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Overcoming the Challenges of Mobile Software Development


In previous posts, we discussed why you should outsource software development and what factors to consider when evaluating development firms. Perhaps the biggest driver behind the increased focus on software development is the need for mobile business applications. If mobility is driving your software development initiative, there are additional factors to consider.


It may seem logical to simply mobilize existing enterprise applications, but it can be difficult to scale these applications to the degree that would be required. Also, the user experience on mobile may fall short of user expectations and business demands.


Native applications often deliver the best user experience because they are built for a specific mobile device and operating system. Developers must create a separate version of the app for each device to be used because the application is installed directly on the device. Because these applications are highly specialized, they require developers with expertise in the particular mobile platform.


On the other hand, mobile web applications are accessed through a browser and can be deployed on multiple devices and operating systems. Using an HTML5 development approach, applications can often be built faster than native apps, and specialized platform expertise isn’t required. A hybrid application combines the user experience of native with the simplicity of mobile web. Most organizations will use all three approaches at some point, depending on what is required in specific use cases.


Whatever approach you choose, mobile software development is particularly challenging for a number of reasons. The primary challenge is delivering a user experience that enables people to do their job better or that meets a specific business or customer need. This means the application must work well on screens that can range from three to 10 inches. How do you make the best use of screen real estate? Will the application’s functionality and layout be equally effective on a smartphone and large tablet? Will it sap the device’s memory or battery life? Is it simple and easy to use?


Security is always a major concern with any mobile-related initiative because various device and operating system architectures require different approaches to security. Encryption is a critical component of security, and IT should be able to remotely wipe application data if devices are lost or stolen. Software developers also must balance user authentication requirements with the users’ general distaste for multiple usernames and passwords. Again, delivering the best possible user experience must be considered during every phase of development.


Another challenge of mobile software development is that new tools, platforms, devices and languages are constantly being introduced. Most IT teams just don’t have the bandwidth to learn and then utilize the latest advancements and products effectively. This is why outsourcing makes so much sense.


ICG’s history with mobile software development dates back to the PDA days, when people poked PalmPilots and similar devices with a stylus. Our developers have a proven track record of success creating customized, strategic business applications that enable more efficient operations and competitive advantages while delivering an optimal user experience. Let us design and implement mobile applications that will help your organization succeed.