Mobile phone development is exploding, and an ever increasing number of users has created a developers dream. One only needs to observe the tremendous quantity of Smartphone applications to realize the magnitude of what is taking place. Apple’s iPhone now has well over two hundred thousand apps that have been downloaded an astonishing 5 billion times. The Android is making up ground at a lightning pace, and the number of apps has now surpassed 100,000. The development process is becoming easier too with the advent of cross-platform app frameworks. The forerunner right now is the Rhodes framework, which makes it possible for app developers to build one app and deploy it across the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile device platforms.
We are still in the early stages of the mobile revolution, and some of the greatest changes are yet to take place. One of the next areas to take hold will be in the world of informational Smartphone apps.
The key to writing high-quality informational apps is synchronized offline data. Users need the ability to read and work with the information even when they are not connected. Mobile web browsers failed to make a dent in Smartphone app usage because users want to interact with their data before it is uploaded or finalized. The case example is how users interact with their mobile email clients that use synchronized data and rarely if ever will email using mobile browsers. Many studies show that users will not utilize back-end apps if the data is not locally available on their phones. Read only cases such as a newspaper app create much more user value when the data is cached and can be accessed offline.
The first alternative would be to use a first generation sync server, which eliminates every one of the challenges you would face if you were to build from the ground up. Companies like Intellisync were able to blaze the trail in the sync world. The survivors of the early trek include companies such as Antenna and Sybase who are among a small number of mobile synchronization providers. None have been around for much more than ten of fifteen years and all are multifaceted in their sync offerings which unfortunately waters down their mobile synchronization product. Clearly, anyone is better off with a first generation sync approach than doing nothing or trying to reinvent the wheel. The drawbacks, however, do include very high costs and slower sync times.
As consumers feel the urge to “Go Green,” mobile phone developers are going to take this into account and start changing the way they build their handsets. The elimination of toxic components is the first start towards going green with the inclusion of more recycled components into the handsets. The plastic casing of mobile phones can be made, in large part, from recycled and renewable materials. Developers are also going to start to make a move towards increasing the battery life of phones while developing phones that use less energy to gain a full charge. Nokia has already built into their phones an alert that will let users know when their phone is fully charged, urging them to disconnect their phones.
With upcoming Smartphone releases, users can expect to see more touch-screen technology integrated along with the continued ability to use mobile phones for more than just phone calls. As more functionality is incorporated into the devices, users can expect to see dramatic changes in the designs of the phones; larger screens, fold out keyboards, and a move towards handsets without buttons.
There are so many directions the Smartphone industry can take us in it is hard to pinpoint exactly where the technology is going to take us. However, what is certain is that the future of mobile phone technology is a bright one full of possibilities as innovative handset makers and wireless carriers take steps to not only make our lives easier with better communication devices but take the steps needed to ensure the technologies keep up with our demands.