The direct reason why voice technology has been improving through the last 10 years is the high demand for comfort, efficiency, and increased speed of processing. Users’ expectations of digital products have changed. Today, the ability to perform multiple operations at once is what creates the hierarchy in the device category. Most of us just want to accomplish things faster and voice recognition development makes it almost possible. Almost.
We’ve experienced an explosion of voice technology. It’s incorporated into our smartphones but also into our home devices. There are tasks that we can accomplish just by saying commands to our phones and gadgets. It’s really awesome! However, we still need to learn how to overcome a set of challenges that make the overall usage less convenient. Before we discuss them, let’s quickly remind ourselves of the moment when it all started.
Today words such as text-to-speech, speech recognition, machine learning, and adaptive VUIs are commonly known. But where did it all begin?
2011 – The launch of Apple’s Siri – the first voice-enabled assistant on a smartphone! ?
2014 – Alexa enters the market! Amazon introduces its player in the voice recognition category ?
2016 – Google Assistant meets the world! The company celebrates its first voice-enabled device ?
The rest of the events escalated pretty quickly. Only in 2018, there were 9,5mln people in the UK using smart speakers. The demand for voice recognition software was rapidly increasing and the competitors to this day have much work to do to meet the final users’ expectations. Although the last years were spent on minimizing errors in voice recognition development, the main problems are yet to be solved.
Here are some challenges we still have to face when implementing any voice features.
Many have already noticed how inaccurate speech-to-text technology can be. Voice recognition software won’t always put your words exactly how you said on the screen. It’s usually something close to it but since software can’t understand the context of language, it often leads to misinterpretation.
Voice recognition still has problems with slang, technicalities, acronyms, and distinguishing words that sound familiar but mean something completely different.
The famous “duck” instead of “f***” ??
Same as with understanding the context, voice recognition software can have problems with different accents and local dialects.
Even though some devices may learn to decode your speech, it takes time. You’ll have to talk slowly and clearly to minimize the errors and help the software learn how your pronunciation sounds. What’s more, the sound and quality of your voice may also affect the speed and accuracy of processing. Sometimes a throat problem is enough to make the technology work less efficient.
For sure, we aren’t ready to make the voice technology compatible with all languages yet.
If we have even minor problems with the most popular languages, think about how far away we must be with the quality in the case of national minorities. Probably there’s a long way before the technology will be available to all no matter the language.
Reach and loud environment is unfortunately still a problem. Using a voice-enabled device in a quiet place is considered the best practice to get the best out of it. Having a lot of background noise, the system can’t distinguish your speech and gets crazy. One that may be helpful here is wearing close-talking microphones or noise-canceling headsets.
You have to actually spend some more time to review and edit a message to correct. errors. Also, you have to learn how to properly use it. Sometimes when we talk too fast we only increase spelling and grammar errors but with the right tone and pace, we can be more effective. Oh, and remember that you have to say the punctuation out loud:
[…] question mark [..] dot […] exclamation mark.
It can be annoying sometimes and for sure affects the flow of our conversation.
Voice recognition is not a technology that will stop right where it is. As long as we see that people use it and enjoy the comfort (even partially) of accomplishing things just by using voice commands – we will work on the devices to be only more effective. After all, what matters is the quality of user experience.
Recently we finished a great project for a Swedish company. Check how we powered an eLearning platform with voice recognition technology!
When you’re slowly reaching the scaling phase, you want to optimize the vast majority of processes and decrease overall operational costs. We’ve talked about it in the article on how to scale a startup business. A good way to optimize your costs is to invest in easy and cheap to maintain solutions – like Firebase. It’s not like we’ve just discovered a secret way to save money upfront. We mentioned Firebase many times, for example when talking about some of its pros and cons. Today we would like to focus on the Firebase services that help entrepreneurs optimizing IT-related costs and saving time.
There are enough Firebase services to build a solid backend infrastructure for your product. Obviously, we wouldn’t talk about it if it was lame. Let’s see what the platform has to offer!
It turns out that the list of this BaaS (Backend as a Service) solution is quite extensive.
If I would name one reason why you should build your app using Firebase – this is it.
Developers usually have to make HTTP calls to get new data and sync it. This is how most databases work. Realtime database is called this way because it allows for instant synchronization of data in realtime to all connected clients. It sends new data to everyone as soon as it’s updated which makes a huge difference during the app development process.
This cloud-hosted database stores data as one large JSON tree and instead of connecting to it with standard HTTP, you do it through WebSocket which is much faster. What’s more, it can work offline! The database caching the data in the device memory and when the Internet connection is back, the data is immediately synchronized.
