Let someone else create the app platform
Another approach for delivering apps on multiple platforms is to let someone else create the base app for each device and the framework for its functionality. That's old news for content application services like Handmark and Zinio. For years now, they've had native base content display applications for each mobile platform, all talking to a common back end. Above the base application level, they abstracted as much of the feature set as possible to be platform-independent, supporting standard formats for content feeds to the server and defined feature sets and graphic resources on a brand-by-brand basis.
It's a similar to the approach used by cloud providers and RSS reader developers. That means that when Handmark or Zinio develops a new feature or supports a new device, that improvement to the platform becomes available to all the brand partners. That's both good and bad: If having a truly differentiating content app is important to you, the Handmark approach may not be for you. And if you want to develop yourself using Handmark's or Zinio's platform, you're out of luck: They're strictly in-house tools.
But this approach could also work for other application types than content apps. Perhaps the emergence of cloud-based processes, for example data analysis via Hadoop or validation and formatting of XBRL financial data, could pave the way to such managed app platforms.
Will these or other frameworks pave the way for mobile apps that don't have to be written from scratch for each platform? I certainly hope so.
Meanwhile, don't throw out your Android or iPhone SDKs.
This article, "Possible escapes from the mobile SDKs' clutches," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.