Credits : Appdevelopermagazine

Credits : Appdevelopermagazine

 

The transition from desktop to mobile computing is not a question of if, but when. According to Gartner, within the next five years, 70 percent of software interactions in enterprises will occur on mobile devices. Little wonder, then, that organizations that are just embarking on their mobile app development journeys can often be tempted to assume the voyage will be smooth sailing. After all, at the earliest stages their ambitions will likely be modest. Maybe they plan to start slow, with just one or two apps.

But not long after the ship has left port, an object looms in the waters ahead. “Nothing to fear,” the mobile project manager thinks. “My crew has navigated obstacles before.” Little does that manager realize that what looks like a minor hazard is but the tip of a much larger and more dangerous problem lurking beneath the surface. Before the project has time to change course, what started out as a leisurely cruise toward mobility has started to feel like a trip on the Titanic.

Melodramatic? Maybe. But the truth is that, much like that ill-fated cruise liner, far too many mobile initiatives have been sunk by lack of foresight. The pace of innovation is accelerating, yet if you rush full steam ahead into a mobility project without properly assessing the risks, you’re bound to run into trouble.

Iceberg ahoy!

In our Titanic / iceberg analogy, you can think of the part bobbing above the surface of the water as the mobile app itself. Most shops don’t run into much trouble there. Modern mobile development toolkits make it relatively simple to build multichannel apps that can be deployed to a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS and web.

Don’t be fooled, though. In today’s networked enterprise mobile apps, the much larger and riskier portion of the project lies beneath the surface, in the often-complex layer of interconnected services that make up the mobile backend. It is here where the real work happens – and unfortunately, it can be far too easy to underestimate just how much work will be involved in implementing it.

Judging by the UI alone, even a mission-critical enterprise app can seem deceptively simple. Such apps, however, typically need support from a myriad of backend services, ranging from authentication and identity management, to security and encryption, to data storage and retrieval, to integration with enterprise software like ERP systems or salesforce automation. As the complexity of the backend grows, an API management layer is probably in order, to help manage the overall lifecycle of the various components. All of these services require care and maintenance, further burdening IT and DevOps teams.

Further compounding the problem, it’s likely that the plan to start slow with one or two mobile apps was wishful thinking. As organizations of all sizes feel mounting pressure to achieve digital transformation mounting, demand for mobile apps increasingly comes from lines of business from across the organization. Before anyone realizes it, two mobile projects have become six, then six have become twelve…

It’s typically at this point that the hull of the mobile initiative really starts springing leaks. With multiple, uncoordinated mobile projects in the works, the organization’s total code base balloons to unmanageable size. Redundant coding efforts sap efficiency. In many cases, app dev teams will have made the mistaken assumption that existing middleware would meet their needs, only to find out that legacy web architectures are poorly suited to mobile. That sinking feeling soon sets in.

How to steer clear

Fortunately, there’s hope. As an industry, we’ve learned a lot since the early days of mobile app dev. By observing modern best practices, it’s possible to develop and deploy multichannel mobile apps in a way that’s not only efficient and consistent, but also low-risk – a methodology known as “app factory” style development.

One emerging pattern that’s enabling this approach is the use of model-driven development, a practice that will be familiar to enterprise application developers but has only recently been applied to mobile app dev. This development style uses software architectural models to abstract away the low-level complexities of programming, making it easier and faster to develop discrete application components.

These components can then be deployed as microservices that can then be composed into complete applications. The microservices architecture not only makes applications easier to deploy and scale, but it can also make them more secure by making it easier to patch and update individual components without service disruption.

Adopting these new methods can seem daunting. But fortunately these and other modern features are already available in modern mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) platforms, such as Kony MobileFabric. By standardizing on such a platform across the organization, app dev teams can both minimize redundant efforts and concentrate on responding to changing business objectives, rather than the drudgework of maintaining a poorly integrated mobile backend.

The bottom line is that while too many mobile projects end up in Davey Jones’ locker, the journey to mobility needn’t be a doomed voyage. The sinking of the Titanic was the result of too much hubris; app dev teams shouldn’t make the same mistake. By correctly assessing the full scope of the task ahead, applying modern development methods, and choosing the right partners, it’s possible for organizations to avoid hidden hazards and keep their ongoing mobile initiatives for years to come.

