Keeping Up with the Pace of Mobile Devices

By | April 6, 2015

To describe the mobile device market as fragmented would be an understatement. Anyone who works in mobile app development knows the challenges of keeping pace with an unrelenting onslaught of OS updates and new hardware features. In fact, according to a recent report by Forrester just one fifth of companies are able to update their apps frequently enough to address bugs and react to OS updates.

The Problem? Lack of Resources

The same report by Forrester revealed what many of us already know: the failure to keep up with the latest and greatest mobile device features is primarily due to a lack of resources. Developing natively for one platform is tough enough. Throw a second platform into the mix and many organizations begin to see their budgets dwindle. Take into account tablets, phablets, and a slew of different device manufacturers with a range of hardware features, and staying up to date with all the latest device features feels like an all but impossible task.

Mobile Device Platforms: Apple vs. Android

Apple and Android are the two dominant forces in the mobile device landscape. Most digital organizations develop apps – natively or not – for both platforms. Where many of them falter is by treating both platforms the same way post-development.

Evolution of Android mobile devices

Evolution of the Android OS (Source: http://cdn-www.xda-developers.com)

Google and Apple run their respective app stores very differently. Google, whose Android OS suffers from extreme fragmentation, makes it relatively easy for developers to push out app updates. Apple, on the other hand, forces developers through the same rigorous approval process for updates as it does for initial app submission.

Believe it or not, there is a bit of a silver lining here for mobile developers and it all comes down to how you group and push your updates. While the Android market is extremely fragmented, the good news is that Google gives you the freedom to push updates easily and often. Smoothly running Agile teams can keep up with changes in the Android landscape with regular updates every two or three weeks. Because the Apple device market progress and fragments much more slowly, this gives you time to tackle, bundle, and push out updates in batches.

Timing App Updates and Releases

Apple keynote address

Apple keynote address (Source: http://www.generation-nt.com)

So you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into your latest mobile app only to find out that Apple just announced the release of a new iPhone with a fingerprint feature that would have been a great addition to your software. It happens. However, as someone who works in the mobile app industry, it is a good idea to keep your finger on the pulse of major trends and upcoming releases. Try to avoid publishing your app right before the release of a new device version, particularly if your app relies heavily on a lot of built-in device features.

Reassess Your Mobile App Strategy

While most digital organizations develop and manage a handful of applications, around 9% manage 21 or more at any given time. If your company is struggling to keep up with the pace of mobile devices, it might be down to the fact that you have too much on your plate. Take a step back and reassess your situation. Do you have the personnel to manage and maintain all your apps to a high standard? If not you might want to think about paring down your catalogue. Considering the strong correlation between app rating and success, you might be better off with a handful of 5-star apps rather than a dozen 3.5-star apps.

Category: Web and software development

About Cheylene Thongkham

Cheylene Thongkham is a London-based technical writer and experienced software tester. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007 and an ISTQB certification in 2010. After working as a web application tester in the US, Cheylene assumed the role of Senior QA Analyst at a FTSE 250 company in London where she oversaw testing for mobile websites, business intelligence, and Oracle databases. She is currently working towards becoming an Oracle Certified Professional.