Mobile app

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A mobile application or app is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or watch. Mobile applications often stand in contrast to desktop applications which are designed to run on desktop computers, and web applications which run in mobile web browsers rather than directly on the mobile device.

Contents

Apps were originally intended for productivity assistance such as email, calendar, and contact databases, but the public demand for apps caused rapid expansion into other areas such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, order-tracking, and ticket purchases, so that there are now millions of apps available. Many apps require Internet access. Apps are generally downloaded from app stores, which are a type of digital distribution platforms.

The term "app", short for "application", has since become very popular; in 2010, it was listed as "Word of the Year" by the American Dialect Society. [1]

Apps are broadly classified into three types: native apps, hybrid and web apps. Native applications are designed specifically for a mobile operating system, typically iOS or Android. Web apps are written in HTML5 or CSS and typically run through a browser. Hybrid apps are built using web technologies such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5 and function like web apps disguised in a native container. [2]

Overview

The official US Army mobile app presents the service's technology news, updates and media in a single place Flickr - The U.S. Army - Official Army iPhone app.jpg
The official US Army mobile app presents the service's technology news, updates and media in a single place
An emulation app for the programmable pocket calculator HP-41CX from 1983. Several such apps exist for full-functionally emulating old home computers, game consoles or even mainframe computers from up to several decades ago. Emulator of HP-41CX on iPhone 6s.jpg
An emulation app for the programmable pocket calculator HP-41CX from 1983. Several such apps exist for full-functionally emulating old home computers, game consoles or even mainframe computers from up to several decades ago.

Most mobile devices are sold with several apps bundled as pre-installed software, such as a web browser, email client, calendar, mapping program, and an app for buying music, other media, or more apps. Some pre-installed apps can be removed by an ordinary uninstall process, thus leaving more storage space for desired ones. Where the software does not allow this, some devices can be rooted to eliminate the undesired apps.

Apps that are not preinstalled are usually available through distribution platforms called app stores. These may operated by the owner of the device's mobile operating system, such as the App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store; by the device manufacturers, such as the Galaxy Store and Huawei AppGallery; or by third parties, such as the Amazon Appstore and F-Droid.

Usually, they are downloaded from the platform to a target device, but sometimes they can be downloaded to laptops or desktop computers. Apps can also be installed manually, for example by running an Android application package on Android devices.

Some apps are freeware, while others have a price, which can be upfront or a subscription. Some apps also include microtransactions and/or advertising. In any case, the revenue is usually split between the application's creator and the app store. [3] The same app can, therefore, cost a different price depending on the mobile platform.

Mobile apps were originally offered for general productivity and information retrieval, including email, calendar, contacts, the stock market and weather information. However, public demand and the availability of developer tools drove rapid expansion into other categories, such as those handled by desktop application software packages. As with other software, the explosion in number and variety of apps made discovery a challenge, which in turn led to the creation of a wide range of review, recommendation, and curation sources, including blogs, magazines, and dedicated online app-discovery services. In 2014 government regulatory agencies began trying to regulate and curate apps, particularly medical apps. [4] Some companies offer apps as an alternative method to deliver content with certain advantages over an official website.

With a growing number of mobile applications available at app stores and the improved capabilities of smartphones, people are downloading more applications to their devices. [5] Usage of mobile apps has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. [6] A May 2012 comScore study reported that during the previous quarter, more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on their devices: 51.1% vs. 49.8% respectively. [7] Researchers found that usage of mobile apps strongly correlates with user context and depends on user's location and time of the day. [8] Mobile apps are playing an ever-increasing role within healthcare and when designed and integrated correctly can yield many benefits. [9] [10]

Market research firm Gartner predicted that 102 billion apps would be downloaded in 2013 (91% of them free), which would generate $26 billion in the US, up 44.4% on 2012's US$18 billion. [11] By Q2 2015, the Google Play and Apple stores alone generated $5 billion. An analyst report estimates that the app economy creates revenues of more than 10 billion per year within the European Union, while over 529,000 jobs have been created in 28 EU states due to the growth of the app market. [12]

Types

Mobile applications may be classified by numerous methods. A common scheme is to distinguish native, web-based, and hybrid apps.