Mobile web sites are a growing design issue. According to StatCounter GS, mobile web access has risen to 36.54% in the United States as of January 2017. Internationally, according to the same set of statistics, mobile phones have overtaken desktops as the primary means of accessing the internet by approximately 4%.

This means that companies seeking to reach customers need their sites to be easily read and navigated by smaller screens and devices that may not support Java or cookies. But what works best? And what should IT departments focus on when improving or developing mobile sites? Experts on the Forbes Technology Council have this to say:

1. Put Priority Content At The Top

Place high-priority content, such as phone numbers, address or directions, at the top of the website page, so that users can quickly get to it without having to scroll. Don’t fall into the trap of “stacking” low-priority content over high-priority content. – Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic

2. Foster An Environment Of Continuous Experimentation And Improvement

Good UI/UX is hard. Don’t imagine you’re going to get it right the first time. Experiment with alternatives as much as you can during development. Consider A/B testing technology that lets you run experiments to evaluate interface alternatives and to respond quickly to the findings. Implement continuous integration and deployment techniques that let you release improvements regularly. – Manuel Vellon, Level 11

3. Ask Users About What Works And What Doesn’t

It helps to know from people using it every day what works and doesn’t, so go straight to users and get their feedback. After all, you want people to use it, and there’s no better perspective than those that already do. – Chalmers Brown, Due

4. Don’t Make Mobile An Afterthought

An increasing number of people use a phone or tablet as their primary way to interact with websites. You can’t slap together a mobile site as an afterthought and expect to be successful: Mobile should be a first-class citizen from the start. Also, resist the temptation to suppress certain content completely on mobile. It may be much easier, but some visitors may never come to your site on a computer. – Jay Oliver, GeekHive

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

 

Back in early 2016, we had predicted that the year would see the euphoria around mobile app development die down. A year on, we asked 230 app developers for their opinions on where things stand. We came back with some interesting insights.

Mobile investments have become more and more rooted in ROI.

Like the founder of an SDK company told us, there is no reason to believe that your app is going to be successful. While transaction-oriented apps seem to work well for loyal customers, the ‘let’s build an app and they will come’ era, if there ever was one, has ended.

Back in 2015, 30 percent of the businesses built apps with specific revenue goals. In 2016, that number doubled. Sixty percent of organisations that invest in mobile do so with ROI in the equation. Mobile is mainstream, and the expectations are driven by hard numbers. Most enterprises seem to understand how to make mobile work and how to sustain the engagement on internal mobile apps (or have understood that web still works as well as, or better than, mobile in some cases).

Enterprises today understand mobile strategy and mobile design like never before. According to app development agencies that we interviewed, nearly 75 percent of their enterprise customers understand mobile strategy.

Surprisingly, app developers still feel that we are not past the peak of apps. More than 70 percent of the app developers believe that custom app development will still thrive within the enterprise. The inertia of their success with mobile for the last seven years perhaps clouds their opinion on how soon they have to look at the next big wave and ride it.

We predict 2017 to be the year of hyped expectations on apps that are ‘intelligent’. One in five app development agencies are investing in re-skilling themselves to build intelligent apps or bots. While only 3 percent of app developers believe that bots are app killers, 78 percent believe that bots and intelligent apps would be the next logical evolution of personalised computing, which was heralded by mobile. Twelve percent believe that bots and intelligent apps would be a bigger phenomenon than mobile apps.

Nearly 50 percent of app developers have received requests to build bots or intelligent apps within the last six months. But only 15 percent are skilled enough to undertake the development of intelligent applications. By the end of 2017, this could rapidly change. We expect at least 70 percent of the app development community to re-skill themselves to build intelligent apps.

Virtual and mixed reality as a category could see mainstream interest in 2017, even as wearables as a category gets relegated to a fad. Two out of three app developers expect virtual reality to become a mainstream technology in 2017. The app development community has not, however, written off the wearables category just yet – 35 percent of app developers think that wearables will continue as a niche category within the overall mobile device/apps space.

