Mobile application development

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Mobile application development is the process by which application software is developed for handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants, enterprise digital assistants or mobile phones. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during manufacturing, downloaded by customers from various mobile software distribution platforms, or delivered as web applications using server-side or client-side processing (e.g. JavaScript) to provide an "application-like" experience within a Web browser. Application software developers also have to consider a lengthy array of screen sizes, hardware specifications and configurations because of intense competition in mobile software and changes within each of the platforms.[1] Mobile app development has been steadily growing, both in terms of revenues and jobs created. A 2013 analyst report estimates there are 529,000 direct App Economy jobs within the EU 28 members, 60% of which are mobile app developers.[2]

As part of the development process, Mobile User Interface (UI) Design is also an essential in the creation of mobile apps. Mobile UI considers constraints & contexts, screen, input and mobility as outlines for design. The user is often the focus of interaction with their device, and the interface entails components of both hardware and software. User input allows for the users to manipulate a system, and device's output allows the system to indicate the effects of the users' manipulation. Mobile UI design constraints include limited attention and form factors, such as a mobile device's screen size for a user's hand(s). Mobile UI contexts signal cues from user activity, such as location and scheduling that can be shown from user interactions within a mobile application. Overall, mobile UI design's goal is primarily for an understandable, user-friendly interface. The UI of mobile apps should: consider users' limited attention, minimize keystrokes, and be task-oriented with a minimum set of functions. This functionality is supported by Mobile enterprise application platforms or Integrated development environments (IDEs).

Mobile UIs, or front-ends, rely on mobile back-ends to support access to enterprise systems. The mobile back-end facilitates data routing, security, authentication, authorization, working off-line, and service orchestration. This functionality is supported by a mix of middleware components including mobile app servers, Mobile Backend as a service (MBaaS), and SOA infrastructure.

Platform[edit]

Most of the platforms for mobile applications also have an integrated development environment, which provides tools to allow a developer to write, test and deploy applications into the target platform environment.

The following table summarizes the elements in each of the development environments.

