Mobile devices and applications have become hot topics in recent times. To not consider mobile in any technical strategy is now a huge oversight and something that should be given due attention. Be that as part of a marketing campaign, business process re-engineering or new opportunity. Mobile platforms are here to stay and becoming more powerful and popular than ever.
Mobile Application Development Company
At Moov2 we don’t tie ourselves to any one particular technology, preferring to offer the most suitable solution to an opportunity rather than a preferred technology platform. We have experts in all the major mobile platforms and will offer a balanced and unbiased view as to which mobile application development services are most appropriate for your project. Whether that be mobile web app development leveraging the latest HTML5 technologies or native mobile software application development on iPhone, Android or Windows Phone.
It’s tempting to dismiss the complexities of mobile applications development with so many platforms and technologies, different hardware and masses of differing opinion it can be quite overwhelming. However the past six months (time of writing: Aug 2011) have seen a two percent rise to 7.6% in mobile versus desktop website visitors in the UK (source). Following that trend, within another six months almost one tenth of web users will be via mobile. To put that in perspective, it would be the equivalent of ignoring the population of Scotland in a UK targeted campaign. Mobile applications offer unique advantages not realisable on desktop such as location aware services, new interaction methods, truly any time anywhere usage and a new set habitual tendencies from users that can be beneficially leveraged.
Many organisations are successfully embracing the new opportunities available from mobile internet and application based offerings. From viral marketing ideas and games through to enterprise applications that provide time savings, more flexible working and more up to date management information the benefits to businesses are many.
There’s no doubt about it, the mobile landscape is vast and confusing. An ever changing list of devices and technologies to choose from along with a constantly raging, opinion driven, debate on which are better and for what reason. Our intention as a mobile application company is to help demystify these important decisions. Here are just some of the common platform considerations when thinking about an investment in mobile:
- iOS (iPhone/iPad)
Probably the biggest technological upset in recent times. The first generation iPhone defined the modern smartphone market and set a very high benchmark for other acts to follow. One of the distinguishing features of iOS users is that they are conditioned to installing native applications and not afraid to do so. The ability and expectation to be able to install a native app is a trait not as prolific or pushed as hard on any other platform.
When discussing smartphones, ‘Android’ is likely to be the next contender raised after iOS/iPhone. The Google owned and operated operating system offers a compelling experience comparable to iOS but is distributed on a multitude of devices. This alternative approach of being available through multiple handset manufacturers has led to a broad adoption and more price options for consumers. The ‘open’ approach to Android has led to many innovations that were not achievable in what some consider a ‘walled garden’ of iOS but has equally caused concerns with fragmentation between implementations.
- Windows Phone 7
Microsoft have offered a mobile operating system for many years. Windows Mobile has been primarily adopted within the enterprise space due to it’s close integration with Microsoft server products such as Exchange. Their latest incarnation however, is more consumer focused and is a real step up into the smartphone arena in a bid to obtain market share from iPhone and Android. It is very early days for this new iteration and it is yet to be marketed aggressively here in the UK. Floundering former mobile giant Nokia have signed up to the WP7 bandwagon and Microsoft do have a very strong developer audience. But whether this will be enough to become a viable contender is still anyone’s guess.
Blackberry owners Research In Motion (RIM) could be considered one of the last remaining ‘old guard’ from the pre iPhone/Android era. Blackberry obtained a vast marketshare particularly from the enterprise arena which it still carries today. RIM are still reporting decent growth (16% year on year for their first fiscal quarter 2012) and continuing to bring new product offerings.
Depending on your intended offering, there are a number of ways to deliver your clients/users a mobile experience.
- Native Applications
A native application or ‘app’ is a program developed specifically for an intended platform (iOS, Android, WP7 etc). This will usually be developed in a manner depicted by the platform vendor and is very closely tied to the capabilities of that platform. When correctly applied, this vendor supported approach will likely result in the best performing implementation possible. This also allows close integration with specific hardware features made available through the platform, for example accessing and utilising an iPhones accelerometer. Native applications are also most likely to offer a good user experience as the process will enforce the use of standard components and interactions which the users will have become familiar with. One drawback of the native route however is that if you wish to target multiple devices your application will need to be re-developed for each with little re-use of code between implementations.
- Mobile Web
The latest generation of smartphones treat the internet as a first class citizen. Capabilities of mobile web browsers can even surpass that of desktop with access to features such as GPS positioning other device specific features not relevant on desktops. With these increased capabilities, often a mobile optimised web application can deliver an excellent experience without needing to build a platform specific application. Doing so can be very cost effective as a web application (and even traditional web site) can be developed so that it is cross platform, meaning it will cater for most of the popular devices with little extra effort. Updates can easily be made without the need for users to install updates and there are no complex store submission processes to follow. A web application however, by its very nature is dependant on a web connection which is becoming less of an issue with mobile broadband technologies such as 3G but still cannot yet be completely relied upon. The experience of a mobile application might not quite match that of a native application but can still be made to be very compelling nonetheless.
- Build once run anywhere
A hybrid approach that is available from a handful of proprietary software providers allows for production of a common code base using a single tool set that can be deployed to several of the major platforms. These offer a relatively quick development process that results in an installable application similar to a native app. The tools offer a reasonable middle-ground of reducing development time per platform but also have their own nuances and performance implications. They can also lend themselves to an unfamiliar application experience compared to native apps.
Alongside the chosen technology used there is also a consideration of the intended device format to be targeted. Following on from smartphones has been the rise of ultra portable ‘tablet’ devices offering similar functionality (based on the same platforms) but with a larger screen area and potentially more power. Whilst a phone oriented version will likely run on the larger tablet devices with no additional effort there are many new advantages to be gained by creating a tablet specific version to make better use of the larger form factor.
How can we help?
We’ve kept fairly quiet about mobile so far but that’s not to say we haven’t been paying attention. Throughout the rise of mobile popularity we have been analysing, discussing, learning and developing for all of the major mobile platforms in efforts to be able to offer the best advice and development services possible.
At Moov2 we pride ourselves on our balanced, agnostic approach to the many technology choices and platforms. We don’t maintain blinkered allegiances to one brand/company/technology or another but focus our efforts on understanding what tools will be most appropriate to deliver the business objective with the right balance of efficiency and quality.
Whether you require consultancy to help define a mobile strategy or have a full-blown application idea you would like realised by our talented development team, drop us a line and run your thoughts by us, we’re sure you’ll be impressed with our contribution.