How We Create Beautiful Mobile Apps in Half the Time
Here’s the story of why I created Foxbox Digital, a different kind of mobile app development company.
When I was CTO and Co-Founder of Charlie App we needed to build a mobile app to complement our existing web app. We were a team of web developers and didn’t have experience building iOS or Android apps. We reached out to some local app development companies in Chicago to get quotes on what it would take to build the app. The quotes were really high, and that was for just the iOS app. And after that, we’d need to have them build the Android app too.
We’re responsible for hosting and supporting the API that actually runs the app. We ended up finding a freelance iOS developer to build the app, and he did a killer job. It cost a ton of money though, and at the end of the day we could only support half our users because the other half were on Android.
This model felt broken to me. I understand why mobile app development companies charge so much for a mobile app — developers are expensive, and in-demand. But isn’t there a better way?
I researched popular cross-platform app frameworks and found React Native, Ionic, and Cordova. Ionic and Cordova apps look like native mobile apps, but they don’t feel like them — they’re slow and sluggish. React Native strikes the perfect balance because they’re fast to build, and the apps look and feel like native mobile apps (snappy and responsive). And it’s simply a joy to program the code. Winner: React Native.
With a cross-platform framework like React Native, we build both the iOS app and the Android app at the same time. This cuts the development time (and cost) in half.
Through our engagement with Home Chef, we developed and published both iOS and Android apps using React Native.
This helped them significantly increase app store ratings, meal kit conversions, and user engagement rates.
The mobile app is only part of the solution though — every mobile app needs an API to power the app. An API is the server and software that the app communicates with in order to do what it needs to do (i.e. get and store data). Once you have an API built, you need to host and maintain it. As a client, do you want to be bothered to maintain an API?
I thought about all of the things that you need to do in order to keep your app up and running in the app stores.
- Mobile App — build it, launch it, maintain it (fix bugs and security issues).
- API — build it, build servers to host it, maintain it.
- Monitor the API to ensure it stays running and respond to issues as they come up.
- Upgrade the mobile app every time Apple or Google releases a new phone or operating system. Re-release to both app stores.
Do clients really want to do all of this?
I envisioned a mobile app development company that takes a radically different approach to building apps. We’d use reusable building blocks to create the core of the app, and a finely tuned process to develop them. With this approach, it’s much easier to predict how long it will take to build the app.
In addition it would be a full-service agency that handles everything from design to building clients’ apps to keeping them up & running, for the life of the apps. We’d be a trusted partner to our clients, so they wouldn’t have to worry about anything involved in building or running their mobile apps.
That's why I created Foxbox Digital.
Foxbox Digital creates beautiful cross-platform mobile apps in half the time. We handle everything involved in running and maintaining your app, for the life of the app.
Interested in creating a mobile app? Reach out and let's come up with a strategy to build it.
Rob Volk is Foxbox Digital’s founder and CEO. Prior to starting Foxbox, Rob helped Fortune 100 clients, including Pfizer, USPS, and Morgan Stanley build and scale enterprise apps. He was the CTO of Beyond Diet and implemented technology that scaled to over 350k+ customers, and was the CTO and Co-Founder of Detective (detective.io), a venture-backed intelligence platform that amassed 200k+ users in a short time frame. Read more