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It’s easy to forget that the first iPhone was only introduced in June 1997. In less than 15 years smartphones have become central to our daily lives, and over 6.5 billion people have one.

That figure is projected to increase by the hundreds of millions in the next five years as countries like China build more network infrastructure in rural areas. It is reported that we’re now spending over 4 hours per day using apps, with the average American spending almost as much time on apps as they do watching TV (live or otherwise). Opportunities for app developers are on the increase, as are the tools they use to design them.

Let’s take a look at some of the favorites developers use.

Fluid UI

The beauty of Fluid UI is how quickly it can help developers move from idea to prototype to getting real-world peer feedback. Offering over 2,000 built-in design resources, it supports screen swiping, screen tapping and buttons to action commands. You can invite teammates and collaborators into your Fluid UI project within the tool itself to be able to get instant analysis from those you trust.

Polo

Polo is one of our favorite free app landing page templates. Built on Bootstrap 3, it’s easy to update and is fully optimized, with loading times right around the single second mark. The full package offers over 220 layouts, supporting up to 6 columns as well as sidebars and interactive sliders and comes in a freemium friendly format, with a single license fee payment entitling the user to lifetime updates.

Figma

In a world where app users range in age from 5 to 105, not everyone is a tech whizz. The phablet revolution seems to have stalled with Apple’s iPhone 13 taking screen sizes back down a notch from prior generations, indicating that hardware manufacturers don’t always believe that bigger is better, or that more is more. Nick Goldberg, CEO of app developers WorkLifeLabs asserts that a big part of app user experience is the app’s design, with simple functions, logical processes and ease of use being key. To that end, Figma offers clean, uncluttered front ends and lets the developer real-time test a prototype’s usability. Projects can be shared across a team in real-time and synced without publishing so ideas can be embraced or discarded while the live app is unaffected in the eyes of the end-user.

Origami Studio

For high-level prototypes that a bedroom developer might wish to build, Origami Studio could be a useful option. Developed by Facebook’s engineers, it started life as a toolkit for Apple’s Quartz Composer. While the panel might seem familiar to anyone who’s used Photoshop or Sketch, that belies an array of fairly complex features, including boolean operators and even readouts from smartphone sensors. The upside? It’s completely free for the whole package. The downside? While there’s an Android app alongside the iOS app, for desktops it’s macOS only.

When we think of the most famous, and most utilized apps, our minds may turn to Angry Birds (4.5 billion downloads thus far), Uber (the most downloaded app in the travel sector with 95 million in 2020 alone) or SoundCloud (which launched a whole genre of music known as ‘Soundcloud rap’). While these are in entirely different sectors, they’ve become as big as they are by having great front ends that anyone can pick up and use. As we’ve seen time and time again, a great idea can be scuppered by a clunky and complicated implementation. Use the developer in you to unleash the potential in the end-user.

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