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The Essential Guide to Software Product Development

The Essential Guide to Software Product Development

Software product development is an avenue with immense potential across a range of industries. However, with these ample software product development opportunities comes concerns that businesses might not think about or fully understand before developing their software.

There are common issues, such as increasing customer demands and limited resources, as well as issues that are specific to your business that can be solved using software products or platforms.

These software products and platforms can help your business succeed in two primary ways. First, they can help you expand your business through various means such as improved marketing and outreach or even analysing data for new markets your business could fit. Second, they can help increase your business’ efficiency leading to a larger profit margin allowing you to direct your revenue towards more growth.

So, as the first step to our series of articles, we will guide software product development and introduce the opportunities that await your business within this field.

Disclaimer

The information discussed in this article bases its report on 20+ years of experience in software product development. This assessment comes from two decades of watching projects succeed, fail, survive, produce happy clients, and angry clients.

Therefore, this information will provide you with a mix of positive and negative aspects of software product development. This overview is purposefully inclusive, providing a balanced view of succeeding or failing within this endeavor with minimum damage or minimized disasters.

Why Should You Build a Software Product?

There are many reasons why a business would opt to build a software product. Despite the vast differences in building a software product and most traditional retail products, the reasons for making your software product are similar to creating any other product or business:

  • You have an idea for a new project: If you have an idea for software that solves a problem more efficiently, you could have an entirely new project idea, with the core of the project being increasing the efficiency of your business.
  • You have an idea for creating a support service: If you have an idea that will help save time, money and ultimately leads to better profitability within your field, or even within another area, that could be a seed to build a software product around that.
  • You need software to suit your unique needs: Most of the time, people create software and other inventions or upgrades based on their needs. Sometimes, out of the box products do not suit your unique needs. While it still might be cheaper to create a workaround to manage this issue with the out of the box option, sometimes that is not possible. Therefore, it is worth the time, money, and effort to save yourself (and others) these headaches in the long run.

How to Start a Software Product Development Project?

Starting a software product development project is not an easy feat, regardless of the tools and options you have at your disposal. However, it certainly does help to know that you do have options. You do not need to start from scratch as there are primary resources available for nearly any kind of software you intend to develop.

Here is what the technological world has to offer as cornerstone options to kick off your software product development:

PoC

Proof of Concepts (PoC) help you prove that your software will work in the real world. This demo system simulates real-world stressors on a concept to ensure the real version of the conceptualized design will perform as designed.

This environment test helps prove that the concept will work, before the time, money, and energy gets invested in creating the real deal.

MVP

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a resource that decides whether your software product can actually solve the problem you intend to solve. MVPs are especially important with software development because it tests the idea of change versus need. MVP will determine whether your software is solving an actual problem your end users are experiencing and if they’re willing to pay for that solution.

Throw away vs. Built to scale

Throw away and Built to scale are two fairly self-explanatory methods to start your software product development.

Throw Away Software

Utilizing the throw away approach to starting your software product development means you built either a PoC or MVP you know cannot be turned into a commercial product. It’s typically built with minimal time and resources purely to test your idea. Once you’ve tested your idea, you’ll need to completely scrap all previous development and rebuild the software product from the ground up. This allows you to confirm you have a strong idea for a software product without wasting time or resources.

Built to Scale Software

Much like the name suggests, built to scale software is a product and resource that should grow with your business needs.

While a throw-away software build is a bandage, build to scale software is a skin graft. There are many opportunities within the build to scale software development because it intends to evolve and thrive even though the upfront costs are higher.

Should You Use a Throw Away Build or Scaling Build for Your PoC or MVP?

A lot of throw-away builds are specifically for PoC or MVP. These builds require minimal time and investment, as they are only demoing your concept. If your idea for your software product is unique or completely new to its target market, then building a throw-away product allows you to test your idea with minimal resources.

However, most software product development projects should start with scaling in mind. Built to scale software does take a moderate initial investment but pays off if you continue because you have already laid the groundwork for the actual product, instead of just a demo. If the solution you are building revolves around a proven business model, then using a scaling build will allow you to grow it faster as you’ll already have a usable code-base.

