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As part of the development process, mobile user interface (UI) design is also essential in the creation of mobile apps. Mobile UI considers constraints, contexts, screen, input, and mobility as outlines for design. The user is often the focus of interaction with their device, and the interface entails components of both hardware and software. User input allows for the users to manipulate a system, and device's output allows the system to indicate the effects of the users' manipulation. Mobile UI design constraints include limited attention and form factors, such as a mobile device's screen size for a user's hand(s). Mobile UI contexts signal cues from user activity, such as location and scheduling that can be shown from user interactions within a mobile app. Overall, mobile UI design's goal is mainly for an understandable, user-friendly interface. The UI of mobile apps should: consider users' limited attention, minimize keystrokes, and be task-oriented with a minimum set of functions. This functionality is supported by mobile enterprise application platforms or integrated development environments (IDEs).
Mobile UIs, or front-ends, rely on mobile back-ends to support access to enterprise systems. The mobile back-end facilitates data routing, security, authentication, authorization, working off-line, and service orchestration. This functionality is supported by a mix of middleware components including mobile app server, mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), and service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure.
The platform organizations needed to develop, deploy and manage mobile apps are made from many components and tools which allow a developer to write, test and deploy applications into the target platform environment.
Front-end development tools
Front-end development tools are focused on the user interface and user experience (UI-UX) and provide the following abilities:
Available tools are listed below.
|HTML5, C#||Yes||Yes||Microsoft Visual Studio
|All platforms, mobile apps are browser-based||Mobile Web||Commercial licenses available|
|Visual programming to design the user interface and functional programming using the standardized XQuery/XPath||Yes, integrated simulation tool||Yes||Windows-based MobileTogether Designer||Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, HTML5 browser-based client||The native distribution format of each platform||Free (30-day trial)|
|Java but portions of code can be in C, C++,||Debugger integrated in Eclipse, standalone debugging monitor available||Yes||Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio, Project Kenai Android plugin for NetBeans||Android only, because of Dalvik VM, March 2009||apk||Free, IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition - Free|
|Visual blocks-based programming language, with Interface designer||Limited debugging tools built into IDE||Yes||Web-based interface designer, with connection to Java web-start program for blocks programming||Android devices||apk||Free|
|No coding needed; data via spreadsheets||Yes, via application editor||Yes.||No coding needed; visual app definition with spreadsheet data||Android, iOS, web||The native distribution format of each platform and also cloud-browser-based||Free, up to 10 app users; commercial licenses available|
|Visual Basic similar syntax||Yes||Emulator is available using native emulators||Proprietary IDE||Android||The native distribution format of each platform||Commercial licenses available|
|Java||Debugger integrated in IDE||Yes||Eclipse, BlackBerry JDE||BlackBerry only, because of RIM API||alx, cod||Free|
|Java||Yes||Yes||Eclipse, Netbeans||Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, J2ME||The native distribution format of each platform||Open Source GPLv2 and subscription-based build server|
|Needs no text coding or SDK, browser-based drag-and-drop interface.||Yes||PreviewIT app for real-time preview on device||Browser-based||Android, iOS||Native distribution format for each platform||Monthly subscription-based packages|
|Lua||Yes||Yes||Xcode||Android, iOS, Nook Color||Native deployment for each platform||Free unlimited trial; commercial licenses available for deployment|
|Visual drag & drop tiles||Yes||Uses third-party emulators||Proprietary IDE||Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile||OTA deployment||Free & commercial licenses available|
|DSI Application Studio - flowchart-based tool designed for business analysts to build and deploy mobile apps||Yes||Yes||Proprietary IDE - graphical drag and drop design studio||Android 2.0+, iOS 4+, Windows Mobile 6+, Blackberry 4.5+, Windows Desktop 7+||The native distribution format of each platform||Commercial licenses available|
|Knowledge representation and declarative programming-modeling for easy development, then code is automatically generated for each platform||GeneXus utilizes pre-tested code libraries and user debugging of code not necessary after code generation.||Publish in the cloud, test native in the device, no emulator needed||Proprietary IDE||Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad), BlackBerry OS, and even HTML5 if needed||The native distribution format of each platform and also cloud-browser-based||Free to try, commercial and enterprise licenses available|
|Objective-C, Swift||Debugger integrated in Xcode IDE||Bundled with iPhone SDK, integrated with Xcode IDE||Xcode, AppCode||iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch||Only via App Store, needs review and approval by Apple Inc.||Apple tools are free for an Intel-based Mac. Simulator testing is free, but installing on a device needs a fee for a developer signing key. AppCode - commercial licenses available.
