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App Development: Getting More Complex

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Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps

Recent news stories have touched on several issues of extreme importance to the app development community. They focused on the ever-shifting views of the relative merits of different approaches to development, emerging ways of customizing apps based on data gathered about the device’s user and, as always, the status of security.

Growth in the mobile app development sector is expected to continue its healthy path. TechNavio suggests that improved customer engagement and satisfaction will result in a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent between last year and 2019, according to a press release on a new report.

The road won’t be a straight one, however. Observers suggest that the more things evolve, the more complex they will become. Matt Asay at ReadWrite dove into the confusing world of Web versus native versus hybrid app development. This has long been an issue. The short answer hasn’t changed: It’s a case-by-case decision. Each approach has its advantages: Web-based apps can fluidly link to anything on the Internet. Native apps work directly off the mobile devices’ operating system and generally present a better experience. Hybrid apps, as the name implies attempt to offer the best of both worlds. There are no simple answers:

Should you build a native app? Maybe. Should you have a responsive website and/or a rich web app? Maybe. Should you privilege Android's reach in emerging markets or iOS's strength with heavy wallets in established markets? Maybe. Should you build for mobile, glanceable moments? Maybe.

Another trend in the mobile development world is the use of machine learning and context to build apps. Quinton Wall at TechCrunch addressed the issue in his report on Apple’s World Wide Developers’ Conference, which was held earlier this month in San Francisco.

The focus is on what Apple’s new programming language can learn about the owner of a device, and how developers can use that data to customize apps for that person:

Thanks in large part to the ease of learning Swift – as compared to Objective-C -, the open sourcing of core libraries, and the ability for developers to create contextual apps on the latest versions of iOS, the opportunity to create apps, which can utilize the proactive features presented during the keynote, to drive employee productivity increases enterprises will likely accelerate, and expand, their native iOS development plans in the year to come.

Security is always part of the conversation. Tom Foremski at ZDNet writes that the fast pace of app development opens significant vulnerabilities. In order to test an app, he writes, each development team – and there may be several at work simultaneously – needs a copy of the production data. This can spell disaster, especially if there is pressure to get the app out the door. Foremski offers a workaround, but the scenario suggests just how dicey app development security can be.

Application development has always been a fun and chaotic category. Those attributes show no signs of fading.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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