Decide Your Tech Stack

Besides having options for creating concept designs, technology advancements also offer you different options for your preferred tech stack.

Using similar Open Source projects Vs. Built from scratch.

The foundation of your software will come from two broad options:

Open Source Projects: Open source projects are created by other software developers or coders who have shared their work with the general public. If you can find an open-source project to help frame your software development code, you can cut out a lot of initial time, money, and resources.

Pros of Similar Open Source Projects:
  • Low initial costs
  • Highly reliable (not every project, but you could easily figure out the quality)
  • You still have the flexibility to make it yours.
Cons of Similar Open Source Projects:
  • There are potentially long-term costs needed to keep it running.
  • Would not match with your exact requirements
  • It could pose serious security risks.

Building from Scratch: Exactly how it sounds, building from scratch creates an entirely new code without any business specific foundation to start you off.

Native vs. Cross-Platform

Building your software product as a Native or Cross-Platform solution will be a decision that you need to make if you are creating an app for mobile devices. Thankfully, the basic concept of native and hybrid software development is relatively easy to understand.

Native: Native app design is when everything for that app is designed specifically for one operating system (iOS or Android.) While you can create an app for each platform, you will have to deal with multiple code bases instead of one.

Cross-Platform: This option of app development ensures one code base produces an app for each operating system.

Remote vs. In-House Team

Remote work is becoming more commonplace, but there is still a notable divide on whether you should hire a remote team or keep your development team in-house.

Remote Team

Hiring a remote team in this context means you are outsourcing your software development team. Therefore, remote resources are all contractors who don’t work for your company, even though they can be bound to secrecy and nondisclosure, depending on your agreement’s arrangements.

Pros of a Remote Team:
  • Low cost (usually one third compared to inhouse)
  • Minimum commitment (you could terminate your contract easily)
  • Quick kick-off
  • Fast turnaround
  • Diverse tech skills (on demand)
Cons of a Remote Team:
  • Their commitment to you can also be minimal.
  • More of a security threat
  • Could just disappear without finishing the job
In-House Team

Creating an in-house team is an investment. Chances are, if you are developing an in-house team, you are expecting to be in it with the same people for the long haul.

Pros of an Inhouse Team:
  • Easy Communication
  • You get to know their work habits.
  • You have more control over their loyalties.
Cons of an Inhouse Team:
  • High cost due to:
    • Full-time (or Part-Time) Salaries
    • Other Benefits
  • Difficult to find skilled resources
  • Takes a long time to build an effective team.

Make Your Software Future Proof

Of course, no one knows what the future holds but by making an effort to future proof your software product before you spend too much money and time developing it. Here is the best way to future proof your software development:

  • Validate the idea with minimum cost
  • Your project may or may not succeed but invest time to think about both scenarios before kicking off the project.

Where Can I Find More Information on Software Product Development?

This essential guide to software product development provides all of the basics you need to kick-start your software product development efforts. Of course, there are an extensive set of details to each section of this guide that will help you develop your software product in the most efficient and effective way. So, we will be creating future guides to each specific aspect of this overall guide you can utilize for a comprehensive look into software product development and how it can help your business thrive.

Link to the next blog – PoCs, MVPs & Throw Away Codebases for Software Product Development

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The History of Google Messaging Apps

The History of Google Messaging Apps

The history of google messaging apps goes beyond 16 years, where most of its competitors did not exist. Google has come up with numerous ideas and applications highlighting different features in each of its apps. Here is a comprehensive list of applications that Google has introduced so far to enhance the chat experience for its users.

Google Talk
Founded Year: 2005
Existence: 12 years
Clients: Windows, Android, The web, Blackberry, iPhone, iGoogle, Gmail, Orkut, XMPP Clients.

Intention

To work similarly to email where different service providers and clients can talk to each other over a single standard called XMPP (extensible messaging and presence protocol). It further enabled cross-communication with other chat services supporting the standard where any XMPP-compatible third party client can talk to Google Talk users.

