Dev

Latest mobile dev trends: Facebook’s mobile API & Javascript are hot; HTML5 & old web architecture are not

Image Credit: blakespot

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.

Perhaps related to those two trends, Appcelerator found that devs now view Javascript as the most important programming language for mobile development. 47.2 percent of devs ranked Javascript their No. 1 language, while Java and Objective C trailed with 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

“You can build in Javascript and actually produce native applications,” King noted. “You can use Javascript on the server side, but also on the client side to build those apps.”

Naturally, Appcelerator is also using the findings from the report to help guide its future plans: “The whole purpose of this is to really start understanding what our devs need and what our enterprise needs,” King said. “Because of some of the questions we’ve been asking, we’ve been really focusing on Javascript [for clients], and also on the server side with Node.js.”

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.

More information:

Mobile apps are fast replacing web applications as the way we buy, share, search, learn and collaborate. Appcelerator helps companies solve for this new reality with a mobile engagement platform to drive great mobile app experiences, q... read more »

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