Today, the field of mobile application development has emerged as an extremely challenging one. While the possibilities in this field remain endless and vibrant, the practicality of the situation remains that there is a limitation to what can be achieved in this domain. Currently the mobile devices scene is filled with an ample number of gadgets. Mobile application developers find that they have to deal with a plethora of devices such as smartphones, hybrid phone, tablets, and others. Every day, newer and newer devices are being added to the already existing long list of devices, turning mobile application development into a complex reality.
The statistics speak for themselves
According to recent research, the smart phone and tablet related projects now outnumber desktop research projects by 4:1. Additionally, enterprise mobility is expected to reach a global value of $179.3 billion by 2017. The challenge that mobile application developers now face is that of creating valuable and creative applications to fulfill the expectations of their employing companies or their independent clients.
With this approach, their creativity sometimes takes a hit or are possibly running into a plethora of challenges. The extremely exploitative situation created in the market by following the ‘wild exploration’ approach by some mobile application development companies is hard to remedy but is not impossible.
Consumerization of the mobile application landscape
As the mobile application development landscape is increasingly becoming consumerized, it is also increasingly becoming a tough aspect to handle for mobile application developers. Additionally, corporate users are finding existing applications to be unable to meet their existing requirements and demands. At the same time, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept has emerged, which means that corporate users are more often than not using their personal devices to access corporate data.
The challenges that mobile application developers face is now getting even tougher. The fundamental understanding is that user interaction is now shifting from the desktop to the mobile platform. Rather than going for the mobile web, the mobile related needs of the users are currently being met by mobile apps, which means that companies are now rushing in to fill the gaps and provide mobile apps to serve the needs of their customers as well as employers, yet are being unsuccessful in covering the huge spectrum that exists.
Struggle to understand the fast moving mobile landscape
The actual fact is that today’s enterprises are still struggling to understand the fast moving developments in the mobile landscape. The complex nature of the mobile ecosystem is adding to the challenges already faced.
Another troubling aspect that is emerging is that mobile application developers are now required to develop applications that are not only straightforward to use, but also complex enough to compute the requirements of corporate users around the globe.
At the same time, the development environment is becoming complex enough. With the presence of major development platforms the choice is getting tougher between native development tools or cross-platform environments. The choice is getting tougher with newer and newer updates being announced frequently. Many of the developers concerned create apps that cover basic needs and fear to venture deeper into the app development landscape. The actual company that exists (in the physical sense) must also exist in the mobile domain, which means that the businesses should extend to mobile devices as well.
The User Experience challenge
User experience is one of the biggest challenges facing mobile application development and consequently developers. For some mobile apps developers, the mobile screen is just another condensed version of the desktop. However, this is a wrong notion as the pointing device on the mobile screen is the user’s finger, which is very different from the mouse in the case of the desktop. To clarify, both devices have a different approach towards user experience. Any mistakes here could lower the adoption of the mobile application as well as its usage.
Security around mobile devices is fast becoming a major issue. Today, there are so many different versions and different devices in existence that it increases the potential of misuse of the data on it. Vast amounts of information can be accessed on a mobile data, including company data, which can create a lot of privacy issues as well. IT teams are under a lot of pressure to manage mobile security, especially with the BYOD phenomenon.
Companies which are using Mobile Device Management (MDM) to lock down devices are facing flack, since the mobile device is primarily a personal thing, so issues related to privacy and liability are raising their ugly head all over the world. Most employees do not like company control over their personal devices, which is leading to a huge trust deficit between employers and employees. Also the risk of malware, Trojans, or viruses cannot be ignored.
The use of Development Technology
With the emergence of development technology viz. native, web, as well as hybrid, many of the mobile web application developers still struggle to utilize the best technology available for their development project. Not to mention the fact that many developers still go in for a generic approach for their development projects. Also consider the multiple development expenses caused due to the increased device fragmentation and the number of operating system versions now available on the market. Some of the older mobile operating systems do have security flaws, which can create major security issues if not taken care of.
Reliable testing and development processes
Today, the proliferation of so many devices has made testing something of a headache. There are several issues that have cropped up in the past, however, they are outside the purview of this blog at the moment. The need for emulators has risen, but finally, the checks need to be carried out on actual devices to avoid any development issues.
Finally, the time tested desktop approach – the waterfall model – does not seem to apply to mobile application development. Since the mobile landscape has evolved faster than many expected, the agile development model is fast taking stand vis-à-vis other development models in the country.
Images: “Mobile devices, wireless communication technology and internet web concept: business laptop or notebook, tablet computer PC and touchscreen smartphones with application interfaces isolated on white/Shutterstock.com“
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