Marketing Websites vs Web Applications

We are often asked if we build “websites” – yes we do, but there is nuance to the answer. The websites that we build are better defined as “Web Applications”. And a “Web Application” is different from another type of website – a “Marketing Website”. How are these two different? In short: A Marketing Website presents information about a topic or business and a Web Application helps users get something done. The table below describes many of the differences between a Marketing Site and a Web Application. Since Matraex is the #1 Web Applications development firm in the Boise market – people looking for a local ‘Website Designer’ will often reach out to us – I added some links to the Google My Business page for several long term and reliable local resources to help people understand the different companies that comprise these different categories of “Website” builders.

Marketing Website Developers

Web Application Developers

The key differences between a Marketing Website and a Web Application

Marketing WebsiteWeb Application
PurposeA marketing website’s goal is to provide information, most of these are corporate business sites providing details of a company’s offerings with resources, contact information and links to related industryA Web Application is a website that helps a user accomplish something through its interfaces.
Development processA Marketing Website can be developed by creating and approving a design, building on the information and content and then applying the design to the content.A Web Application starts as an idea and forms into a list of features (a roadmap) with the most important features first. The developers implement the items in order of the roadmap. More sophisticated applications often have multiple environments so the complex logic can be tested be approving features to be moved to launch.
Time to launchAn entry Marketing Website can take between one week and one month depending on complexity and number of pages. An entry Web Application MVP (minimum viable product), can take 2 to 6 months to launch.
Time RequirementsMost time goes to creating content and managing SEO. A larger one time cost to design the interface and layout is a close secondMost time is spent in developing code to create features and functionality.
TeamA project manager, a content creator, and a front-end developer.Project manager and a full stack developer. Larger teams will have roles split into back-end and front-end developers.
Hosting CostLess expensive – MANY SOLUTIONS!More expensive – the hosting is often decided by the technology stack and development group. Modern applications use cloud based hosting which only charge for usage, but can scale to high levels
Common Technology PlatformsWordPress, Wix, SquarePHP, React.js, NodeJS, ASP.NET, java
SpecialtiesHTML / CSS / Design / Front End
SEO / Content Generation /
Design / Copywriting
Programming / Database / Logic / Backend
Testing / User Experience / QA
Innovation / Security

How App Development is Done

Application development UI illustration in flat design. Mobile app building concept banner with industrial crane and team of workers developing and constructing applications. App development company.

There is a constant need for apps to help employees and everyday people complete tasks. Developing an app of your own can be both helpful for the general workforce and lucrative for yourself. The following is a step by step approach for how app development is done.

Illustration of people brainstorming with a giant brain and lightbulb above them. App development company.

1. Brainstorm

The first step in developing an app is to decide which kind you should make. Take note of the different tasks you do at work or at home and see if any of them can be automated. Write down all the ideas that come to mind, even the bad ones. In my experience, bad ideas that don’t get ignored lead to good ideas, so write them down. Take a look at other apps on the market and determine if they are lacking anything, or if there are ways they could be better. All of this will help you pinpoint what sort of app you should develop.

Man pointing to a document with a signature and seal on it.

2. The Design Document

Once you know what kind of app you want to build, the next step is to put it into words in the form of the design document. The purpose of this document is to keep the development project on track. The design document outlines all of the features and abilities you want your app to have. For more information on writing a design document click here.

Young designers doing presentation or preparing a new project. Creative team of web designers prototyping a new web site, landing page or mobile application. Teamwork concept. Vector illustration

3. The Prototype

Now you’re ready to actually build the app. You’ll start by creating the prototype. This will be a rudimentary version of your app. At this point, the main concern is to get all of the functionality in place. The prototype doesn’t need to be beautiful, the art and design of the app (while important) will be one of the last things to work on.

Illustration of a man and a woman testing an app with a giant magnifying glass held up by a crane. App development company.

4. Testing the App

There will be a plethora of bugs to work out. The bugs come from mistakes in the code, weird usage the app’s design didn’t account for and other reasons. Testing will help you find the mistakes so you can fix them before your end users find them. Try to throw every conceivable scenario at your app to make sure it can handle them properly. When you’re working so close to an app, it can be hard to step back and spot problems that fresh eyes could find. For this reason, you’ll want to have friends and family test your app to further uncover any bugs.

Flat cleaning items with spray, napkins, sponge, bucket with detergent. Concept isolated service equipment for washing up. Vector illustration. App development step crossword.

5. Polishing the App

Now that you’ve finish testing and fixed all the bugs you were able to find, you’re ready to polish your prototype into a finished app. This includes choosing attractive color schemes, borders, buttons and art that you want to include in your app, as well as organizing your menus in a way that has a logical flow. Typically a skilled UI designer would work on this part, but that would add significantly to the cost of your app. If a UI designer is not within your budget then at the very least make sure your app is both easy to use and pleasing to look at.

App development company.

6. Distribution

Now your app is finished and ready for distribution. There’s a few ways you can get your app to the masses. If you designed your app for a particular operating system, there are online digital stores you’ll be able to sell it in. For example, if you designed your app for Android devices, you’d be able to sell it on the Google Play Store or even on your own website. Document your apps features and include tutorials and screenshots. If you distribute and sell the app through your own personal website you’ll need both a server and a decent digital payment system, respectively.

