Top App Developers Interview: Many Hats

Published on Nov 05, 2019 in App Development
Top App Developers Interview: Many Hats

Allen Kung is the Director of Business Development at Many Hats. The company, founded in 2018 by Michael Despault and Evan Despault has 11 employees and is located in Vancouver, Canada. The team at Many hats defines themselves as a collaboration between passionate software developers and creative professionals that were fed up with big corporate hierarchy and internal politics.

Here’s what Allen had to say about his company and the industry:

What does your mobile app development company do?

Although we are capable of handling a wide range of software development projects, our team is most experienced in custom iOS and Android mobile app development with over 30 projects shipped. We are also really good VR/AR and game development due to Mike’s background as a Senior Systems and Rendering Engineer at Electronic Arts for over 10 years.

What clients have you worked for?

Some of our past clients include Unibroue, Taito, Infiniti, Hydro Quebec, CCM, Mastercard, Phyxter, PlanPlus Global, Montreal Canadiens, APTN, Archiact, etc.

If you had to choose one category, what kind of app do you think is your mobile app development company’s specialty?

If we had to choose, it would be social & entertainment apps with VR/AR or game elements embedded. One example would be the Unibroue Passport social mobile app that we made for Unibroue, which included several VR/AR mobile games that provides users with an opportunity to win real world prizes.

What is the average budget of the mobile apps you develop?

Our projects have ranged anywhere from $20,000 to $300,000 CAD. It would be about $50,000 CAD on average.

Do you develop all mobile apps in-house or do you outsource some parts of the process?

We develop all of our mobile apps in-house to keep a consistent level of quality.

Which would you say are the best mobile apps that your company has developed and why?

If we had to choose it would be the Phyxter Pro, which is a complete e-commerce platform for skilled labour and independent contractors to quickly find and order the parts that they need. We are particularly proud of the smart search algorithm that helps users locate the closest available products from the highest rated suppliers, at the best price.

The mobile app component is also linked to the Phyxter Wholesaler, a web-based portal for merchants to easily manage their virtual storefronts, which we have also developed for Phyxter.

Do you prefer to build mobile apps with native, hybrid or web languages? Why?

When choosing to develop a mobile application, there are many factors that must be considered before deciding on which language/platform to develop on. In the ever-changing landscape of mobile application development, it's important to at least be aware of all the latest and greatest technology. New platforms are constantly being released that can tip the scales, so we make sure to always stay up-to-date on cutting edge developments.

Our preference is to carefully take into consideration the needs of our client for each application we develop, and then present our recommendation on native, hybrid, or web based on what we feel would serve our client best given their needs, budget, and time constraints.

  • What are your top priorities for the application? Responsiveness? A "native" look/feel? Something that's consistently branded and visually identical across all platforms? A great battery life?
  • The best way to get a "native" look/feel for iOS and Android application is to develop natively for the UI
  • If the client wants a custom/branded UI that has a consistent feel across all platforms, a hybrid development can really help, though you will often need to write a lot of per-platform custom UI controls which can slow down development time and will often be less responsive
  • A web language might make sense if your primary target is a web platform where access via a mobile application is of secondary importance and time constraints mean code-sharing across all platforms is a necessity
  • In all cases, having the core functionality of your application in a common, shared code-base is very important. We believe strongly in writing code once whenever possible, in a way that can easily be re-usable on all platforms and easily maintained for future expansions and updates. Less code, less bugs, faster development time

Let’s focus on iOS and Android mobile app development. Which are the Pros and Cons of each platform?

Android Pros

  • Very easy to deploy to groups of testers as you simply need to share an APK which is as easy as sending an e-mail
  • Great cross-platform development environment, supporting Windows, Linux, or Mac

Android Cons

  • Significantly more variations in hardware/software makes it difficult to build something that will look and feel consistent across all devices. Regulations for hardware developers is not as strict or consistant

iOS Pros

  • Apple controls both the hardware and software, so there's much more consistent support for the latest hardware features, and the number of devices you're deploying to is a much smaller group so testing can be easier

iOS Cons

  • Deploying an application for testing has gotten easier with TestFlight, but it's still more work than Android
  • The process of building/deploying applications, though getting easier and easier, still requires you to jump through some hoops which can often waste development time
  • Requires a Mac to deploy/test everything on

Which one will evolve more within the next 5 years?

We believe competition will keep both platforms on par. The main differentiator between platforms is the hardware. With new hardware comes new challenges for the developer, but the development frameworks are also constantly evolving to keep up. Typically, it seems like one platform might get a 6-month advantage based on release cycles, but the other will almost always catch up soon after.

Which device is the best in the market right now?

There is no device which is the "best" for everyone, so our recommendation would really depend on the individual and what they want out of their phone. While Android and iOS are very much "neck and neck" in certain markets such as North America, Android devices have a significantly higher market share globally. That being said, Android hardware is also much more fragmented with several big players developing their own hardware independently, and everyone is also restricted to Google's advancement of the Android OS.

For gaming, I would give the edge to Apple for a couple reasons. Their proprietary hardware/chips usually give them a slight performance advantage, but also iOS generally has higher quality games that don't always make their way over to Android. Apple is also showing a lot of interest in gaming with the recent release of their "Apple Arcade" service. If you're a fan of the "walled garden" that Apple devices provide, or are already deep into the Apple ecosystem, I would say the best device on the market would be the iPhone 11. It's more affordable than the more expensive iPhone 11 models (Pro and Pro Max) but has the same processor.

On the other end, and as a developer, if you're not afraid to get your hands a little dirty then Android phones offer significantly more "out of the box" customizations and can be incredibly powerful depending on how much time and energy you're willing to invest. They support more formats for audio/video streaming, so it's generally easier to take your media with you "on the go". For Android, I believe the best devices on the market are the Google Pixel 3 series and Samsung’s flagship "Galaxy" and "Note" line of phones (Galaxy 10 and Note 10). All these phones are great, if you can live without the stylus, I'd give the edge to the Galaxy 10 for being more affordable, but the Pixel 3 is also a great phone and benefit from guaranteed software updates from Google with vanilla android.

And which device do you feel more comfortable developing an app for? Why?

As it's rare for a client to ask us to develop an application for a single platform, we've built our expertise on both iOS and Android platforms and are equally comfortable developing for both. Our developers encourage sharing as much code as practical between all platforms, and then identifying the parts that would benefit the most from localized native code.

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