How to Make Your Mobile App Run Smoothly – 8 Tips for Seamless Performance

Mobile apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. From ordering food to managing finances, there’s an app for almost everything. As of October 2022, there were over 3.55 million apps available on the Google Play Store and 1.65 million on Apple’s App Store. With such a vast sea of applications, standing out in the crowd is more challenging than ever. One key differentiator? Performance.

Have you experienced the frustration of an app suddenly lagging or crashing? This can be extremely upsetting for customers and businesses alike. A study by AppDynamics revealed that 49% of users expect apps to respond in 2 seconds or less. 53% of users uninstall or remove a mobile app with severe issues like crashes, freezes, or errors. These statistics underscore the importance of a smooth-running app. It’s not just about aesthetics or functionality; it’s about delivering a seamless user experience that retains users and boosts loyalty.

There are several steps that you can take to ensure that your app runs as efficiently as possible. This will ensure your customers are happy and your platform works seamlessly.

In this article, we’ll discuss some simple strategies for keeping your app in top condition and running perfectly every time, ensuring that your application not only meets but exceeds user expectations. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting, these insights will equip you with the tools to create a truly standout app.

1. Optimize Your App for Different Devices

From the latest flagship smartphones boasting cutting-edge specs to older models still in circulation, the range of mobile devices is huge. Tablets, with their larger screens, add another layer of complexity. For app developers, this diversity presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Creating an app that functions seamlessly across this spectrum ensures a broader reach and a more inclusive user experience.

High-end devices, with their powerful processors, ample RAM, and high-resolution displays, can handle most apps with ease. They can smoothly run graphics-intensive games, multitask efficiently, and display crisp visuals. However, designing an app solely with these devices in mind can alienate a significant portion of potential users. Not everyone has access to, or can afford, the latest tech. Moreover, in many emerging markets, mid-range or older devices dominate the landscape.

On the flip side, low-end devices, often characterized by limited processing power, smaller memory capacities, and lower-resolution screens, require a different approach. An app optimized for a high-end device might stutter, crash, or even fail to run altogether on a less powerful device.

Optimizing to suit different device sizes and operating systems could make all the difference between an app being loved by its users or quickly deleted. Prioritizing user experience across platforms will attract and retain more customers, increasing popularity over time.

2. Use Development Technologies and Tools

With technology constantly developing at an accelerating rate, demand for user-centric applications continues to skyrocket. In order for developers to meet this objective, cutting-edge tools and technologies must be available.

App development is an ever-evolving field, and keeping up with the latest trends and technologies is integral to producing apps that are engaging, intuitive, and cross-platform compatible.

A guy explaining his female coworker mobile app development process

Luckily, developers now have access to cutting-edge cloud-based solutions as well as software like an API management platform, which allows them to develop apps that stand out. Why not take full advantage of all these incredible resources?

3. Implement Caching Mechanisms and Data Compression

As technology develops, apps have become more complex and feature-packed, resulting in larger file sizes. However, don’t fret. Developers have ways to reduce app sizes without compromising performance. Apps can run faster, take up less storage space, and ultimately enhance the user experience by implementing caching mechanisms and data compression techniques.

Caching allows frequently accessed information to be stored locally instead of having to be pulled down from a server every time it is needed. Data compression allows developers to significantly reduce the size of large files such as images, videos, and audio without impacting quality or functionality. Combine these techniques, and you have an app that performs perfectly even on low-end devices.

Incorporating caching mechanisms can also enhance API efficiency. By storing frequently accessed data locally, apps can reduce the number of API calls needed, offering faster response times and a more fluid user experience.

4. Minimize Use of Heavy Libraries and SDKs

Libraries and SDKs (Software Development Kits) are often seen as shortcuts to streamline the coding process. They provide pre-written code and solutions that can save developers a significant amount of time. However, this convenience can sometimes come at the expense of app performance. Some libraries and SDKs can be quite bulky, adding to the overall size of the app. A larger app not only takes longer to download, deterring potential users, but can also slow down the app’s operation, leading to a less than optimal user experience.

Before integrating any third-party library or SDK, it’s essential to evaluate its necessity. Is the functionality it provides crucial to the app? Could the same result be achieved with native code or a more lightweight alternative? It’s also beneficial to research feedback from other developers, as this can provide insights into potential performance issues or bugs associated with a particular library.

Moreover, as apps evolve, the need for certain libraries might diminish. Regularly auditing and removing redundant libraries can lead to instant performance improvements. Developers should also keep an eye on updates for the libraries and SDKs they use. These updates often come with performance enhancements and bug fixes.

5. Efficient Use of APIs

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, serve as the bridge between different software applications, allowing them to communicate and share data. In the context of mobile apps, they play a pivotal role in fetching data from servers, integrating third-party services, and ensuring that various components of an app ecosystem work harmoniously. However, the way APIs are used can significantly impact an app’s performance and user experience.

Making API calls efficiently is more than just a technical requirement; it’s about ensuring seamless user interactions. Every unnecessary API call not only consumes bandwidth but also utilizes system resources, potentially slowing down the app. For instance, if an app continuously polls a server for updates when a less frequent check would suffice, it’s wasting resources and potentially draining the device’s battery faster.

Handling API responses correctly is equally crucial. Incorrectly processed responses can lead to data inconsistencies, display errors, or even app crashes. For example, if an app doesn’t account for potential null values or unexpected data types in an API response, it might attempt to perform operations or updates that aren’t valid, leading to errors or unexpected behaviors.

