The Evolution of Native Mobile App Development
Operating systems have consolidated and driven developers to build to the platform to provide the ultimate UX.
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To gather insights for DZone's Native Mobile App Development Research Guide, scheduled for release in February, 2016, we spoke to 18 executives who are developing mobile applications in their own company or helping clients do so.
Here's who we spoke to:
Dan Bricklin, CTO, Alpha Software | Adam Fingerman, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer, ArcTouch | Nishant Patel, CTO and Kurt Collins, Director of Technology Evangelism, Built.io | Tyson Whitten, API Management Product Marketing, CA Technologies | Rajiv Taori, VP Product Management Mobile Platforms Group, Citrix | Zach Slayton, VP Digital Technology Solutions, Collaborative Consulting | Brad Bush, COO, Dialexa | Craig Lurey, CTO and Co-Founder, Keeper Security | Jessica Rusin, Senior Director of Development, MobileDay | Steven Jovanelly, Senior Director, Innovation Lab, PGi | Brandon Satrom, GM Developer Platforms and Tools, Progress Software | Eddie de Guia, Co-Founder and Managing Director, PubNative | Hans Ashlock, Technical Marketing Manager, Qualisystems | Mark Kirstein, Senior Director of Enterprise Software, RhoMobile | Justin Bougher, Vice President of Product, SiteSpect | Carla Borsoi, Software Product Manager and Marketing Lead, 6SensorLabs | Lubos Parobek, VP of Products, Sauce Labs
We asked these executives, "How has native mobile app development evolved?"
Here's what they said:
- Apple, Android and Microsoft change the way they want developers to show the user interface and provide the UX. As such, you must write to Apple and Google’s wishes. This completely changes from one release to another. If you don’t make the changes, your app will look old - UX and users will decline. You must constantly update the user interface. You must build to the style of the platform. Adapt to their changes and improved UX. Their design drives us.
- I was doing everything in Brew when we had an all mobile web. The opening of the App Store moved us away from clunky mobile sites. Operating systems have consolidated as have smart phones. How will Android standardize? If we create an app how do we ensure a consistent experience between the app and the web - avoid disrupting the consumer.
- Formerly apps were a novelty, now they’re table stakes for a consulting firm. We’ve transitioned from it being something you look to a specialist to provide to it now being a core offering.
- Usability and expectations. Instead of track and trace, now it’s about delivering value and empowerment. Mobility is the status quo - power, performance and connectivity.
- Multiple platforms and the speed with which the platforms change and the apps are needed.
- Everything evolves based on consumer needs. For instance, Facebook was adamant about supporting HTML and providing a mobile web-only experience, but as more and more users started to move toward mobile, they had no other option than to provide a better experience.
- Apps continue to grow in importance as mobile grows.
- Mobile apps have evolved from merely smaller versions of their desktop parents (usually just ported) to applications that are built ground up to take advantage of the rich set of sensors and systems of the devices they run on.
- Less native and more web-based and hybrid. Fewer customers want native because responsive web apps can give them what they want faster and with less development time and maintenance.
- Apps used to be very simplistic, like a novelty. Today they are more complex and tie into the internal and external customer. The biggest trend is how the bar has been raised on the UX and the design whether it’s internally or externally. Corporate apps need to treat the internal users the same as you would an external facing customer.
- The hardware keeps getting better every year. It makes it easier to develop and you can do a lot more things. More access to things. Frameworks are improving. Take advantage of everything you can when you get a new platform. Get better ratings in the AppStore. If you don’t keep up you become outdated.
- There are a lot of SDKs available today that weren’t around two years ago - Crash analytics, user management, real-time LDK. SDK services are all native. Every major language has gone through this maturity cycle. Mobile was very fractured until iOS and Android began to dominate in the last eight years. Mobile development is more mature.
- The same way development itself has evolved - greater flexibility. A fundamental of development is being agile and knowing how to iterate something that’s already on the client-side. Have the means to modify native components after delivery to the customer - look, feel, functionality.
- Used to see apps focused on using things outside the device. Improvement in developer tools and the UX itself. Looking for the fastest way to develop across platforms - this is why iOS introduced Swift. Using Chrome as a mobile browser. All have matured around developer productivity.
- In recent years, there have been huge debates over whether native, HTML5 or hybrid provided a superior app. Native has won the war - it looks better and provides a better experience. Movement from manual to automated testing. To stay competitive, you must move to automated testing. Deep interaction happens on the app not on the mobile site.
- Tools and features. Tools like the iOS workbench and xcode is much easier to link to Swift. Features of the platforms and hardware. Initially, Apple watch limited what you could code but now they’re giving developers more access to features. We see the evolution to being able to access all of the hardware’s features.
- People used native mobile app development tools. Now more cross-platform development but it’s going back to native to deliver a more truly responsive experience. Need to go native to optimize on the device. Cross-platform is not optimized for any platform.
How has native mobile application development evolved from your perspective?
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