In the app SDK category, we see an increasing trend towards consolidation. Winners in each SDK category have largely been identified, and the category leaders exhibit growth strains as the segment within the app economy with the ability to pay is now a red ocean, with major players holding places firmly.

In terms of app development economics, 30 percent of app developers believe that they could get better price realisation in 2017. Twenty percent believe that there would be a decline in app development pricing. ContractIQ has been observing several app development bids on its platform, and the shift is clearly towards cheaper app developers as the risk and uncertainties with app development have largely been mitigated through acquired knowhow over the years.

Like in the past, this year too, we have published the rates we see on our marketplace across various markets for app development and some of the modern front-end technologies. You could find this rate card and other detailed stats in our report.

Credits : Adtmag

Credits : Adtmag

 

Virtual reality figures prominently in recent 2017 mobile development predictions and trends articles, and the emerging technology is getting a boost with a new VR development kit (VRDK) on tap from Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

Designed to work with the mobile platform based on the newly introduced Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, the kit was announced by the Qualcomm Inc. subsidiary last week, just before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The company said the kit will give developers early access to the included Snapdragon 835-powered VR head mounted display (HMD), supported by an upgraded Snapdragon VR SDK.

Those developers will get a head start on the next generation of VR apps, which are becoming increasingly complex and immersive while at the same time being forced to deal with power consumption constraints and high performance requirements, Qualcomm said.

In addition to the HMD — with a two-megapixels-per-eye display, six degrees of freedom (6DoF) motion tracking cameras, two eye-tracking cameras, and 4GB LPDDR4 DRAM and 4GB UFS memory — VR technologies supported by the SDK include:

  • DSP sensor fusion
  • Foveated rendering
  • Fast motion to photon
  • Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction
  • VR layering
  • Advanced application profiling and power management

“With this new VRDK, we’re providing virtual reality application developers with advanced tools and technologies to accelerate a new generation of VR games, 360-degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education, enterprise, healthcare and entertainment applications,” said exec Cristiano Amon. “We see great potential for the exciting new experiences made possible by truly mobile, untethered virtual reality that’s always connected to the Internet, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 835 VR-capable products.”

Those Snapdragon 835 VR-capable products are expected to ship in the second half of the year, while developers can get a head start on providing apps with the VRDK, expected to become available on the Qualcomm Developer Network in the second quarter.

 

Credits : Dzone

Credits : Dzone

 

New developments in the cloud have significantly impacted the IT landscape. The popularity of cloud infrastructures, containers, and serverless frameworks introduce new challenges in security and deployment, which makes features like firewalled servers and data encryption necessary. The Guide to the Cloud: Native Development & Deployment further explores the state of the industry with exclusive survey data and insights from top executives. Learn more about serverless architecture implementations, asynchronous vs. synchronous models, and leveraging Netflix’s open-source implementation of Hystrix with Cloud-Native architecture.

http://dl.dropbox.com/s/411sgflctjdsm6b/Mob_s.jpg

http://dl.dropbox.com/s/411sgflctjdsm6b/Mob_s.jpg

 

Much of today’s digital development is taking place on the mobile front. This is especially true of enterprise organizations, which can use these mobile products to improve a range of operations and services. From customer-facing apps and experiences to employee products and data-driven operations solutions, companies are using mobile to become more efficient, more productive and more profitable.

When enterprises sit down to outline their mobile strategies, it’s important that they prioritize API development early in the process. Large organizations are moving beyond standalone mobile apps or products and instead investing in suites of mobile solutions — sprawling ecosystems in which distinct mobile assets are seamlessly integrated to offer unprecedented productivity and experience.

It only makes sense for this mobile innovation to be built upon application programming interfaces, which support better mobile development equipped to support whatever advancements the future may hold.

A framework for mobile development

Some developers will create a mobile app or solution first and then create an API that suits the solution. However, APIs are no longer viewed as optional assets, especially for large organizations. If you’re going to need it in the future, you’re better off building the API first and then using that foundation to create mobile apps.

Once an API is in place, development can happen in several places at once. As Nordic APIs noted, your organization could green-light three different mobile app development projects at the same time, and integration will be a snap because the API is already in place, creating a standard for all these products to follow. This can’t happen if you develop the API after the mobile solution. Organizations seeking rapid mobile growth will be attracted to this API development approach since it supports scalability while minimizing the development cycles needed to produce mobile products.

