Smartphones and, more recently, tablets are increasingly becoming the computer of choice for more and more people, leaving software developers used to PC-sized application interfaces to grapple with a whole new outlook. While many developers already have made the transition, others need to get with the program.
Despite the attention paid to mobile development in the last two years, a lot of developers still lack the basics when it comes to building mobile applications, says Anthony Fabbricino, developer marketing manager for Forum Nokia. Many developers are just used to the desktop, he explains: "There, they have a lot of screen."
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Even if it may be easy to make an application, it's hard to construct a "good experience," Fabbricino adds. Indeed, the emergence of mobile devices and their smaller screens means some serious adjustments in perspective. Instead of building for 8-by-13-inch or larger PC screens, developers could be dealing with a 2-by-2-inch Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry screen. "What we find, especially in the smartphone world, is because of the screen size constraint, every pixel counts to some degree," says Tyler Lessard, vice president of BlackBerry global alliances and developer relations at Research in Motion.
Even the iPad's larger screen, which measures 7.3 by 9.5 inches, need to be considered differently because its 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution is still less than that of most desktop monitors. Developers must also make accommodations for smaller keyboards, touch interfaces, and battery usage.
Experts in the mobile arena, including vendors and developers, have advice for developers navigating this new realm of computing, covering aspects ranging from navigation to screen size to memory consumption. Mobile developers -- especially new ones -- should pay special attention to these eight lessons.