The tool provides a simple way to control access to your data. It has its own authentication system that allows access to an app through a one-time code sent to a user’s phone number. It can be done via SMS but also 3rd party auth methods such as Google, Facebook but also Github, and Microsoft. To have even greater control, you can write your own security rules to get access to the app.
Firebase Auth system helps you easily create and manage users…for free!. This service is available for Android and iOS and you can have up to 10,000 free messages per month.
Firebase provides Cloud Storage that lets you simply store and upload user-generated content, including photos or videos. This way you can include some eye-catching materials into your app. It saves files in Google Cloud Storage directly from the client. The tool has also an option to write security rules to protect the content. It’s also one of the Firebase services that is free!
On the list of Firebase services, there is also Hosting.
Firebase Hosting provides an SSL certificate and has a built-in CDN that you can use to accelerate the transfer of data across the continents. It enables you to view and test changes locally. If you need to give access to your work to other members of your team, you can simply create sharable, temporary preview URLs of your site. The Hosting also offers GitHub integration.
Is it all nice and safe? It has to be. Cloud providers have a lot of strict regulations to follow in order to be able to sell their services. Think this way. Firebase is held by Google. A company like this has to have the actual privileges that prove all data will be fully safe and protected from any hostile activity.
All of the Firebase services are designed in a way to scale and grow along with your app. When your product is used by more and more users, Firebase makes it easier to increase the cloud capacity without major problems or complications. And when your audience grows unexpectedly fast, it’s a true life-saving feature. It’s more than a database. The services are everything you need to deliver a great product.
We say that again – Firebase services, even though are great, can’t meet all expectations. When your product is rather complex or requires even more advanced security, the platform won’t be enough. It’s a good start though!
If you want to speed up your time-to-market or you want to optimize the IT maintenance costs – you’ll do that easily with Firebase.
If you need support or you need a dedicated backend solution – check our cloud services!
How cloud computing benefits a business
Along with the development of AI and intelligent assistants, we could observe the increase in voice technology adoption. Voice-activated devices are everywhere. They can control your home’s temperature, they can activate your washing machine, and make you the master of multitasking. What’s even better, the technology was adopted in many smartphone applications that with voice search greatly increase our efficiency. Today we discover some of the best voice recognition apps and the industries they were implemented in.
When we think about the biggest voice-activated assistants, tech giants representants are what come first to our minds: Amazon Echo and Google Home. Then there are the two famous voice assistants available on smartphones: Siri and OK Google. In addition, there is Cortana from Microsoft that is another assistant that can manage your calendar, set reminders, or search for facts and information. But there is more to the story. Apart from the tech giants, there are many other voice recognition adoption examples that bring value to our lives.
Voice recognition can provide us with various forms of assistance depending on industry and our needs.
Thanks to voice recognition development, we no longer have to use hands to type. Voice-to-text apps have completely freed us from writing long emails, text messages, or documents. The technology inside our device transcribes everything we say to the microphone into text – which is hella convenient! Every time we have our hands occupied we can simply speak whatever comes to our mind and the voice-to-text app will write it down for us.
Two great apps that are worth mentioning here are Google docs with the voice typing feature and Dragon. Everyone knows Google docs but little they know about the voice typing option. It’s a simple, super accessible, and free option to write long documents using your voice only. I wouldn’t say it works flawlessly but look how much time you save while something else types for you. All you need is a microphone and Google Chrome browser and you good to go!
Dragon is a product released in 2009 that was at first an app for Apple’s iOS platforms. Today it’s a whole line of voice recognition software that you can use also on Android and get the advantage of the voice-to-text feature. This speech recognition program will make you get rid of your keyboard and enjoy high recognition accuracy that continually improves and adapts to your voice. The company offers various mobile apps, including Dragon Dictation, Dragon for Email, or FlexT9.
Voice biometrics works by digitalizing a profile of a person’s speech by producing his/her voice print. The voice prints are stored in databases and it works similarly to the storing of fingerprints. Such technology is commonly applied in telephone and internet transactions or IVR-based banking systems.
Voice technology combined with biometrics greatly increases the level of security of many industries. Sesame is a voice biometric identification system that helps call centers to identify callers. It uses their natural speech and creates a voice print based on their previous calls. This way it prevents identity theft in industries such as healthcare, insurance, and finance. Whoever calls an institution has his voice scanned by the system and stored in the database. Thanks to the accuracy of such solutions, there are chances we will drift away from outdated security methods.
The vast majority of new cars have a built-in, dedicated voice assistant. You can see how it works in one of Mercedes, Audi, or Volkswagen models. As it’s a built-in, voice system, you don’t need an app to use it. You can simply activate it by saying a command like “Hi Mercedes!”. Then you can ask the system a bunch of staff and it will set up things for you such as navigation details, weather prognosis, car temperature, and more. Although it doesn’t always work flawlessly, it’s super handy.
