A Comprehensive Guide To Make Your App Available Offline

By Anand Prakash | July 5, 2021
guide to make your app available offline

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You’re camping in a remote location and you’ve lost the mobile network.
  • You’re watching your favourite show but have run out of data in the middle.
  • You can’t afford a weekly/monthly data plan all the time for your smartphone.
  • You’re on a flight but don’t want to pay for WiFi.

Sounds relatable and frustrating at the same time? We feel you too!

With a world so reliant on mobile and the internet (the crux of smartphones), people tend to feel restless or restricted when deprived of the internet connection.   

Nowadays, people are using the internet at home, the workplace or even while commuting – Much of our lives are revolving online. 

In this technological era, the internet has gone beyond entertainment. Technology in education, technology in work, technology in healthcare and technology in our personal lives is facilitated by the internet. In case there is no availability of a wireless network, we connect to the mobile network.

However, even today, not every place has a good or stable internet connection. In fact, the majority of people don’t have access to data. And such a situation of no connectivity can ruin your app’s persona.

Therefore, it becomes more important than ever to deal with the mobile app development challenges that come with incorporating offline mode.    

Thankfully, the constantly evolving technology has paved the way for offline usage of apps. In a time where smartphones are within an arm’s reach and used for almost everything, mobile applications with offline capabilities are selling like hotcakes. These apps are perfect for those ‘wiped-out’ moments.

In this blog, we uncover the details on offline mode in mobile apps, reasons for offline mobile application development, benefits of offline mode in an app, popular examples of apps that have leveraged offline capabilities, how to implement offline mode into your apps, etc more.

Let’s get started!

What Are Offline Modes of Mobile Apps?

Mobile networks can get quite flaky, especially in remote areas. Since people use mobile and web apps on the move, if your app doesn’t have the ability to operate well offline, you will find yourself flooded with negative reviews and feedback. 

The offline mode of mobile apps is the quality that allows users to access some of the app’s features without the internet. It prevents that ‘Hyper-active’ state a person gets into when the internet connection is lost or intermittent.   

No, it doesn’t mean that you get access to all the features in offline mode forever. The app would require the internet at some point to allow data synchronization.

Also Read | How To Increase App User Engagement

The Reasons To Make Mobile Apps Function Offline

Why mobile apps are important, especially those that operate in offline mode? Smartphones, powered by the internet, are designed to make human lives easier and convenient. Most importantly users feel it’s good to have a helping hand when no one else is around to provide the required assistance. However, it’s only possible when their mobile is connected to the internet. And the fact remains that mobile networks cannot rely upon all the time.

what are the best offline apps for when your internet crashes

Here are the top reasons for the offline mode of the mobile application for your business in brief:

  • Internet access is always temporary.
  • Users will get an amazing user experience even if they are in a low-connectivity area.
  • An offline mode of a mobile app eliminates the scope of delay. You can continue with your day-to-day activities with complete flexibility.
  • When users know that the app is reliable in areas of poor connectivity, they become more loyal.
  • Since offline mode adds to the convenience, users are more likely to use your application and spread the word about it.
  • Not only this, but they will also use the app immediately without having any second thoughts. 
  • You can stay connected to the app even if you are travelling.
  • Effective medical and healthcare services can be offered in rural areas where little or no internet connection is available.
  • Most of the time, the process of data storage requires a stable and robust internet connection. Therefore, with the offline saving option, you can make changes whenever required irrespective of internet connection availability.

So you see there are so many reasons to integrate offline mode into your apps. Therefore, mobile app development companies should make smart apps that involve offline modes and build those offline modes keeping in mind the mobile app user persona.

Benefits Of Using A Mobile App Offline

Though appreciated by users, an app with a lack of offline functionality can make them seek alternatives. An app that doesn’t help them in areas with weak networks, connectivity issues and immense loading time is of no use to them.

Modern applications should be well-equipped to take care of high latencies and network failure rates.

Below we talk about a few benefits of offline mobile application development that will push you to leverage the feature and earn the utmost profits:

#1. Gain A Competitive Edge

What do you think is the reason behind the popularity of apps like Whatsapp, Uber or Facebook? Their functionality, performance, UI, UX and everything else is superior to others.

But apart from better performance and incredible design, users are demanding their apps to work offline as well. What’s the need to have apps in offline mode? As discussed, in remote locations, where the internet is scarce or unreliable, online-only apps can cause a domino effect. Offline mode keeps the work going. Also, if you include such a feature in your app, you get a better scope of winning over your competitors.

Read | Mobile App Distribution Platforms

#2. Improved Customer Loyalty

Users love apps that operate without any issues or difficulties. Once they see that your app is reliable in the areas of poor connectivity and regardless of an internet connection, they will be more inclined towards it.