If you have an idea for an app and would like our team of developers to build it for you, contact us by clicking here and get started with a free one hour consultation.

Hold On. Do Apps Honestly Need My Permission? Check These 3 Permissions Now.

Person wearing a hood looking at a cellphone. What is app permissions

We’ve all done it before, got bored, downloaded an app and (without a second thought) gave it permission to access our camera, microphone and contacts list. While there are legitimate reasons why apps may need access to your camera (like a video calling app) other times it makes no sense, like if a solitaire game app needs access to your microphone. Nowadays it’s necessary to think critically about the permissions we grant to software applications.

What are Mobile Permissions?

On both iPhone and Android, apps require your permission to access sensitive data on your phone. This includes but is not limited to: contacts, your camera, photos, your microphone, etc. The app retains this permission until it’s disabled. Sometimes you’ll be given an option to grant permission to the app at all times or just while the app is in use.

Lady waving at her cellphone camera. What is app permissions

The Camera

Giving an app permission to access your camera or photos shouldn’t be taken lightly. Technically, by doing that, the app can take pictures and video with your phone, anywhere, anytime and could potentially post them online. I’ll let your imagination help you conclude why that could be a problem. If an app has a legitimate reason why it needs to access your camera, like sending video clips via Snapchat, or Facetime, then it makes sense why they need to have access to your camera. In cases like that, you’re most likely fine to give it permission. However, if an app wants to access your camera or photos, and there’s no feature in the app that warrants it (like a mobile card game or reading app like Kindle) then that’s a huge red flag and you should probably deny it permission.

Old microphone. Shiny. What is app permissions

The Microphone

The microphone can provide data every bit as sensitive as a camera can. Since our phones are on or near us almost every second, we probably don’t think twice about what we say around them. But if our phones had ears (and they do) what would they hear us talking about? Would they hear us mentioning PIN’s or social security numbers. Would they hear us give passwords, birthdays or email addresses? Usually, when an app asks for permission to access our microphones, it gives us the option to only grant it while the app is in use. Some apps will use your phone to listen to what shows and movies are playing around you to give advertisers a better idea of how to market to you. While that example isn’t super distressing, you don’t have to think far to figure out how access to your microphone could be used for more insidious purposes. Again, for this reason, think hard about whether or not an app really needs access to your microphone. If you can’t think of a good reason, then there’s a good chance that app wants to use it for iniquitous purposes.

Old push button phone with contact list. What is app permissions


Apps that have some form of messaging usually ask for permission to access your contacts. This can be helpful to find out who else in your contacts list is also using the same app. But once again, if it doesn’t make sense for the app to use your contacts list, then it’s not a good idea to give the app access to it. For example, if you’re a sudoku buff and download a mobile version of the SINGLE PLAYER game, there is zero reason that app needs your contact list. Usually games like this and solitaire, where players don’t interact with other people, will want to use your contact list to send spam out in order to get more people to download the app.

We live in an unprecedented time where information, even our own, is at our fingertips and everybody else’s. Smartphones (and the apps inside) are an everyday part of life. Our permissions lists should be routinely inspected and modified. Remember, if it doesn’t make sense for the app to have the permission, don’t grant it.

For more information on managing app permissions on android click here.

For more information on managing app permissions on iPhone click here.

What Technical Skills App Development Teams Must Have

Your business is booming and you’ve got an idea (and a need) for an app that will make managing your enterprise 100% easier. You start searching for a team of developers to create your new app. What skill sets should you be looking for in this development team? The following are 5 technical skills you will want your app development team to be well versed in.

Person Holding 2 different phones. Soft Skills for software developers

1. Cross-Platform Abilities

One of the most polarizing topics in our society is whether Android or iOS is better than the other. Regardless of what side of the platform aisle you fall on, in order for your app to be a success, you don’t want it to have to pick a side. For this reason, your team of developers needs to know how to use a cross-platform tool, so the app can be neatly translated into iOS, Windows and Android.

Data center. Soft Skills for software developers

2. Cloud Infrastructure

Have you ever stopped and wondered what the cloud actually is? The name conjures an image of a giant area in the sky where a bunch of 1s and 0s fly around until summoned to our phones or desktops. In reality, the cloud physically exists as a network of data centers (giant complexes with lots of computers inside) located around the world. Most apps will live in these data center networks, so it’s important that your app developers know how to interact with them and be able to recommend which network will fit your needs best.

Man learning to code. Soft Skills for software developers. What technical skills to have.

3. Current Coding Language

The world is getting increasingly more mobile, so you’ll want to make sure that you team up with developers who are skilled at coding for mobile apps. There is an array of different coding languages well suited for mobile app development. Your development team should have a working knowledge of at least one of them and be able to explain why they selected that coding language to build your app.

Woman typing on laptop. Icons floating above her cell phone. Soft Skills for software developers

4. Security

It goes without saying that security is essential for your app. While it’s true there will always be a risk, minimizing that risk is crucial. Your development team needs to have a clear understanding of security protocols as well as what tools and practices will be the best to secure your app.

Man touching a large touch screen TV. Soft Skills for software developers

5. Data Proficiency

Your app will be driven by data. Data is something your app needs to collect a lot of, so you can better understand your end results. You’ll need a developer who can build efficient databases so the app will run smoothly. Your app will collect data in many different forms and from many different sources. The development team needs to be familiar with these sources and forms of data so the app can interact with them properly.