On the other hand, there are some useful voice-activated apps. We know the struggle when we drive a car and suddenly get a message. Most of us immediately reach the phone to check what’s up and text back. And we also know that it’s not only unsafe but also illegal. That’s why Drivesafe.ly pro is a voice-to-text app that literally safe our lives! It’s an in-car voice app that reads your incoming text messages to you and lets you type and send the answer using voice only. This way we don’t risk getting into a car accident but we stay both safe and efficient!
Among the best voice recognition apps, there are also those with the translation feature. One worth recommending is Jibbigo. It’s a two-way translation app available on iOS and Android. Jibbigo listens as you speak in one language and immediately translates your words into another language. You can choose from 8 different language pairs, including English, French, or German but also Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Chinese.
It’s super handy and makes people more productive as they now can do several things at once! The voice technology captures our words and magically transforms them into text, generates our voice print, or translates our speech to another language. It’s amazing how much time we can save just by using one of the voice-activated assistants! Also, voice recognition continuously improves which means the level of assistance will only get higher.
The potential of voice technology is already exploited in many industries, including Finance, Healthcare, and Automotive sectors. It shows that implementing voice recognition into one of your product will certainly future-proof your business. The technology is in high demand and people want it to be better in assisting them in their daily duties.
Thinking about level-up your product with voice recognition?
As a React js development company with years of experience in delivering React-based applications, we know this technology inside out. And not only we know it, but we love it. Today we would like to share with you reasons behind our choice to create software projects this way. Here come the 5 advantages of React JS.
The following 5 advantages of React JS makes it a must-have in the technological stack.
If you want to develop an app that has a lot of user interaction you have to carefully consider its tree-structure because the way it is formed impacts the performance. Everything in DOM is connected. Frequent data updates and changes at the top level of a “tree” can eventually affect the user interface and may result in poor user experience.
When we have real DOM, a server processes the changes (queries, user interaction) through an update of all the trees, which is thousands of elements! In React there is a virtual representation of the DOM that increases the speed of data updates without impacting other parts of the interface. Thanks to it, React developers use hot reloading – they can apply changes in real-time, building dynamic UI components. The virtual DOM environment increases productivity and facilitates the whole work on a project.
Another time-saving feature is the ability to reuse code components. We’ve talked about this in the article about PureComponent. Using React, developers can easily manage updates, producing code more efficiently. Building an app they can just reuse what they’ve built already and expand it to a more complex feature. All React components are isolated and change in one doesn’t affect others which makes it super convenient. In essence, code reusability makes it easier to develop and maintain a product as it allows for fast and precise testing procedures.
On the list of advantages of React JS. there is also the toolset dedicated to the development environment. React offers great developer tools to better design and debug products. The tools are in the form of a browser extension (for Chrome and Firefox) that enable developers to scan, examine, and edit the components in the virtual DOM. There are also tools specifically for those who use Redux. Redux, although it’s not a React-only thing, is something every React developer should know about. It simplifies storing and managing components states of large and complex applications. Redux tools allow developers to observe dispatched actions and modify stores.
Explicit data binding in other technologies makes it difficult to apply changes in a way that doesn’t affect the rest of the app structure. Downward data flow in React JS. ensures the changes in child structures (lower levels of tree structure) don’t affect their parents. Developers can modify the state of an object and after, only specific components will be updated. This way they produce stable code which improves app performance.
Finally, the one and only React Native which is the framework for mobile app development. The way it accelerates project delivery process is incredible. React Native is used for building natively rendering mobile apps that can be simultaneously developed for iOS and Android. Also, has a great number of innovative features that ease the work on a product by saving both costs and time. Here you can read more about what is React Native used for.
Lastly, we have to mention the community around the technology that keeps expanding. Having so many people interested in React, the number of useful resources to learn it and develop your skills are endless. If you want to learn more about React JS. you can easily find great tutorials, articles, and people that will support you on the way. Including our React JS development company 🙂
To summarize, React JS. increases productivity, improves user experience, and saves a lot of in-house resources. It’s a perfect example of a technology that lets you eat a cookie and have a cookie. It’s a solution that can significantly optimize efforts of web development and increase its efficiency. And it keeps improving!
With the development of the Internet and mobile devices, e-learning became a huge branch of education. Its global market is expected to grow beyond $398 billion by 2026. Nowadays, e-learning is adopted in many academic facilities and workplaces, providing people with a flexible, cost-effective, and time-saving way to acquire knowledge. The list of its benefits is long but in order to get profit from all of them, companies should get familiar with the list of top 5 e-learning trends to follow.
