User Centered Cross Platform Application Development Computer Science Essay

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The mobile market is tremendously increasing and has achieve a range where some software company cannot disregard the need to contribute in it any longer. Designing a native mobile application entails lots of resources and this, might affect some of the issues with development and deployment.

At present, there are different mobile device manufacturers which have different devices and development tools. The main solution to solve this issue would be to design a cross-platform application which exist on all mobile operating systems (OS), as it operates in a some browser and consequently, can reach the major possible number of end-users.

Keywords

OS; cross-platform; User experience(UX); User Interface (UI); SDKs;.

INTRODUCTION

Mobile devices are the oncoming train of the future of computing. Some of the issues when developing a mobile application is basically how to build mobile apps that are applicable to many mobile devices.

In generally, there are different mobile devices today, with various operating systems, such as IOS (Apple), Android (Samsung , HTC) , Blackberry OS .

All these devices has one major difference which are the screen sizes and different attributes. Users prefer to make use of any mobile devices of their choice, but for everyone it would be amazing accessing a particular mobile apps on different devices.

Furthermore, developing a mobile app that runs on different devices requires the cross platform capability to brand more mobile apps accessible to users.

Over the last years software companies have developed their own mobile platform with specific tools and application market (Table 1) illustrates different mobile platform , programming languages, developers environment and application stores. The competition of mobile platform has enabled the large and rapid increase of mobile market .

The main aim of this thesis is to create a guideline for designing user-friendly cross-platform applications, taking advantages of multiple browsers and device capabilities. This guideline is based on the literature research and mobile usability.

Table 1

Mobile Platform

Vendors

Operating System

Programming Language

Developer Environment

Application Store

Apple

IOS

Objective C

X-code

iPhone App Store

Google and open handset alliance

Android

Java

Eclipse

Google Play

Microsoft

Windows Phone

Visual C# C++

Visual Studio

Windows phone Market place

RIM

Blackberry OS

Java

Eclipse

Blackberry App World

Nokia

Symbian OS

Java

Eclipse

Ovi Store

LITERATURE REVIEW

The purpose of this section is to provide an overall base of mobile platforms, the problem discussion as well as overall purpose and research questions. An endeavour in this section is to provide relevant literature relating to some of the research questions which focuses more on cross-platform application and user experience (UX).

- Cross-Platform Framework

This section discusses one of the research questions in the thesis listed (Refer RQ.6).

At present, mobile industries operates different kinds of mobile devices in the market that uses different platforms or operating system (OS) such as iOS (Apple), Android(Google), Blackberry and Windows mobile (ndottech, 2013)

Developers prefers to choose a platform that aids them to develop the applications in one common language that would be supported by all the popular platforms. This is called as the cross platform mobile development.

Across the world presently, some mobile application developers have started adopting PhoneGap framework to develop some awesome applications that runs on various mobile platforms. Developers can also use PhoneGap-Build that offered by this framework to build and accumulate applications without using SDKs, hardware and other tools. One can also access different functions like camera, compass, notifications, accelerometer and more while developing application on this framework

(mobileappsdevelopmentmart, 2013).

Cross platform mobile application development provides great result to the developer. At present, developer prefers to run some apps in different platform using various tools such as:

PhoneGap

Sencha

Titanium

Rhomobile (ezinemark, 2013).

Based on research on (mobileappsdevelopmentmart, 2013) it is obvious that most software companies have adopted the use of PhoneGap tool and other cross-platform framework in other to develop different mobile platforms.

- Choosing Cross Platform Mobile Application Development Over Native

This section discusses one of the research questions in the thesis listed (Refer RQ.3)

As mobile industry embraces multiple platforms, a lot of mobile phone users are exceedingly increasing. Cross Platform development are being used in every field these days.

a cross-platform application can deliver the same results as a native application if designed and developed in an efficient and user friendly way. It is up to the developer to handle things in a good standard and attribute to come up with an app that is perfect (techblis, 2013).

Some of the apps resulted from cross-platform mobile development technologies might be slower than regular ones, this might be an issue on cross-platform application.

In "Pro Smartphone Cross-platform development" (Allen, et al., 2010, p. 5) the authors states that even though it is possible for developers to write other programming languages for native applications such as java, Objective C and C#, still they don't ideally make use of all the capabilities of a particular Smartphone device.

The reason for choosing a cross-platform application is rather simple. Brian Fling (Fling, 2009, p. 150), states that if an application does not need any features like using cameras, accelerometers, accessing file system, using locations in that sense, it should be developed as cross-platform application. And it will also reduce the cost of development and deployment.

- Mobile Usability

This section discusses one of the research questions in the thesis listed (Refer RQ.5) which is about cross-platform design and usability.

The usage of mobile devices is increasing ever year, same thing applies to users expectations of the mobile user experience. Generally, users prefer applications that are easy to work with and not frustrating, accessing it quickly and features attractive user interfaces. Applications designed, have to know what users want to achieve and to support them in carrying out any task as easy as possible. This is one of the biggest challenges of a designer's job.

As a result, the main aim of this section is to provide an introduction to the topic of usability, which is very important to users and the principles of user interface design, which helps to design user-centered applications.