Apps can make a world of difference for your business. They can increase sales, streamline processes, save time, improve productivity, security and more. In short, an app is well worth the investment. If you have an idea or need for an app, contact us today to get started.

What Coding Languages are Most in Demand

When starting a career for an app development company, you’ll want to set yourself apart from the crowd by knowing what coding languages are most in demand. One of the best ways to make yourself more marketable is by being proficient in as many high-demand programming languages as you can be. Learning a programming language takes time and energy, so you’ll want to focus your efforts on learning a language that will give you the best return on your efforts. The following is a list of 5 programming languages that any software developer would do well to have under their belt.

Programming language javascript

1. JavaScript

At the moment, JavaScript is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world and many hiring managers look for programmers who can use this language. JavaScript is popular because most web browsers utilize it and the language is one of the easier ones to learn.

JavaScript is used for game and web development, building web servers and mobile apps. Programmers can use JavaScript to make web elements like clickable buttons, interactive maps and animated graphics. JavaScript’s usability makes it one of the most marketable programming languages developers can learn.

programming language html


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the foundational building block language of the web. This language is used for web documents, website maintenance and development. HTML formats what information means and how it is structured on a website. Programmers use HTML to structure and create the text on a website such as links, headings and paragraphs.

HTML is another commonly used programming language that will help programmers look more attractive to hiring managers.

programming language python

3. Python

Python is a somewhat easy programming language to learn and is used by both beginning and experienced programmers. Python is in high demand and allows developers to utilize an array of different programming styles like reflective, functional and object-oriented.

Over half of hiring managers look for candidates who can use Python making this programming language a very marketable one to know.

programming language css

4. CSS

CSS stands for cascading style sheets and is used for website development/design and web documents. CSS programs the size, position and color of the elements on a webpage. Knowing this language helps programmers be a bit more versatile, plus it’s a relatively easy language to learn.

programming language java

5. PHP

PHP is a very popular scripting language used for making dynamic web pages. Also, common open source shop systems are carried out in PHP. Learning this programming language helps developers become more valuable and attractive to employers. PHP is also free to use because it’s an open source framework.

Don’t get hung up on which programming language you choose to learn. Decide on what kind of work you want to do and choose the language best suited for your goals. At the end of the day, learning any new skill will increase your abilities and make you more marketable to hiring managers.

What Are Story Points Used For?

Knight approaching dragon. Castle in distance, picture used for story points blog. Agile.
Knight approaching dragon. Castle in distance, picture used for story points blog. Agile.

The Developers Kept Saying Story Points

I sat in a meeting recently, with a group of developers discussing what we had accomplished at work that week. We went around the room, dishing out numbers for different projects we were working on and I noticed something strange. The developers kept on telling the group how many “story points” they had done. I think I should point out that I am not a developer and their lingo is still somewhat foreign to me. I was intrigued. Part of me knew a story point probably wasn’t very interesting, but another part of me imagined the developers putting together plots and storylines for a Dungeons and Dragons quest. So what are story points used for?

Green measuring tape.  picture used for story points blog. agile
Green measuring tape. picture used for story points blog. agile

Story Points are a Strange Unit of Measurement

I guess anything new can be a little strange, and story points were strange to me. I talked with David Sutherland, one of our awesome developers, and asked him what story points were. (We actually made a video about them. I’ll post it at the end of the blog). Anyway, David told me that story points are a way for developers to measure the amount of work they need to do. Before the developers start building an app for a client, they need to be able to give the client an estimate of how much the app will cost to make. Apparently, as I found out in my research, estimating how much time it takes to develop an app, is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Difficult enough, in fact, that app developers worldwide have adopted story points as a unit to measure the work needed to build apps.

Cartoon fox approaching stairs in water.  picture used for story points blog. agile
Cartoon fox approaching stairs in water. picture used for story points blog. agile

How are Story Points Calculated?

It’s easier for developers to estimate the number of steps it’ll take to make an app, than it is to estimate the amount of time it’ll take to build said app. They’ll break the project down into smaller steps and assign those steps (or tasks) a number. A task with a higher number, will most likely take longer to complete, than a task that is assigned a lower number. It gets trickier though. There’s a level of uncertainty associated with any task that needs to be completed. This means that when a developer is working on a step, they won’t know how long it will take to complete, until they’ve actually started working on it. The reason for this is because unforeseen challenges can arise that will slow down the process. I should probably note that a task or step with more uncertainty is given a higher story point value. Different development teams attach different time lengths to story points, but it can work something like this: 1 story point = .5-2 hours, 2 story points = 2-4 hours, 3 story points = 4-8 hours, 5 story points = 8-20 hours.

falling cash and gold coins cartoon.  picture used for story points blog. agile
falling cash and gold coins cartoon. picture used for story points blog. agile

Why do They do This?

So why then, do developers spend so much energy trying to accurately estimate work? The answer is money. In the video David and I made, I had already figured out why this was important, but I asked him anyway, why these estimates were so critical. He told me, that underestimating the time needed to build the app, would result in the client spending more money on the app than initially budgeted. On the other hand, if the project was overestimated, the higher price could scare customers away. Hence, being able to accurately estimate the amount of work/time needed to build the app is entirely necessary to make sure we don’t overcharge the client.

