Over the last few days we have seen releases from Xero and Salesforce, delivering mobile apps that have completely different strategic concepts. Unlike Salesforce Lightning with its generic mobile app generation Xero have decided that while they strive for parity between platforms they also want to deliver apps that are personalised to the Operating system.
With the launch of the updated version of the Xero Touch app for Android they have done just that. Google recently released the material design standards for Android and the Xero designers have crafted a mobile application that meets those standards. This has meant that the look and feel of the Android app is different from the iPhone and iPad app but retains similar functionality.
Beautiful design that meets standards
The Android design standards ensure those Apps created using it retain a look and feel that is specific to the Android OS. Xero has created its screens to follow the material guidelines which means that each “page” of content adheres to the characteristics that Android has documented. This means that they have light and shadow, are thin within the artificial 3D space with physical properties such as 1 DP thickness and move in defined ways that make the user experience consistent and familiar.
Growing popularity of Android.
Xero are no doubt hoping that this release will see an upsurge in downloads, with 172,000 Android versions of Xero touch already downloaded against just under 300,000 of the iOS version.
With the total figure of downloads now reaching 470,000 and an increase of 82% year on year from the same period in 2014 mobile apps are clearly critical to new business users and more and more people become mobile and want to run their businesses on the move.
Xero Touch for Android delivers several features to end users of Xero that they will find critical to running their business using the accounting suite.
- A dashboard providing a summary of bank account information, the state of invoices and receipts.
- Easy access menu links to Invoices, Receipts, Contacts, Files and more.
- Enabling bank reconciliation on the go so business owners can check their accounts and reconcile them anywhere, any time.
- Easy expense and receipt management so businesses can claim personal expenses and track business receipts to keep records up to date. Simply take a photo and claim the expense on the spot – no more lost pieces of paper.
- Creating new invoices, chasing overdue invoices, or invoicing customers on the spot, or on the road.
- Gain quick access to your customer and inventory information, making it faster and more accurate to invoice your customers when the job’s done.
- Contact information is updated in real-time and always available via the cloud, ensuring businesses have the latest updates when they call or email contacts from within the app.
- All records in one place so they can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
Other features include the ability to locate the premises of a customer using Google Maps so that it is possible to visit their client. Xero claims this ability to create invoices on the move has seen a reduction in debtor days from 54 days in 2011 to 24 days on average in 2015.
With the launch of Windows 10 we took the opportunity of asking Xero what their plans were, their response will surprise many: “Xero has no plans at present to create an app for Windows 10 and are focusing on the two biggest platforms: Android and Apple.” This does not bode well for Microsoft Mobile and yet if Windows 10 devices do start to increase sales then this is something that Xero will need to reconsider.
The problem for Xero is that unlike Salesforce, supporting specific operating systems does mean that they may find a third development platform needs to be supported. While having a great look and feel for both iOS and Android is a good idea they will need to be wary about development cost increases. As they bring out new features for mobile Touch it will be interesting to see whether they keep a staggered approach between iOS and Android or whether the next major release is simultaneous.
There is little doubt that Xero have created a beautiful app for their users and as Xero’s Chief Marketing Officer Andy Lark explained “A superior user experience is at the heart of everything we do at Xero,”
“Merging input from our customers with beautiful, thoughtful design, drives both our product innovation and our passion for supporting small businesses and our accounting partners who can start their day using Xero mobile solutions.”