Dec 9, 2016 · 4 min read

I work in the field of mobile apps for over half a decade now. The first question I had when starting to learn about this topic is also one I never found an answer for. Which platform to tackle first?

I have built several apps for Android and iOS and know the strengths and weaknesses of both. Especially as a startup you often decide for one platform to showcase your MVP. Anyway, my intention with this post is not to help you find your platform of first choice. I assume that you already had to make a decision. You are probably at a point where you want to include the other platforms as well. When facing this problem with myAlfred, I’ve put extensive thoughts into solving this problem. I found two common but unsatisfying solutions:

  1. Build the other apps: This is obvious and we will go down that route eventually. However, we are in the middle of beta testing our application. This means we sometimes respond to user feedback with bigger changes. We don’t want to spend our time fixing mistakes twice.
  2. Cross platform development: To provide the best performance and user experience we decided against a cross platform solution for myAlfred early on. It seems like a good idea at first, but it always ends in tears.

Develop your MVP for only one platform. You can’t afford to fix mistakes twice.

With those two options off the table, what is left to do?

The good news first. We found a great and easy way to solve this problem. Create a chat bot. Wait what? That’s right a chat bot. Think about it. The core functionality of many apps can easily be replicated in a chat. You can even use most of your existing infrastructure that provides this functionality. Also there is no need for a user interface. This combination makes it an easy and quick task.

As always, there is also a downside. The hype about chat bots has merely just begun and people are beginning to figure out best practices. Most likely the majority of your users has never even interacted with a chat bot before. Some might not even know that such a thing exists. Thus it can be challenging to figure out what to build into your chat bot.

Which features of my app should I build into my chat bot?

With myAlfred the core functionality is its artificial intelligence that schedules appointments. Just think about how many chats are solely created for the purpose of arranging a meeting. A chat bot that can help to reduce this tedious and time consuming task is a huge gain. The myAlfred bot is simply added into the group chat and takes care of finding a date. We also find that the butler metaphor plays well with personification and chatting. This is backed by the first feedback of our users.

Within a week myAlfred transformed into a bot.

If you find yourself in a similar position it might help to think about your app in a different way. What is the main issue your app is trying to solve? How can it be more interactive? There are chat bots that send you the current weather of any city you ask for. When looking at your existing app from a different view you may get a clever new way of interacting with your users.

Are there other benefits as well?

Even though chat bots are new there is a significantly lower entry barrier than with apps. Especially Telegram is a great platform as you don’t have to install a new app and you can try out a bot within seconds. By closing the chat you can get rid of it even faster. It is also a huge chance to get user attention. Consider the numbers — your app is up against 2.2 million competitors on Android and 2 million on iOS. The Telegram bot store on the other hand lists less than 5,000 chat bots at the moment.

Is this the end of apps?

Quite the contrary. I read more than a dozen times that apps are dead and that their successors are chat bots. They all seem to forget that the technical possibilities are limited. Personally I think that chat bots are a great way to showcase your app. You can quickly reach people of all platforms without the pain of multi platform development. In the end you can use the best of both worlds to establish a sustainable eco system.

To check out the myAlfred Telegram bot click here.

If you are interested in myAlfred please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, AngelList, LinkedIn.


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Bringing people together — without hassle. #makeithappen https://butleroy.com

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