For mobile developers, a lot has changed in the past year.
Facebook has now swiftly become the most popular social service for devs to connect their apps to, according to the latest mobile trend report from mobile dev platform company Appcelerator. And that’s despite the fact that many developers didn’t even consider Facebook a mobile company several quarters ago in a previous Appcelerator report.
In a survey of around 6,700 developers, Appcelerator found that 66 percent of developers were connecting their apps to Facebook, 13 percentage points ahead of Twitter, the No. 2 choice.
Three major changes led to Facebook’s newfound popularity among devs, Appcelerator’s Michael King tells me: The company abandoned its HTML5-powered app for faster native apps on iPhone and Android; optimized its mobile APIs to make it easier to connect with its social graph; and offered up extensive mobile analytics by snapping up Onavo.
While King told me he was most surprised about Facebook’s rise in mobile, he was also taken aback by the finding that 34.7 percent of developers found that legacy web infrastructure — SOAP (Simple Access Protocol) and XML data formats — simply couldn’t cut it for mobile devices. He noted that they were built for desktop computers which are always on and have a steady broadband connection, not mobile devices, which have to rely on spotty data.
Similarly, developer interest in HTML5 has been on a steady decline for over a year. While HTML5 would allow developers to build apps that could be easily deployed across multiple platforms, it still offers a noticeably less polished app experience compared to native development. Around 60 percent of developers surveyed said they were interested in using HTML5 in their apps, down from a high of 73 percent in mid-2012.
King was also “shocked” that 43 percent of developers seemed unphazed by all of the NSA surveillance reports. The survey found that mobile app developers in Latin America and Africa had more of a reaction by emphasizing encrypting the data being sent through their apps, and relying less on public cloud services.