Platforms such as iOS and Android revolutionised the mobile phone with the advent of mobiles apps and app stores back in 2008 and gave users the flexibility to turn their devices into something relevant to them.
At first Mobile apps were made available for productivity and information retrieval, this included the likes of email, contacts, calendar, stock market and weather based data. However this soon changed with user demand and the increased accessibility available to developers to access the tools that could drive swift growth into other areas. This was traditionally handled by desktop applications and websites. As with other software segments, the increase in number and variety of mobile apps made user discovery a challenge, this led to the creation of a wide range of review and recommendation sources, including blogs, magazines, and dedicated online app-discovery services. Some companies offer apps as an alternative method to deliver content with certain advantages over an official website.
Mobile App Usage
Usage of mobile apps soon became increasingly widespread across mobile phone users. A 2012 comScore research paper found that during the previous year, more mobile users preferred apps than browsing websites on their devices for the first time. Researchers also found that usage of mobile applications is affected significantly with user context and user's location combined with the time of the day. Market research companies found that over 100 billion apps were downloaded as early as 2013, of which 91% of them were free. By 2015, the Google Play and Apple stores alone generated $5 billion of revenue!
Development of Mobile Apps
Developing apps for mobile devices requires considering the constraints and features of these devices. Mobile devices run on battery and have less powerful processors than personal computers and also have more features such as location detection and cameras. Developers also have to consider a wide array of screen sizes, hardware specifications and configurations because of intense competition in mobile software and changes within each of the platforms (although these issues can be overcome with mobile device detection).
Mobile application development requires use of specialized integrated development environments. Mobile apps are first tested within the development environment using emulators and later subjected to field testing. Emulators provide an inexpensive way to test applications on mobile phones to which developers may not have physical access.
Mobile user interface (UI) Design is also essential. Mobile UI considers constraints and contexts, screen, input and mobility as outlines for design. The user is often the focus of interaction with their device, and the interface entails components of both hardware and software. User input allows for the users to manipulate a system, and device's output allows the system to indicate the effects of the users' manipulation.
Mobile Application Design
Mobile User Interface design has constraints which include limited attention and form factors, such as a mobile device's screen size for a user's hand. Mobile UI contexts signal cues from user activity, such as location and scheduling that can be shown from user interactions within a mobile application. Overall, mobile UI design's goal is primarily for an understandable, user-friendly interface.