Platform Programming language Debuggers available Emulator available Integrated development environment available Cross-platform deployment Installer packaging options Development tool cost Development platform(s) (e.g. Mac, Windows, etc.)
Adobe AIR ActionScript, HTML, CSS, JavaScript Yes Yes Flash Builder, Flash Professional, IntelliJ IDEA iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, BlackBerry The native distribution format of each platform Flash Builder, Flash Professional, IntelliJ IDEA - Commercial licenses available Adobe AIR SDK (command line tool) - Free
Android Java but portions of code can be in C, C++ Debugger integrated in Eclipse, standalone debugging monitor available Yes Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, Project Kenai Android plugin for NetBeans Android only, because of Dalvik VM, March 2009 apk Free, IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition - Free
App Inventor for Android Visual blocks-based programming language, with Interface designer Limited debugging tools built into IDE Yes Web-based interface designer, with connection to Java web-start program for blocks programming Android devices apk free
Appception HTML, CSS, JavaScript Yes Yes Cloud-based IDE Android, iOS The native distribution format of each platform Free and Commercial Licenses available
Appcelerator JavaScript Yes, in Titanium Studio. Emulator is available using native emulators Titanium Studio based on Eclipse Android, iPhone; BlackBerry, Tizen, mobile web The native distribution format of each platform Free / Open Sourced Apache 2.0 licensed, commercial and enterprise licenses available
Appear IQ Mobile Web Apps (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript), Native Apps Java,Objective-C, C#.NET/VB.NET for Windows Phone Yes Mobile simulator available Any IDE Android, iOS, Windows/Windows Phone The native distribution format of each platform Free to try, Commercial and Enterprise licenses available
Appery.io HTML, JavaScript, CSS, jQueryMobile, PhoneGap Yes. Using browser debug tooling Yes. Browser-based, and native test app for iOS and Android Cloud-based development platform Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mobile web The native distribution format of each platform Free & commercial plans available
Basic4android Visual Basic similar syntax Yes Emulator is available using native emulators Proprietary IDE Android The native distribution format of each platform Commercial licenses available
BlackBerry Java Debugger integrated in IDE Yes Eclipse, BlackBerry JDE BlackBerry only, because of RIM API alx, cod Free
BREW C; the APIs are provided in C with a C++ style interface Debugger support for the native ARM target code. Can use Visual Studio to debug the x86 testing code No Emulator for the target ARM code, has a simulator for the x86 testing code Visual Studio 6.0, Visual Studio 2003 .NET, Visual Studio 2005 Compile for the specific BREW version available on the handset OTA Related dev fees typically needed for Brew App Certification - VeriSign annual fee for becoming a certified developer. Realview ARM compiler for BREW (the free GNU C/C++ is available, but with limited function and support). TRUE BREW testing fee for distributing the application.
Codename One Java Yes Yes Eclipse, Netbeans Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, J2ME The native distribution format of each platform Open Source GPLv2 and subscription-based build server
Convertigo Mobilizer MEAP HTML, CSS, JavaScript Yes Any web development debugger such as Chrome/Safari or Firefox Yes Web-based emulator Eclipse-based IDE, shipped as standalone or Eclipse Plugin Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile The native distribution format of each platform Open Source Affero GPL licence, free Community edition, or subscription-based Enterprise Editions
Corona SDK Lua Yes Yes Xcode iOS, Android, NOOK Color Native deployment for each platform Free unlimited trial; commercial licenses available for deployment
DragonRAD Visual drag & drop tiles Yes Uses 3rd party emulators Proprietary IDE Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile OTA deployment Free & commercial licenses available
DSI - Data Systems International, Inc. DSI Application Studio - flowchart based tool designed for business analysts to build and deploy mobile applications Yes Yes Proprietary IDE - Graphical drag and drop design studio iOS 4+, Android 2.0+, Windows Mobile 6+, Blackberry 4.5+, Windows Desktop 7+ The native distribution format of each platform Commercial licenses available
Firefox OS HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Yes No, but simulator available. Firefox browser, Firebug Web browser on other platform Firefox Marketplace, Web URL Development requires Mozilla Firefox and the simulator add-on
GeneXus for Mobile and Smart Devices Knowledge Representation and Declarative Modeling for easy development, then code is automatically generated for each platform No Publish in the Cloud, test native in the device (No emulator required) Proprietary IDE Android, Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad), BlackBerry and even HTML5 if desired The native distribution format of each platform and also Cloud/browser-based Free to try, Commercial and Enterprise licenses available
HP Anywhere HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript Yes, Mobile Browser Simulator Yes, use browser-based Emulator Eclipse Plugin, Eclipse Based Stand-alone, IntelliJ Plugin, Any IDE using command-line interface iOS, Android, Windows 8 Desktop and Tablets, Mobile Web App, Desktop Browser Web Page The native distribution format of each platform Developer edition free, Commercial License for deployment
IBM Worklight HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and Native SDK Languages w/ Native Worklight API Yes, Mobile Browser Simulator or integration with Native SDK Debugger Emulator is available using native emulators or Browser Simulator w/ Cordova Plugin Eclipse Plugin, Eclipse Based Stand-alone iOS, BlackBerry 6,7, & 10, Android, Windows Phone 7.5 & 8, Windows 8 Desktop and Tablets,Adobe AIR, Mobile Web App, Desktop Browser Web Page The native distribution format of each platform Developer edition free via Eclipse Marketplace, Commercial License for deployment
