Mobile application development
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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.
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.)|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|.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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.|
|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.
Mobile application testing
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 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.
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.
- 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.
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 .
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.
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:
- Illusion Labs
- Richard Shinderman of Brooklyn, New York
- Wulven Game Studios of Hanoi, Vietnam
- List of digital distribution platforms for mobile devices
- List of mobile software distribution platforms
- Lazy User Model
- Mobile application management
- Mobile business intelligence
- Mobile computing
- Mobile Device Testing
- Mobile enterprise application platform
- Mobile games
- Mobile Marketing
- Multi-channel app development
- MoSoSo, Mobile Social Software
- On-Device Portal
- WURFL and WALL
- JQuery Mobile
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mobile phones.|
- Software Development Discussion Paper: An overview of mobile development in the context of current technology..
- VisionMobile, Plum Consulting, "European App Economy", September 2013
- Nowotarski et al, “Increasing Allowance Rates by Selectively Targeting Patent Class” IPwatchdog, April 6, 2011
- Florian Meuller, “Lodsys sues 7 app developers in Eastern Texas, disagrees with Apple; Android also targeted”, FOSS Patents blog, May 31, 2011