#3. Faster Loading Time

An app with offline mode loads faster because it is not dependent on a network or Internet connection. This way users can enjoy your mobile service at their convenience. 

#4. Saves Mobile Battery Power

This is among the most useful advantages of offline mobile app development. Battery drainage is a common issue faced by users especially due to prolonged network connections. 

Since apps with offline mode promote faster-loading speed and efficient data storage management, this saves the phone’s battery.

#5. No Roaming Charges Involved

Some of the apps require more data/internet for accessing the large data network. Moreover, if you are travelling abroad, the roaming data plan can be quite expensive.

And integrating offline mode in your app can help users access some particular features at no cost. This saves money as well as data.

The image below shows the areas/industries offline mobile application development is good at –

why are offline apps important

So you see what’s the need to have apps operate in offline mode? Start thinking about integrating the ‘offline mode’ approach to building user experience in your mobile applications. If you are looking out for a mobile app development team, here are 5 factors to look out for before hiring mobile app developers.

What Are The Key Features Of Offline Modes In Mobile Apps?

You can include different features in the offline mode i.e.

#1. Offline Data Storage

Take for example GPS Navigation apps. Here data is stored offline temporarily without any editing functionality.

#2. Data Can Be Edited & Synced Offline

A note-taking app is an example of such a type of offline application. The data can be edited as well as synced offline.

#3. User Can Edit Other User’s Data

Another category of offline apps includes being able to edit another user’s data (or data shared with others) offline. Google documents are the perfect example of such kinds of offline applications. It allows the user to continue with their tasks even if they lose a network in between so that they don’t miss a beat.

And once they get back to the network, it updates the data online, with all the edits being done.

We at Appventurez, are dedicated to helping businesses make their ideas happen. Get in touch if you’re looking for a partner to help build bespoke, next-gen enterprise mobility solutions.

So without any further ado, let’s move on to how to make an app work offline.

How Do We Make Apps Available Offline?

The mobile app development process of building offline-first is a method to develop an app in a way it is able to operate and perform the necessary functions in the absence of network connectivity.

Keep up with us to know everything that goes into offline mobile application development.

But first things first! How to decide on offline features for your app?

Well, there is no magical formula to build an ideal offline mode for your app. But here are some tips to help you determine the way:

  1. Analyze your workflow, narrow down your business requirements and translate them into application features.
  2. Align these features according to your requirement because as soon as they become important for your business, they become urgent.
  3. Decide the target you wish to achieve through your application. Share this data with your developers so that they are able to understand your business objects and suggest the right mobile app development technologies for a custom-fit solution.

To be certain of your process and decide on offline functions, the ‘Eisenhower Decision Matrix’ can help you the best.

You will be able to figure out what is important and what is not. As a result, using this matrix will help you list down lots of offline features and figure out how to implement them.

How To Select Technologies For Offline Mode?

You’ve identified the need to develop offline mobile application development for your business. Now, this goes without saying that the technologies you select impact your app’s performance heavily. The market is packed with hundreds of mobile app development frameworks. But first, consider the following pointers while deciding upon the technologies:

#1. Cycles & Time Of Data Synchronization

Data should be arranged according to business requirements. Some of the data require updating once every year, whereas some require updating a few times a day. As per the needs of your business, you can decide upon different synchronization cycles for different data.
High-frequency updates are required for smaller data packages. There may not be any need for uninterrupted data synchronization for your app. You can sync data as and when required.

#2. Frequency Of Data Synchronization

Frequent reconnection drains a phone’s battery. Also, if an app synchronizes too often, users might miss essential updates. Work in sync with the development team to find a balance. For that, it would require you to figure out how often your users can access uninterrupted, high-speed internet. 

#3. Taking Care Of Sensitive Data

While choosing the right technology stack for your mobile app, security should be given high preference.

Taking into account the security measures, user’s private info cannot be erased. Downloaded information is stored in a cache folder so that it can be accessed by the user anytime without having to re-download.

The cache info can be viewed simply by pushing the browser’s back button or checking the browser’s cache. However, this puts the user’s sensitive information (username, credit card details, PIN, etc.) at risk. Therefore, make sure such kind of information is not cached. 

#4. Overseeing Shared Data

In some of the cases, when users are offline, changes made to data cannot be accessible to other users. This conveys that several users can work on similar data without being able to know how other users have edited it.

If you are unable to ignore such a situation, divert your attention to exception handling and decide the rules to take care of those exceptions.

Also Read | Fundamentals Of Web Application Architecture

#5. Ways Of Syncing

The ultimate way of choosing the most appropriate technology for your offline mode is by answering the following questions-

  • Should data transfer be asynchronous or synchronous?
  • Will your app ask the server for updates actively or will the server itself send the new data to the app?
  • Whether the data be synced manually or automatically?

