November 8, 2023
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Introducing the Superapp SDK

Jacklin Altman

Product Team

These days, it feels like we have an app for everything. Managing your finances? There’s an app for that. Want to connect with friends halfway around the world? There’s an app for that too. Want a hot meal delivered to your door? Another app! 

Before you know it, you can easily rack up 50+ different apps on your device. That also means 50+ logins for you to remember, 50+ apps that need regular updates, and seemingly infinite screens you need to swipe through to accomplish various daily tasks.

What if it didn’t have to be this way? What if multiple services or products could be available in a single place? What if instead of disparate apps for every individual task, we had consolidated digital experiences? Superapps make it possible—and Ionic’s Superapp SDK makes it simple to build one for your organization.  

What is a superapp?

In short, a superapp is a single app that houses various digital experiences within it. They provide end users, such as employees, partners, or customers, with access to independently created mini apps. These mini apps are unified under a single umbrella application, so users don’t need to switch between screens or hop between digital experiences. The core application contains essential functionality, while the mini apps can add on needed features. 

Why build a superapp?

Whether you’re looking to scale your business, modernize your development strategy, or simply create a unified digital experience, then superapps may be for you. 

Superapps are all about consolidating disparate experiences into a single, streamlined one. Rather than switching screens and remembering yet another login, users can access everything they need in one place. This means less headache, less apps clogging up devices, and less chance of users abandoning your app as they switch to another and potentially forget about it. 

Development can also be simplified with superapps, as you can build core functionality once and reuse it across apps, creating a digital experience that scales and grows with your business. This reduces development overhead using a modular architecture, while leveraging web teams for feature development. Teams are able to ship features faster than ever, and app development can be expedited even more with starter app templates. 

Adopting a superapp architecture can also be a catalyst for modernizing your app development strategy. It allows development teams to work independently, building mini apps that replace disparate apps to provide users with a cohesive experience. New features can be delivered asynchronously, and live updates can be deployed directly to users’ devices. You can also implement app governance and development standards to apply across anything developed within the superapp. 

What goes into building a superapp?

Superapps can scale and grow into highly intricate applications, and can be complicated to build without the proper tools.. First, native teams develop shell apps for iOS and Android with core functionality, such as authentication or payments information. Then, web teams build mini apps with additional features and functions using any web technology stack or framework. The mini apps then need to be connected to the native shell. Mini apps can be automatically installed with the native shell or discovered within the superapp and downloaded separately. This entire process is simplified with the Superapp SDK

Creating a superapp allows native and web teams to collaborate effectively, leveraging the skills, languages, and experience of each. Teams can also move faster than ever, since there’s no need to learn anything new, and mini apps can be deployed across both iOS and Android—cutting down duplicate efforts and keeping uniform look and feel. The mini apps are seamlessly integrated into their native shells through the power of Ionic Portals. Portals removes the complicated work of moving data and instructions between the native layer and the web layer. Once the interface for communication is established, each team can continue to work autonomously.

Not only are the dev teams able to build separately, they can ship separately as well. Superapps created with the SDK can leverage the power of a cloud mobile DevOps—via the cloud service, dev teams can create both native and web builds on their own timeline. The native builds can be deployed to the app store as needed, while the web builds can be updated within the native shell whenever required. With Live Updates, mini apps can be changed in real time with over-the-air updates as well, ensuring users always have the latest and greatest on their devices.

The Superapp SDK has everything mobile development teams need to manage their superapp development lifecycle. If you’re looking to get started building your first superapp, check out our tutorial.

Superapps can revolutionize the workplace

Workforce engagement is always a challenge—with app overload making things even worse. 69% of workers were wasting up to an hour a day navigating between apps, and 36% of digital workers missed important updates due to a multitude of apps and the volume of data flowing through them. The best way to combat this app fatigue? With a streamlined experience via superapp. Having everything in one place empowers frontline employees to get the information they need when they need it, and eliminates the need for juggling numerous logins and applications. 

On the managerial side, superapps can help simplify administrative processes, saving time and resources in the process. It’s far simpler to manage everything from a centralized place as opposed to overseeing disparate processes across multiple applications. With superapps, managers have the potential to do everything from approving PTO to chatting with teammates from a single place. 

How one Ionic customer was able to ship a superapp in record time

A customer in the health and beauty space has been able to develop a superapp lightening fast thanks to Ionic’s Superapp SDK. In under 5 months, they created an app for employees to use in stores, showing them product stock levels, allowing them to order new products for the store, and integrating shipping/receiving technology. 

The customer notes that “with a superapp approach we can develop micro applications in parallel by different teams and build them seamlessly together. And have a continuous deployment mode where we just keep releasing new features.” They also highlighted how despite shipping new features at record speed, this has “low implication on existing features because we have [development teams working in] multiple locations. For example, we have a team in China developing one mini app and [another] in the Netherlands and in Hong Kong.”

Why Ionic

Building your own superapp from the ground up can be daunting, and DIY solutions are often clunky, lacking functionality, and aren’t highly secure. That’s why we created the Superapp SDK to be your superapp accelerator. 

Ionic’s Superapp SDK provides an entire library of tools to help web developers create a streamlined, centralized mobile app experience. An off-the-shelf design system with adaptive styling means your superapp will look and feel at home on mobile. Your app will always be up to date with the latest UI design, and it’s fully customizable to fit your brand and your needs. 

With native-like gestures and animations, such as swiping, entering, and leaving gestures, your apps will build off of experiences your users are already familiar with. Superapp SDK also gives you access to a library of 100+ UI building blocks and mobile-ready components by design, all of which are fully customizable. That means less time reinventing the wheel, more time driving the car. 

With Ionic, you’ll have access to build and deploy apps directly to the app stores, and you’ll be able to update your apps live – pushing critical fixes and updates directly to your users’ devices faster than ever. We also maintain SOC II Type 2 certification, so you can rest easy knowing that your and your customers’ data is safe. 

Learn more

Interested? We can help you build a demonstrable superapp proof of concept. Book a demo with one of our experts or download the datasheet to learn more about how superapps can revolutionize your development. 

Jacklin Altman

Product Team