The ability to see an overview of students’ performance and experience is something valuable that helps improve the learning platform and teaching methods. We can see more systems to incorporate or connect to analytics in order to track the behavior of platform users. Thanks to analytics and big data companies have more options to personalize the learning process and make it more effective. To better understand the concept of learning analytics here’s a short explanatory video.
One of the immersive technologies that are being adopted in the e-learning industry is VR/AR. To make content more captivating and increase engagement among users, e-learning platforms transfer to virtual reality. The technology augments the existing e-learning training with the use of 360-degree photography and real-life interactions. The experience is remarkable and allows for a better understanding of a given subject or area. VR environment combines features that bridge the gap between theory and real application. One of the existing e-learning tools based on the technology is Plexus VR/AR gloves that enable users to actually feel the objects they study.
Another point on the list of top 5 e-learning trends is user-generated content (UGC). It is content created and delivered by learners in the form of videos, blog posts, ebooks, tutorials, and many other forms. It’s supposed to make a given concept more clear to other students and elaborate more on topics that aren’t well-explained in the curriculum. The method is so effective because it’s authentic. Students are more likely to learn from the experience of other peers. What’s more, the e-learning technique is cost-effective and promotes knowledge sharing.
Online learning mobile platforms are something we can’t forget about when discussing the best e-learning trends to follow. As we constantly see the increase in mobile usage, e-learning companies should make their platforms accessible also on mobile devices. The ability to learn anywhere, anytime is the level of convenience and flexibility we should provide with. What’s more, this so-called mLearning – mobile learning, may prove to be more effective and comfortable. Think about a mLearning native app that doesn’t even require the Internet connection to be used.
More e-learning platforms will use the voice commands system to allow users to ask questions and receive help whenever they need it. Researching facts using just voice without the need to enter things into the Internet browser is for sure helpful and will benefit students with concentration problems. It’s so much easier to interact with a product when you can freely ask questions and always receive an answer.
We can expect more AI-powered solutions to enter the market. AI enhances the personalized experience as it collects data about users and can provide them with tutors matching their learning methods and behavior. This way the tutor is not only suitable for a given user but also is always available to help them with learning.
The above top 5 e-learning trends are most likely to empower the industry in 2021. We already notice some early adoptions of previously mentioned techniques and it all aims at creating personalized, accessible, and captivating e-learning content. If you want to deliver a remarkable experience, adjust your company’s strategy to current trends, and use the full potential of analytics to improve what you’ve already had.
The national health crisis had to finally burst out as the healthcare system stays far away from being efficient and organized. While the Covid-19 drains the resources of the hospitals and medical facilities all over the world, we wonder what the post-pandemic future of the healthcare industry will look like. Once the pandemic is over, we should expect some major changes to occur in this sector.
In the article about medical apps of 2019, we mentioned mobile health research on the adoption of medical apps in the U.S hospitals. At that time, only 3% of medical facilities were using such solutions on a daily basis. We could hear about a plan to build software for the healthcare industry that would finally revolutionize this sector. But the scale of adoption of the digital healthcare solutions wasn’t big enough as well as the level of engagement coming from the medical staff. The current Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the actions as people noticed how much we really need to modernize the healthcare industry. Especially in times when we simply can’t go to one of the medical facilities without risking our own health.
What we can expect is the rise of Doctor On-Demand healthcare mobile apps. The concept was brought up long before the pandemic but now gained the needed consideration. Doctor On Demand apps provide patients with access to online medical care whenever and wherever they need it. They can request a doctor’s appointment via an online chat or a video call. This way they can receive professional help through so-called teleconsulting without the need to go out and wait in one of the medical facilities. Doctor On Demand apps are not just about teleconsulting but about creating an online platform where patients have access to all their medical history, hospital visits, past illnesses and prescriptions. It’s the most convenient approach to both sides and is already on the market.
The rate of investments in on-demand healthcare solutions has greatly increased in the past few years. In 2018 alone, the total number of deals closed in the on-demand healthcare industry was 50 which stands for a total investment of $1.4 billion. Among the top on-demand healthcare startups, we have Amwell, Doctor on demand, or 2nd.md. All of the on-demand healthcare solutions provide online medical care in the form of video calls with doctors of different specialties. Physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, and many others are waiting to provide you with a second opinion on your health status. When it comes to recent solutions in digital medical care, there is also Babylon Health which is the Covid-19 Care Assistant app that helps Coronavirus patients monitor their symptoms and consult with GPs by video.
Doctor On Demand apps benefit both sides as they reduce the total healthcare costs as well as the rate of hospitalization. Patients are less likely to go to urgent health clinics when they can hear their diagnoses through an online appointment. This way there is more place in hospitals for patients who really need advanced medical care. Also, the medical staff is not overburdened with too many occupied beds. On-demand healthcare makes patients aren’t dependent on one medical facility and can easily exchange information with doctors. The level of convenience and faster service that healthcare mobile apps offer, significantly outperform what we have now.