Native app

All apps targeted toward a particular mobile platform are known as native apps. Therefore, an app intended for Apple device does not run in Android devices. As a result, most businesses develop apps for multiple platforms.

While developing native apps, professionals incorporate best-in-class user interface modules. This accounts for better performance, consistency and good user experience. Users also benefit from wider access to application programming interfaces and make limitless use of all apps from the particular device. Further, they also switch over from one app to another effortlessly.

The main purpose for creating such apps is to ensure best performance for a specific mobile operating system.

Web-based app

A web-based app is implemented with the standard web technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Internet access is typically required for proper behavior or being able to use all features compared to offline usage. Most, if not all, user data is stored in the cloud.

The performance of these apps is similar to a web application running in a browser, which can be noticeably slower than the equivalent native app. It also may not have the same level of features as the native app.

Hybrid app

The concept of the hybrid app is a mix of native and web-based apps. Apps developed using Apache Cordova, Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, Sencha Touch, and other frameworks fall into this category.

These are made to support web and native technologies across multiple platforms. Moreover, these apps are easier and faster to develop. It involves use of single codebase which works in multiple mobile operating systems.[ citation needed ]

Despite such advantages, hybrid apps exhibit lower performance. Often, apps fail to bear the same look-and-feel in different mobile operating systems.[ citation needed ]

Development

Developers at work Mistory - Demola, 2015.05.22 (5).JPG
Developers at work

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 the 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. [13] [14]

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 UI design constraints 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.

Mobile UIs, or front-ends, rely on mobile back-ends to support access to enterprise systems. The mobile back-end facilitates data routing, security, authentication, authorization, working off-line, and service orchestration. This functionality is supported by a mix of middleware components including mobile app servers, Mobile Backend as a service (MBaaS), and SOA infrastructure.

Conversational interfaces display the computer interface and present interactions through text instead of graphic elements. They emulate conversations with real humans. [15] There are two main types of conversational interfaces: voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo) and chatbots. [15]

Conversational interfaces are growing particularly practical as users are starting to feel overwhelmed with mobile apps (a term known as "app fatigue"). [16] [17]

David Limp, Amazon's senior vice president of devices, says in an interview with Bloomberg, "We believe the next big platform is voice." [18]

Distribution

The three biggest app stores are Google Play for Android, App Store for iOS, and Microsoft Store for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, and Xbox One.

Google Play

Google Play (formerly known as the Android Market) is an international online software store developed by Google for Android devices. It opened in October 2008. [19] In July 2013, the number of apps downloaded via the Google Play Store surpassed 50 billion, of the over 1 million apps available. [20] As of September 2016, according to Statista the number of apps available exceeded 2.4 million. Over 80% of apps in the Google Play Store are free to download. [21] The store generated a revenue of 6 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.

App Store

Apple's App Store for iOS and iPadOS was not the first app distribution service, but it ignited the mobile revolution and was opened on July 10, 2008, and as of September 2016, reported over 140 billion downloads. The original AppStore was first demonstrated to Steve Jobs in 1993 by Jesse Tayler at NeXTWorld Expo [22] As of June 6, 2011, there were 425,000 apps available, which had been downloaded by 200 million iOS users. [23] [24] During Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, CEO Tim Cook announced that the App Store has 650,000 available apps to download as well as 30 billion apps downloaded from the app store until that date. [25] From an alternative perspective, figures seen in July 2013 by the BBC from tracking service Adeven indicate over two-thirds of apps in the store are "zombies", barely ever installed by consumers. [26]

Microsoft Store

Microsoft Store (formerly known as the Windows Store) was introduced by Microsoft in 2012 for its Windows 8 and Windows RT platforms. While it can also carry listings for traditional desktop programs certified for compatibility with Windows 8, it is primarily used to distribute "Windows Store apps"—which are primarily built for use on tablets and other touch-based devices (but can still be used with a keyboard and mouse, and on desktop computers and laptops). [27] [28]

Others

Enterprise management

Mobile application management (MAM) describes software and services responsible for provisioning and controlling access to internally developed and commercially available mobile apps used in business settings. The strategy is meant to off-set the security risk of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) work strategy. When an employee brings a personal device into an enterprise setting, mobile application management enables the corporate IT staff to transfer required applications, control access to business data, and remove locally cached business data from the device if it is lost, or when its owner no longer works with the company. Containerization is an alternate approach to security. Rather than controlling an employee/s entire device, containerization apps create isolated pockets separate from personal data. Company control of the device only extends to that separate container. [36]