Our team of developers are highly skilled in both programming AND estimating story points, so they can build your business a quality app at an affordable price. If you have an idea for an app you’d like us to build, contact us with this link.

3 of the Best Apps for Sales

Hand holding smartphone. Best apps for sales.
Hand holding smartphone.

The job of a salesperson is known for being cutthroat and uber competitive. So it makes sense that any person working in sales will want to equip themselves with the strongest tools to give them the best chance possible at making sales. Afterall, high-performing sales teams tend to use about 3 times more tech than their under-performing counterparts. Here at Matraex, software and apps are our thing, so we’d like to point out 3 apps every salesperson should be using to give them a more competitive edge.

1. LeadSquared Mobile CRM

Hand holding the letters crm. Best apps for sales.
Hand holding the letters crm

If you’re new to sales, you maybe wondering “what the heck is CRM”. CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. A CRM is a robust system that centralizes information about clients and prospective clients, such as name, age, contact info, order history, contact history and even their personality traits. In the past, the CRM was confined to the office, leaving the field reps out to dry, as they didn’t have access to the information when they weren’t in the office (a field rep can only bring so many papers and lists with them while they’re hitting the pavement around town). Now however, mobile CRMs are a thing, so the field reps have access to all valuable client information even when they’re out of the office. LeadSquared is currently one of the best in the industry when it comes to CRM systems. With all the information their system holds, they do a great job displaying it all, even in an easy to read format.

2. DocScan

Woman at copying machine. Best apps for sales.
Woman at copying machine.

This is a big one. There are countless times that important documents need to be scanned, sent and verified before a sale can go through. If you’re in the office with a copier handy this isn’t a big deal, but if you’re in the field it’s a problem. First you have to get the document from the client. Then you have to take the doc all the way back to the office to be scanned. Then of course the document needs to be returned to the client. It’s time consuming and you’ll probably need to be holding on to multiple documents from different clients at the same time, increasing the chances of mix-ups and human error. Also, can we just point out that anything can happen in between the field and the office, papers can get wet, wind can blow it out of someone’s hand, the car could break down. DocScan is a lifesaver and eliminates all of these problems, while saving time and increasing productivity. With DocScan, the client shows you the document, you can scan it and send it with your smartphone back to the office immediately. How easy is that? Plus, get this, the app is free.

3. Keynote

Man at a business lunch with woman. Best apps for sales.
Man at a business lunch with woman.

As a sales person, you’re frequently making pitches and presentations. Sometimes words aren’t enough and in order to really sell your product you’ll need to present it with visuals, enter Keynote. Keynote is pretty much powerpoint for tablets and phones. You could literally do a presentation (with visuals and animations) at your table during a business lunch. What’s more (and super cool) is that you can cast your screen onto a smart TV and do a presentation straight from your handheld device, no desktop needed.

The Best Apps for Sales: Concluding Thoughts

salesman with couple. Best apps for sales.
salesman with couple.

Yes, the sales world is fast paced and competitive (which if you ask us, is kind of the thrill of the job) but there’s never been a better time to be a salesperson. We just mentioned 3 apps that every salesperson should be utilizing, but there’s a lot more than three. Arm yourselves with some impressive apps/tech and see how much your sales will improve.

If you have an idea for an app you’d like us to build for you or your business, contact us with this link

What to do When Apps Stop Working

Brojen phone

Your app stopped working, now what?

Picture this. You’re in the middle of your favorite TV Show and the episode is hitting the most climactic moment of the series, then all of a sudden your app freezes. What do you do now? (the below is assuming your internet is working just fine)

  1. You could try refreshing the app

In some cases dragging from the top of the screen down the app will refresh. Not every app is coded to do this, however.

2. You could close and re-open the app

If a refresh didn’t work or it wasn’t possible, you could simply close the app and re-open it. This is done by going to your home screen and shutting down the app. If your video still won’t play you may need to jump to desperate measures.

3. Restart your phone

Sometimes your phone encounters a bug that cannot be resolved until you completely shut down your phone and boot it back up. It’s the common IT Solution to most problems, “did you restart it?”. Upon booting your phone and app back up it’s still not working, you may need to go one step further.

4. Restart your internet

The software behind your video player might be experiencing connectivity issues. If this is the case restart your modem.

5. Delete the app

When push comes to shove you may need to delete the app and reinstall it. We’re hoping you haven’t reached this point because one, you’ve taken a lot of steps already, and two if this doesn’t work the odds of it being an issue on your end are low. If you reinstalled your app there may be a bug in the app that is causing a break in its functionality. If this is the case, leave a review on the app store or directly contact the developer.

We’re hoping you can get back to your show or whatever kind of app you were using quickly. In our experience, this isn’t always the case, but most often a restart will solve the problem.

To find out how we handle bugs and errors feel free to give us a call! (208)344-1115

How Apps Help Businesses

From time management, account management, to money management, apps can help your business in a variety of ways.

Here are 4 Ways Apps Can Help Your Business

  1. Time Management Apps

Whether it’s tracking your employees’ time or tracking your own, keeping track of tasks can help you save time and money. Let’s break it down.

Let’s say you are a grocery store owner. Each employee in any department has a variety of tasks that they complete each and every day. How long does each of those tasks take? Are they adding value or simply costing your grocery store money?

Person clocking in at a factory, time clock card

From the time that an employee clocks in at the main punch-in machine to the time that they punch out, what did they accomplish?