Next to on-demand solutions, there is the implementation of EMR using blockchain technology. EMR stands for Electronic Medical Records and it’s a digital version of patients’ medical history. It includes information such as diagnosis, prognosis, demographics, prescribed medication, and much more.
Blockchain is a distributed database managed by multiple computers at the same time. The computers don’t belong to any individual, company, or government organization. What’s more, each block of data is fully secured by being bound to another using cryptography. This way the information is shareable and can be expanded but it can’t be copied, modified, or deleted.
Here’s why blockchain-based health records is another trend we can expect in the post-pandemic future of the healthcare industry. The technology will soon solve all the problems with administration and medical data management. The combination ensures data are updated and constantly secured. The system also reduces time required to access a patient’s information and improves the quality of medical services.
Something that we considered a source of distraction, turned out to have a therapeutic effect and the potential to treat serious health conditions. VR technology has already proven to be effective in treating postoperative and chronic pain, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. A study by Samsung showed that VR helps reduce pain by 52%. Virtual Reality has also been used by doctors to practice complicated surgeries and improve their skills. Adopting VR into more hospitals would greatly increase the level of medical care provided by the institutions. In fact, the estimation is that the healthcare VR and AR market will reach $5.1 billion by 2025.
Big data collects information relevant to the business through channels such as social media or online transactions and use them to predict future trends. The technology can provide the healthcare industry with predictive analysis about admission rates. Big data can identify the risk of having too many emergency cases and help health institutions properly staff their facilities. What’s more, the technology can be used to minimize the risk of medication errors. Through patient records analysis, big data can compare the patient’s health status with the prescribed drugs and alert doctors about health-threatening situations. Adopting big data technology, healthcare companies can organize their data and better understand the market and its future demands.
Hospitals and medical facilities need to be modernized in order to be ready for situations like the pandemic. Healthcare mobile apps are helpful but what we really need is dedicated software for the healthcare industry. And although it’s a much bigger quest, it’s the one we should think of right now. Medical apps developers should build a system for patient and document management to improve the organization within hospitals and provide them with their own digital database.
The main challenge for medical apps developers in building such solutions is to define the end user’s needs and ensure data security. We are talking about thousands of peoples’ private medical histories and personal information that need to be fully secured. Also, when it comes to online healthcare solutions, medical apps developers have to take care of advice verification. To ensure the consultations and medical opinions are given only by qualified general practitioners.
The healthcare industry disruption evoked by the Covid-19 pandemic only stressed out the need for modern technology in this sector. We believe the post-pandemic future of the healthcare industry will bring more innovation with the help of medical apps developers. Even though doctor on-demand apps or digital healthcare solutions are extremely helpful, up to this day, we can’t say they are widely used across all hospitals. But that will soon change.
Startups have to dynamically develop in order to compete with other businesses on the market. Unfortunately, the ongoing crisis blocks and severely slows down the development of many companies putting their future at risk. Since the lockdown consequences are difficult to withstand even for bigger enterprises, how can startups survive the Coronavirus pandemic?
The current Covid-19 pandemic has turned the startup world upside down. Much of the startup events and tech conferences have been canceled or postponed. The investors aren’t as active as they used to be in times of the crisis and the businesses struggle with maintaining financial liquidity as well as their customer base. At times like this, we usually wonder what could’ve been done better to prevent the business from the crisis. Truth is, every situation can be well-played and now it’s not the time to think about the past. Apple and Google have already used the crisis to their advantage, creating the Covid-19 tracing tool. It means it’s time for you to get back on your feet.
Apple and Google software is not the only example of a well-played strategy. For many reasons, software development is a much easier and better choice than hardware production. During the world’s pandemic, the process of project testing, certification, and release is just incomparably difficult and long. Not to mention how much we rely on shipping politics and open borders with such an approach. Oh and on the smooth hardware production that won’t be interrupted by the deadly virus:)
To give you a bigger picture, let’s talk about the Coolest Cooler case. The project was originally funded through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The CEO raised a campaign to build smart coolers with built-in blenders. Brilliant right? But the team put the product for sale before they even finished the whole production. The company that today is out of business, admits that they shipped roughly two-thirds of the 60,000 coolers they owed people. Now the blame is put on the tariff on Chinese imports that raised to 25%. And even if it wasn’t the only problem on their road to success, the example shows why the independence from external factors is important in creating an easily scalable product.
Their hardware product was a disaster. Mainly because it wasn’t a response to any real needs of the target group. The startup was rather focused on creating the desire around some multifunction refrigerator. But as much as their product vision was weak, to some point, it shows that the production of the whole line of smart freezers is a way bigger undertaking that may outgrow any poorly prepared company. Let’s not forget that there are also other challenges waiting for startups during product development.