App wrapping vs. native app management

Especially when employees "bring your own device" (BYOD), mobile apps can be a significant security risk for businesses, because they transfer unprotected sensitive data to the Internet without knowledge and consent of the users. Reports of stolen corporate data show how quickly corporate and personal data can fall into the wrong hands. Data theft is not just the loss of confidential information, but makes companies vulnerable to attack and blackmail. [37]

Professional mobile application management helps companies protect their data. One option for securing corporate data is app wrapping. But there also are some disadvantages like copyright infringement or the loss of warranty rights. Functionality, productivity and user experience are particularly limited under app wrapping. The policies of a wrapped app can't be changed. If required, it must be recreated from scratch, adding cost. [38] An app wrapper is a mobile app made wholly from an existing website or platform, [39] with few or no changes made to the underlying application. The "wrapper" is essentially a new management layer that allows developers to set up usage policies appropriate for app use. [39] Examples of these policies include whether or not authentication is required, allowing data to be stored on the device, and enabling/disabling file sharing between users. [40] Because most app wrappers are often websites first, they often do not align with iOS or Android Developer guidelines.

Alternatively, it is possible to offer native apps securely through enterprise mobility management. This enables more flexible IT management as apps can be easily implemented and policies adjusted at any time. [41]

See also

Related Research Articles

In computing, cross-platform software is computer software that is designed to work in several computing platforms. Some cross-platform software requires a separate build for each platform, but some can be directly run on any platform without special preparation, being written in an interpreted language or compiled to portable bytecode for which the interpreters or run-time packages are common or standard components of all supported platforms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">S60 (software platform)</span> Smartphone software platform

The S60 Platform is a software platform for smartphones that runs on top of the Symbian operating system. It was created by Nokia based on the 'Pearl' user interface from Symbian Ltd. It was introduced at COMDEX in November 2001 and first shipped with the Nokia 7650 smartphone. The platform has since seen 5 updated editions. Series 60 was renamed to S60 in November 2005.

Mobile app development is the act or process by which a mobile app is developed for mobile devices, such as personal digital assistants, enterprise digital assistants or mobile phones. These software applications are designed to run on mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet computer. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during manufacturing platforms, or delivered as web applications using server-side or client-side processing to provide an "application-like" experience within a web browser. Application software developers also must consider a long array of screen sizes, hardware specifications, and configurations because of intense competition in mobile software and changes within each of the platforms. Mobile app development has been steadily growing, in revenues and jobs created. A 2013 analyst report estimates there are 529,000 direct app economy jobs within the EU then 28 members, 60 percent of which are mobile app developers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adobe AIR</span> Cross-platform runtime system for building rich web applications

Adobe AIR is a cross-platform runtime system currently developed by Harman International, in collaboration with Adobe Inc., for building desktop applications and mobile applications, programmed using Adobe Animate, ActionScript, and optionally Apache Flex. It was originally released in 2008. The runtime supports installable applications on Windows, macOS, and mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS, and BlackBerry Tablet OS.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ovi (Nokia)</span> Former Internet services by Nokia

Ovi by Nokia was the brand for Nokia's Internet services. The Ovi services could be used from a mobile device, computer or via the web. Nokia focused on five key service areas: Games, Maps, Media, Messaging and Music. Nokia's aim with Ovi was to include third party developers, such as operators and third-party services like Yahoo's Flickr photo site. With the announcement of Ovi Maps Player API, Nokia started to evolve their services into a platform, enabling third parties to make use of Nokia's Ovi services.

A mobile operating system is an operating system for mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches, 2-in-1 PCs, smart speakers, or other mobile devices. While computers such as typical laptops are 'mobile', the operating systems used on them are generally not considered mobile ones, as they were originally designed for desktop computers that historically did not have or need specific mobile features. This line distinguishing mobile and other forms has become blurred in recent years, this is due to the fact that newer devices have become smaller and more mobile unlike hardware of the past. Key notabilities blurring this line are the introduction of tablet computers and light-weight laptops.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Windows Phone</span> Family of mobile operating systems developed by Microsoft

Windows Phone (WP) is a discontinued family of mobile operating systems developed by Microsoft for smartphones as the replacement successor to Windows Mobile and Zune. Windows Phone featured a new user interface derived from the Metro design language. Unlike Windows Mobile, it was primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market.