Highlighting facts

Built on open protocols

It was a part of the second big Wave of popular instant messaging apps like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger.

The installer file size was only 1.45MB, whereas other messenger services like Yahoo or Windows consecutively provided 9.5 and 15.3MB.

Here is a series of updates that revolved around the Google Talk launch.

12/2005 – Google bought a 5% stake in AOL to build cross-communication between AIM, ICQ, and Google Talk.
01/2006 – Google came across their first official mobile client, a Blackberry app with a public XMPP network.
02/2006 – Integrated with Gmail on the web and added chat logs
03/2006 – Introduced Avatar support
07/2006 – Introduced file transfers, voicemail, and sharing music.
09/2006 – Opened Google Talk to non-Gmail accounts
11/2006 – Integration with Orkut (a social network)
12/2006 – Announced plans for integration with traditional phone systems that lets you dial a phone number from the computer.
2007 – A client for the ‘iGoogle’ customizable homepage arrived in 2007 and a standalone web client at Google.com/talk.
2008 – Google talk arrived at the iphone as a mobile web app
Google’s first foray into a video chat with Google Talk in Gmail and later the main client.
2010 – Google’s voice and video chat requires a browser plugin and runs on technology from a company called ‘Global IP Solution (GIPS)’ They bought GIPS in 2010.
2011 – Open-sourced GIPs technology and IP starting a WebTRC project. It is a dominant VoIP technology and a W3C standard that allows many web browsers to make voice and video calls without any plugins.

Android added video chat support, and Google Talk became a core feature of their operating system.

Google Talk service ran communication for Android’s push notification system, with real-time XMPP that allows quick authentication and pass messages building and OS-wide notification system around it. The system was eventually opened up to third parties.

The cloud synchronization of Google account data also ran through its services like keeping contacts and calendar events up to date. In addition, it allowed app installation from a desktop web browser using a push request without the need of the phone in hand.

It further included features like remotely uninstalling malicious apps from the phone.

Extermination

With the release of Google Hangouts in 2013, Google Talk started to fade away. Google Talk allowed users to carry contacts and messages to the new service, making hangout an obvious replacement. In 2015, Google Talks windows clients officially stopped accepting logins. In 2017, third party XMPP connections to the Google Talk service stopped working, and the Gmail web integrations transitioned to Hangouts.

Google Voice

Founded Year: 2009
Clients: Web, Android, iOS, webOS, Blackberry

In 2009 Google introduced Google Voice, where users can use a Google phone number instead of a landline phone number or a cell phone number. In addition, the number was provided with an area code where the phone calls could be forwarded, and text messages were accessible via the web and other apps.

Back in 2007, Google acquired GrandCentral communications, where all of Google’s voice phone calls came from. It offered a new phone number with forwarding options and an audio-only voicemail box accessible over the Internet. Unfortunately, the function didn’t include texting.

The launch of Google Voice made them add a ton of features to GrandCentral. These include SMS support, conference calling and low-cost international calling. It also consisted of voicemail transcription where the Google Voice Recognition AI can transcribe voicemail into easily scalable text (Although it wasn’t super accurate).

SMS on the Google Voice number worked similar to that of a texting app where you can check them wherever the app is installed or on the web. However, getting the MMS feature became a long-run thing where it was first introduced to sprint users in 2011 and later given to the rest or all carriers in 2017. In 2014 Google Voice took off all the third-party apps.

Google Voice also used XMPP at one point to connect calls. This led users to connect landline phones to work directly over the Google voice system, making a VoIP provider that turns out to give free voice calls. However, the XMPP support was entirely shut down in 2018.

The launch of Google Fi in 2015 merged the features of Google voice with an MVNO service. However, the app was revamped in 2017 and became a part of G Suite in 2018 and got mobile VoIP calls in 2019.

Google Wave

Founded Year: 2009
Existence: 2 years and 8 months
Clients: The web

Google wave was introduced as an alternative to email. It was created by the same pair of brothers who introduced Google Maps to the world. It consisted of three columns, navigation and a contact column, inbox, and a message view from left to right, respectively, when previewed on desktop.