Intel XDK HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and Node-Webkit back-end Yes Yes Stand-alone, bundled with IDE Android, iOS, Windows 8, Amazon, Facebook, Chrome, Nook, Firefox Marketplace and Tizen The native distribution format of each platform Free
iOS SDK Objective-C Debugger integrated in Xcode IDE Bundled with iPhone SDK, integrated with Xcode IDE Xcode, AppCode iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Only via App Store, needs review and approval by Apple Inc. Apple tools are free for an Intel-based Mac. Simulator testing is free, but installing on a device needs a fee for a developer signing key. AppCode - Commercial licenses available.
iOS SDK Object Pascal Debugger integrated in Xcode IDE Included in Delphi XE2 professional or higher Embarcadero Delphi XE2 iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Only via App Store, needs review and approval by Apple Inc. Development requires Intel-based Mac besides the IDE on Windows. Design is on Windows, Compilation and deployment has to be done on Mac. Simulator testing is free, but installing on a device needs a fee for a developer signing key
Java ME Java Yes Free emulator, Sun Java Wireless Toolkit, mpowerplayer Eclipse, LMA NetBeans Mobility Pack Yes although many VM implementations have device specific bugs necessitating separate builds Jad/Jar packaging; PRC files under Palm OS Free
Kony Javascript Yes, Complete debugging and testing Yes, Integrated native emulators Non-proprietary IDE iOS 3+, Android 2.0+, Windows Mobile 6+, Blacberry 4.5+, Symbian, J2ME The native distribution format of each platform Commercial and enterprise licenses available
Lazarus Object Pascal Yes, can debug in IDE via ActiveSync for Windows CE Uses the emulators of the platforms Lazarus IDE, including integrated GUI designer and debugger Compiled language available for Windows CE, Linux-based devices, SymbianOS port in development The native distribution format of each platform Free
LambdaNative Scheme No No, but can build and test on the localhost Eclipse (software) (optional) All native binaries: iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, OpenBSD, OpenWrt The native distribution format of each platform Free (BSD license)
M2Active by Service2Media Lua Java language originally from gaming industry Yes, in M2Active IDE. Native emulator are available M2Active based on Eclipse Android Phone & Tablet, iOS Phone and tablet; BlackBerry, Windows Phone, J2ME, The native distribution format of each platform Enterprise licenses available
Macromedia Flash Lite ActionScript Yes Bundled with IDE Macromedia Flash MX2004/8, Eclipse Yes SIS / CAB deployment or OTA/IR/Bluetooth SWF files Varies, free but limited with MTASC
Marmalade C, C++ Yes Yes Visual Studio, Xcode All native: Android, BlackBerry, BREW, iOS (iPhone), Maemo, Palm/webOS, Samsung bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile 6.x and desktop, OSX The native distribution format of each platform Commercial licenses available
Meme IDE MemeScript Validation is provided in the problems view Yes, Android emulator can be integrated Eclipse RCP Android, Windows Mobile The native distribution format if each platform Free for development
Mendix HTML5, Java Yes Yes Yes, The Mendix App Platform All platforms, mobile apps are browser-based Not applicable, Mendix is a Platform as a Service Commercial licenses available
Metismo Java Yes Yes Eclipse Java ME, Android, BREW, BlackBerry, Nintendo DS, iOS (iPhone/iPad), Palm/webOS, Sony PSP, Samsung bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Windows Desktop, OSX The native distribution format of each platform Commercial licenses available
MobiOne by Genuitec HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, visual drag-n-drop Yes Yes Use any Java IDE for back-end services, integrated MyEclipse soon iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod), Android phones and tablets OTA for device testing and native distribution format of each platform Trial and Commercial licenses available (one time $99)
Mono for Android C# Yes Yes Visual Studio 2005 and MonoDevelop Android The native distribution format of the platform
MonoTouch C# Yes Yes Visual Studio 2005 and MonoDevelop iOS The native distribution format of the platform
MoSync C, C++, Lua, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Yes Yes Eclipse, Visual Studio 2005 and later, MoBuild w/ text editors Android, Java ME, Moblin, iOS (iPhone), Smartphone 2003, Symbian, Windows Mobile (Pocket PC), Blackberry (experimental) SIS, CAB, JAD, JAR, APK, OTA deployment Free, GPL 2.0, Free Indie Subscription; commercial subscription available
Mulberry HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Yes No, 3rd party tools No, 3rd party tools Android, iOS, Mobile Web The native distribution format of each platform, OTA deployment, Free
.NET Compact Framework C#, VB.NET, Basic4ppc Yes Free emulator, source code available, also bundled with IDE Visual Studio 2008, 2005, 2003, Basic4ppc IDE Windows Mobile, Windows CE, Symbian-based devices via third party tools OTA deployment, CAB files, ActiveSync Most tools free, but commercial editions of Visual Studio needed for visual designers
NME Haxe (similar to Actionscript and Java) Yes Yes IntelliJ IDEA, FlashDevelop iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, BlackBerry Playbook, WebOS, HTML5, Flash, Windows (exe), Linux The native distribution format of each platform Free
OpenPlug ActionScript, XML Yes Yes OpenPlug ELIPS plugin for Adobe Flash Builder Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Symbian, Windows Mobile The native distribution format of each platform Free & commercial licenses available
OpenMEAP HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript Debugger integrated in Eclipse and Xcode Emulator is available using native emulators Xcode, Eclipse iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, BlackBerry The native distribution format of each platform Open Source LGPL license
