What lies beneath … a mobile app

3 min reading
What lies beneath … a mobile app


Market opportunities for mobile applications are huge, as data shows. It is estimated that 80% of the time a person is using a smartphone, it is dedicated to use or download apps, according to Computing magazine. Specifically, in Spain, the European country with the highest penetration of smartphones, 94% of the users of mobile devices have downloaded apps – this is a 23% growth in 2013 over the previous year, according to a study conducted by Ametic and Accenture.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that this trend is boosting an increase of mobile app developers. If you're one of them, the first thing you have to think about is the number of mobile application platforms that exist in the market, such as iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone, among the most popular. For this reason, although it is a good idea to develop an application for a particular operating system, to maximize the success of your app it would be advisable to make it compatible with most platforms. There are a variety of techniques such as HTML5 (which is a good option) compatible with most mobile platforms that give you the ability to build native and rich mobile apps.

Step by step

  1. First of all, start by trying to conceptualize the application you want to create. The apps most valued by users are those with intuitive designs, easy to use and with access to information of interest.

  2. Think also about taking advantage of the standard features included in today’s mobile devices, such as camera, touchscreen, GPS, microphone and voice search, as explained in a whitepaper published by Motorola with best practices for creating mobile apps. According to this document, the best applications take advantage of these features, using for example the touch screen to zoom the app or the GPS to locate any information on a map.

  3. Seek to let the users browse the application without entering data through the keyboard, which is usually small and uncomfortable. Try adding alternative elements such as buttons, for example.

  4. Ensure that the application can be enjoyed both in online and offline mode. Users value this aspect, as Motorola indicates in the study.

  5. You must be able to apply changes and updates to your application from the backend. Neither companies nor users will tolerate a failure. This is the reason why only a few developers have been successful, thanks to the update of their apps and a personalised approach to users, communicating and making changes remotely.

Time to develop

Once you've taken these aspects into account, it's time to know more about the development process. As we have already mentioned, you have many resources at your disposal to create mobile applications. On this occasion, however, we are going to concentrate on HTML5.

Within the HTML5 world we find several platforms, like phoneGap or its free version, Cordova. We mention them because with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript code these development platforms allow you to export the application you create to different mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Ubuntu, Windows Phone, among others) and publish it their respective markets. Moreover, phoneGap allows you to use Adobe's cloud, enabling a more integrated management and automation of the app in different platforms.

As development environments within the HTML5 world, to create mobile applications it is convenient to use Aptana, Netbeans, Android Studio, or Eclipse with ADT plugins. As JavaScript libraries and to work in the layout or edit HTML and CSS, you can use the already mentioned phoneGap or Cordova. Also, it should be noted that jQuery has a demo version to make layouts easily called Query Mobile ThemeRoller.

Hence, to get started with your development a smart choice would be to use NetBeans, jQuery Mobile and AngularJS, and for the layout and editing of HTML, Photoshop, always with the phoneGap API as a reference.

On the negative side, we have to say that if we compare the development of mobile applications using HTML5 with the development of native apps on mobile platforms themselves, with the HTML5 option the contact with the phone's hardware is lost, depending only on functions that are developed in the API that we have chosen. However, developing with HTML5 allows you to virtualize or simulate the apps as if they were inside mobile devices. In addition, you should keep in mind that HTML5 is still under development and every month there are new and interesting features, so you can greatly enrich your applications.

Don’t forget to…

When you finish developing an app don’t forget to:

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