All the major operating systems have unique looks that serve different purposes. Apple operating system goes for a clean user interface which facilitates higher usability. it provides much of the experience people are looking for (Apple, 2013).

Android operating system makes a choice from a range of possibilities for something that is more functional and productive. Android provides a variety of pre-build UI components such as structured layout objects and UI controls. Also provides other user interface (UI) modules for special interfaces such as dialogs, notifications, and menus(Android, n.d)

Microsoft's Windows Phone's Metro interface is fast and meant to convey as much information as possible. Windows Phone provides a rich assortment of controls, textbox and text block (Microsoft, 2013).

Cross platform applications are not built with keeping a single user interface, they are developed for multiple platforms. So, they are not able to capitalise on the strengths of one interface and hence lose out in the long run (theappentrepreneur, 2012).

When designing an application, there are some constraints which developers and designers must take into consideration when designing and developing for mobile.

In-other to design a better mobile user experience, it is essential to understand the user point of view, how they behave in relation to the mobile experience that will be delivered and in relation to the entire mobile web experience (mobiforge, 2013).

Also Carol Barnum (Barnum, 2011, p. 11) analyzed this rather formal definition and highlights the importance of following elements of the previous usability definition which are as follows :

Specific users - the importance of specific users is that the focus is not on all users, but only on the target group for the particular product, which is necessary.

Specific goals - specific goals mean that the product's goals are identical with those of its users

Specific context of use - users are using the application in a certain environment and it is essential that the application is designed to be used under those terms.

Jacob Nielsen states that usability as a property of user interface with multiple components, and includes the following attributes learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors and satisfaction (Nielsen, 1993, p. 26).

(Barnum, 2011, p. 6). also describes it as how can effectiveness, satisfaction be measured. Usability can also be measured in such a way where multiple users are trying to achieve a set of predefined tasks.

Bibliography

[1] Apple Inc., (2012). iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Cupertino, CA, USA: Apple Inc.

[2] Allen, G.(2012). Beginning Android 4. New York, NY, USA: Apress.

[3] David, M. (2011). Building Webside with HTML5 to Work with Mobile Phones. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Inc.

[4] International Organization for Standardization, (1998). Guidance on Usability. s.l.:ISO 9241-11.

[5] Olson, S., Hunter, J., Horgen, B. & Goers, K., (2012). Professional Cross-Platform Mobile Development in C#. Indianapolis, IN, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[6] Ostrander, J., (2012). Android UI Fundamentials. Berkeley, CA, USA: Peachpit Press.

References

[1] Allen, S. Graupera, V. & Lundrigan, L., (2010). Pro Smartphone Cross-Platform Development: iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Android Development and Distribution. New York, NY, USA: Apress.

[2] Android. (n.d) User Interface. Retrieved from http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/index.html

[3] Apple. (2013). iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Retrieved from http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/userexperience/conceptual/mobilehig/Introduction/Introduction.html

[4] Barnum, C. M., (2011). Usability Testing Essentials. Burliington, MA, USA: Elsevier.

[5] EzineMark.(n.d). PhoneGap development tool to quick access for cross platform mobile apps in Mobile. Retrieved from

http://mobile.ezinemark.com/phonegap-development-tool-to-quick-access-for-cross-platform-mobile-apps-7d38940c8069.html

[6] Fling, B., (2009). Mobile Design and Development. Sebastopol, CA, USA: O'Reilly Media, Inc..

[7] Microsoft.(2013). User interface for Windows Phone, Retrieved from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/ff967556(v=vs.105).aspx

[8] mobileappsdevelopmentmart.(2013).PHONEGAP FRAMEWORK: A GODSEND TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP CROSS PLATFORM APPS. Retrieve from http://mobileappsdevelopmentmart.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/phonegap-framework-a-godsend-technology-to-develop-cross-platform-apps/

[9] mobiforge. (2013). Usability on the mobile Web: best practices and guidelines for designers and developers. Retrievedfrom http://mobiforge.com/designing/blog/usability-mobile-web-best-practices-and-guidelines-designers-and-developers

[10] Ndot, T. (2013).Cross platform mobile development. Retrieved from http://www.ndottech.com/cross-platform-mobile-development.html

[11] Nielsen, J.(1993). Usability Engineering. Orlando, FL, USA: Academic Press.

[12] Pratik, K.(2012). App Entrepreneur's Dilemma: To Go Native Or Cross Platform?. Retrieved from http://theappentrepreneur.com/app-entrepreneurs-dilemma-to-go-native-or-cross-platform

[13] Techblis, A.(2013). Why To Go For Cross Platform Mobile Application Development. Retrieved from

http://www.techblis.com/why-to-go-for-cross-platform-mobile-application-development/

Appendix 1

This chart displays the main channels used by mobile developers to sell their applications.

Reference

Robin, W.(2010). Everything You Need To Know About The Fragmented Mobile Developer Ecosystem. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/05/mobile-developer-economics-2010/

Appendix 2

PhoneGap

The diagram below illustrates how phonegap is used to build multiplatform application.

Appendix3

The diagram illustrates a user centered mobile design cycle.

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