Moreover, it’s essential to consider the potential for API failures. Servers can go down, requests can time out, and data can get lost in transit. Building in robust error handling and providing users with meaningful feedback during such events can make the difference between a minor hiccup and a frustrated user uninstalling the app.

6. Network Connectivity Handling

In an ideal world, every user would always have a lightning-fast, uninterrupted internet connection. However, the reality is far from this. Users traverse through areas with patchy signals, rely on public WiFi with fluctuating speeds, or sometimes find themselves in zones with no connectivity at all. For mobile apps, these varying network conditions pose a significant challenge. An app’s ability to handle these conditions can greatly influence user satisfaction and overall app success.

Slow networks can be a common pain point, especially in regions where 4G or 5G networks haven’t fully penetrated or in crowded areas where bandwidth is shared among many. An app that’s designed without considering these slower speeds can lead to prolonged load times, timeouts, or even crashes.

To combat this, apps can implement features like data compression, low-bandwidth modes, or content prioritization to ensure that essential functions remain accessible, even if some high-data features are temporarily unavailable.

Intermittent connectivity is another challenge. As users move, they might transition between strong and weak network zones. Apps can get caught in a limbo during these transitions, leading to failed transactions, data corruption, or loss of user inputs.

By designing apps to queue actions and synchronize them when stable connectivity is re-established, these pitfalls can be avoided. Additionally, providing users with clear feedback about the app’s connectivity status can prevent actions that are likely to fail due to network interruptions.

The complete loss of connection, while more absolute, is a scenario that every mobile app should be prepared for. Offline modes, where users can access cached data or perform certain actions that will sync once connectivity is restored, can be a lifesaver. For instance, a note-taking app might allow users to write and save notes offline, which then get uploaded to the cloud once the device is back online.

Feedback mechanisms are also crucial. Informing users when the app is experiencing connectivity issues, rather than leaving them guessing, can reduce frustration. Simple notifications like “You’re offline” or “Having trouble connecting” can set clear expectations.

7. Implement Multithreading

Responsiveness is king. Users expect apps to be snappy, responsive, and free from any lags or freezes. However, as apps become more complex and feature-rich, ensuring this seamless experience can be challenging. This is where multithreading comes into play, acting as a pivotal tool in a developer’s arsenal to maintain an app’s fluidity.

At its core, multithreading is about allowing an application to perform multiple tasks concurrently. Most modern devices come equipped with multi-core processors, enabling them to execute several threads in parallel. By leveraging this capability, apps can distribute their workload, ensuring that intensive tasks don’t bottleneck the entire system.

Consider the main thread of an app, often referred to as the UI thread. This thread is responsible for everything the user interacts with: buttons, animations, transitions, and more. Imagine a user initiating an action that requires fetching data from a remote server (an API call) or querying a local database. If executed on the main thread, these operations could cause noticeable delays, freezing the UI and leading to a subpar user experience.

By implementing multithreading, such tasks can be offloaded to background threads. While the main thread continues to handle user interactions and display updates, the background threads can quietly work on data fetching, processing, or any other intensive task. Once completed, they can then update the main thread with the results, ensuring that the user interface remains smooth and responsive throughout.

However, while multithreading offers numerous benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Developers need to be wary of issues like race conditions, where two threads try to access or modify shared resources simultaneously, leading to unpredictable results. Proper synchronization mechanisms, like locks or semaphores, can help manage these challenges, ensuring that threads operate without stepping on each other’s toes.

8. Fast Bug Fixing and Acting on User Feedback

Technology is ever-evolving, which requires apps to remain up-to-date with the newest features and bug fixes in order to stay competitive. Not only should developers stay informed of emerging trends, but it is also important that user feedback be addressed properly so your app remains up-to-date and runs smoothly at all times.

Also, the design of an app has an enormous effect on performance. Therefore, keeping designs fresh and relevant ensures users always enjoy an exceptional user experience, regardless of the device they’re using.

When developers and designers are deeply engrossed in code, algorithms, and design aesthetics, there’s a crucial element that can sometimes be overlooked: the end-users. These are the individuals who interact with the app daily, navigating its features, and experiencing its performance firsthand. Their insights, stemming from real-world usage, can be invaluable in identifying areas of improvement, especially when it comes to performance issues.

Users, by virtue of their diverse backgrounds, devices, and usage patterns, bring a plethora of experiences to the table. While rigorous testing during development can catch many issues, it’s nearly impossible to replicate all the scenarios that thousands or millions of users might encounter.

For instance, a particular combination of actions, only performed by a subset of users, might lead to a performance lag or crash. Such nuances can easily slip through the cracks during standard testing phases but can be quickly pinpointed by vigilant users.

Collecting feedback, however, is only the first step. The real value lies in how developers act upon it.

In conclusion, Optimizing mobile apps may seem intimidating, but it can help developers create products that are both reliable and enjoyable to use. Taking into account different device sizes and operating systems as well as modern tools and technologies such as caching mechanisms, efficient use of APIs, and data compression strategies, optimizing app performance for speed becomes achievable.

If you follow the tips discussed in this article to create an app that performs seamlessly, you will retain your users and keep them coming back for more.

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Bret Mulvey

Bret is a seasoned computer programmer with a profound passion for mathematics and physics. His professional journey is marked by extensive experience in developing complex software solutions, where he skillfully integrates his love for analytical sciences to solve challenging problems.