Did they spend a lot of time doing department cleaning? Did they spend a lot of time helping customers find items? How long did your baggers spend collecting carts from the parking lot?

These are all tasks that can be tracked but in most cases they aren’t. The benefits of tracking time are clear and are laid out plainly right here:

They include increased morale, more money saved, and overall a more cohesive team.

2. Account Management Apps

Businesses have thousands of interactions with clients and prospective clients each year. How do you track those interactions? Do you have a paper ledger? Do you use an electronic spreadsheet? These things may work just fine, but using actual account management software could save you time and money.

Emails list on a laptop screen isolated on an desk, office background. 3d illustration

You receive an email or you find someone that would make a good contact for your company, you then open your ledger or electronic spreadsheet and manually enter all of their data. Before you know it, you’ve spent 5-10 minutes just adding in one contact.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if this process could be automated? Or at least most of the process? Here’s the thing, it can. We use an account manager system that we developed for our own use and it saves so much time. Whenever we get an email from a new contact, that person is automatically added to our contact list. This allows us to easily update newsletters and be able to filter our contacts.

We don’t just swear by account management apps, we live by them.

3. Money Management Apps

If you use a mobile banking app you probably have recognized by now that it automatically sends you updates when you’ve added funds or are low on funds. Wouldn’t it be nice if apps could automatically bill your clients at the press of a button? Well, they can.

Businessman accountant counting money and making notes at report doing finances and calculate about cost of investment and analyzing financial data, Financing Accounting Banking Concept.

Business owners often miss an invoice and fail to bill a client. This often results in lost revenue. Using a money management app that is coded specifically to help you invoice clients can help you make the hard-earned money that you deserve.

4. Security Apps

One of the deterrents of crime nowadays is the installation of cameras and security locks for office buildings. While these are beneficial to keeping unwanted visitors out, they can introduce a headache for people that need access in.

With a security app, you can select who gains access to the building, which doors they get access to you can even give access to the cameras. This can all be done by providing access by job title or credentials. As a business owner, having instant access to your building in the palm of your hand can be extremely helpful and can reduce a lot of unneeded stress.

Having a security app can also help you identify the intruders in the case of a break-in or a once-loyal employee gone rogue.

Thinking of More Ways an App Can Help Your Business?

You may be thinking about how an app can help your business. A great resource for you will be speaking to software developers. Choosing a software developer for any project can be difficult. How do you know if they will be the right person for the job? Will they actually care about your project? How will you know that things are getting done? These are all questions that we answer in the free guide which you can download by clicking the image below.

How Do Apps Work?

View from above of swapping application icons

What powers an app? Where are apps stored?

So you’ve scrolled through the app store and finally found an app that you want to download. You hit the download button and square with rounded corners appears on your phone’s homepage. You tap the app icon and your app loads. How does this happen? What allows the app to even load? Where is all of the information stored and how does it get updated? These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this blog article, but as always in a way that anyone will be able to understand!

app icon

Apps are more than a fancy icon.

If you go into your phone’s settings>storage> It should show you how much space each individual app requires or is using. For example check out this screenshot.

app on Iphone screen shot showing application storage

All of the megabytes on the right side of the image are how much storage those apps are using on your device.

You’re probably thinking wow that’s a lot. Actually, no it isn’t. Think about Facebook and consider the fact that there are nearly 3 Billion users. How many videos and pictures do you think there are with that many users? Your little app with 300-400MB of data being used has access to all of that info. But how?

Applications Use Servers to Communicate

Have you heard of AWS? The Cloud? These are tools that enable information to be stored without overloading devices. Let’s start with servers.

Servers are individual computers that can be connected to the internet all day every day.

The Cloud is multiple interconnected computers that talk to eachother remotely.

You’ve probably heard “it’s ran on AWS”. This is essentially Amazon’s Servers. It actually stands for Amazon Web Services. It’s a pay to use cloud computing service.

How Do Apps Talk to Servers?

The answer is API’s, or Application Programming Interfaces. Generally there are four different types of API’s.

  1. Public- available to anyone to use
  2. Partner- accessible only when given access by the developer most likely for a client to use
  3. Internal- a company will use this for their work processes for example a budgeting software the company built
  4. Composite- a combination of two or more of the above

Put simply API’s allow a computer to operate your app.

Where Do Apps Store All of the Data?

Facebook database rows of servers.

Take a guess as to what database this is.

If you guessed Facebook’s database you are correct! It turns out that all of these macines process 4 Petabytes of data per day (that’s 1,000,000 Gigabytes!)

We’re not going to say that every app out there uses a database like this. However, a lot of apps are powered by AWS. You can find some images of thier database through a Google Search and it is impressive!

Breaking It Down

We know this is a lot of information and it is all very complex. In a nutshell, Programmers (this si to mean developers, coders, app builders, etc.) develop an app and code it to speak to a server. That server then stores information in a database.

If you can learn API’s you will be well on your way to understanding how applications even work. As always we like to keep our information simple and easy to grasp. If you find yourself needing more information about how apps work, feel free to give us a call at 208 344 1115. We’d love to get you in touch with a developer that can explain how all of this works.

If you have more questions about apps be sure to check out our other blog posts where we answer other questions people like you have had about apps and application development!

How Do Apps Make Money?

How do apps make money? Person holding phone and money.

