Hedge your bets when you make your apps mobile
With Mobile World Congress just round the corner, smartphone adoption hitting 50% in the US, and BlackBerry 10 and Jolla soon to join the list of smartphone platforms, what should you be doing if you have a tool you'd like to move to mobile?
Start planning first.
Think you only have two or three platforms to consider with mobile? Leaving aside the perennial argument over whether Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry 10 is going to take third place behind iOS and Android (and ignoring Firefox Mobile, Jolla, and next year's Ubuntu phone for the moment), you still have to think about HTML5 (different on every mobile platform) and cross-platform frameworks (like PhoneGap and Sencha) and engines (like Unity and Marmalade). Or you can use cross-platform tools like Appcelerator and Xamarin that try to take you from development to deployment and management -- something that's more important when you're developing apps to get used inside a business.
Add in all the different SDKs and app development tools you might be using, and there are over 500 options that might be the right one for you. With around 500,000 mobile app developers across the different platforms, that's one developer tool supplier for every 1,000 developers -- which is a sure sign that plenty of those tools won't be around for long.
So how do you pick what to use?
Even if you're creating apps to help you get your job done rather than to make money, Vision Mobile's Developer Economics reports (and the accompanying Developer Economics site) are full of useful insights into what's working for mobile developers. The latest report, out this month, concentrates on what tools mobile developers are using and why -- and the tools that make them the most money translate into the tools that should give you the best results too. (It's also a handy guide to what those 500+ tools actually do.)
If you know your users, or if you're mainly developing for yourself, it may be obvious which mobile platform to develop for first. Developers who are selling applications concentrate on iOS and Android, which have 46% of smartphone marketshare, 98% of handset profits, and 80% of developer attention. Worldwide (the survey behind the report includes Asian developers who are less interested in iOS), 72% of developers are writing for Android, 47% of developers are planning to create apps for Windows Phone, and 15% say they will adopt BlackBerry 10 as their next platform. Bad news for Microsoft: developers still see BlackBerry as a main platform and Windows Phone as a platform they develop for "on the side."
But there's already a strong "third platform" for developers: HTML5.
50% of developers use HTML, either to create mobile web apps or to write HTML code that they wrap to build a hybrid or native app. Half of those consider HTML to be the main platform they develop for; the other half treat it as a way to take an app they make for their main platform to other devices.
Customers have taken control of the buying process, and gone are the days of the carefully crafted marketing message. That means you have to deliver relevant, quality content in the proper context of the customer's situation and device they are using -- and that's a huge challenge for most companies.
Four months after Quip launched on iOS, the company delivers on its promise of an Android app for its eponymous word processor. Today's release comes on the heels of a major update to its Web and iOS apps that finally lets you import Microsoft Word files, a feature the Android version lacks for now. Still, with these two updates, Quip edges closer to its ideal of being a collaborative cross-platform word processor.