A recent IDC forecast of shipments of tablets and smartphones predicts that by 2017 87% of connected device sales will be tablets and smartphones. More specifically the forecast predicts that 5-inch devices will take the lead, followed by 7 and 9-inch tablets. Computer sales meanwhile are slowing down and the sales forecast is not encouraging.
These forecasts underscore the direction that enterprises should focus their efforts; that is invest in mobile development, connected devices and how to get most out of these investments. More and more businesses adopt the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model, and they have to adjust their infrastructure to support this model. This is not an easy task given the fast pace the connected devices space is moving.
With respect to the line of business applications, enterprises need to start planning how to move them into the mobile space. This could be achieved by building either mobile-enabled web applications or native applications. Each of these options has its pros and cons, and they should be considered carefully; this topic however will be detailed in a future post. The present post will focus on different options available for developing mobile native applications; more specifically we’re going to focus on the three major platforms out there right now: iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
The vendor behind each platform mentioned above has built the tools required to develop native applications for their respective platform: Apple has Xcode and Objective-C, Google has Android SDK and Java, and finally Microsoft has Visual Studio and Microsoft .NET Framework.
Out of the three Apple is the most advanced, having a head-start compared to the other two. The iOS has matured since its release back in 2008 (when was named iPhone OS). Apple has been very keen to deliver state of the art tooling for building applications for the iOS platform, and the Xcode IDE along with the programming language Objective-C has certainly been up to the expectations.
Google has taken a different path with the Android platform, by open-sourcing the OS and adopting Java as the language for building applications. A vast majority of the Android developers did adopt Eclipse IDE as their development platform, using plug-ins and tools provided by Google to this end.
Microsoft is the newest entrant to the mobile market, and their Windows Phone OS is slowly gaining traction among the public application developers, but mostly among the commercial ones. Building applications for this platform relies heavily on their ubiquitous Visual Studio and Microsoft .NET Framework. This makes it very interesting to those business which have already an important investment in the Microsoft .NET platform and tooling.
So, as a business with a big investment in the Microsoft .NET platform the question is how to capitalize on this investment, and build applications not only for the Windows Phone, but for iOS and maybe Android as well. Fortunately, there is answer to this question: Xamarin. Xamarin is a San Francisco, California based software company created in 2011 by Miguel de Icaza one of the creators of cross-plaform tools Mono for Android and MonoTouch. Xamarin further developed these tools and their current offering includes Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android which allows cross-platform development of native mobile applications for Apple iOS and Google Android platforms using C# programming language and Microsoft .NET Framework. As you can imagine these tools are already very popular among .NET developers. For Point Alliance team this seems an obvious approach given our expertise with in the Microsoft .NET space.
The latest addition to the cross-platform mobile development tools list is the Telerik Mobile Application Development Platform. This allows web, hybrid and native development, supported by and end-to-end mobile platform. Telerik is well known for it’s excellent web components suite as well as the Kendo UI suite for web development.
This post is just a brief introduction to the world of mobile development, but please feel free to contact our team if you are interested in find out more about these various options or have a mobile development project idea.