Pinch’s contribution to Albert Heijn’s Mijn Leefstijlcoach app
Through a major campaign, Albert Heijn has launched its revamped lifestyle coach Mijn Leefstijlcoach app into the market. Senior developer Thomas Middel, also known as Pincher Thomas Middel, played a leading role in the development of this app. One remarkable aspect of the project is that the application was created using the cross-platform framework Flutter, which Albert Heijn is fully committed to – and Pinch firmly believes in.
Mijn Leefstijlcoach app: a personal lifestyle coach
The Mijn Leefstijlcoach app existed for some time but has now evolved into a full-fledged lifestyle coach in the form of an app. The mobile application inspires and motivates users to improve their eating habits, engage in more physical activity, and enjoy better sleep. The coaching is provided through challenges, motivational videos, fun exercises, helpful schedules, clever tips, and delicious recipes.
The app was developed in collaboration with behavioral scientists and lifestyle experts, with Thomas Middel as the Flutter developer at Pinch being part of the team.
Coaching through challenges
The initial version of the app, built by an international app agency, was relatively simple and only contained content. In April of this year, the extensive renewal began, and Pinch was asked, through our regular partner NOISE, to contribute to the further development. As a senior developer, Middel’s task was to steer the project in the right direction and increase productivity within the team consisting of people from Ahold and the international agency.
“The most important feature we added was the challenges. Each challenge runs for about seven days, with daily content related to it and push notifications to keep you motivated.”
Intermediate check-ups thanks to an advanced chatbot
Creating a chatbot-like system that facilitates interactivity was the biggest challenge for the developers. Middel explains, “For the intermediate check-ups, users need to answer questions, creating a sort of conversation with a chatbot. This way, the app generates personalized interactions for the user.”
This system is effectively woven throughout the entire app, with all screens containing questions based on the chatbot. Middel adds, “Our biggest challenge was to make this process as smooth as possible for users. To achieve that, we started right at the beginning, when Albert Heijn was not directly involved in the development, by building a simple app with chatbot integration to see how such an interaction works.”
Flutter is the message for Albert Heijn
The Mijn Leefstijlcoach app has been developed using Flutter, a cross-platform framework by Google that allows the simultaneous creation of different types of applications, including iOS and Android apps. “Albert Heijn is very enthusiastic about Flutter and is fully committed to it. They are using it to create modules for existing apps, such as the login flow, which remains consistent across all apps. You only need to build it once in Flutter, and then you can use it everywhere,” explained Middel.
Thanks to Flutter, programming can be done quickly and productively, resulting in lower development and maintenance costs. “Additionally, flexibility is a significant advantage for Albert Heijn: you only need to focus on one project instead of having two native projects that need separate modifications,” added the Flutter developer.
No Flutter limitations, but a pedometer integration
With a cross-platform framework like Flutter, certain aspects can be more challenging for developers, such as accessing cameras or sensors. Nowadays, almost all manufacturers provide software development kits (SDKs) for Flutter. If they are not available, developers need to write a bridge.
“With the Mijn Leefstijlcoach app, we haven’t encountered any significant Flutter limitations. Currently, we are working on integrating pedometers, for example, through smartwatches, to make the app as interactive as possible. Although this integration requires delving a bit deeper, I don’t anticipate any issues. We see that Flutter is rapidly maturing, and the gap with native development has significantly narrowed since Pinch started using Flutter two and a half years ago.”
Transformation into a tech company
Albert Heijn is explicitly transforming from a supermarket company to a “food and technology company,” as they put it. The AH Technology unit includes departments for data, digital, and tech, focusing on personalized customer advice and simplifying online shopping. Additionally, AH Tech Labs develops “next big things” with a team of business developers, software developers, and UX designers.
As a result, Albert Heijn has multiple apps, including the AH supermarket app, AH Compact, Allerhande, and an internal app for employees, enabling QR code payments for deliveries.
Continued collaboration and valuable takeaway
Besides Middel, another app developer from Pinch is currently working for Albert Heijn. The Flutter developer expects the collaboration between Albert Heijn and Pinch to be ongoing, although he himself will soon be working on apps for other companies.
In this process, he gains a valuable insight: “Albert Heijn places a high emphasis on quality control through the addition of tests during app development. I’ve learned a lot from that. At Pinch, we have even made making quality more measurable through tests one of our main goals for next year.”
Creating an app with Pinch
Pinch is a well-known agency for mobile development, having already developed over a hundred apps. They build Android, iOS, and Flutter apps. Creating an app with Pinch means closely collaborating with a team of enthusiastic specialists who strive for the best possible result together with you. Throughout the app development, a dedicated project manager within Pinch takes charge of both the process and the communication between you as a client and the developers and designers working on your app daily.
Pinch understands that creating a good app involves more than just building the technology. They also take care of concept development, visual and interaction design, and technical development. From ideation and development to launch and maintenance, they ensure that your app becomes and remains a success.