The Coronavirus pandemic made us realize what we really need and what our priorities are. We started to pay attention to things we truly value in our lives. The Coolest Cooler is not on the list as well as much of the hardware products we buy. In times of crisis, we are more likely to resign on any sort of subscription program that sends us protein shakes or shaving razors. That’s why a company offering these kinds of services should start building their technology background. This is how startups can survive Coronavirus pandemic as it helps the company change direction and maintain sales.
To survive on the market in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, startup founders need to be aware of the direction it is heading. Being up to date with the changing requirements, companies are able to maintain their brands. Either by creating a new product that meets new customers’ needs or by developing a modern strategy that turns your business into a tasty treat for bigger IT players. Coty company buying Kylie Cosmetics is an example of the second scenario.
Having a startup focused on hardware production is clearly at odds with nowaday’s global market condition. But let me repeat, every situation can be well-played. Even if you want to sell products in a subscription model or sell hardware, that is, to have a business model that relies on whether people go outside or not, it’s worth looking at the technological aspect of this approach. Do you know how to effectively measure sales? Do you know how to follow customers’ needs and interests? If so, then you can verify when your product becomes out of date and immediately respond to it. Only then it’s worth taking the risk. Remember that every start-up has to pivot during its development and it’s natural.
You have to notice the technology potential we have now and monitor changes that have occurred on the market due to the pandemic. Shifting into software delivery is something that can save your startup but it’s not the only way to do that. Only by adjusting your business strategy to the current world condition, you can greatly increase the chances of surviving on the market.
What has changed in the banking sector is the increase in customers using online platforms and apps to monitor their accounts. Since more people became familiar with mobile banking the traditional way of securing their data has become uncertain. What’s more, there are enough people for whom the traditional way of using banking service is just inconvenient. As we know, the need is the mother of inventions so in 2020 the financial sector came up with many interesting ideas on how to modify and improve mobile banking apps.
Even though passwords seem to provide full security, the reality shows they can be easily broken. With the increase in daily breaches, the company Veridium suggested a solution that replaces a traditional password-based login with biometrics. Biometric recognition is a system that provides access to an individual based on their physiological or psychological characteristics. Such a trait can be someone’s voice, face, fingerprint but also behavior. Basically, it’s a password that cannot be forgotten as it belongs to someone’s personality. Apart from being more secure, biometric authentication works faster and is more convenient to use. As was shown in the MasterCard study, the vast majority of users are willing to adopt the new method as a replacement for passwords. Financial institutions all over the world have already started to invest in biometrics. KB Kookmin Bank has already delivered its app with an iris-scanning system.
The public transaction ledger for cryptocurrencies has been recently explored by the banking sector. When looking at statistics, finance was the biggest blockchain value sector in 2018, having 60,5% of a market share. The technology enables the recording of transactions and provides a clear picture of one’s account status in real-time. It means the data are constantly updated providing transparency between trade partners and preventing fraud. The use of blockchain in the banking sector improves efficiency and shortens the transaction time not to mention the cost savings on both sides. The advantages of working with technology can be seen by the number of banks implementing blockchain to their structure.
With the success of Siri and Alexa, voice assistants are also on the banks’ wishlist. The easiness of asking questions and immediate redirect to the right section is something that many of us desire in an app. The prediction is that by the end of 2020 most of the internet browsers will be screenless and operated by voice. Santander has already launched a new voice banking app that allows users to conduct payments, inquire about transaction status or report a stolen card using voice only. Apart from that, there is Erica, which as a voice assistant enabling users to make money transfers available 24/7. According to Aiqudo, in one year the number of Erica’s users reached 7 million. In parallel, there is a project called Venmo, in which with the help of Siri you can also make payments using voice. The last example is Eno, introduced by Capital One.
The trend for cardless cash withdrawals will be definitely growing. The idea is to withdraw cash using only an app to make it more convenient for people who at the moment don’t have a card or they somehow lost it. The new feature would also reduce queuing time. Cardless ATM may be a successor for digital wallets that nowadays are very popular. The invention was already introduced by Chase Bank. ATM may scan QR code from the app or as Chase Bank did collaborate with Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay. KB Kookmin Bank also suggested something similar providing easy palm vein recognition services for cash withdrawal.
The general idea is to create one platform from which a client can manage all of their bank accounts. It aims to provide personalized user experience by offering a network of financial services. With no doubt, such an app would be more convenient for clients as they no longer have to log in to each bank separately. Money operation takes less time and each client has a clear view of one’s expenses. MoneyStrands is an app where you can do all of that and even more. Apart from adding different bank accounts, you can also analyze your daily cash flow and savings. Open banking definitely needs a few years to be better adapted but it’s a trend that has already started in the UK, Sweden or Hong Kong.
