With the proliferation of mobile devices in recent years, software developers and website designers quickly recognized the need for applications dedicated to those devices. While not all website owners were on board initially, Google’s recent algorithm changes demand everyone start taking the surge in mobile device use seriously. Those websites continuing to ignore the trend are finding their sites’ rankings dropping precipitously. For all intents and purposes, there are currently four distribution platforms used on mobile devices, with each having mobile app development software options tailored to make the best use of the distribution platforms’ strong points.
In a nutshell, mobile apps are software applications developed for today’s smartphones and tablet devices. Applications that were effective on desktop and laptop devices simply do not work well on devices with smaller screens and less processing power. In addition, older website designs were intended for larger screens and users with a mouse or touchpad to walk through drop-down menus and text-heavy content.
Smartphone and tablet users don’t, on the other hand, have the same ability to navigate sites. Nor do the units generally have the same processing power enjoyed by less portable devices. The most important factor for mobile device users, however, is the smaller screen size. Mobile apps are designed to overcome those differences and allow smaller devices to access and navigate through the same types of information easily.
While all mobile app platforms share similar characteristics, they are not the same. The four primary platforms are iOS, Android, Amazon, and Microsoft. According to industry statistics, Android devices dominate the industry around the world, but Apple devices control the market in the United States. That is not meant to suggest Amazon and Microsoft devices can’t hold their own in quality and user satisfaction.
The issues facing the different platforms are significant, as they must be compatible with a number of operating system releases, as not all users of devices opt to or are able to upgrade devices as those upgrades become available. This is a problem that’s plagued developers and may continue to do so in the future. Owners of older smartphones, for example, often experience difficulties downloading and using the newest apps and games.
That means mobile app platforms must not only face issues related to the size and capacity of devices, but also work to implement designs that will allow users of older devices to work consistently when updates are integrated into the systems.
As noted earlier, traditional websites enjoyed large screen sizes and navigation tools not built into mobile devices. That suggests Mobile App Development professionals must step up and ensure users of smaller devices can effectively view sites without losing quality content. According to the Pew Research Center, over 64 percent of American adults own and routinely use a smartphone. In addition, the Pew Research Center also reports over 42 percent of adults in the country own a tablet computer. That shift in user demographics suggests Mobile Web Development must accelerate to keep up with the trends.
Windows app development, iPhone app development, Android app development and Amazon app development experts all have access to operating system-native platforms. Each platform is designed specifically for devices using those operating systems. That means a developer working on an application understands the app will only function properly on devices using that specific platform. Users with iPhones, for example, won’t be downloading apps from Google Play. That means developers using system-native platforms cannot offer the same app for other devices without rewriting the app to meet the needs of each operating system.
On the other hand, the use of some third-party platforms allows developers to construct apps usable on multiple operating systems. Platforms like Handango, Handmark and PocketGear allow developers to build apps accessible on Android, Windows Mobile, and iOS devices, among others. The obvious downside is that some apps developed using the third-party platforms may not be as rich as those using system-native platforms, but designers work to minimize any qualitative differences.
Industry experts suggest the importance of mobile device apps will become increasingly important as younger users adopt them rather than laptops or desktops as their devices of choice. While websites must continue to be effective on large screen devices, the importance of apps developed for smaller screens is likely to affect website owners’ profits significantly as users migrate to smaller devices and use them for shopping online. Mobile devices are not only here to stay, but are likely to dominate in the future.