Apps can be a source of revenue. Here’s how.

So you have an idea for an app that you think will be downloaded by millions of people and make tons of money. How does it make “tons of money”?

“I’m gonna charge everyone a dollar for it!”- well if that’s the case, then why are there so many free apps on the apps stores? There are far more free apps (they say “get”) than paid apps advertised. If simply charging a dollar was the answer to getting your app downloaded don’t you think there would be more listed on the app store?

Don’t get us wrong there are A TON of apps listed for $0.99 but just look at this screenshot from our iPhone:

apps for free on app store

We had to scroll past some apps we already downloaded for free so that you could see just how prevalent the “get” apps were. Considering the number of free apps, it begs the following question.

How Do Apps Make Money If They’re Free?

Here’s a shortlist of ways apps that are listed for free actually make money:

  1. They have ads

If you’ve ever played a free game on your phone you’ve probably noticed you spend quite a bit of time watching ads in between levels or maybe just to get one more shot at completion. On average, if your app is hosting ads it can make about $0.02 per impression (viewed ad). So if relying on ads alone, how many ads do you need to have viewed to make a living? Well we can’t really tell you how much money you need to live so we invite you to do the math!

2. Selling User Information

This is probably our least favorite way to make money with an app on our list. People don’t like to know that they are a product. Essentially putting a price on your info is putting a price on you and we just don’t like it. If you’re curious to know how much your data is worth to people visit Invisibly. We found it kind of depressing actually. We thought we might be worth more! Everything has a price as long as people are willing to pay. Your email, your phone number, even your address can all be bought. Sad right?

3. The Price Itself

Remember how we discussed putting the app for sale on the store for $0.99? This itself can be a way for you to generate a return. Make an app that adds enough value to people, or a game that is fun enough, and you might just get enough people to download it to make money. Just remember in order to get people’s eyes on your app you may need to do some marketing for it. You can see some of the marketing we’ve done for our own app PopVideo in the videos below:

4. Upsell (In-App Purchases)

Another way to generate revenue from an app is by incentivizing a purchase. For example, oftentimes apps will offer the ability to turn off ads through a purchase. Or maybe you’re playing a game and want to purchase upgrades for your character. Or maybe you want access to certain app features that aren’t available in the free version. There are lots of ways to incentivize a purchase within your app.

5. Making Money By Adding Value

Let’s say you own a business that improves other businesses’ compliance. Let’s say you’re a compliance consultant. When companies partner with you or utilize your services they are provided access to an app that digitizes workplace processes such as ensuring the building is locked or granting employee access to cameras remotely. Maybe there’s a cleaning checklist within the app. Whatever type of compliance consultant service you offer, if your app is the selling point for clients and is bringing in more business, then, in turn, the app is generating revenue.

We hope this list has answered some questions and that you found the article insightful. Please consider checking out our other blog posts below.

If you ever have more questions about apps you can also contact us at or give us a call at 208 344 1115.

As a bonus for sticking around here’s a link to our app pitch guide which hopefully helps you come up with some clear and clever ways to share your app idea.

Can Apps Steal My Photos?

Apps seeing photos Apps stealing photos

That depends, did you give the app access to them?

Apps Seeing and Stealing Your Photos

When you first download an app or go to import any kind of photo into the app, by default you will be asked if you want to give the app access to your photos.

By selecting “all photos” you will give the app access to all of your photos.

By selecting “select Images or photos” you will be able to choose specific images that you want to share with the app.

If someone can see your images what stops them from downloading them? Hackers are able to access information without even knowing seeing what information is available. Compare that with anyone that can see your photo via the server that you allow your photos to be uploaded to most assuredly can download them.

How Do I Protect My Photos From Apps?

If you have given any application access to your photos whether it be web or mobile you have already provided the opportunity for them to be published to the internet. That’s not to say that just because you gave an app access that they have done so, there certainly are honest developers out there. Again, the opportunity for them to be published is there if the application has access.

In order to best protect your photos be careful about which applications you give access to them. You’d only give the keys to your house to the people that you want to visit. Don’t just give your access to your photos away freely. There’s a lot of data that can be gathered from photos, personal things that you probably wouldn’t tell a stranger.

Ever taken a photo of your Drivers License to send someone? Your social security card? Taken pictures at your favorite restaurant? Do you take cute videos of your kids? Did you take a picture of your house when you first moved in? Or how about yourself at the hospital that you go to?

All this is information that you give up freely to complete strangers when giving access to “all photos”. Be careful about who you give access to. You don’t know what kind of person is sitting on the other end of that device.

Don’t want your pictures seen or stolen? Don’t give the access.

Can Apps Be Hacked?

Can Apps be hacked?

Are the apps on your phone secure?

Security today is a huge concern and has been since the technological shift from Y2K. There is often a false sense of security when it comes to mobile and web applications. They can be hacked. So what can you do to prevent your apps from being hacked? Whether it’s your own product that you’ve created you’re concerned about or an application on your phone there are measures you can take that will make your applications more secure.

Applications on Your Phone

  1. Be mindful of your surroundings

When using your phone in public there are most likely people within your close proximity. Think airport, on a train, on a bus, or any other setting where you might have someone close to you. Your phone’s screen can be seen. If the screen can be seen then what you are typing and the application that you are using can be seen as well. Ever thought about why some banking apps allow you to hide your credentials and account balances? Because the sheer fact that they can be viewed may put you at risk (especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of zeroes!). Just be aware of your surroundings and keep your phone away from prying eyes.