A software widget is a relatively simple and easy-to-use software application or component made for one or more different software platforms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Here Technologies</span> Netherlands-based mapping data company

HERE Technologies is an American-Dutch multinational group dealing with mapping, location data and related automotive services to individuals and companies. It is majority-owned by a consortium of German automotive companies and American semiconductor company Intel whilst other companies also own minority stakes. Its roots date back to U.S.-based Navteq in 1985, which was acquired by Finland-based Nokia in 2007. HERE is currently based in The Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MixRadio</span>

MixRadio was an online music streaming service owned by Line Corporation. The service was first introduced by Nokia in 2011 as Nokia Music for Windows Phone, serving as a successor to Nokia's previous Nokia Music Store/Comes with Music/Ovi Music Store initiatives, which was based on the LoudEye/OD2 platform. After its acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone business, the service was briefly maintained by Microsoft Mobile Oy before it was sold to Japanese internet company Line Corporation in 2015. Following the acquisition, MixRadio expanded to Android and iOS in May 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Symbian</span> Discontinued mobile operating system

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Style Jukebox</span>

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Smartface is a mobile technology company focusing on enterprise mobility in the cloud for mobile transformation in enterprises. Smartface is headquartered in Palo Alto with offices in New Jersey, Istanbul and Dubai.

An app store is a type of digital distribution platform for computer software called applications, often in a mobile context. Apps provide a specific set of functions which, by definition, do not include the running of the computer itself. Complex software designed for use on a personal computer, for example, may have a related app designed for use on a mobile device. Today apps are normally designed to run on a specific operating system—such as the contemporary iOS, macOS, Windows or Android—but in the past mobile carriers had their own portals for apps and related media content.

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Windows Phone 8 is the second generation of the Windows Phone mobile operating system from Microsoft. It was released on October 29, 2012, and, like its predecessor, it features a flat user interface based on the Metro design language. It was succeeded by Windows Phone 8.1, which was unveiled on April 2, 2014.

Microsoft mobile services are a set of proprietary mobile services created specifically for mobile devices, they are typically offered through mobile applications and mobile browser for Windows Phone, | platforms, BREW, and Java. Microsoft's mobile services are typically connected with a Microsoft account and often come preinstalled on Microsoft's own mobile operating systems while they are offered via various means for other platforms. Microsoft started to develop for mobile computing platforms with the launch of Windows CE in 1996 and later added Microsoft's Pocket Office suite to their Handheld PC line of PDAs in April 2000. From December 2014 to June 2015, Microsoft made a number of corporate acquisitions, buying several of the top applications listed in Google Play and the App Store including Acompli, Sunrise Calendar, Datazen, Wunderlist, Echo Notification Lockscreen, and MileIQ.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nokia X platform</span> Linux-based mobile operating system and software platform

The Nokia X platform was a Linux-based mobile operating system and software platform originally developed by Nokia, and subsequently by Microsoft Mobile. Introduced on 24 February 2014, it was forked from Android and used on all the devices of the Nokia X family. It was also the next Nokia Linux project after the ill-fated MeeGo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Here WeGo</span> Web mapping and navigation service since 2012

HERE WeGo is a web mapping and navigation service, operated by HERE Technologies and originally developed by Nokia. In 2013, HERE Technologies released this web mapping application for Windows Phone and the World Wide Web as a revamped version of Nokia Maps. HERE Technologies released the HERE Maps application to the Android platform on December 10, 2014 and later for iOS on March 11, 2015. The company changed the product name to HERE WeGo in July 2016. It is the default maps service provider for the Amazon Fire tablets and smartphone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Progressive web app</span> Specific form of single page web application

A progressive web application (PWA), commonly known as a progressive web app, is a type of application software delivered through the web, built using common web technologies including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and WebAssembly. It is intended to work on any platform with a standards-compliant browser, including desktop and mobile devices.

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