OutSystems OutSystems, CSS, JavaScript Yes Test directly in browser OutSystems Service Studio Andoid, iOS devices and WindowsPhone 7 NA Free Community Edition for personal use, and subscription licensing for commercial use
Palm OS C, C++, Pascal Yes OS 1.0 - 4.1: Free Emulator provided by PalmSource (Access); OS 5.0: - 5.4 Device-specific Simulators provided by Palm (palmOne) Palm OS Development System (Eclipse), CodeWarrior, PocketStudio, HB++, Satellite Forms Palm OS handhelds, or Windows Mobile with StyleTap emulator PRC files, PalmSource Installer (.psi) Free (POSE or GCC for Palm OS), or commercial (CodeWarrior), or various commercial rapid-development frameworks
PhoneGap & Apache Cordova HTML, CSS, JavaScript Yes No, 3rd party tools No, 3rd party tools iPhone, Android, Tizen, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian, Palm, Bada The native distribution format of each platform Apache 2
Python Python Yes Add-on to Nokia Emulator Several, including plugins for Eclipse Interpreted language available natively only on Nokia Series60 (and desktops) though ports exist to other mobile platforms, including Palm OS Sis deployment with py2sis or can use Python Runtime Free
Qt SDK C++, QML Yes Yes Qt Creator Symbian platform, Maemo, MeeGo, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Android (Technology Preview), iOS (Technology Preview) The native distribution format of each platform Free & commercial licenses available
Rhomobile Ruby with HTML interface features compiled through an interpreter into native applications. Yes N/A, applications can run in Win32 runner, or in device emulators for supported platforms. Xcode or Eclipse, on-demand RhoHub version includes full IDE Yes, supports iOS (incl. 3.0) on iPhone and iPad, Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, Mobile Windows 6.0 Standard, BlackBerry 4.6, 4.7, 5.0, 6.0 (BlackBerry 4.2 and 4.5 supported but database access is very slow on these devices), Symbian and Android 1.6 and higher OTA deployment, iOS through App store, .SIS, .CAB, .APK, .COD Rhodes is free and open source under the MIT License, RhoSync is under GPL or commercial, Commercial support available. Subscription for RhoHub
RubyMotion Ruby Yes Yes Any text editor. As an IDE, RubyMine. iOS and Android The native distribution format of the platform RubyMotion is a commercial product.
Sencha Touch HTML, CSS, JavaScript Yes Yes Sencha Architect 2 iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, Kindle, BlackBerry, Bada Web delivered, or hybrid via native shells for each platform GPLv3, Free Commercial License, Paid OEM and Embedded Systems Licenses
Smartface WYSIWYG design editor with JavaScript code editor Yes Yes Smartface IDE and SDK Yes: Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Kindle, Gear, Google Glass The native distribution format of each platform Community license and commercial licenses available
Stencyl Drag-and-drop editor based on MIT Scratch, Objective-C Yes Yes Xcode iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) The native distribution format of each platform. Free and commercial development licenses.
Symbian C++ Yes Free Emulator Many choices Compile per target SIS deployment Commercial and free tools available
TD Mobile HTML5, High Level Event Actions, JavaScript, SAL .NET Compiler Yes Yes TD Mobile IDE Web-based apps available through mobile web browser Web URL Commercial licenses available, free deployment
Tizen Web-based: HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Native: C, C++ Yes Free Emulator Tizen SDK Web-based app to be available on web browser Tizen through App store, Web URL Development requires Windows or Mac OS X or Ubuntu Desktop
Ubuntu Touch Web-based: HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Native: QML, C, C++ Yes Yes Ubuntu SDK HTML5 app to be available web browser. Ubuntu Touch through App store, Web URL Development requires Ubuntu Desktop 12.04 or higher, Free
Unity C#, JavaScript, Boo, other .NET-based languages Yes Remote used to simulate device interaction before app is uploaded to the device. Unity Editor, also works with Visual Studios and MonoDevelop. Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad), PC, Mac, desktop browser, XBOX360, PS3, Wii. BlackBerry Playbook, Nokia Symbian, Roku 2 and others available through company's Union program. The native distribution format of each platform. Free and commercial development licenses.
ViziApps WYSIWYG, Graphical Drag and Drop Yes Test right in browser or device Online design studio Android and iOS devices, Windows Phone planned The native distribution format of each platform. Free to design, test and demo app. Costs to publish an app. Free to update apps.
WebORB Integration Server C#, VB.NET, Java, PHP, ActionScript, JavaScript, Objective-C, XML Yes Uses emulator for corresponding mobile SDKs Works with Eclipse, Visual Studio, intelliJ IDEA and Amethyst IDE Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad), BlackBerry Playbook, Windows Phone7 The native distribution format of each platform Free development licenses; Free and Commercial deployment licenses
webOS JavaScript, CSS, HTML, C and C++ through the PDK Yes Free emulator Eclipse webOS, Palm only OTA deployment, webOS through App store, Web URL, Precentral, .ipk Free
WinDev Mobile WLanguage Yes Yes WinDev Mobile iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, Windows Store Apps The native distribution format of each platform Free to try, Commercial and Enterprise licenses available
Windows Mobile C, C++ Yes Free emulator (source code available), also bundled with IDE Visual Studio 2010, 2008, 2005, eMbedded VC++ (free), Satellite Forms Windows Mobile, Windows FU, Windows CE OTA deployment, CAB files, ActiveSync Free command-line tools or eMbedded VC++, or Visual Studio (Standard edition or better)
Windows Phone C#, Visual Basic, C, C++ Yes Free emulator, also bundled with IDE Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2010 Windows Phone OTA deployment, XAP files