2. Password Security

It goes without saying that password is not a password. While they may be difficult to remember, using a password similar to the secure passwords that Google generates are probably the most secure types of passwords out there. Even two-factor authentication these days is questionable. Many apps require some form of email sign-in. As a user when you put your email credentials into an app, how can you be sure that the application developer/owner isn’t able to view those? It actually is a pretty big concern. We recommend using apps that are reputable as far as having a good track record of users and reviews. If you question it, don’t your info out there. Going with your gut can save you a lot of heartaches.

3. When it’s out of your hands

Application developers are supposed to put in certain securities that can keep hackers out (we’ll discuss this more below). When apps are not secure in the backend you as the user may have no idea. You might have the most secure password in the world that no one knows except for you. If the backend of the app is not secure and you enter your information it could become compromised at no fault of your own.

Product Security For Your Own App

How can a product owner know if the app is secure?

Pentesting is a shorter term for penetration testing. This is a test to find vulnerabilities in your applications or network. Developers will create simulated attacks on the app to expose where the cracks are in security. If the app doesn’t keep the intruders out in the test (considered a fail), the developers can then view what information by the “user” was accessed and potentially stolen.

Without doing these vulnerability tests, no one can use an application with confidence that their information is safe. The app stores do an excellent job of vetting application developers but to say the process is perfect would be inaccurate. There will always be someone trying to hack software which means they believe that there is a way in.

If you want to learn more about application security consider chatting with one of our developers today!

Drop us a line at (208) 344-1115

Can Apps Be Hidden on iPhone?

Can you hide apps on iPhone?

In a world of ever-increasing access, privacy is becoming more and more crucial to users.

Why would someone want to hide an app? It’s a valid question. Are you the person that wants to hide one? Or are you the person that wants to discover how someone is? Interesting questions right? We don’t need those answers by the way. Reasons you might want to hide them are down below!


Maybe you’re a neat freak and you’ve downloaded so many apps that your phone’s home screen gives you anxiety. That’s totally fine! We have the fix which we’ll share further down.

Guilty Pleasures

Got a video game on your phone that you don’t want others to discover you’re playing? Maybe you told your family, your spouse, or friends that you gave up your addiction? There’s a fix for you too!


Do you allow your children to use your phone but worry they might do some online shopping? Just hide the app! Or do you let people borrow your phone but don’t want them snooping around your mobile banking app? Just hide it!

Whatever your reason for wanting to hide an app on your iPhone here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Tap and hold your iPhone home screen (the one where all of your app icons are floating)

Step 2: You’ll see a minus sign pop up on each app and tap the one on the app that you want to hide

Step 3: You’ll have 3 options. Delete App, Remove from Home Screen, and Cancel select Remove from Home Screen

Your app is now hidden…BUT! It can still be found if you do a spotlight search!

Want to totally hide it from prying eyes? Just do the following:

Step 1: Open settings (the gear icon)

Step 2: Scroll to the app you’d like to hide from search

Step 3: Tap Siri and Search

Step 4: You’ll see the “While Searching” section. Tap the green toggle for Show App in Search

Now your app can’t be searched for and it’s hidden from the home screen. That is how you hide your apps! Now, there are third-party apps that can actually hide your app icon, and disguise them under the image of a different app icon. To date users claim that the best app for this is HiddenVault.

Bonus! Here’s how to hide an entire page of apps at the same time!

Step 1: On the home screen where you see all of your floating app icons simply tap and hold

Step 2: Your apps will begin shaking and the minus signs will pop up again. At the bottom of your screen, you will see dots (these represent how many pages of apps you have)

Step 3: Tap the dots

Step 4: Check the pages that you want viewable and uncheck the pages you want to hide

Now the page that you unchecked will be hidden from view!

Have you heard of Augmented Reality? Want to learn more about it? We’d love to send you a free guide! Just put your info in the form below!

Can Apps Be Downloaded to Laptop?

Can apps be downloaded to a laptop?

A laptop is a portable version of a desktop computer. What does that mean for apps?

If you are still unsure of what an app is let us briefly break them down for you. Apps are software ran on your smartphone and computer. When ran on your phone software is called a mobile app (unless using a website via mobile) and when ran on a computer (phones are basically computers now) through a website, it is called a web app.

So can you download apps onto a laptop?

Yes! Web apps and other applications.

If you’ve ever been to you have used a web app. If you’ve ever been to you’ve used a webapp. is another one.

A web app has a user interface that allows visitors to interact with software on a wesbite. A website is simply a collection of webpages under a single domain.

But aren’t I interacting with a website?

Yes. Yes, you are. There’s a lot of overlap when it comes to software.

It gets even more confusing when you bring up an application like Excel for example which doesn’t require a website to run on your laptop.

Are you following? So we have applications that run on your laptop (Web apps, and applications like excel) and then we have applications that run on your smartphone (mobile apps and any web apps that you access via your internet browser)

Phew. Did we explain that okay? Let us know in the comments!

Are Apps Software?

Are apps software? Can apps be software?

Apps are to software as snakes are to reptiles.

By that text above you probably got the answer already but we wanted to break it down even further. Snakes are reptiles, and reptiles are snakes…and lizards…and turtles… and crocodiles.