Digital-only banks gain popularity because of the growing number of people preferring to download an app than going to the finance branch. At the end of last year, the global investment in payment services and Neobanks increased by more than 40%. Revolut is one of the most successful online banks having an impressive range of services and 4.5 million customers. It offers 29 currencies in which one can make a money transfer (cryptocurrencies as well). The clients receive also a card that enables cash withdrawal in 120 countries. Next to Revolut, there are also Monzo, Simple and N26. Currently, Australia, the US, and Europe are the leading ones when it comes to Neobanks.
The banking experience as we know may change in a period of 2 to 5 years. The traditional manual-based system will surely be replaced by mobile apps and new technologies that are yet to come. For companies, the most important will be to keep the balance between introducing online mechanisms and reducing the number of physical branches. Also, they need to remember that today’s customers are more demanding and personalized banking experience is the key to success.
If there’s one thing to love about working in technology, it’s the unpredictability: whether in the product, the nature of the client relationship, or just doing everything possible to hit deadlines — there’s always excitement. And it was clear from the outset: Agendium would be fascinating on all fronts.
Finland-based Agendium had been working in data protection for some time. So, GDPR presented a compelling growth opportunity.
It was time to expand throughout Europe and Ismo – Agendium CEO – had a clear understanding of the industry need: a product to help time-poor businesses deal with the looming specter of stringent new regulation in an efficient way.
While Agendium had a functioning version of the product they needed, it fell short on a number of fronts.
Firstly, it was built on old technology. So, the initial task would be to port the functionality across to VueJS (a task which would take a full two months of developer time). Then, Agendium needed new functionality to fulfill the market requirements; even if the precise feature set was unknown.
How does a modestly-sized team build out a full-featured data protection product to extremely tight deadlines when the shape of the final product is still largely undefined?
Ismo had spent a great deal of time selling his vision of a GDPR product to prospects across the continent. It was now up to him to deliver a product he’d described but had yet to specify. With many unknowns on the table – and limited resource – Ismo went in search of technical support.
Input on everything from UX and design to technical implementation;
Propose new features and functionality in-line with emerging client needs;
Collaborate closely with in-depth video conferences on a daily basis;
Maintain direct communication between the two technical teams.
The asks were tall; but the outcome was one of the closest, most fulfilling working relationships Redvike has ever had the pleasure of being part of.
When you work as a technical agency, you can become the offshore heavy-lifters tasked with bringing requirements to life. As Agendium were so early in the development cycle while building on-the-fly, our collaboration centered on the product vision as much as the technical approach – a gratifying challenge at every level.
In agile workflows, it’s common for product visions to evolve. However, the evolution tends to be shaped by a defined roadmap. In this context, much of the ideation happened in parallel with the build.
Ismo was incredibly open to ideas at every juncture, and while we were pressed with the May 25th GDPR deadline, the unified team had confidence we could deliver as communication helped the project progress at speed.
Teams shared daily standups and planning sessions; Ismo continuously relayed client requirements as they materialized throughout his ongoing sales efforts. Plus, he requested an open line to the team so that the second any problem emerged, it was escalated – and he was on call to find a resolution.
However, what had started out as a simple GDPR-migration tool was quickly evolving into a fully-fledged data management solution: video dashboards with ‘how-to’ instructions, task managers for data handling – alongside further customer-specific requests – meant a constant flow of features requiring quick turnaround with minimal scope for actual feature definition. The system was also pulling GDPR information to support functionality so it could sort and flag details based on smart filtering functionality.
This was a highly sophisticated product operating in a potential minefield. So, our time-pressed approach relied on plenty of telephone conversations.
The positive: Ideas were stemming from strong sales indicating incredible demand for the product. Customers requested features on a near-daily basis, which the team turned around with minimal delay showing just how well we work together. We have become great friends as a result and shown working at such velocity is possible!
The challenge: We lacked an overarching product vision resulting in 2-hour planning conversations eating into developer time, while Ismo attempted to overcome limited clarity with hand-drawn designs to showcase features!
These were entirely unique challenges to face, but such a test created an unparalleled unity: there was a cohesive atmosphere with a successful outcome highlighting the strength of both teams.
We managed communication, engaged in planning, thrashed out feature descriptions and have built a product that customers love.
By focusing on a streamlined architecture, we built an easy-to-scale product so – despite the unpredictable feature requests – we had few troubles in adding them to the system. Using Vue.js, we ensured the platform size remained small so that pages loaded without delay.
Finally, by combining many components within a single application, we created a product which decreased the complexity for clients facing an exhaustive process overhaul (ask anyone who has had to conquer GDPR, and you may well be met by a level of indignation!).