Criteria for selecting a development platform usually contains the target mobile platforms, existing infrastructure and development skills. When targeting more than one platform with cross-platform development it is also important to consider the impact of the tool on the user experience. Performance is another important criteria, as research on mobile applications indicates a strong correlation between application performance and user satisfaction. To aid the choice between native and cross-platform environments, some guidelines and benchmarks have been published.[3]

Mobile application testing[edit]

Mobile applications are first tested within the development environment using emulators and later subjected to field testing. Emulators provide an inexpensive way to test applications on mobile phones to which developers may not have physical access. The following are examples of tools used for testing application across the most popular mobile operating systems.

  • Google Android Emulator

Google Android Emulator is an Android emulator that is patched to run on a Windows PC as a standalone app, without having to download and install the complete and complex Android SDK. It can be installed and Android compatible apps can be tested on it.

  • The official Android SDK Emulator

The official Android SDK Emulator includes a mobile device emulator which mimics all of the hardware and software features of a typical mobile device (without the calls).

  • MobiOne

MobiOne Developer is a mobile Web IDE for Windows that helps developers to code, test, debug, package and deploy mobile Web applications to devices such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and the Palm Pre.

  • TestiPhone

TestiPhone is a web browser-based simulator for quickly testing iPhone web applications. This tool has been tested and works using Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 and Safari 3.

  • iPhoney

iPhoney gives a pixel-accurate web browsing environment and it is powered by Safari. It can be used while developing web sites for the iPhone. It is not an iPhone simulator but instead is designed for web developers who want to create 320 by 480 (or 480 by 320) websites for use with iPhone.iPhoney will only run on Mac OS X 10.4.7 or later.

  • BlackBerry Simulator

There are a variety of official BlackBerry simulators available to emulate the functionality of actual BlackBerry products and test how the BlackBerry device software, screen, keyboard and trackwheel will work with application.

  • Windows UI Automation

To test applications that use the Microsoft UI Automation technology, it requires Windows Automation API 3.0. It is pre-installed on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions of Windows. On other operating systems, you can install using Windows Update or download it from the Microsoft Web site.

Tools[edit]

  • eggPlant: A GUI-based automated test tool for mobile application across all operating systems and devices.
  • Ranorex: Test automation tools for mobile, web and desktop apps.
  • Testdroid: Real mobile devices and test automation tools for testing mobile and web apps.

Application stores[edit]

Several initiatives exist both from mobile vendor and mobile operators around the world. Application developers can propose and publish their applications on the stores, being rewarded by a revenue sharing of the selling price. An example is Apple's App Store, where only approved applications may be distributed and run on iOS devices (otherwise known as a walled garden). There are approximately 700,000 iOS Applications. Google's Android Market (now known as the "Play Store") has a large number of apps running on devices with Android OS. HP / Palm, Inc have also created the Palm App Catalog where HP / Palm, Inc webOS device users can download applications directly from the device or send a link to the application via a web distribution method. Mobile operators such as Telefonica Group and Telecom Italia have launched cross-platform application stores for their subscribers. Additionally, mobile phone manufacturers such as Nokia has launched Ovi app store for Nokia smartphones. Some independent companies, namely Amazon Appstore, Aptoide and GetJar, have created their own third-party platforms to reach more users in different locations. The Windows Phone Marketplace had more than 100,000+ apps available as of 7-11-2012 .

Patents[edit]

There are many patents applications pending for new mobile phone apps. Most of these are in the technological fields of Business methods, Database management, Data transfer and Operator interface.[4]

On May 31, 2011, Lodsys asserted two of its four patents: U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 ("the '565 patent") on a "customer-based design module" and U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 ("the '078 patent") on "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network." against the following application developers:[5]

  • Combay
  • Iconfactory
  • Illusion Labs
  • Shovelmate
  • Quickoffice
  • Richard Shinderman of Brooklyn, New York
  • Wulven Game Studios of Hanoi, Vietnam

See also[edit]

References[edit]