Similar to that of emails, Google Wave can create threads where users can reply to a single person or an entire group. Users also had the authority to grant or remove access to keep or remove people from the threads.

The Wave was Google’s first product to do real-time letter-to-letter communication with the help of HTML5. This was similar to that of Google Docs, where the wave threads can be seen live with messages and images without refreshing the page. It further consisted of a ‘playback’ feature where the entire process can be replayed from the beginning.

With the installation of Google Gear and Google browser API shim, Google Wave could upload photos with a drag-and-drop feature just like a native app.

In 2010 Google said that the Wave had not seen the user adoption they expected. A significant reason for this was the lack of a network. It was limited to users on Wave, where the external users interested in using it didn’t have the opportunity to join the network immediately due to an ‘inviting system’. As a result, it was opened to the public after May 2010, almost a year when the hype was already gone.

By early 2012 Google Wave was available only with a read-only feature, and it was entirely deleted by April 2012.

YouTube Messages

Founded Year: 2017
Existence: 2 years and 1 month
Clients: iOS, Android, The web

In 2017, Google launched a feature called YouTube Messages. It included a news sharing tab for mobile app users for messaging purposes. This further allowed uses to look into the conversations around a video. For desktop users, a message button was available next to the bell and app buttons. A pop-chat window came up when you wanted to share a video or have a conversation about a particular video with your friends.

The message input box also consisted of a ‘+ Video’ button to easily drop the videos to a conversation. It also had a heart button to react to messages. Users can add their phone contacts or send an ‘invitation link’ to add friends.

The feature lasted for almost 2 years and shut down its operation in 2019. However, a specific reason for this was not given for the closure.

Google Hangouts Chat

Founded Year: 2018
Existence: Till present
Clients: iOS, Android, The web

Together with Hangouts Meet, Hangouts chat was initially announced in 2017. However, the access was limited till 2018 and was only available for organizations paying for the G Suite. It was announced as an enterprise-focused communication tool to enhance communication purposes inside organizations.

From day one, Hangouts chats consisted of impressive features like @mentions, treated messages, DMs, bots, and support for rooms. Every message was threaded, representing a forum-style layout. Reply input boxes were available at the bottom of each thread and a new thread button at the bottom of everything.

Hangout chat supports several chatbots like Google Drive, Asana, Trella, etc. This enables users to stream outside info into the chat room. The service works on iOS, Android and the web, where the desktop is handled by a Progressive Web App (PWA).

The hangouts chat app is still available for users and is even considered a competitor to Slack.

Although this article mentions the most popular chat apps introduced by Google, there are 25+ chat apps altogether introduced by Google over the past few years. Most of these executions have been withdrawn in the middle for many reasons, leaving their users to adapt to different applications every 2-3 years.

If you want to know more about the Google Chat history, check out the original blog post by Ron Amadeo https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/08/a-decade-and-a-half-of-instability-the-history-of-google-messaging-apps/ which gives a comprehensive description of all the Google chat messaging apps from day one.

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Alert For Homepod Users: Homepod Bricking with Apple’s Latest Software Update

Alert For Homepod Users: Homepod Bricking with Apple’s Latest Software Update

The new release of iOS 14.6 has been reportedly causing issues to the Homepod users. After being discontinued for several months, the owners of the full-seized homePods have now faced the unpleasant situation with their devices bricking and dysfunctioning.

However, the problem has not affected the mini-HomePods, and no complaints have been received from the mini-HomePod users yet.

Below are the main problems that users have come across and discussed in forums like Reddit after starting to use the devices with the iOS update.

  • Sudden dysfunctioning
  • When plugged in doesn’t power up
  • No response to touch
  • Not connecting to a stereo pair or Apple TV
  • Unresponsiveness with constant flashing volume buttons
  • Overheating

Apple’s Solution

It is not clear to which extent the problem has occurred, and the company has not made any official statement yet on the issue or a solution.