Since 2015, Apple allows to install the app in your own device without a developer paid membership.
|Object Pascal||Debugger integrated in Xcode IDE||Included in Delphi XE2 professional or higher||Embarcadero Delphi XE2||iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch||Only via App Store, needs review and approval by Apple Inc.||Development requires Intel-based Mac besides the IDE on Windows. Design is on Windows, Compiling and deploying must be done on Mac. Simulator testing is free, but installing on a device needs a fee for a developer signing key|
|Java||Yes||Free emulator, Sun Java Wireless Toolkit, mpowerplayer||Eclipse, LMA NetBeans Mobility Pack||Yes although many VM implementations have device specific bugs necessitating separate builds||Jad/Jar packaging; PRC files under Palm OS||Free|
|WYSIWYG, visual drag-n-drop||Yes||Yes||Proprietary IDE||Android, Microsoft Windows (Mobile, CE, 8 Pro, 10)||The native distribution format of the platform||Free to try, commercial and enterprise licenses available on request|
|Object Pascal||Yes, can debug in IDE via ActiveSync for Windows CE||Uses the emulators of the platforms||Lazarus IDE, including integrated GUI designer and debugger||Compiled language available for Windows CE, Linux-based devices, Symbian port in development||The native distribution format of each platform||Free|
|Scheme||No||No but can build and test on the localhost||Eclipse (software) (optional)||All native binaries: Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, Windows, OS X, Linux, OpenBSD, OpenWrt||The native distribution format of each platform||Free (BSD license)|
|LiveCode||Yes (integrated into IDE)||Yes (iOS and Android emulators may be used)||Yes||iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, server, HTML5. Installer packaging||The native distribution format of each platform||free open-source edition, commercial and enterprise editions available|
|Lua Java language originally from gaming industry||Yes, in M2Active IDE||Native emulator are available||M2Active based on Eclipse||Android (phone, tablet), iOS (iPhone, iPad), BlackBerry, Windows Phone, J2ME,||The native distribution format of each platform||Enterprise licenses available|
|ActionScript||Yes||Bundled with IDE||Macromedia Flash MX2004/8, Eclipse||Yes||SIS-CAB deployment or OTA-IR-Bluetooth SWF files||Varies, free but limited with MTASC|
|C, C++||Yes||Yes||Visual Studio, Xcode||All native: Android, BlackBerry, BREW, iOS (iPhone), Maemo, Palm-webOS, Samsung bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile 6.x and desktop, OS X||The native distribution format of each platform||Commercial licenses available|
|MemeScript||Validation is provided in the problems view||Yes, Android emulator can be integrated||Eclipse RCP||Android, Windows Mobile||The native distribution format of each platform||Free for development|
|HTML5, Java||Yes||Yes||Yes, the Mendix app platform||All platforms, mobile apps are browser-based||Not applicable, Mendix is a platform as a service||Commercial licenses available|
|C#||Yes||Yes||Visual Studio 2005 and MonoDevelop||Android||The native distribution format of the platform|
|C#||Yes||Yes||Visual Studio 2005 and MonoDevelop||iOS||The native distribution format of the platform|
|C++, Java||Yes||Yes||Java development tools||Android (Mobile and Tablet), Nokia (Symbian, Seria 60 - 40- 80), etc...||Free|
|Java, XML||Yes||Emulator is available using native emulators||Eclipse Plugin, Eclipse Based Stand-alone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows Store Apps, Blackberry, J2ME||The native distribution format of each platform||Free & commercial licenses available|
