Unveiling Low Latency Apps: Accelerating User Experience in Real-Time

Latency Apps concept

In the era of fast-paced digitalization, hardly any brand-new IT solution can impress the audience. We are pampered by the innovative functionalities of unique digital products and, therefore, are becoming more and more demanding of them. Just a decade or a couple ago, we could patiently wait till the website page was loading or a message was being sent. But now, users count on speedy responsiveness to their requests and seamless interactions with the software they utilize. Hence, when the delay between a user’s action and a response to it is as short as possible, the application is deemed successful and user-friendly. In this way, one of the most important factors influencing the performance of the software is the time of such a delay, which is known as latency.

Low latency and factors affecting it

Basically, low latency occurs when the period between input and response is minimized, the latency appears to be low. Still, the criteria of defining it as low  varies based on the type of application, industry standards, and other factors. For example, in software that is supposed to provide interaction in real-time, even milliseconds of delay will negatively affect functionality and user experience.

Several factors may impact latency,  and distance is a key one. The closer the source to the destination, the less time it will take for data to travel. For example, when the distance between two points is about 200 km, it will take just 10 milliseconds for the data to travel from a sender to the destination. However, the same data under the same conditions would need 120 milliseconds to overcome the distance of 8,000 km.

Other factors:

  • type of network protocols
  • network hard devices 
  • transmission medium 
  • bandwidth
  • traffic volume 

However, according to Alex Bekker, a Head of Data Analytics Department at ScienceSoft, high latency is not always bad. Most software doesn’t need superbly fast response times to function smoothly. However there are some cases when latency can be a deal breaker, like streaming apps, real-time analytics, cost optimization and so on.

Now, understanding the essence of latency and the factors influencing its increase and reduction, let’s consider the types of applications, where low latency is among the most crucial aspects.

Use cases of Low Latency Apps

Games

Low latency has become a top concern for the gaming industry as it directly impacts user experience. If you ever played a computer or a mobile game, you might encounter lags – delays between your action and the response of a character on your screen. This problem often makes ardent players nervous and, therefore, reluctant to go back to the app again. In this way, game-developing companies strive to optimize latency to retain loyal gamers and attract new ones. The importance of seamless interactions is supported by the numbers reflected in 2021 Limelight’s State of Online Gaming Report: almost half of gamers who participated in the survey mark high performance as a top priority in gameplay.

Finances

As more and more people switch to online operations with their finances, banking corporations strive to provide their clients with instant online access to their accounts and ensure seamless payment procedures and transactions. Thus, low latency is a feature that enables banking apps with speedy information updates and prompt fulfillment of operations.

Live streaming apps

It goes without saying that excellent user experience is crucial for the audience of live streaming professionals. The subscribers of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and HBO Max expect the services to work flawlessly, and the providers have to deliver exceptional quality. Gaming streaming platforms are no different. According to Forbes, around 1.86 billion hours of video is watched on Twitch monthly. Millions of dollars of income are at stake here. In order to meet such demands, streaming platforms implement technological solutions with complex distributed big data architecture.

Video conferences and VoIP apps

Almost every mobile or computer user heard of or utilized either Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or a similar application. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the popularity of video conferencing solutions as they solved the problem of the pandemic restrictions and allowed people to stay in touch in real time. VoIP app usage grew by 212% during the pandemic. What is more, the market is expected to reach up to 19.1 billion U.S. dollars by 2027, based on Statista estimates. Videoconferencing solutions featuring low latency ensure real-time smooth interaction between participants as voice and live video flow seamlessly without delays and interruptions.

Telemedicine

Healthcare aims to provide care to patients regardless of their location. For this reason, the importance of online consultations and remote care is growing year by year. The low latency of telemedicine software is a factor that contributes to timely and effective treatment of patients. Apart from this benefit, medical professionals can enjoy real-time online presence during surgeries and other medical manipulations. Given the above, the high latency of telemedicine solutions is unacceptable as this may result in miscommunications and even medical errors.

Ride-hailing and delivery apps

Mobile applications such as Uber, UberEats, and other popular service marketplaces are actually quite complex to develop and maintain. They rely on data processing speed to analyze demand and supply quickly and update their service costs. Additionally, these apps need to be highly scalable, stable and working 24/7 with little to no delay. Some part of this data needs to be processed in real time, so the big data architecture behind Uber needs to have a stream processing system that enables instantaneous program response.

Messengers

The applications designed for message exchange in real-time should maintain low latency to ensure a stable flow of communication. The instant response to the user’s actions is impossible with high latency that causes pauses and crosstalk. Social media like Instagram and, even more so, TikTok can only operate seamlessly based on cloud technologies that connect to millions of servers.

Wrapping up:

In the present-day digital environment, low-latency apps are transforming the way we communicate and cooperate. They empower not only individuals but also businesses, helping them obtain a competitive edge over their rivals. With these solutions in hand, organizations can operate efficiently, make more informed decisions, attract and retain customers, and satisfy their ever-evolving needs in real-time, creating positive experience. The role of low-latency apps will continue to progress in the future, triggering innovation in the digital paradigm.

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