Mobile Device Usage Rising, App Developers Should Prepare: Gartner

Application developers need to prepare for the shift to mobile-centric apps on a variety of devices, a Gartner report says.

As an increasing number of workers use mobile devices to perform work duties, IT leaders and application developers need to adapt, according to a study from IT research firm Gartner. Developers and businesses need to evolve mobile applications and interfaces as demand for business-to-business, business-to-employee and business-to-consumer explodes, Gartner says.

€œThe release of the iPhone five years ago marked a shift towards a mobile-dominated future,€ David Mitchell Smith, research vice president and Gartner Fellow, said in a press statement. €œWith phones and tablets becoming a platform for the delivery of applications and information, and not simply a communications tool, the era of running applications solely on desktop and notebook PCs is rapidly being superseded by a fast-moving, diverse era of ecosystems that span consumer electronics, business computing, fixed-location clients and mobile clients.€

Gartner analysts also said developers should start figuring out where the demand for these applications lies, and perform a series of assessments, including mobile-only, mobile-first and legacy studies to further improve application development management. Also important is the implementation of architectural and tool frameworks for future app development, including context-aware applications.

€œThis shift in computing to mobile devices, and the ongoing trends of consumerization and 'bring your own device,' mean that IT leaders and application development teams need to take a multichannel approach to applications across B2B, B2E and B2C channels. Too many IT departments and end users still assume that only desktop applications are needed,€ Smith continued.

As applications continue their move toward a more mobile-based user interface for access and familiarity on a number of different devices, developers need to research different forms of user interfaces, including touch, sound, gestures and social media-based user interfaces, keeping the focus of the app simple while still allowing it to be connected to other relevant apps.

€œThe exploding interest in, and use of, mobile devices across consumer and business markets means that mobile interfaces are setting expectations for the usability, appearance and behavior of future systems and applications,€ Smith added. €œThe leading edge of this change is the touch-and-gesture interface that is fundamental to mobile devices, but beyond this, both audio and video channels are being used to expand this new user interface. Spoken commands drive searches and application actions, while the emerging video channel is leading to facial recognition and in-air gestures.€

Gartner also noted that advertisers will be looking to capitalize on the mobile marketing spaces as more eyes are glued to iPhones and Android tablets, which means developers need to prepare for a variety of devices by sharpening development tools and using widely available platforms like HTML5. €œWhen building UIs for multiple screen sizes and operating systems, new tools are needed to make applications function correctly on different devices,€ Smith concluded. €œThere€™s no automatic way to do this€”it takes engineering skills to design the right outputs.€