Improved security for integrated apps

Whenever you’ve integrated one app with another software or solution, security is a concern; the point of this integration can be compromised when the connections aren’t built securely. An API is often the centerpiece of building a solid, secure connection, and it can support other security features that further reduce the risk of a breach.

If you’re an online retailer, for example, you can provide an API to other mobile apps and software that will integrate with your store and sell your products through that platform. The API is necessary to create a secure channel that can handle mobile payment processing. Bear in mind that the API alone doesn’t provide enough security, but it provides an infrastructure that other security measures can sufficiently protect.

Extending audience reach, opening new revenue streams

If you’re able to create third-party sellers or mobile partnerships to drive sales and conversions, another clear benefit of API development emerges: You can create new revenue streams by growing your company’s mobile network. These revenue opportunities could continue to grow as mobile commerce deepens its roots in mobile apps, and as consumer concerns about mobile payment security dissipates over time.

Along with these increased revenue streams comes the ability to grow your audience. API development can lead to cross-promotion, brand integration and other mobile opportunities that generate thousands or tens of thousands of new brand impressions every day. If you choose to make your API public, it’s possible that these impressions will come from third-party sources that require no extra use of your time, money or resources.

These opportunities aren’t available when you build a mobile app that can’t integrate with other products and solutions already out on the market. It’s in enterprise brands’ best interest to build a mobile platform that will grow their digital presence and create opportunities instead of limiting them.

 

 

 

Credits : Prnewswire

Credits : Prnewswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Apalon, a leading mobile development company, is partnering with Caravan Stylist Studio during fashion week in New York with a unique Coloring Book for Me app activation. The partnership launches Thursday, February 9 at The Gregory Hotel (42 W 35th Street) and runs through Thursday, February 16. The Coloring Book for Me activation invites bloggers, fashion insiders, and hotel guests to color life-size images, interact with the app via tablets, and take home cards they can color at their leisure. Guests will also be able to schedule styling appointments and view the presentation of Caravan X Tabii, a zero waste capsule collection by Claudine DeSola and Tabitha St. Bernard.

Coloring Book for Me has 25 million users, who are rediscovering the joy of coloring on Android™ and iOS® devices. The app takes the adult coloring book craze off of the page and into users’ hands via their mobile device. With over 25 color palettes and numerous designs to choose from, the app helps users escape the chaos of their day as they color and edit their artwork in a matter of minutes.

“Adult Coloring Book Apps are all the rage as we rediscover the joy and calm of coloring. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, Apalon’s Coloring Book for Me is a product that will inspire and bring out the creativity in you. Creative expression and color are key inspirations and themes in the fashion community. We are thrilled to partner with Caravan Stylist Studio and The Gregory Hotel to bring our Coloring Book for Me experience to life during fashion week,” noted Lyle Underkoffler, General Manager, Apalon.

This marks the first time Apalon will have a presence during fashion week in New York. The creativity behind Coloring Book for Me is a natural integration for the Caravan Stylist Studio team.

“All of the dresses we created for Caravan x Tabii are a representation of color so this partnership with Coloring Book for Me is the perfect complement to the presentation. The Caravan at The Gregory always seeks to provide a creative hub for guests during the chaos of fashion week – people are running from one show to the next and this lounge offers a relaxing space where people can tap into their creativity by coloring, listening to a custom playlist by DJ Oreon and the Caravan team, and enjoying treats and hot chocolate by So Delicious,” stated Claudine DeSola, Founder, Caravan Stylist Studio.

About Apalon

An IAC Applications company, Apalon is a leading mobile development company with one of the largest and most popular app portfolios in the world, reaching more than 20 million monthly active users. A unique blend of passion and skills are at the core of the company’s DNA, driving the team to produce top-rated, award-winning mobile experiences for millions of people around the world. Apalon’s portfolio includes well-known titles such as Weather Live, Speak & Translate, and Pimp Your Screen. Learn more at www.apalon.com.