However, Apple has released the third beta version of Homepod software 15 as a part of the AppleSeed program. Subsequently, users running the Homepod software 15-beta have noticed the device getting overheated for no particular reason. Also, this update is available through the AppleSeed program, where only exclusive users are invited.

A senior Apple technician has advised on the Reddit platform to avoid downloading Apple’s recent software updates for the time being, which is not the solution for everyone or those who are already left with a dysfunctioning HomePod.

Warranty Issues

Most of the users who have faced the issues are owners of Homepod devices that have already completed the warranty period. A user with 19 HomePods had seven of them suddenly turn into paperweights. He has further claimed that all of them are out of warranty, and he won’t purchase new ones assuming they will break sooner or later.

One HomePod owner has walked into an Apple retail store with the bricked device for a replacement and has been asked to get it repaired at about 20Euros less than the retail price whereas another has been asked to pay $270 to get a new replacement. The support seems to be ludicrous when the reason for the bricking is the software update from Apple. However, those with active Applecare can replace the product outright.

Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and come up with a solution that can end the persisting problems faced by the HomePod users. If your HomePod is working fine at the moment, it is best suggested to avoid the software updates until the company comes up with a reliable solution.

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Benefits of Mobile Applications for the Healthcare Industry

Benefits of Mobile Applications for the Healthcare Industry

The long hours in queues waiting to get healthcare needs are now over with the revolutionized web and mobile solutions provided in the health industry. The need for online medicare solutions has been gradually increased with the Covid-19 pandemic, where people can safely consult their doctors without getting exposed to the general public.

The increasing number of healthcare applications for devices like smartphones, tablets, and other wearable devices has enabled people to use them and take care of their health in an advanced and effective manner. These applications often include health management, healthy living and wellness, clinical reference, and diagnostic applications.

Significance of eHealth Solutions

According to the World Health Organization, digital health solutions can upscale people worldwide to achieve a higher standard of health and protect well-being. The organization has implemented a three-tier approach to digital health delivery in terms of policymakers, practitioners, and populations.

These seamless and secure technologies can provide effective clinical and public health solutions to the public while accelerating the achievement of the health and well-being related sustainable development growth (SGDs)

Advantages Of Using The Mobile Application In The Healthcare Industry

Seamless Data Flow

Healthcare domains usually consist of complex network web. Apart from the data flow between patients and healthcare personnel, it also needs to be administrated for accounting purposes. Mobile applications can cut off this complex network web allowing the data to move efficiently and faster. It further helps in eliminating extensive paperwork and not to worry about physical document misplacement and damages.

Real-time And Easy Communication Methods

The communication between each party is more streamlined to connect with each other from any place. It helps people in remote areas to get in touch with their doctors without the need for travel. The eHealth modes constitute a significant boom for disabled and older people with chronic conditions who need constant support.

Reduced Risks Of Diagnosis Errors

Numerous types of clinical resources are required to make accurate diagnostic decisions. Mobile health applications can help medical professionals to reference drug guides, medical calculators, clinical guidelines, and other required references. The all-inclusive details in one application can enhance disease diagnosis and treatment decisions with high accuracy.

Encourages A Healthy Lifestyle

Healthcare apps can track and monitor the irregularities in an individual’s health and help them become conscious and motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Digital accessories such as smartwatches, fitness, and health tracking apps enable people to constantly monitor their diet, weight, heart rate, pressure, stress levels, etc., and set goals to achieve fitness and health plans.

The increased leverage in eHealth and mobile application development outlines the need of having custom-made mobile applications catering to your customers. Fidenz technologies has the skills and expertise to make your idea a reality and develop a mobile application that matches your requirements. We also have hands-on experience in developing applications while complying with industry standards like HIPAA (Health Insurance Probability And Accountability Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Fidenz’s all-inclusive software solutions can benefit every user, such as doctors, patients, medical staff, and other administrators. If you are looking forward to making the right decision in developing a healthcare app that can outsmart the competition, contact our team of engineers for further consultation.

