iPhone, Facebook, JavaScript Most Attractive Platforms for Developers

An IDC and Appcelerator report found two-thirds of developers connect their apps to Facebook–tops among popular social services.

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The iPhone and iPad still capture the most developer interest, with Google Android phones and Android tablets next in line, according to a survey by IT research firm IDC and Appcelerator.

The report also found two-thirds of developers report connecting their apps to Facebook–tops among popular social services.

The next most popular service, Twitter, was a full 13 percentage points behind, with 52.7 percent. This lead can’t be chalked up solely to Facebook’s authentication service, the report noted.

When asked how they were managing user authentication inside their apps, most developers reported relying on traditional Web protocols (38.8 percent) or specific methods such as SAML or OAuth (21 percent). Social media services such as Facebook were third at 19.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of developers reporting to be "very interested" in building apps on HTML5 fell to 59.9 percent—the lowest since tracking for that specification began in April 2011. Interest in HTML5 peaked in July 2012 at 72.7 percent, and has shown an uneven but downward slope since.

The report noted this decline may be attributable to developer pragmatism, as HTML5 has had several years now to break away from the pack and has failed to do so.

Most respondents were neutral on HTML5, agreeing that it had its place for certain kinds of apps, but couldn’t be looked to as a cure-all for the challenges of multi-platform development.

Thirteen percent reported no experience with HTML5, and when looking only at the cohort with experience, 56 percent were neutral or negative on the standard.

In ranking the relevance of development languages for mobile app development, JavaScript emerges as the clear winner, with 47.2 percent of respondents ranking it first, more than 10 percentage points ahead of the next closest language, Java (35 percent). Objective-C was third at 32 percent.

In addition, more than 88 percent of developers found it "likely" or "very likely" that in 2014 JavaScript would increasingly dominate both client- and server-side development.

A number of response statistics point to the expectations and complexities of scaling delivery for mobile apps. Nearly half of all respondents (48.5 percent) report app release frequency at monthly or faster, while 81 percent build apps to run on at least two mobile operating systems.