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Introduction to Mobile Applications Development

Lesson 1.

Networked computers. Connected devices. Mobile devices. Machine-to-machine (M2M). On-the-Go (OTG). Portable computing. Smart services. The list goes on and on. The terminology used to describe machines that send data to other machines seems to change every day. With all of these different types of devices that are seemingly similar, it’s easy to confuse them.

Android is certainly not the only operating system used on devices in today’s markets. Various mobile operating systems have existed, and many are still in competition with Android.


Competition in the Mobile Space

The Android operating system is a very popular choice among consumers in the current commercial market. Over 400 million Android devices are in use today. But Android is not the only choice, nor was it the first mobile operating system implemented. There are several additional mobile operating systems, including iOS from Apple, MeeGo from Intel and Nokia, Windows Phone from Microsoft, and so on. There are many differences in the implementation of these operating systems and many diverse reasons that these platforms are used. This section provides a light overview of these other mobile operating systems, by discussing their strengths and weaknesses.


iOS

Developed and distributed by Apple, Inc., iOS was originally released in 2007 on the original iPhone and iPod Touch. Next to Android, iOS is currently the closest competitor in market share for the mobile OS space.

Overview

Unlike Android, iOS has been a closed source since its inception and has been released on a limited number of platforms. Each new version of iOS includes new iOS devices developed and manufactured primarily by Apple. iOS is based loosely on OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system, which in turn is partially based on the UNIX operating system. (OSX and Linux, and therefore iOS and Android, share a common developmental ancestor in BSD Unix, an open-source UNIX operating system variant developed and released by the University of California, Berkeley).


BlackBerry

Sometimes referred to as the original smartphone, the BlackBerry was introduced in 2003. The original BlackBerry featured a small color screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, a trackball, and a camera. Similar to Apple’s practice, BlackBerry devices are developed and manufactured in-house by Research in Motion (RIM), which was renamed BlackBerry in early 2013. The original marketing goal of BlackBerry was to create devices for the average businessperson. This focus included the ability to check e-mails, access the Internet, and set up meetings easily and efficiently.


Windows Phone

Developed by Microsoft as the successor to Windows Mobile, Windows Phone is the fourth major competitor in the mobile operating system space. Windows Phones hit the consumer market in November of 2010, and unlike Windows Mobile, were aimed away from the enterprise markets. Windows Phone has a much different layout than the traditional smartphone user interface. Microsoft has placed a lot of focus on ease of use, and connectivity with existing Windows services, such as Windows Live.


Symbian

Previously called Symbian OS, Symbian was developed by Accenture, one of the largest consulting and technology services firms in the world, for Nokia. Symbian features include various applications, multitouch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and multitasking capabilities.


MeeGo

In February of 2010, Intel and Nokia at Mobile World Congress announced their latest adventure, MeeGo. MeeGo is a Linux-based, open source operating system targeted at a wide range of mobile devices. MeeGo was designed to run on lower performance devices such as netbooks, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, and various other embedded systems. MeeGo featured a user interface very similar to Android with an assortment of applications. In September of 2011, the MeeGo project was canceled and the Intel team brought their experience and skills to Tizen, a new joint project between Intel and Samsung.


Android

So what exactly is Android? Android OS is the open source technology stack that runs on over 400 million devices worldwide. This technology stack consists of various components that allow developers and device manufacturers to work independently.

This can be broken into five primary pieces—applications, application frameworks,

native libraries, Android runtime, and the Linux kernel.


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The Mobile Market: Trends

Although no guarantee can be made for the future, visible trends can help predict where the market will go next. The mobile space is no exception to these trends; in fact, in some cases they are even more easily recognizable. The connection between mobile devices

and their users is an evolving situation that is creating a world of new possibilities. This “cyber fiber” allows users to be connected to the world around them at all times.


Location

Most modern devices have some sort of GPS or other method of locating where you are in the world. Many of the more popular applications have utilized this feature to encourage users to use their devices on the go. Whether you are checking the current temperature, tagging your location in a Facebook update, or trying to find your way back home, location services are being used more and more frequently.

With the release of iOS 5, Apple introduced location to its core operating system. For example, when you pass by a certain location, your mobile device can remind you that you need to pick up groceries. The appeal of this feature is obvious—instead of having to think of a specific time, you can now be reminded the next time you pass a drugstore that you need to pick up more aspirin. Building location features into applications is a current hot button for developers in all areas of smartphone development.


Current Mobile Uses

With Android, and all of the other operating systems, users have what feels like unlimited options for what to do with their mobile devices. But how are consumers using their devices, and how much time do they spend on them? Of all smartphone owners, about 59 percent spend more than 30 minutes every day using web applications and utilities on their smartphones. However, the percentage of people actually communicating over phone calls and texting during a 30-minute period each day is much lower, at 32 percent. As our phones’ applications have gotten richer, there has been a shift from old forms of communication like phone calls to newer social

messaging formats such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.


Commerce

Since mobile devices can do practically anything a laptop or home computer can do, it was only a matter of time until mobile devices were used directly for commerce. Whether it’s buying new products from Amazon, purchasing applications from an App Store, or buying tickets for the game on Sunday, mobile devices have become a way to purchase goods and services on the go.

The mobile commerce market is in its infancy. Experts believe that the amount we spend from our phones will increase from just under a billion U.S. dollars to well over 1 tillion by 2020.

Therefore, we encourage you to build apps...apps is the way to the future.


...to be continued


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