|ActionScript, XML||Yes||Yes||OpenPlug ELIPS plugin for Adobe Flash Builder||Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Symbian, Windows Mobile||The native distribution format of each platform||Free & commercial licenses available|
|C++, QML||Yes||Yes||Qt Creator||Android (technology preview), iOS (technology preview), Symbian, Maemo, MeeGo, Linux, Windows, OS X||The native distribution format of each platform||Free and commercial licenses available|
|Ruby with HTML interface features compiled through an interpreter into native applications||Yes||N/A, applications can run in Win32 runner, or in device emulators for supported platforms.||Xcode or Eclipse, on-demand RhoHub version includes full IDE||Yes, supports Android 1.6+, iOS 3.0+ (iPhone, iPad), Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard, BlackBerry 4.6, 4.7, 5.0, 6.0 (4.2 and 4.5 supported but database access is very slow on these devices), Symbian||OTA deployment, iOS through App store, .SIS, .CAB, .APK, .COD||Rhodes is free and open source under the MIT License, RhoSync is under GPL or commercial, Commercial support available. Subscription for RhoHub|
|Ruby||Yes||Yes||Any text editor. As an IDE, RubyMine.||Android, iOS||The native distribution format of the platform||RubyMotion is a commercial product.|
|Drag-and-drop editor based on Scratch, Objective-C||Yes||Yes||Xcode||iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)||The native distribution format of each platform||Free and commercial development licenses|
|WYSIWYG, graphical drag and drop||Yes||Test right in browser or device||Online design studio||Android, iOS, Windows Phone planned||The native distribution format of each platform||Free to design, test, demo, update, app; fee to publish|
|WLanguage||Yes||Yes||WinDev Mobile||Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Windows (Mobile, Phone, Store Apps)||The native distribution format of each platform||Free to try, commercial and enterprise licenses available|
|C#||Yes||Yes||Xamarin Studio (Mac only), Visual Studio (Windows only)||Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows Store apps||The native distribution of each platform||Free community edition, pro edition included in Microsoft MSDN licensing|
Back-end tools pick up where the front-end tools leave off, and provide a set of reusable services that are centrally managed and controlled and provide the following abilities:
Available tools are listed below.
|Browser-based interface||NA||Server available for Windows, Linux, macOS. Supports mobile devices running Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, HTML5 browser-based client||On-prem, cloud, or hybrid||Commercial license based on the number of mobile devices needed|
|Java||NA||Android 2.0+, iOS 3+||Cloud||Commercial and enterprise licenses available|
|Java||Eclipse||?||On-prem||Commercial licenses available|
|Java||Eclipse||Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad), Java ME, BREW, BlackBerry, Nintendo DS, Palm/webOS, Sony PSP, Samsung bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Windows Desktop, OS X||On-prem||Commercial licenses available|
|Java||Use any front-end IDE||Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad), Windows Phone7||On-prem, cloud, or hybrid||Free development licenses; per-CPU deployment licenses|
Security add-on layers
With bring your own device (BYOD) becoming the norm within more enterprises, IT departments often need stop-gap, tactical solutions that layer atop existing apps, phones, and platform component. Features include
Many system-level components are needed to have a functioning platform for developing mobile apps.
