app tends to be a combination of three general types of code: the underlying code supplied by the operating system, the code written by a developer that’s specific to just the app being created, and code written by other parties that the developer leverages in the new app.
The code integrated from other sources is referred to in a variety of ways, such as frameworks, libraries, or SDKs (Software Development Kits). While there are differences between these types of code, for the purpose of this article, we will treat them the same and use the term framework.
A framework is a batch of code that lives on its own and gets compiled separately. It is written for a specific purpose, and is typically narrowly focused. A new app might not integrate any outside frameworks, or it could leverage many. When quoting a project, an app developer considers how much code they need to write themselves and how much they will be able to integrate.
The best app developers have the experience to know what frameworks exist. They know how using existing frameworks in a way that will benefit the app being built — and when not to do so. And they know how to build your app so that portions of it may also become a framework for others, if desired.
Many frameworks are provided by Apple and Google. For example, they supply frameworks for things like buttons, fields, and images. They code and maintain the basic display and behavior of those interface elements, providing a huge amount of functionality to third-party developers like InspiringApps. Frameworks allow developers to focus on addressing your business challenges instead of figuring out details that have already been determined, like how much time between two consecutive taps constitutes a double tap. Using these existing frameworks also helps ensure consistent behavior across apps.
Frameworks can also be distributed by third parties. Some of these frameworks can be edited by other developers, and they are called “open source” code. Source code is the software that most users never see. It’s what makes the app work the way it does. Open source software is software with code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. In other words, when a framework is distributed as open source, developers can change the source code to suit their needs. Some frameworks, though, are distributed without source code. This type of distribution allows third-party developers to take advantage of the features of the framework, but they cannot make changes to it. In this case the source code is protected and inaccessible.
Sometimes frameworks provide functionality, but no user interface. It is up to the third-party developer to provide an interface, if appropriate. For example, an app could require the user’s current location to present a list of nearby retail stores. Another app might use that location information to aggregate it across lots of users and provide feedback about how crowded an area is. The framework only provides the location information, but the app determines how to leverage that information in a way that is valuable to its users.
Other times, a framework provides functionality and a user interface. Maps are a great example of that. Google Maps and Apple Maps provide a tremendous amount of functionality, often requiring very little additional work for third-party developers. A developer can allocate an area of the screen (or the whole screen) to a map, add a little configuration information like whether or not the user’s current location should be shown, and optionally provide a list of pins they’d like displayed. The maps framework then handles nearly all of the heavy lifting and the developer doesn’t need to write additional code.
As noted, Apple and Google provide huge frameworks that make it practical for developers to create mobile apps without the high costs that would be required to “scratch code” every element. Likewise, many well-known socially oriented apps also provide frameworks that developers can leverage to facilitate connections across apps. This includes everything from relationship networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Tinder), to media sharing networks (e.g. YouTube, Flickr), to blogging or publishing networks (e.g. Reddit, Medium.)
There are also numerous other companies providing smaller features as frameworks that can be embedded in your application. Usage analytics is one such feature. Amazon, Google, Mixpanel, and more offer frameworks that will log user activity in an app and deliver that data to a server where you can review reports and improve your app based on the results you see.
It’s important to note that it’s not always possible to utilize an existing framework. For example, imagine that you want to create the next great ride-sharing app. You might like to benefit from Über’s or Lyft’s route-planning algorithms. While that would save considerable development cost, it’s not possible because those companies don’t offer that feature in a framework. That code is a competitive advantage for them, so they keep it as private.
Sometimes it’s actually not wise to use an available framework; it’s necessary to ensure it comes from a reliable source that will continue to support it for as long as your app exists. When a framework is provided by a company or independent developer who loses interest in the framework, you can be left with the challenge of replacing it or removing it when it is no longer compatible with updated underlying frameworks from Apple and Google. What seemed like a quick and inexpensive solution in the short term can become an expensive proposition if you are forced to replace it later.
So what if your company wants developers to embed the features of your app into theirs? If you create a social app, you’ll likely be interested to make it as easy as possible for users to post content to your app, no matter how it gets there. You could create a framework to make it easy for third-party developers to add your platform’s posting feature to their app. Then, when other developers use your posting platform, they pay you every time they use it. As we discussed above, you may provide that functionality with or without any user interface.
Many opportunities exist for business apps as well. For example, medical billing is complicated – all diagnoses and procedures have associated numeric codes that appear on patients’ medical bill. Some procedures can’t be billed with other procedures. Some procedures can only be billed under certain conditions. If you were a company with medical billing expertise embodied in software systems, you could package that expertise into a framework that you make available to other companies to include in their apps. A startup in the medical market can focus on solving a unique problem in the industry, but still provide billing services to customers by leveraging your billing framework. This saves them the time and cost required to develop their own in-house billing expertise.
