Micro Apps: What They Are and Why You Should Not Ignore Them

DZone 's Guide to

Micro Apps: What They Are and Why You Should Not Ignore Them

Learn what micro apps are and how they deliver a faster and simpler experience on mobile devices without sacrificing functionality.

· Mobile Zone ·
Free Resource

With more than 2.8 million apps available on the Google Play Store and 2.2 million on the Apple App Store, people install around 40-50 apps on their mobile devices, out of which they actively use only 4 or 5 apps. Even many user behavior analysts found that a newly launched app loses 80% of its daily users within the first three days after the install and over 26% of the apps are abandoned just after the first use. These findings demonstrate how dissatisfied users are with the usability and user experience of mobile apps currently available in the market.

The main purpose of a mobile app has always been to deliver users a better, faster, and easier experience on mobile devices, which they won’t have to browse websites, desktop apps or online services for. However, to stay on top of the competition, companies today instead of providing users with a to-the-point solution seek to develop an all-rounder app full of features that they actually don’t want or need. Being loaded with several unnecessary features and functionalities, such a mobile app presents a number of challenges that can only be addressed through a Micro App.

Challenges Presented by Current Mobile Apps

Loads of Functionality

In an endeavor to stay ahead of their competitors, many companies continue to add more and more features and functionalities to their mobile apps, making them large in size, slow to load and difficult to use. Mobile apps today, in most cases, are nothing more than just a condensed replica of an existing website, online service or desktop application. This results in a large, complex application occupying a lot of storage space in users’ devices and eventually getting uninstalled from the device after just a day or two.

Lack of an "In and Out" Experience

The main reason why users install mobile apps is to save time performing the same task from a website. They are in a hurry and therefore want the app to solve one specific issue in around no time. Unfortunately, being loaded with several unnecessary features, mobile apps fail to deliver users a simple in and out experience and present several challenges like:

  • Difficult to access features
  • Performance issues (slow or lagging)
  • Long load times
  • Long registration processes

And whenever any user faces such issues and struggles to perform what he actually needs to do, he prefers to delete the app after just a couple day of usage.

Soaring App Development Costs

When it comes to the development of a mobile app, most of the companies are unable to stick to the budget due to the excess of features and functionalities. Consequently, many apps are abandoned in the production phase and they never reached the App Store. According to various studies, more than half of the companies pay between $50, 000 and $100, 000 for a single project – which is quite a huge amount.

Fail to Run on All Devices

With today’s highly flexible, dynamic and constantly on-the-go workforce, users have become more versatile and diverse. A person may use a Smartphone one minute and a laptop or tablet the next. While users expect an app to function perfectly on any device, traditional mobile apps fail to run on all devices. A Micro App, on the other hand, runs equally great on any device – be it mobile, tablet or desktop.

What Is a Micro App?

A Micro App is an HTML-based, customized application built to let users perform a specific function instantly. Unlike a traditional mobile application, which is packed with multiple options and a maze of functions, a Micro App is small in size and customer oriented, built to provide specific functionality, has a simple user interface, and loads dynamically bypassing app stores. In other words, a Micro App is the minimalist version of the original full-sized mobile app, which has limited functionality and lets users get in, interact, and get out with maximum efficiency. Here is the technicality behind a Micro App:

Image title

For example, a typical Personal Banking mobile app contains several features, like:

  • View the current balance
  • Get mini statement
  • Change the ATM pin
  • Transfer money
  • Show the last 5 transactions

However, if we build a Micro App for those features, it will perform only one specific task, like getting the current balance or changing the ATM pin.

Key Benefits of Micro Apps

Compressed and Highly Customized

As Micro apps are highly customized, compact and goal-oriented, they allow users to enjoy a specific feature without messing up with a pool of other confusing features. Unlike mainstream giant mobile apps, they provide users an easy to use, flexible and minimal version of the app which they can use wherever they go to fulfill their specific needs. Moreover, in micro apps, everything from images to markup is well-optimized for a better and faster user experience.

No Need to Comply With App Stores

Built using HTML/HTML5, micro apps typically avoid app stores and load dynamically into existing communication tools. Developers can easily embed them into a full-featured web app or use them as a communication tool within an existing mobile app. Needless to say that this saves developers a lot of time and efforts getting and promoting the Micro App on the app store.

Deliver Simplest Form of User Experience

The main purpose of a Micro App is to deliver users the simplest form of browsing experience by letting them perform a specific task more efficiently and quickly. Packed with a number of unnecessary features, a typical mobile app often fails to offer seamless and engaging user experience or ease of navigation which evokes users to remove the app from their device immediately. On the other hand, since the user experience of a Micro App is tailored for specific user types, use cases, set of devices and app workflow, it allows users to do exactly what they need in a more efficient and meaningful manner.

Address Many Technical Issues

Built with a radical mindset, a traditional mobile app contains many features that most of the users never use. These unnecessary features cause a number of technical performance issues that prevent the mobile app from doing what a Micro App efficiently can. Such issues may involve:

  • High load times
  • Sluggish, annoying performance
  • Heavy registration formalities
  • Complex navigation
  • Limited accessibility

Having only a single functionality, Micro apps seem to address these technical issues quite well, resulting in a smooth user experience, easy navigation, lightning fast access, and unmatched performance.

Save Time, Money, and Resources

Being focused on a particular task, Micro Apps are much faster and easier to build. With a Micro App, developers neither have to worry about integrating multiple features nor need to optimize the Micro App for various app stores. This saves developers’ great amount of time, money and resources which they can use to further improve the app.

Deployed Across All Devices

One of the main benefits of micro apps is that they run seamlessly on all devices, whether it is a mobile or desktop. There is no need to build a separate micro app for each platform as one micro app works across all devices. Moreover, users can easily get these apps through a browser, an email account, or a push message.

Independent of Other Apps

As Micro apps make use of unique micro-service architecture, they not only have a unique process for each service but also manage a single, independent database. Consequently, they can be managed, updated and deployed independently without the need of any other micro-app. This kind of approach results in an even more decentralized method of mobile app development, reducing ambiguity, false estimations, and overall development cost.

Some Best Examples of Micro Apps

Facebook Messenger: A popular messaging app by Facebook which allows users to see who’s online and chat with their friends.

Facebook Messenger

Google Hangouts: The official Google Hangouts app is another great example of Micro App in use that focuses solely on the chat feature of the Gmail web interface.

Google Hangouts

Slack: A widely used communication and collaboration tool designed to make your working life simpler and more productive.


AccuWeather: A world-class weather app to help you track local weather conditions with real-time updates.


micro apps, mobile, mobile app development, mobile apps

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}