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Twilight Recap – Cross Platform Mobile Development

Chris Auld, Intergen’s Chief Technology Officer, provided an insight into the world of cross platform mobile development, giving some tips and advice on how to develop connected, cross-platform mobile applications using Mono and PhoneGap.

Why build a mobile application?

Think about it, do you have someone in your family that owns a smartphone? In fact, can you think of anyone in your extended family who doesn’t have a smartphone?

When you wake up, what’s your first technology interaction each day? For most people, their smartphone is where they access information first and most often - yes, they’ll spend the bulk of their time on a PC, but, from a frequency and overall interactivity point of view mobile devices rule the roost.

Says Chris: “They predicted that smartphones would outsell PC’s by 2012 – it happened in 2011 the prices for smartphones are dropping. You can now have a smartphone for free on a $30 plan which means it’s in reach of pretty much every consumer.”

What kind of online mobile application do I need to build?

There are a number of ways of approaching cross platform mobile, development ranging from creating a simple wrapper around your web site’s HTML, through to using a multi-platform toolkit (such as Mono), to going all out and building a full native app.

Regardless of the technology, you need to start with the basics: what type of business are you and what kind of app are you looking to deploy? Who are your users?

The answers to these questions will help you determine which development approach is the right one to take. For example, cross platform mobile development matters for consumer, public-focused apps, but for an app targeted at the enterprise it may be most cost effective to choose a single mobile platform; in doing so you can buy the devices outright for staff but save the expense of building multiple versions of your app.

Choosing the right platforms to target is also critical to any app project. Chris gave his rule of thumb for this: “You want to target, in priority order, the platforms used by people most likely to use their mobile devices to access your service.”

He also gave some counter-intuitive examples. Blackberry remains a popular platform among business people, but you probably wouldn’t bother targeting an online tax form at Blackberry devices. Why not? Blackberry business users will typically be found in organisations that have finance departments to do their tax returns. On the other hand if you were building a secure viewer for legal documents then you’d expect to see Blackberry towards the top of the list.

Mobile development isn’t simple, but if you have a game plan, do your homework and build it with the right technologies, you can end up with a functional mobile application for your users.

If you're interested to learn more about Chris's Twilight, his slides are below.

Posted by: Rose Harris, Marketing Assistant | 31 May 2012

Tags: Chris Auld, Mobile, Mobile applications

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