About IAC Applications

A division of IAC (Nasdaq: IAC), IAC Applications brings together a unique collection of award-winning technology companies to form one of the world’s largest distributors of utility applications, with its products downloaded more than one million times a day across desktop, browser and mobile devices. For more information about IAC Applications, its businesses and its products, please visit www.iacapps.com.

Coloring Book for Me is a trademark of IAC Search & Media Europe, Ltd. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. These and all other third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.  No association or endorsement is implied.

SOURCE IAC Applications; Apalon

Credits : E27

Credits : E27

 

We are well into 2017, and it is high time to take stock of the trends that have come and gone. The market of mobile apps is getting bigger day by day. According to Gartner research, there will be more than 260 billion mobile app downloads in 2016, compared to 180 billion in 2015. The market is supersaturated and really competitive. But there is still a high demand for fine solutions, though. To be up to date, check out an outlook of about five app development trends you should not miss, as created by mobile app development company The App Solutions.

1. More IoT apps

The IoT industry is expanding rapidly and will connect more than 4 billion people, with an opportunity for US$4 trillion revenue by 2020. It will effect a major shift both in hardware and software connected devices.

The core idea behind this trend is not just collecting information, but also provide an information analysis users can rely on while making decisions.

The App Solutions determines two vectors of development for the upcoming year. First is the Rapid Prototype Development that provides the service of prototype creation on a really tight schedule. The second line of activity is the Prototype to Production service wherein we help to complete the project, staff the team with engineers and pick the hardware products.

2. Android before iOS

In 2017 Android has all chances to become a priority platform. Already now Google Play has twice more downloads than iOS App Store. (To be fair we should notice that iOS apps bring more revenue than Android.)

The main reason for this tendency is growing markets of India, China, and Latin America, where smartphones that run on Android prevail. Another significant factor is the evolution of Android ecosystem itself. In any case, the final choice is dictated by the business objectives of each particular project.

3. More UX, less art

The success of a mobile app is defined by the thoughtful user experience, and 2017 won’t change the situation. A diffused background with well-marked and highlighted call-to-action button is a must today. In this way, app owners can help users navigate through the app to the target action. The art should bring a minimum distraction.

Graphic designers and artists will develop UX into an art form. So take a closer look at grid-based interfaces, parallax, split-screens and micro-interactions to gain traction.

4. Security is more important than ever before

Surprisingly, a vast amount of users still don’t take the security issue seriously enough. But it absolutely does not mean that app developers should do the same. With growing development of mobile purchasing and rapidly expanded amount of other users’ private data, security is a number one priority.

Smartphones have plenty of options for user verification like face recognition through inbuilt cameras, voice recognition, fingerprints, SMS codes, and phone calls verification. The whole app security architecture should be carefully checked and improved.

5. Cross-platform apps

Cross-platform apps gain more attention and this becomes another trend that shapes the nearest future. App development customers want to get their apps in the short term and with reasonable price, and frameworks like AngularJS or Cordova are perfect for that.

Another argument for this trend is an increasing number of devices per one person. All apps should look nice, run smoothly, and show excellent performance while connecting to each other.

The takeaway

As a bonus, here are some more trends we all should look out for:

  • Space saving features that will help to solve the problem with constant lack of space;
  • Interactive push notifications can bring the interaction with app users to a new level of communication;
  • Virtual Reality is a bit raw at the moment, but the interest for this area is definitely huge;
  • Сhatbots are already here to take over the care of answering users questions and providing relevant content.

To sum up all the above, we should say that the opportunities of a mobile app market are going to reach US$77 billion during the year. So it is worth trying even if your idea is in a highly competitive niche.

—-

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

Credits : computerweekly

Credits : computerweekly

 Mobile users have high expectations, and there is no such thing as one size fits all. We look at how this affects mobile app development

Many organisations see mobile applications as a great way to engage with employees, consumers and individuals from other businesses. Mobile app development has moved from being an afterthought or lightweight mobile version of a traditional application to a mobile-first mentality.

Mobile users have high expectations, and there is no such thing as one size fits all. Many will use different device form factors – smartphones and tablets – and a mix of operating systems, sometimes interchangeably.

This has a profound effect on mobile app development. Mobile apps will not only need to be available on a given user’s preferred device, but also work consistently across different devices.

