Today’s Mobile App Platforms – iOS, Android, Windows App Development


In the modern day, our smart phone can be as common to us as our house keys or wallet. One of the things we value them for is apps, which can give us all sorts of ways to stay informed, entertained and in touch. But behind the screen and the flashy wallpaper, how does the mobile app development magic happen?

In this blog, we take a look at some of the leading operating systems which mobile apps can be deployed on, and examine their characteristics:

Android

According to research, Android has a 44 per cent market share of smart phone users in the UK, underlining its popularity. The Android operating system is widely used on a wide variety of smart phones – from Samsung to Sony. Source code for Android app development is made available via the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). This is an initiative which is led by Google. Android apps are commonly written with the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and the Java programming language. Java can be used in tandem with C/C++. Android is now up to operating system 9.0, which includes a raft of updates including a new user interface for the quick settings menu, the moving of the clock to the left of the notification bar, and the possibility of an NFC unlock. Among the handsets to have already adopted Android 9.0 are Essential Phone, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Nokia 7 Plus, OnePlus 6, Sony Xperia XZ2, Vivo X21UD and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S.

iOS

Figures show that iOS has a market share of 49 per cent in the UK, making it the most popular operating system for smart phones. iOS is used on the Apple range of smart phones known as the iPhone – the latest versions of which are the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR. It is also used on iPad tablets. iOS app development is done using the iOS SDK, which was released in March 2008 – Apple had reportedly originally not intended to permit third party development of applications, but changed this decision. Developers can combine the iOS SDK with Xcode when it comes to writing apps. The programming languages which are typically supported by iOS include Objective-C and Swift.

The latest version of the iOS operating system is 12, which includes many updates in the areas of security, battery life and performance. These include; the speeding up of common tasks including keyboard and camera activation; screen time usage information which allows users to measure exactly what they do on their smart phone; new shortcuts and automated actions; a feature (ARKit 2) which allows screens to be shared with other iPhone users; and some gestures for iPhone can now be used on
iPads.

Windows

Windows Mobile has a relatively small market share of 0.8 per cent in the UK, but given its parent company’s Microsoft’s dominant position in the computer world, this could feasibly change in the future. The latest version of Windows Mobile is Windows 10 Mobile, which was released in 2015. Windows 10 Mobile app developers can use the Windows Bridge for iOS. This provides a toolchain which allows developers to port Objective-C software used for building apps for the iOS operating system for mobile application development with Universal Windows Apps. Visual Studio 15 is also capable of converting Xcode projects into those which can be used for the building of Universal Windows Apps.

Among the enhancements which were unveiled as part of Windows 10 Mobile are the harmonisation of user experiences and functionality, which opens up new possibilities for those running Windows 10 on a PC. This includes the settings menu and Action Center. It is now possible for notifications to be synced between devices. There is now a messaging app with Skype support, and there is also an input button dedicated to voice on the on-screen keyboard. Windows 10 Mobile is used on handsets such as the Acer Liquid M320, Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 4 and 5, Freetel Katana 01 and 02, and Microsoft Lumia 550, and 950.

At present iOS and Android have an overwhelmingly dominant share of the market. So if you are looking for the largest choice of apps available on an operating system, the main choice is between devices running these two operating systems. However Windows 10 Mobile does present some interesting possibilities for those who use Windows 10 on their PC, so should not be discounted.

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