|C; the APIs are provided in C with a C++ style interface||Debugger support for the native ARM target code. Can use Visual Studio to debug the x86 testing code||No Emulator for the target ARM code, has a simulator for the x86 testing code||Visual Studio 6.0, Visual Studio 2003 .NET, Visual Studio 2005||Compile for the specific BREW version available on the handset||OTA||Related dev fees typically needed for Brew App Certification - VeriSign annual fee for becoming a certified developer. Realview ARM compiler for BREW (the free GNU C/C++ is available, but with limited function and support). TRUE BREW testing fee for distributing the application.|
|C#, VB.NET, Basic4ppc||Yes||Free emulator, source code available, also bundled with IDE||Visual Studio 2008, 2005, 2003, Basic4ppc IDE||Windows Mobile, Windows CE, Symbian-based devices via third party tools||OTA deployment, CAB files, ActiveSync||Most tools free, but commercial editions of Visual Studio needed for visual designers|
|Haxe (similar to Actionscript and Java)||Yes||Yes||IntelliJ IDEA, FlashDevelop||Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), BlackBerry Playbook, WebOS, HTML5, Flash, Windows (exe), Linux||The native distribution format of each platform||Free|
|C, C++, Pascal||Yes||OS 1.0 - 4.1: free emulator provided by PalmSource (Access); OS 5.0: - 5.4 device-specific simulators provided by Palm (palmOne)||Palm OS Development System (Eclipse), CodeWarrior, PocketStudio, HB++, Satellite Forms||Palm OS handhelds, or Windows Mobile with StyleTap emulator||PRC files, PalmSource Installer (.psi)||Free (POSE or GCC for Palm OS), or commercial (CodeWarrior), or various commercial rapid-development frameworks|
|Python||Yes||Add-on to Nokia Emulator||Several, including plugins for Eclipse||Interpreted language available natively only on Nokia Series60 (and desktops) though ports exist to other mobile platforms, including Palm OS||Sis deployment with py2sis or can use Python Runtime||Free|
|C++||Yes||Free emulator||Many choices||Compile per target||SIS deployment||Commercial and free tools available|
|C, C++||Yes||Free emulator (source code available), also bundled with IDE||Visual Studio 2010, 2008, 2005, eMbedded VC++ (free), Satellite Forms||Windows Mobile, Windows CE||OTA deployment, CAB files, ActiveSync||Free command-line tools or eMbedded VC++, or Visual Studio (Standard edition or better)|
|C#, Visual Basic, C, C++||Yes||Free emulator, also bundled with IDE||Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2010||Windows Phone||OTA deployment, XAP files|
Mobile app testing
Mobile applications are first tested within the development environment using emulators and later subjected to field testing. Emulators provide an inexpensive way to test applications on mobile phones to which developers may not have physical access. The following are examples of tools used for testing application across the most popular mobile operating systems.
- Google Android Emulator - an Android emulator that is patched to run on a Windows PC as a standalone app, without having to download and install the complete and complex Android SDK. It can be installed and Android compatible apps can be tested on it.
- The official Android SDK Emulator - a mobile device emulator which mimics all of the hardware and software features of a typical mobile device (without the calls).
- MobiOne Developer - a mobile Web integrated development environment (IDE) for Windows that helps developers to code, test, debug, package and deploy mobile Web applications to devices such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and the Palm Pre. MobiOne Developer was officially declared End of Life by the end of 2014.
- TestiPhone - a web browser-based simulator for quickly testing iPhone web applications. This tool has been tested and works using Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 and Safari 3.
- iPhoney - gives a pixel-accurate web browsing environment and it is powered by Safari. It can be used while developing web sites for the iPhone. It is not an iPhone simulator but instead is designed for web developers who want to create 320 by 480 (or 480 by 320) websites for use with iPhone. iPhoney will only run on OS X 10.4.7 or later.
- BlackBerry Simulator - There are a variety of official BlackBerry simulators available to emulate the functionality of actual BlackBerry products and test how the device software, screen, keyboard and trackwheel will work with application.
- Windows UI Automation - To test applications that use the Microsoft UI Automation technology, it requires Windows Automation API 3.0. It is pre-installed on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions of Windows. On other operating systems, you can install using Windows Update or download it from the Microsoft Web site.
- eggPlant: A GUI-based automated test tool for mobile app across all operating systems and devices.
- Ranorex: Test automation tools for mobile, web and desktop apps.
- Testdroid: Real mobile devices and test automation tools for testing mobile and web apps.
Many patent applications are pending for new mobile phone apps. Most of these are in the technological fields of business methods, database management, data transfer, and operator interface.
On May 31, 2011, Lodsys asserted two of its four patents: U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 ("the '565 patent") on a "customer-based design module" and U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 ("the '078 patent") on "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network." against the following application developers:
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