Apps also need to deliver value to users and be engaging, which means mobile app development should encompass innovative and unusual areas beyond traditional application development.

Smarter focus on the user

The user comes first. Much emphasis has historically been on aesthetics and look and feel, but this is now shifting to usability, effective interaction and the overall user experience.

To improve usability and engagement, some of this interaction is moving beyond the traditional small mobile screen into virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR).

Although the immersive nature of VR has long appealed, it was AR which had a big boost in 2016 with the popularity of Pokemon Go. Despite sounding similar, VR and AR have entirely different purposes and require completely different thinking from a developer perspective. The impact of AR is likely to be broader than VR as it can be added to so many applications and does not force users to become immersed, but simply assisted as their physical and digital worlds overlap and can therefore be applied to existing mobile devices.

Products in this fast-paced and embryonic area come and go, even large ones such as Nokia’s Here, and there are probably more open source projects than proprietary AR development toolkits, such as ARToolkit and development specialists such as Azoft that can help with the integration of AR. HP’s Aurasma, Blippar and Wikitude provide end-to-end capabilities with maturing software development kits (SDKs) for app developers to use.

Putting mobile into context

It is not only the front end of mobile applications that are changing. At one time, the focus for mobile context revolved around location and the opportunity for location-based services, which in some respects has morphed into appetite for AR. Now there is greater emphasis towards a broader contextual understanding that exploits the sensory reach of the mobile device environment in combination with the power and capacity of big data in the cloud. Combining this with remote capabilities to exploit artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and what is sometimes termed ambient intelligence (AmI).

AmI often makes an appearance as personal assistants and chatbots in many scenarios, but there is no reason why intelligently supported mobile interaction should not be used in mundane activities – simplifying communications overload from email, for example – or enhancing enterprise applications.

Already, Microsoft has integrated its Intellisense into Visual Studio, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently announced Amazon Lex integration. While Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and even Google Now have struggled to gain more than geeky adoption, Amazon’s Alexa has really taken off and is already being touted for business applications. This will have an impact in mobile application development as voice-initiated applications spread.

Emphasis on user experience will often benefit from an agile approach to software development, with prototyping and user involvement as early as possible. Rapid prototyping and citizen development where non-programmers can turn business ideas into mobile applications shifts the attention to quickly generating value. There are a number of “low code” or “no code” platforms targeted at non-technical app builders, which use a mix of rapid prototyping and cloud-based back-end services, such as Appery.io, MobileSmith, K2, Kony’s Visualiser, Mercato KnowledgeKube, Mendix and OutSystems. These approaches make it easier to match functionality with need, and free up time for others to address some of the more technical development challenges.

Engineering the mobile experience

Despite all of the gloss required to make mobile applications engaging, they must still be engineered to work on a range of devices – producing applications that run effectively across multiple platforms is the eternal developer challenge. Mobile makes life harder with the range of device types and operating systems, limited and variable-sized screen real estate, intermittent network connection and user expectations of a simpler experience.

Managing a series of different variants for different platforms is a challenge. While universal “write once, run anywhere” platforms such as Java have been around for some time, the reality is a little more complex. Not only do operating systems and platform application programming interfaces (APIs) vary, but native programming languages do too; Java on Android, Objective C on IoS (although Apple’s new language, Swift, will grow this year) and C++ on Windows Mobile. However, there are four primary mechanisms through which mobile cross-platform development can be easily achieved: mobile-styled web apps, hybrid apps, cross-compiled apps and back end as a service.

• Mobile-styled web app: With a far more settled HTML5 standard, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets, and tools such as Sencha, this is a quick way to blur across the differences in platforms, but ultimately not as functional as alternatives and with less control for the developer.

• Hybrid app: An expedient combination of native and web development approaches, originally popularised by PhoneGap, where a lightweight native app launches an embedded browser. The open source Apache Cordova is the common starting point for PhoneGap but also for other hybrid tools such as Telerik and Ionic.

• Cross-compiled app: Here, products such as Xamarin (owned by Microsoft), Appcelerator or 5App enable developers to write code in one language and then convert to native code for the target mobile devices. Native is best for ultimate performance – generally vital for gaming, less so for most enterprise apps – and it also gives complete access to the features and functionality of the underlying platform. Others, such as RubyMotion, use Ruby and then compile into native applications.

