By Vikas Gautam, Product Manager, Roposo
Nearly 224 million people in India today are avid smartphone users, or at least have access to one. While a major proportion of this number hail from urban areas, about 109 million belong to rural areas. Even urban areas are often classified into tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. Though the number of smartphone users is impressive and ever increasing, the connectivity isn’t as uniform across the country. Urban centres have wi-fi and smooth mobile network connectivity, especially metropolitan and other tier 1 cities, but the same cannot be said for other areas.
Nevertheless e-commerce, social networks and other business are fast spreading to all areas, for example – as many as 133 million Indian Facebook users are browsing through mobile networks. The question that comes here is how can apps today provide the best experience to the users even in regions with low or bad connectivity. If you’re planning to develop or have an app that is media (images/videos/gifs) centric, much like Roposo, Instagram or Facebook, here is a list of things which can be done to ensure a seamless experience for the end user:
1. Support ‘save for later’ or ‘offline viewing’ for media posts:
If there is an option available for the users to save posts and view them later in the offline mode, multiple posts can be downloaded at a go when the connectivity is slightly better and can be viewed later. This would help users browse through relevant content without waiting for each to download individually – it will save time and also increase the active users, as they get a hassle-free browsing experience – users will eventually prefer an app with such an option compared to any other app. Apps like Roposo already provide this option.
2. Download media based on the resolution of the device screen:
Save multiple copies of the media in different resolutions on the server and pop the optimal size of image on screen for the requesting client – the app would reflect image sizes in sync with the resolution of the particular device it has been opened on. This would ensure much faster downloads and browsing even in areas with bad connectivity.
3. Download data in the background whenever the device gets connected to a wi-fi network:
A lot of apps today provide this feature. As soon as the phone is connected to any network – wi-fi or mobile network – some feed is downloaded in the background. This ensures that even if the app is opened without any network connection or with very low connectivity, there are still a few posts that appear on the feed.
4. Support offline user actions:
Sometimes you ‘like’ a certain post but if you see the same again the app didn’t register your engagement that time – this is primarily due to network issues. It is suggested that apps should give instant feedback to the user that the action he’s taken has been recorded and will be synced to the server whenever he gets connected to the internet. This definitely saves time on the user’s part, at the same time making actions convenient for him.
5. Lazy load technique:
If the user is on a bad or patchy internet network, there should be an option of ‘lazy loading’ – posts will be loaded only when they’re needed, on the discretion of the user. Instagram is a good example of this – in case low connectivity it shows a ‘refresh’ sign on the posts and if the user clicks on any particular picture it starts loading – selective viewing.
These techniques are very useful for apps of any nature and can ensure that the user has a smooth experience regardless of internet connectivity and speed. They help optimize an app, improve the user experience and enhance the propensity of the user to maintain continued engagement with the product.
There is a lot of competition in the tech development sector today, which calls for constant innovation. As the target audience widens, apps need to be ready for every situation – high speed connections as well as offline browsing.