The X Factor UK — App Development for an ITV Show

The MBicycle team provided the ITV British сhannel with interactive mobile app development for their popular TV show — The X Factor UK

Challenge

The X Factor UK is our first experience of collaborating with Monterosa and the popular British TV channel ITV. Monterosa is a company specializing in delivering fan engagement applications for their clients in Sports and Entertainment industries.

After a comprehensive review of outsourced app development vendors, Monterosa hired the MBicycle Android development team to create a mobile application for a popular British TV show, The X Factor, for fans to follow and vote for the participants. The scope of the upcoming work also included tweaking the app prior to the new X Factor season to accommodate the ITV channel’s revised voting procedures and other requirements.

The main reason for choosing our team for the project was the fact that we were fit for developing on top of Monterosa’s flagship platform, LViS, that they used as the foundation for all of their projects. We also proved being able to finish the app development for this TV show within the tight deadline of just under three months in time for the start of the new season.

Solution

The client needed an application that would allow users to keep track of the TV show updates and, when the time came, to vote for the participants in real time. Thus, the main challenge for the MBicycle team was to create the mobile app on top of LViS, which would provide seamless real-time interactive capabilities and serve as a second-screen app for the show fans during each episode.

The base application was inherited from the previous year’s show and now called for a complete revamp to accommodate the new season’s mechanics. We built our solution with the legacy app code as a foundation, redesigned it, and added new features in such a way that they could be reused in the future (i.e., introducing reusable code).

Our technical solution was focused on Monterosa’s administration panel, which was originally designed to manage the entertainment and voting functionality of their mobile products for various TV shows. The panel, LViS, featured multiple settings to be configured by Monterosa’s technical team specifically for the X Factor UK project.

We created custom UI elements and animations using the Android SDK. As the previous versions of the app had complicated UIs and could only display text-based content, we decided to extend the application’s news feed with images, videos, and gifs while users were watching the show on air. We connected the news feed to the LViS panel via a socket so that the app users could instantly react to any event of the TV show.

After the UI redesign and extending the news feed features, our team focused on improving the voting mechanism. At this stage, we completely changed the voting logic, as it was important to make voting available at certain times — only when each participant finished singing and speaking on stage. The complexity of the voting mechanism was in that it had to rely on the count of votes, with the ability for users to cancel and change the vote, and for the development team to add custom UI elements for this feature as needed.

After all the basic elements were developed, the MBicycle developers added a settings screen and a mini-game created entirely in React Native. This game allowed the app users to score points for researching about the show participants, watch leaderboards, etc.

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Process

The project team included a tech lead, a project manager, a designer, an iOS developer, two React Native developers, and two QA engineers — all coming from the Monterosa side. There were also a few representatives of the ITV channel to provide high-level project management. On the MBicycle side, there were Android and React Native developers from our mobile department.

We started app development for the TV show with the code review of the latest app version. We then created a robust and speedy application on top of the LViS administration panel, to provide the X Factor UK fans with a highly interactive real-time experience. At this stage, the MBicycle team redesigned the app UI, improved the news feed performance and content, as well as updated the voting mechanism.

We had daily Scrums to ensure on-time delivery, keep on the same page with the client’s team, and discuss any project-related questions and further improvements.

Technologies & Tools

Android smartphone with app UI for a popular TV show

Programming language
Java

Architecture
MVP

Communication protocol
WebSockets

Third-party library APIs
LViS, TectonicSDK, Camera API, REST, Android Support Library, Facebook SDK, Twitter SDK

Results

We had only three months to develop a mobile application, and we were proud to meet this requirement to the fullest.

As the result of this app development project for the TV show The X Factor UK, Monterosa and ITV got an updated version of their original application that allowed users to keep tabs on the show dynamics and participants in real time, as well as interact with the show by checking the news feed and voting for contestants.

The client was absolutely satisfied with the final iteration of the app, as we managed to release the application right before the show went on air. We also stayed to provide 24/7 support during the broadcast. Owing to this, all the features were performing well with no bugs reported.

After the X Factor UK app was completed, Monterosa requested two more projects from our Android team — I’m A Celebrity and Team GB: Winter Olympics, the app for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.