We kicked off the project in January bringing the product to market just in time for GDPR; completing phase one of the Agendium-Redvike partnership in June. Illustrating just how intensive the process was, Ismo offered his team a break – a nod to their efforts – but there’s no doubt they will resume the data protection battle soon.
Before Agendium’s time off, Redvike received a surprise package reinforcing just how close the two teams had become (plus, showing how much time we had spent on the phone!).
During numerous conference calls, the audio had suffered due to a poor connection, an inappropriate microphone, or some other issue. As a show of gratitude, Ismo and his team sent Redvike a state-of-the-art headset designed for crystal-clear audio. A practical gift to receive from any client, and a beautiful reminder of the tight-knit relationship we formed over the six months.
It could have just as easily been six years given the ground we covered.
Ismo is now building his product roadmap. So, the long phone calls might be a thing of the past. But as Redvike hands over development to the Agendium team and given their client acquisition rate, we imagine the next iteration of product scaling can’t come soon enough.
Amazon, Netflix, Spotify: three businesses that share a lot in common. Instantly recognisable, multi-billion-dollar valuations, and set to dominate industries for generations.Yet there’s one detail you might not know: they have all benefited from a microservices architecture when expanding their operations. But before we dive into how microservices support scalable growth, let’s first understand what it means to build a monolith.
Monolithic applications comprise of a single unit: one structure that handles every function, including HTTPS, domain logic execution, database operations, client/browser communication, authentication – the list goes on, but you get the picture.
This means that anytime you want to upgrade your system – be it a small tweak, a feature release, or a platform upgrade – you have to rebuild and deploy the entire application. From a development standpoint, this is a difficult task; imagine the level of work for even the smallest of updates.
When it comes to scaling, the requirement becomes almost impossible.
As more clients use your application, you may well run into usability issues, and performance could drop – the bottleneck might rest with a single component, but if you can’t scale that one service, you are left with few options.
You can either choose to run separate instances to handle the increased load, but then you have the overhead of running multiple versions of the same application: not ideal.
Or, you can switch to microservices: the path Amazon chose in the early 2000’s, allowing them to improve their front-end development lifecycle, deploying more than fifty-million times every year.
In truth, starting out with microservices can be difficult. You don’t know the exact architecture of your product. It’s hard to define which services you need. Microservices are resource-heavy and time-consuming to manage, particularly if you’re only looking to build an MVP.
So, many projects start with a monolithic architecture.
If you intend to scale your team and your user-base, however, you should consider the microservices approach as early as possible.
Microservices focus on building a single application as a collection of small services. They break down vast systems into smaller, manageable components so that teams can work independently to develop and scale a product – without stepping on each other’s toes or having to repeatedly ask for permission to build, test, and deploy.
In essence, microservices provide five distinct advantages.
The most significant benefit of a microservice-based architecture is you can evolve your product direction over time without having to rebuild the entire application from scratch.
Any new feature becomes an additional microservice. So, product managers define what they need; developers build, then you plug the service into the existing application.
As each microservice handles a single functionality, the codebase remains reasonably sized and so easier to manage.
Rather than having to run thousands of tests across millions of lines of code, you just have to consider the service in isolation.
Not only can developers keep a hold on existing architecture; when the time comes to scale, it’s easy to develop the necessary services to handle the increased load.
Take Netflix as an example: if they know a new season of Stranger Things will generate lots of international traffic, they can scale the specific API across geographies to preserve streaming speed and avoid localised latency.
Companies have to respond quickly to changing market dynamics, but the deployment process can delay releases.
Small codebases with few dependencies reduce deployment risks, allowing DevOps to introduce the new service in minimal time without unnecessary overhead, buy-in, or sign-off.
Monoliths are only as strong as their weakest link; one failure can bring the whole application down.
With microservices, on the other hand, isolated failures only affect specific features, while the application remains live.
Microservices have many positives, but every technology presents its own difficulty: clearly, if you have multiple services to manage, you’ll need to consider how your teams will operate. Moreover, you’ll need visibility of how each internal service communicates with the others within the overall infrastructure – both for troubleshooting and ongoing maintenance.
Establishing and tracking communication between microservices is often a primary concern, but there are a couple of ways to simplify your setup.
You can build endpoints for each service so that other components can retrieve the necessary information.
Or, RabbitMQ and ZeroMQ offer reliable messaging queues in the context of task management or wide-scale processing. For a real-life example: an email will likely be put in a queue for processing by an email API before being sent.
If you are planning an application, it pays to consider the preferred approach as early as possible. While microservices present increased complexity early on, the argument for long-term scalability often wins out. If you would like to learn more here’s our text about AWS and how it shortens platform’s time-to-market!