Some major tools & frameworks to include an offline mode in web and mobile applications are:

top frameworks and components of web and mobile apps

Now that we have briefed you on how to decide on offline features for your app, let’s dig into how to apply offline mode for mobile and web. 

There are certain differences between applying offline mode for web and mobile applications. So here’s how to store and synchronize data for both mobile and web apps.

Storing Data Offline For Web And Mobile

The data in web apps is stored in the browser. On the other hand, the data in mobile apps is stored locally. The key tools for storing data in the browser are:

#1. ServiceWorkers

ServiceWorkers runs as client-side proxies. This tool has a well-made lifecycle and can take requests from clients i.e. windows, shared workers, web workers.

Sw-toolbox and sw-precache are two great libraries built by Google that cache dynamic and static content. These libraries are used to implement offline strategies.

process of service workers for a web app

Also Read | Mobile App Development Strategies 

#2. IndexedDB

Offline mode in web apps uses offline storage APIs to get data. IndexedDB is a type of tool that offers a great API in comparison to the Local Storage API to store data in the browser. It can be used as a substitute for offline data storage.

Your app should not make any HTTP requests so as not for failing in offline situations. In low-storage environments, browsers might clear IndexedDB. One can use the persistent storage API (introduced in Chrome 52) to solve this issue.   

Next, let’s move on to the ways for an app to store data on a device.

Creating Offline Storage In iOS & Android

Listed below are the few storage techniques for offline mobile application development.

#1. SharedPreferences

SharedPreferences is the most preferred choice for offline mobile application development for Android. However, do note that SharedPreferences has limitations when it comes to storing pictures, serialized objects, JSON, XML and other files.

#2. Local (Internal/External) Storage

Internal/External data storage should be used when you need to store data to the phone filesystem without the need for relational database capabilities. This method facilitates prompt storage of data and is very easy to use. Every single chunk of data is stored via the internal storage method and is private to the app. Whenever the app is installed, the data is cleared off from the device.

#3. SQLite Database

Both Android and iOS app development support SQLite databases. Every mobile platform has its database management tools. SQLite database operates well on mobile devices that results in apps with the power and speed of a feature-packed relational database. 

SQLite is an open-source database system that uses a single file to store data and has an easy-to-use option for queuing & caching data. Go for SQLite database if you need to keep information that has to be queried.

offline sync for a mobile app

Data Sync For Web & Mobile Apps

When an app is used offline, tons of data and actions have to be synced with the server. Synchronization is possible whenever the internet is available. When it comes to web apps, the user actions are stored in IndexedDB as jobs for syncing.    

Once the network is available, the tasks are processed one by one. When you are using a mobile app, chances are you’ll have both client and server-side storage.

You Can Also Read | A Detailed Guide To Mobile App Localization

Keep reading to dive into the details of data syncing for both mobile and web apps.

#1. Offline Sync For A Mobile App

An offline app allows users to take offline actions and sync changes through a central repository. To perform the same, your app would have to manage the flow of information between the client and server-side.

#2. Offline Sync For A Web App

Data preserved offline has to be uploaded to the server once the network is available. Follow the following points to ensure data synchronization the right way:

  • Determine the minimal amount of data for storing locally.
  • To shift from the server to the device, choose as little data as possible.
  • Configure conflict resolution.
  • To begin the synchronization, fix a trigger either in the background or manually.
  • Recognize and prioritize data sets for synchronization.
  • Address the factors that will be used to set up synchronization.
  • Form a balance between the sync frequency and the battery’s drain.
  • Brief the retry mechanism.
  • Send a notification of sync status to your users.

Every app today should make at least a part of its data available without an internet connection. After all, it can be the icing on your business’s cake. 

Read | Mobile Application Development Mistakes To Avoid

So how are you making your app offline first? If you and your app need help with offline mode, we’ll be more than happy to implement it for you.

How Appventurez Helps You Incorporate Offline Mode In Your App

The offline mode in an app is not a new concept. It’s become mainstream for years now. Enabling an app that works offline guarantees a better user experience, greater client retention rate and a level up against the competitors.

Moreover, users are not ready to settle for something just good. They want the best of the best. And offline support is a part of their major expectations from the brands and mobile app development companies.

However, building an app with offline mode can be a bit challenging when not done the right way. And in this blog, we’ve looked at how to go about doing it the best way possible.

At Appventurez, we have years of rich experience in building custom mobile apps for business as well as implementing offline mode within the app among other sound features.

reach us for implementing offline mode within your app

Anand Prakash

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