As part of the development process, Mobile User Interface (UI) Design is also an essential in the creation of mobile apps. Mobile UI considers constraints & 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(s). 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. The UI of mobile apps should: consider users' limited attention, minimize keystrokes, and be task-oriented with a minimum set of functions. This functionality is supported by Mobile enterprise application platforms or Integrated development environments (IDEs).
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.
The platform organizations need to develop, deploy and manage mobile apps is made from many components, and tools allow a developers to write, test and deploy applications into the target platform environment.
Front-end development tools
Front-end development tools are focused on the user interface and user experience (UI/UX) and provide the following capabilities:
- UI design tools
- SDKs to access device features
- Cross-platform accommodations/support
Available tools are listed below.
Back-end tools pick up where the front-end tools leave off, and provide a set of reusable services that are centrally managed and controlled and provide the following capabilities:
- Integration with back-end systems
- User authentication/authorization
- Data services
- Reusable business logic
Available tools are listed below.
Security add-on layers
With BYOD becoming the norm within more enterprises, IT departments often need stop-gap, tactical solutions that layer on top of existing apps, phones, and platform component. Features include
- App wrapping for security
- Data encryption
- Client actions
- Reporting and statistics
There are many system-level components that are required to have a functioning platform for developing mobile apps.
Criteria for selecting a development platform usually contains the target mobile platforms, existing infrastructure and development skills. When targeting more than one platform with cross-platform development it is also important to consider the impact of the tool on the user experience. Performance is another important criteria, as research on mobile applications indicates a strong correlation between application performance and user satisfaction. To aid the choice between native and cross-platform environments, some guidelines and benchmarks have been published.
Mobile application testing
Mobile applications 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. The following are examples of tools used for testing application across the most popular mobile operating systems.
- Google Android Emulator - Google Android Emulator is an Android emulator that is patched to run on a Windows PC as a standalone app, without having to download and install the complete and complex Android SDK. It can be installed and Android compatible apps can be tested on it.
- The official Android SDK Emulator - The official Android SDK Emulator includes a mobile device emulator which mimics all of the hardware and software features of a typical mobile device (without the calls).
- MobiOne - MobiOne Developer is a mobile Web IDE for Windows that helps developers to code, test, debug, package and deploy mobile Web applications to devices such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and the Palm Pre.
- TestiPhone - TestiPhone is a web browser-based simulator for quickly testing iPhone web applications. This tool has been tested and works using Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 and Safari 3.
- iPhoney - iPhoney gives a pixel-accurate web browsing environment and it is powered by Safari. It can be used while developing web sites for the iPhone. It is not an iPhone simulator but instead is designed for web developers who want to create 320 by 480 (or 480 by 320) websites for use with iPhone. iPhoney will only run on Mac OS X 10.4.7 or later.
- BlackBerry Simulator - There are a variety of official BlackBerry simulators available to emulate the functionality of actual BlackBerry products and test how the BlackBerry device software, screen, keyboard and trackwheel will work with application.
- Windows UI Automation - To test applications that use the Microsoft UI Automation technology, it requires Windows Automation API 3.0. It is pre-installed on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions of Windows. On other operating systems, you can install using Windows Update or download it from the Microsoft Web site.
- eggPlant: A GUI-based automated test tool for mobile application across all operating systems and devices.
- Ranorex: Test automation tools for mobile, web and desktop apps.
- Testdroid: Real mobile devices and test automation tools for testing mobile and web apps.
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Several initiatives exist both from mobile vendor and mobile operators around the world. Application developers can propose and publish their applications on the stores, being rewarded by a revenue sharing of the selling price. An example is Apple's App Store, where only approved applications may be distributed and run on iOS devices (otherwise known as a walled garden). There are approximately 700,000 iOS Applications. Google's Android Market (now known as the "Play Store") has a large number of apps running on devices with Android OS. HP / Palm, Inc have also created the Palm App Catalog where HP / Palm, Inc webOS device users can download applications directly from the device or send a link to the application via a web distribution method. Mobile operators such as Telefonica Group and Telecom Italia have launched cross-platform application stores for their subscribers. Additionally, mobile phone manufacturers such as Nokia has launched Ovi app store for Nokia smartphones. Some independent companies, namely Amazon Appstore, Aptoide and GetJar, have created their own third-party platforms to reach more users in different locations. The Windows Phone Marketplace had more than 100,000+ apps available as of 7-11-2012 .
There are many patents applications pending for new mobile phone apps. Most of these are in the technological fields of Business methods, Database management, Data transfer and Operator interface.
On May 31, 2011, Lodsys asserted two of its four patents: U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 ("the '565 patent") on a "customer-based design module" and U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 ("the '078 patent") on "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network." against the following application developers:
- Illusion Labs
- Richard Shinderman of Brooklyn, New York
- Wulven Game Studios of Hanoi, Vietnam
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