You’ve probably already seen the February 2014 data that we are now using mobile apps more than desktops to access the internet in the US. This indicates that those of us who depend on the internet for our livelihood (who doesn’t these days?…) should be thinking seriously about our mobile device presence. Building mobile apps with WordPress is no fringe topic (at least it shouldn’t be).
WordPress and Mobile Apps
Earlier this week, San Franciscans had 2 chances to learn about opportunities at the intersection of mobile apps and WordPress from Scott Bolinger, cofounder of AppPresser (and PressCoders). The first was an eCommerce-focused talk Make a Mobile App for your WooCommerce Store at the SF WooCommerce Meetup, and the second was a more general Making Mobile Apps with WordPress at the SF WordPress Meetup.
Below are some of the highlights from these 2 presentations.
Building Apps – 2 Methods
You can build a mobile app using 2 different methods. The first is hybrid app development. Essentially, hybrid apps are a combination of the elements of native and HTML5. AppPresser uses the hybrid method, with the help of a framework called PhoneGap. When explaining this, Bolinger said:
PhoneGap API, in a way, supercharges WordPress.
The advantage of this method is that many developers can leverage their existing skills, and use these skills across both web and app development. (During the WooCommerce meetup, Bolinger said that many WooCommerce sites can be turned into an app using AppPresser in under 1 hour!)
The other method is native app development. Native apps perform better than hybrid apps on devices, because the developmental process uses the tools and language that are “native” to the particular mobile platform (iOS or Android). However, native apps are more difficult for many WordPress developers to create, because of the need to learn the native device language.
JSON REST API
One thing that’s rocking Bolinger’s socks off is Version 1 of the JSON REST API plugin, which was released last weekend. During the week, we also learned that the JSON REST API will be merged into WordPress Core in 4.1.
The JSON REST API is a way to get data from, and put data on, your WordPress site. While there are already a few different ways to do that, the problem is that they are hard to use.
The good news is that WordPress developers should be able to easily use and understand the JSON REST API, which offers a way for developers to start building things that connect with WordPress in a user-friendly way.
At the moment, apps for WordPress are pulling all the visuals and all the data down into the device. Using the JSON REST API, apps will be able to pull only the data. The visual information will be native to the app. This means that the WordPress apps will be a heck of a lot faster.
Opportunity for Consultants
WordPress consultants have a great opportunity to expand their offering (and revenue stream) by providing mobile app development on top of their usual services. Bolinger suggested that consultants offer 2 phases to their clients:
Phase 1, I can build your website. Phase 2, I can build your app.
Consultants could easily charge anywhere between $3,000-5,000 for an app (or much, much more), according to Bolinger. Apparently Chris Lema told him about the website How Much To Make an App (a tool provided by Crew, the team behind the beautiful free photo site Unsplash), which you can play around with to see what some people think you should be charging for apps.
Note: I just played around with the site and got a quote for $31,500 for an iPhone app that accepts in-app payments, includings ratings and reviews, and is integrated with a website (plus a few other features). Not cheap!
Whichever way you look at it, apps are a fantastic way to add a revenue stream for WordPress consultants and developers. With tools like AppPresser, and exciting new innovations like the JSON REST API, the future is indeed looking rosy for for WordPress consultants brave enough to venture into the world of apps.
Are you thinking about adding mobile apps to your WordPress tool belt?
Featured Image Source: Scott Bolinger
Ernest Hemingway said: “As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.” Kirby Prickett is passionate about writing, reading, and understanding. She is currently a writer at WPEngine. You can connect with Kirby on Twitter, Google+, and find more of her writing on her personal blog.