How Xamarin Helped BBVA Developers Harness the Power of Augmented Reality

With cross-platform mobile app development, businesses can quickly create robust, performant and secure applications. Code reusability means there is no need to recode tech stacks for each operating system, which reduces the time, effort and cost of mobile application development. Xamarin is one of the oldest frameworks for cross-platform development as it is extensively used by Xamarin developers to share code and business logic across platforms for all sorts of different applications. One such application is Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria’s (BBCA) Valora View. The app helps customers find properties for rent or sale and harnesses the power of Augmented Reality (AR), 2D heat features and more, all thanks to Xamarin. 

What Challenge Was BBVA Facing? 

BBVA is a multinational financial solutions company that offers services such as retail banking, asset management and wholesale to over 30 countries worldwide. The company focuses strongly on developing innovative solutions for its digital channels, particularly mobile, due to its fast growth rate. The key, of course, is creating apps that have the perfect balance between useful functionality and exceptional user experience. This explains the company’s digital transformation goal of creating opportunities by supporting people to make the right decisions for them. 

The challenge BBVA was facing, in this instance, was the evolving house hunting process. Before the Internet era, the process was very much a manual one. People would look out for for sale or rent signs in order to know a property was available. BBVA wanted to create a digital evolution of this approach, a way for people to walk through their desired neighbourhood and find available properties, all from the power in their pockets. However, the decision to buy a home is complex and there is often an uncertainty about whether buying or renting is better. So, more than being able to just find properties, BBVA wanted a solution that could take the house-hunting process to the next level by not just showing potential properties but also interweaving real-time information about the property and the neighbourhood, giving insights based on regional data to help estimate cost and helping with mortgage calculations. All in all, it was an ambitious goal, which would need an innovative solution. 

How Xamarin Provided a Solution

BBVA entrusted Plain Concepts, a Microsoft Gold Partner, to help them build a solution. The result was the development of the Valora View application. With the power of .NET and Xamarin, Valora View is able to help people find properties with Augmented Reality, 2D heat maps and more. The app combines several key technologies:

  • Big Data – data is key to the success of BBVA Valora View and works seamlessly to support people in making the right decision. The app combines both financial and non-financial data to give actionable insights. 
  • Augmented reality – this big data is then used as an input into an AR view on mobile devices and displayed using Wikitude to deliver an engaging and informative user experience. 
  • Xamarin.Forms – now .NET MAUI but with Xamarin technology at heart, the cross-platform framework allowed BBVA to code the application once and then share it seamlessly across iOS and Android. 

The result is an app that helps people to make more informed decisions about prospective rentals or purchases, saving them time, money and stress. The tool calculates different costs and investments and helps the user to make an informed choice about prospective properties. The app has transformed the way people find their new homes as they have neighbourhood statistics, estimates on future prices, information on renovation costs, insurance and more and was a huge success from the outset. 

The Benefits of Xamarin for Mobile Development

Xamarin is one of the leading frameworks for cross-platform mobile app development and is an excellent choice for any company looking to build a powerful, scalable solution. Some of the key advantages, as shown in the case of BBVA, include:

  • Code reusability – one of the great advantages of Xamarin is its compatibility with the .NET framework. By using C#, it’s possible to share up to 90% of code and business logic across different platforms. This makes app development faster and reduces the time to market. 
  • Native user interfaces – Xamarin doesn’t try to force commonality where it doesn’t exist. Both Android and iOS have distinct UI and SDK features that make an app feel native. Xamarin uses native components and allows developers to create a platform-specific UI that delivers a near-native app experience. 
  • AR Supportive – AR is a device-specific feature and both the Android and iOS versions are fully supported by Xamarin. What’s more, Xamarin provides in-depth documentation on both to help speed up development and the incorporation of advanced features. 
  • .NET Maui – the development framework enables Xamarin developers to create cross-platform applications using just one codebase. It is one of the fastest ways to create a cross-platform mobile application, building once and releasing across multiple platforms. 

Could Your Business Leverage the Power of AR With Xamarin? 

AR is commonplace in mobile devices thanks to high-resolution cameras, fast processing and high-bandwidth wireless networks. What’s more, it’s quickly emerging as a valuable tool for solving everyday problems, such as BBVA has shown with house hunting. With support for AR experiences, Xamarin helps to lower the barrier to entry for using AR. As such, AR should be an attractive target for any Xamarin developer. It allows you to leverage both the code-sharing benefits along with the mature tooling required to harness the benefits of AR.

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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