Apps are software and software is apps…mobile apps…web apps…programs.

We had to clarify the difference between mobile and web apps because frankly there is one. A mobile app is a software that is used on a mobile device such as a phone. A web app is a software that is used on a device with access to a website. Phones act as computers nowadays so sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two.

Most commonly your mobile app is one of the squares on your phone with round corners.

You may not even realize you’re using a web app. You might just think you’re on a website (and you’re not wrong). The web app allows a user to interact with the website in a way that a normal website can’t. Think PayPal or Venmo. Those are web apps within websites (and they’re mobile apps as well).

Sometimes for the sake of differentiation, it’s easier to just say app when referring to software on your phone and websites for software on the web. Just know, that apps are software and snakes are reptiles.

Are Apps Safer Than Websites?

Are apps safe? Are apps safer than websites?

Is using an app guaranteed safe? Why or why not? Read below to find out.

When you download an app you might have to pay for it. The app is run through Apple’s Store so it’s probably safe right?

Maybe. When was the last time that you checked to see who the author or developer of the app was? Are they reputable? Are they a company? An individual?

When you downloaded then loaded an app, what information were you asked to provide? Were you asked for an email? A phone number? How about a home address?

Believe it or not, all of the above has been asked within apps in the past. Sometimes this info is taken without you knowing it.

Questioning the fact that an app knows where you live?

Do you happen to allow location tracking with any of your apps? If you do, more than likely you go home to sleep at night correct? Do you think that the app doesn’t recognize where you go every day? Or where you are when you are using it? That’s the whole point of location tracking after all isn’t it? To track you?

Now let’s talk about websites. When you visit a website there are these things called “cookies”. These should be called bread crumbs. You recall Hansel and Gretel right?

To explain cookies simply, when you visit a website that has cookies enabled they are able to see where you go from that website. At each new website you visit thereafter, you leave a breadcrumb. Those websites can then use that data to target you and the others that visited their website with new information and new data. You’re basically leaving a trail for them to follow.

So are apps safer than websites? No. They might track you or your information a little differently than a website, but that doesn’t make them safer. It doesn’t necessarily make them unsafe either. You just need to be aware and judicious of what information you are providing.

If you’re bored and want to know the kind of information an app collects, try reading the privacy agreement in the app store. It’s quite…informative.

Or if you don’t feel like reading all that fancy jargon give us a call at 208 344 1115, or shoot us an email at We’d love to break down app security versus website security for you.

Are Apps Stored on a SIM Card?

Are apps stored on sim card?

If you clear your SIM card storage or remove your SIM card, will your app be removed as well? We provide the answer below.

When you activated your phone at your local authorized dealer you probably watched them place a SIM card into your phone. It looks a lot like a MicroSD card doesn’t it? So it’s no wonder people think that is the source of their phone’s storage.

Your phone’s storage is actually internal and is on the phone itself by default. Your downloaded apps and your favorite games are not stored on your SIM card.

There is an option to store your apps on an SD card but it has to be developer enabled. They may or may not want you to have their app on an external device.

Then why do you have one right? The SIM card provides a way for your cell provider to track your usage as well as store your user information for an easy transition when you upgrade or replace a cellular device.

You can rest assured that your SIM card will not remove your precious apps from your phone if it is taken out of your phone unless you transferred the developer enabled ones.

Most likely, however, you won’t be able to place a call (other than to 911) without it. In this case, your phone becomes much more like an iPod Touch as opposed to an actual phone. Although there third party apps such as WhatsApp that allow to call via mobile app.

So go ahead and remove your SIM card if you like. (Hint: It’s easiest with a paperclip)

Are Apps Free In 2022?

Free apps? They might not be as “free” as you think.

Are apps free to download in 2022? Yes. There most certainly are free to download apps out there. Check out the screenshot from our phone.

Are apps free in 2022? Free apps. Paid apps.

Do you see the word “GET” there? Those apps are free to download. Now, check out the first app on the list, “A Musical Story” it costs $4.99 to download. That’s a paid app. But, if you look a little closer under the “free” apps you will see “In-App Purchases”. Are they really free?

Your “free” app could just be a trial

You might be able to download the app for free but that doesn’t always mean you will have access to all of the main features. Sometimes it will be a 7-day trial. Sometimes you can only play the first level of a game. Sometimes you get the whole app for free. Sometimes.

Your powerbill will reflect the cost

Researchers at the University of Southern California, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Queen’s University did a study on phone usage found that phone apps with ads use 16% more energy. This translates to 1.7 cents every time a user used the app based on a per MB charge by AT&T. So if you are the type of person that plays on your phone throughout the day, your “free” app is actually costing you.

Do you consider your data free?

In 2018 Semantic did a study on 100 free apps in the Google Play Store and the data that they were able to gather on their users. Here’s some numbers:

45% had users’ locations tracked

46% had access to a user’s camera

25% could record audio

10% got your phone log

4% had user addresses

If you put a price on this kind of information would you really call it “free”?

You might want to check your data usage

with your phone carrier

Free doesn’t mean that it doesn’t use cellular data. If you don’t pay for unlimited data free apps might cost you, and if you pay for unlimited because of all of your “free” apps, they already are.

The Verdict?

So are apps free in 2022? Sure if it says “GET” that app is free to download. But is it really free? We’ll let you be the judge.

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