Customized Native Mobile Apps Using Xamarin

Challenge: Custom Mobile Application

Stay Alfred, a provider of upscale travel apartments in major metropolitan areas across the United States, recently partnered with IntelliTect to upgrade their website with a new responsive website and leveraged a new content management system that provided easier editing. Next, they wanted to create a native mobile app, so they reconnected with IntelliTect to build native iOS and Android apps. This new app would allow for additional features, including locally-cached reservation data, to allow clients to access things like their door codes, even if they are offline.

Customized technology is critical to Stay Alfred because they don’t operate like a traditional hotel. Their upscale travel apartments generally have a building manager and cleaning staff, but the app and website are utilized for reservations, check-in, and building/room access. These technology-driven processes need to run smoothly, so Stay Alfred’s customers enjoy the positive experience that they have come to expect from Stay Alfred.

Stay Alfred’s designer built out several beautiful designs for the app, but it was tricky to convert customized designs into a mobile app that would work on both iOS and Android. IntelliTect determined that Xamarin would be the best technology to create the required cross-platform apps and utilized a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer to meet the design specifications, down to the last detail.

Products & Services Used:
  • Continuous Integration
  • Agile/Scrum
  • ASP.NET Core/C#
Services Continued:
  • Xamarin
  • Azure CosmosDB
  • Kentico Content Management System (CMS)
Industries:
  • Hospitality

Solution: Utilizing Xamarin

IntelliTect utilized the same back-end as the website for the mobile app so that the features, content, API, and graphics would be consistent. Creating an iOS app and an Android app that felt native on each platform was handled efficiently through Xamarin, with a little help from SkiaSharps elegant gradients and overlays. Some aspects of the Android ecosystem don’t align with iOS designs, so the apps were made to be similar, but not identical.

The app was tested and deployed using Microsoft’s App Center, a CI/CD Pipeline tool designed to simplify continuous delivery to mobile platforms. During the testing phase, Stay Alfred utilized Microsoft App Center Test, which provided access to hundreds of devices to perform tests on the apps and certify everything worked as designed. It was a simple and cost-effective way to perform UI tests, discover any failures, then redeploy with only a couple of clicks.

IntelliTect also set up App Center’s Diagnostics and Analytics. Diagnostics collects detailed data from devices, so that crashes or other issues can be detected and easily triaged, sometimes before users see them. Analytics provides detailed reports on application usage patterns which can be used to help optimize the user experience and determine which features are being used.

Results: High-Quality Mobile App with Xamarin

Stay Alfred now has a high-quality mobile app and is receiving data on how their customers are using it. Any errors that may occur in the app can be fixed proactively, even if they are not present to users. When a feature is added, Stay Alfred can use live data to confirm when a feature is being used and can verify when errors are fixed.

Because Stay Alfred empowers its guests to manage nearly every aspect of their experience with us online, giving them intuitive ways to access the tools and information they need is imperative to our success. IntelliTect’s partnership has allowed us to scale our technology, and they continue to be a valuable partner.
Roth Fouty, VP of Technology, Stay Alfred

Clients can now use a native mobile application to get access to their important reservation information, view details about their stay, and find nearby entertainment options.

Stay Alfred is happy with the results and since they can easily deploy updates, they’re preparing to work with IntelliTect to create version two of the app, with even more specialized features.

About Stay Alfred

Halfway between an Airbnb and a full-fledged hotel, Stay Alfred’s upscale travel apartments offer the “space and amenities of a vacation rental combined with the quality and consistency of a boutique hotel.” Located in major metropolitan areas across the country, and complete with all the necessities of home, Stay Alfred provides “Your place in the city.” Each of Stay Alfred’s downtown accommodations includes a full kitchen, a comfortable living area, a washer and dryer, and other specialty amenities.