When you want to add features to your app, app integrations can save time and money. If you are in a position to provide a framework to others, such an app integration could be a revenue opportunity for you, or help to broaden the reach of your app or platform. Contact us if you want to learn more.
With technology and a collaborative spirit, a meaningful new brand is born. BOULDER, CO -- After nearly a decade and a half of the same look and feel, InspiringApps is glowing up–and it only took pivot to remote work for inspiration to strike. The company, an industry-leading web and mobile app and software solutions group headquartered in Boulder, officially launched an innovative new brand and website encompassing its roots and plans for the future. A Collaborative Innovation While some companies struggled to work collaboratively and adjust to the new reality of remote teams, the InspiringApps team took on the massive challenge to become more cohesive than before. “Emerging from over a year of pandemic isolation and recognizing that InspiringApps had used the same branding for over a decade, it was the perfect time for a change. Our teams are doing amazing work for start-ups and huge enterprises alike. I welcomed a fresh perspective on our logo and color schemes,” Brad Weber, founder and president of InspiringApps shared. InspiringApps’ new logo reflects the company’s collaborative nature, combining efforts from our UI/UX and marketing teams. “We collaborated a lot remotely; we had Slack open, cameras on, and worked from shared Adobe XD artboards, moving elements around while we discussed them. It was a powerful way to leverage technology for a smoother, more collaborative process,” Becca Collins, UI/UX designer, explains. “Somehow, working remotely with shared screens produced even better results than we could have achieved if we were in the same office,” Aaron Lea, Art Director, noted. A Meaningful Brand The team started with a concept that encapsulated the InspiringApps foundation: the original location in Boulder, Colorado, the code that developers use to build web and mobile apps, and the core values the team holds at the center of everything they do. Designers visually translated these elements into three simplified shapes: a triangle to encompass the mountainous Flatirons of Boulder, and a semicolon and less-than symbol representing code. Designers merged the three symbols into an abstract I and A–the company’s abbreviated initials–for a unique and meaningful new logo. Although the company leads with intentional design with clients, rapid growth brought an increased demand for the services and little time for internal branding. For several years, the original design established the InspiringApps brand, but that logo had limitations. “The logo served us well initially, but it was hard to work with. It was time for a change,” Aaron said. A newly designed dynamic website accompanied the brand’s unveiling. On the new site, visitors can find valuable resources and downloads, case studies, and advice for companies considering a mobile or web app. The site also includes case studies from past clients to inspire new ideas. “Our goal is to provide a design and web experience that reflects our mission and core values. We’re committed to putting just as much care and intention into your project as we did with our own,” Brad shared.
9 days ago
Extensive experience with startups and enterprises encourages success in the role Boulder, CO – InspiringApps, a premier app design and development provider, announces the addition of Jonathan Laramy to the senior management team as Director of Sales. Jonathan will plan and execute InspiringApps’ sales strategy and continue the company’s steady growth with a focus on enterprise clients. Jonathan has deep experience navigating complex sales cycles with multiple project owners at all levels of the organization. With a successful history of establishing and nurturing long-term relationships with strategic customers, Jonathan brings loyalty, integrity, and transparency to the InspiringApps organization. “InspiringApps has enjoyed steady organic growth for years. I’m excited that Jonathan will help to accelerate that growth, especially with enterprise customers, which has been the source of much of our new business in recent years. Jonathan’s style and approach to sales are very much aligned with our practices at InspiringApps,” Brad Weber, president and CEO of InspiringApps, said. “App development has so much potential to improve customer experiences and help companies communicate better with their teams. I’m honored to be a part of InspiringApps, and looking forward to bringing innovative solutions to more enterprise companies,” Jonathan said. Jonathan’s experience spans various industries, including retail, manufacturing, on-demand services, real estate, property management, and music. Jonathan launched his career as a key sales manager at Move.com, one of the most successful dotcom companies of the early 2000s, and has enjoyed a successful career in sales in more than a half-dozen companies. About InspiringApps InspiringApps is a web and mobile app design and development company that crafts beautiful and engaging apps that inspire how people live, work, and play. With over 13 years in business and experience building hundreds of mobile and web apps for top global brands and startups alike, InspiringApps helps transform organizations and consumer experiences. Contact: Stephanie MikulsMarketing DirectorInspiringAppsBoulder, COstephanie@InspiringApps.comwww.InspiringApps.com
2 months ago