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Agile Transformation: How Agile Software Development Has Gone Mainstream

Agile Transformation: How Agile Software Development Has Gone Mainstream

In software development methodology, with the thought of “How to make an idea into a reality,” the agile method is the first thing that comes to mind to step up into the process. In simple terms, agile is a set of values and principles that teams can use to make decisions on developing software.

Evolutionary project management and software development methods can be traced back to 1957 where heavyweight methods were used in the development process. Lightweight software development methods started to evolve in the 1990s with different executions.

The traditional waterfall or the incubate method takes a lot of time and work and is often described by critics as a micro-managed and overly regulated methodology. The collection was inclusive of 17 software development methods where the developers met in 2001 and published the manifesto of Agile Software Development.

Overview of Agile

With the publication of the manifesto for agile software development, four values were outlined by the Agile alliance. These values enabled a faster process, excellent customer collaboration, adapt and revamp planning and put people before processes. The values are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Furthermore, it was finalized with 12 development principles. These fundamentals help user involvement and a cooperative approach where stakeholders can monitor and examine the progress of their products. It further helps in identifying issues during the development process and gives assurance of achieving satisfying expectations. The 12 agile software development principles are;

  1. Customer satisfaction with prompt delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development.
  3. Deliver working software frequently in shorter springs
  4. Close engagement and collaboration between business people and developers
  5. Projects are built around trusted motivated individuals
  6. A face-to-face conversation is considered as the best form of communication
  7. Working software is considered as the initial measurement tool of the progress
  8. Sustainable development  is used to maintain a constant pace
  9. Constant attentiveness to technical excellence and designing
  10. Use of simplicity and maximizing the amount of work not done is required
  11. Use of finest architectures, requirements, and designer ideas.
  12. Regular effectiveness and adaptability of the team for adjustments.

How Agile Has Gone Mainstream

The methodologies and applications of agile have led to the mainstream in software development with proven results in making efficient and effective products. The diversification and constant changes in technology have raised the need for flexibility and adaptability of software to meet future changes. With agile, products were engineered and developed in a way that they are nimble enough to adjust to the changes and the businesses.

The global competition in every industry to develop the best user-friendly and feasible product keeps rising with numerous attempts from all corners of the world to deliver the most refined technology solutions. Hence, business owners often prefer a method that can create a more durable, flexible product to beat competitors. The practices used in agile methodology come in handy here to deliver a top-notch solution.

With the Agile method, practices like MVP are used to get faster test runs and feedback from users before developing the complete solution. This helps to receive an assurance on the strategies used and to receive an idea of the success rate of the ultimate expectation to build up the business value.

The stakeholder engagement before, between, and after each sprint results in higher collaboration and helps to deeply engage in the project, which eventually results in delivering a high-quality product. It further helps in transparency where clients can be involved in prioritizing features and other changes with the right guidance and understanding in each review session.

The agile method of software development also helps in improving quality by breaking down its units where the team can focus and concentrate more on each section with testing and reviews. It also helps in finding defects easily and quickly and figuring out the mismatches that need to be altered accordingly.

The powerful tool of agile consisting of components such as project planning, roadmap creations, sprint planning, sprint reviews, and retrospective helps every participant to enhance the product quality in terms of control, flexibility, adaptability, etc. The testing methods help in developing a product speedily and cost-efficiently while focusing more precisely on the final goal. It helps to overcome pitfalls like scope creep and waive off the unnecessary costs while engineering the product.

Practicing these methodologies helps the development team to work collaboratively with higher transparency to deliver a product with a higher success rate. It further aids in developing software that is nimble enough to adjust to future changes and requirements in the business.

It is essential to find a team that follows these practices and principles of agile correctly during a software development process to deliver a high-quality, superior product. At Fidenz, we have a proven record of building successful products with the right strategies and implementations. If you are looking for a software solution to upscale your business, contact us to receive the best consultation on product development with agile methodologies. Our team can provide you with robust software solutions that can serve your organizational goals and adapt to future changes along the way.

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