Software Development and Mobile Devices

Over the last few decades, mobile devices have made the transformation from merely functional and voice communication devices to ubiquitous tools for leisure and work, and at present, these devices have become an integral component of everyone’s lifestyle that many people feel uncomfortable without a mobile phone. Mobile broadband data transfers and remote access are a reality, as well as gaming, networking, instant messaging, music and video playback, and numerous other functions.

This is made possible by the development of mobile applications, ever-increasingly powerful handheld devices, and services. The current interest shown by the general population towards mobile devices, particularly smartphones, has grown widely out of proportion. The sales figures of the latest smartphones by Apple Inc., for instance, are a remarkable eye-opener where millions of devices were sold out within a couple of weeks, generating multiple billions of dollars for the company as profit. Although this achievement is unthinkingly credited to Apple Inc. alone, the role played by the mobile software developers is a significantly important component behind these sales figures.

However, the development of software for mobile devices is a difficult task for many reasons. Although major smartphone manufacturers have now opened online retail stores for developers to sell their applications, the task continues to be challenging, with high rates of failure due to multiple reasons.

Evolution of Mobile devices

The history of mobile applications starts with the history of mobile devices, and the first mobile phone microchip required the most basic of software to send and receive voice calls. The early mobile devices had no support for a third-party software applications. Those days and well into the 1990s, all mobile device manufacturing companies, including Motorola and Nokia, tried to keep all information related to their mobile phone a secret. These early devices catered to the requirements correctly, and users did not even feel that third-party software should be featured in these devices at all. But since then, things have changed a lot more than expected.

The first mobile phone software can be traced back to 1983, when the first mobile phone itself, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, was released. This mobile phone has a built-in application for organizing contacts within the phone’s memory. The first recognizable software application came with Psion’s range of handheld computers-mostly PDAs-that used the EPOC operating system. It was first released in the early 90s as a 16-bit OS. Later models in a range of 32-bit OS came with 2MB RAM and allowed users to access programs such as a word processor, database, and dairy. EPOC, which was a program in OPL (Open Programming Language), allowed the user to create their own applications and later form the backbone of the Symbian operating system.

Palm emerged as a major rival to Psion in the PDA market. Palm released a new generation of the machine in 1996, which made use of Palm OS. This had a touchscreen GUI and came with the basic application as well as many third-party applications programmed in C/C++. WAP browser was included starting from Palm OS 3.0. Palm OS became the ACCESS Linux Platform before being abandoned in favor of webOS (which is now used in LG’s TVs) after the acquisition of PalmSource by ACCESS.

Later WAP Forum developed Wireless Markup Language that was based on XML to be used in Wireless Application Protocol enabled devices. WML was lightweight and good for low bandwidths devices such as mobile devices then. Customers began to push for more features and more games, and Java Micro Edition came to provide a platform for developing them. Java ME started as JSR 68, replaced Personal Java, and became so popular that it evolved into many standards for use across phones, PDAs, and other embedded devices like set-top boxes. Devices implement profiles (like the Mobile Information Device Profile) which are subsets of configurations (like the Connected Limited Device Configuration).

MIDP contains a minimum of java–class libraries required for operating a virtual machine. MIDP, which was designed for mobile phones, includes a GUI, an API for data storage, and a basic 2D gaming API. These applications are called MIDlets. MIDP became an industry standard for mobile phones. Java ME gave an open-source implementation, Mika VM, which contains the class libraries for implementing the Connected Device Configuration. JME is used in the Bada and Symbian operating systems, and its implementation exists for Windows CE, Windows Mobile, and Android.

As stated above, Symbian grew out of the Psion EPOC operating system developed by Symbian Ltd- a joint venture of Psion, Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia- the operating was popular, and Nokia spearheaded the development of Symbian OS. The S60 platform was used on nearly all Nokia phones as well as some Samsung and LG phones. There were a variety of deployment techniques and no standard market for application due to different and fragmented platforms. The incompatibility of apps across platforms and the failure to fully move to open source were the causes of the abandoning of Symbian. There were also problems with malware, a browser that did not support multiple windows or compressed pages, and a difficult process for typing in non-Latin text.

The iPhone, which revolutionized the smartphone industry, was introduced in 2007 and was officially released without support for the third part of software development. The iOS developer community, which is the largest software development community for mobile devices today, started with a few people who had illegal access to the phone operating system (through a process known as jailbreaking) to customize it. Apple Inc. quickly identified this community along with the potential it held and established a platform for the developers to develop third-party software for all iOS-enabled devices. And this was available for users from 2008.

The introduction of the Android OS in the year 2008 by Google Inc. pushed the worldwide community towards understanding the real potential of a mobile device. Both iOS and Android OS software application store boast of having millions of third-party software applications that are available for users to download. A few operating systems have entered the smartphone market, but none have been capable of breaking the dominance of iOS and Android OS devices. The closest rival to these two operating system presently is Windows Mobile OS by Microsoft.

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Software Development and Mobile Devices. (2023, Mar 15). Retrieved June 12, 2024 , from

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