• Back end as a service: This is a relatively recent trend, to offload much more business logic into the cloud. Some, such as Kai, AnyPresence or Kumulos, will work well for independent developers. Others, like Kinvey, are targeted at the enterprise. Among the larger cloud players there is also AWS with its Mobile Hub and Lambda, Google has CloudFunctions, and IBM’s serverless initiative with OpenWhisk.

While focus on the mobile user is important, and may now be a primary rather than secondary focus, many enterprises will require applications to function well across desktop as well as mobile device platforms. While there are many low-cost, open source and specific mobile-first and mobile-only tools, there are also more fully functional enterprise development platforms to consider, from Kony, Pega ApplicationMobility Platform (formerly Antenna) and the SAP Mobile Platform. These offer complete environments for development, delivery and management of mobile applications.

Making time for testing

The huge number of devices and operating systems variants with associated emulators creates challenges for testing, especially as users are unforgiving of problems and will quickly ditch underperforming apps. Software testing is often a bit of an afterthought in any event, especially when there is pressure to get quickly to market, and to be done properly testing needs to be carried out on real devices, not just emulators.

The only realistic way to do this is to automate as much as possible. Service providers offer one route, such as SauceLabs’ TestObject, Perfecto Mobile and Xamarin with its Test Cloud, offering cloud-based access to large numbers of real mobile devices. For those looking for automation to record a test process and then run it across different devices and languages, there are open source tools, plus offerings such as Sigos, Ranorex and Experitest’s SeeTest.

As well as functional testing, it is just as important to test the user experience, and often this can only be done in conjunction with users once the app has been at least partially released “into the wild”. This might include recruiting users into a usability or beta test programme with tools like Userlytics, Appsee and Applause, or viewing their facial and vocal reactions while they are using the app with something like UserZoom or Lookback.

There is also security testing, and the software vulnerability scanners have been adapting for mobile code, and additional services such as Veracode’s Mars (mobile app reputation service).

Delivering a seamless experience

Mobile applications have come a long way in the 20 years since the appearance of the Nokia Snake game. There are not only functionality and performance gains, there are new commercial models that have transformed what applications have become – less of a point product and more an element of a service.

Apple’s “there’s an app for that” slogan highlights the ubiquity of mobile, while Android’s “be together, not the same” indicates that there is commonality, despite variations in devices. Users expect a seamless and universal experience, but mobile app developers know they will need a lot of help along the way to deliver that.

Rob Bamforth is a principal  analyst at Quocirca.

Credits : Computerweekly

Credits : Computerweekly

Santander bank wants to make its staff more productive through mobile apps, which it will create alongside IBM.

Spanish bank Santander is working with IBM to develop iPhone-based mobile apps for its staff to help them engage better with customers.

IBM is also working with Apple on the project, and a suite of IBM MobileFirst apps will be designed using Apple’s modern programming language, Swift, for 11,000 Apple devices at the bank. These will be used by staff across the corporate, small to medium-sized enterprise (SME), private and retail banking operations.

IBM MobileFirst has mobile application development modules and application management capabilities.

Santander employees will have quick access to up-to-date information on products, services and clients, which the bank expects to help them make better recommendations to customers.

The apps are designed for employees working in Santander’s central offices and the banking network.

Apps will include a tool to help staff measure how they are meeting targets on products, customers and in certain regions. There will also be an app that provides mobile access to metrics to support risk management.

Javier Cuenca, ‎managing director of technology and operations at Santander, said: “Collaborating with IBM will help us accelerate our digital transformation and improve the client experience to anticipate customer needs.”

Every app will be integrated with Santander’s enterprise systems, giving staff quick access to real-time data.

Santander is using IBM’s app design and development model – Mobile at Scale – and plans to roll out the first the set of apps in April 2017. It will develop apps over the next two years.

“Santander is committed to reinventing how it conducts business, beginning with creating ways for bank employees to engage with business customers for an exceptional banking experience,” said Gareth Mackown, European mobile and Apple leader at IBM.