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5 Mobile App Trends You Can Bank on in 2017

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Technology never stands still. What’s likely to happen in the mobile arena this year?

The churn in the JavaScript/HTML5/CSS3 continues to “move the cheese” in 2017. The usual pedestrian pace of releases in the JavaScript world has accelerated along with just about every forward-leaning framework in the IT universe, and it changes just about everything that has a web vibe to it. With the winds of change at our backs, I see the following in 2017:

  • Native mobile applications die a slow painful death. Unlike many celebrities that show up in your Facebook feed as “shockingly dead,, mobile native apps really are dead. The cost. The hassle of getting them approved and into app stores. The constantly evolving operating systems they run on, which quickly make today’s version tomorrow’s “brick.” All of it contributes to the demise of the native app. Just getting the functionality by “going native” will no longer cut it.
  • Hybrid mobile apps will fade as well. You’d think that a hybrid app using PhoneGap/Cordova, or Sencha, or any of the other hybrid platforms would fill in the gap left by native apps. No dice. They eventually suffer from many of the same limitations, albeit without the pain of knowing Java or Objective C. JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are the triumvirate languages for hybrid apps, but you still have to compile and negotiate the path to the app store. Non-starter IMHO.
  • Progressive mobile applications displace native and hybrid. There is a perfect storm of technologies that is making this happen, some of which have to do with an 800-pound gorilla that knows the “Alphabet.” First, more and more functionality is moving into the mobile browser. What used to take a plug-in or a polyfill to ensure cross-browser compatibility is now standard. What used to take a whole JS library to accomplish is now native in the browser. The browser is the fat client to end all fat clients, and it is putting on more weight, just like most of us will in 2017. Second, progressive web apps (PWAs) have higher conversion rates because the website you visited just to “kick the tires” is easily enabled to be an app with a link in your home screen. No need to go to the app store when you find a site you like; just follow the prompts when it asks if you want it to be permanently added to your home screen.
  • What about mobile and desktop app convergence? Used to be that the mobile browser was the ugly stepchild of the desktop. These days, new functionality that can be quickly leveraged on mobile comes to mobile browsers first. Desktop web apps now run just the same on the mobile devices, even PWAs.
  • Microservices and microservers will become the main building blocks for mobile. Modularity to the extreme is what’s driving this particular trend. Server-heavy, service-heavy applications are being displaced by “micro.” Much like the “big iron” versus PC wars of the ‘80s, there is still much ground to be covered by the micro movement. My guess is that, as functionally specific components are built and deployed, the building block approach to assembling a mobile app solution will become easier. Need a push-notification widget? Done! Need a Bluetooth connection? Connected! We will be building once and assembling often in our future mobile app development.

The one thing that is an absolute is that stuff will change. If you are a “stick with doing one thing” kind of person, your options will narrow, and you’ll miss out on the fun! I predict that the person with the JavaScript, HTML and CSS skills who also knows RPG will beat out anyone with just RPG skills in the job arena in 2017. So what are you waiting for? Get on with it!

Peter Helgren

Pete Helgren is Programmer/Team Lead at Bible Study Fellowship International. Pete is an experienced programmer in the ILE RPG, PHP, Java, Ruby/Rails, C++, and C# languages with over 25 years of system  3X/AS400/iSeries/IBM i experience. He holds certifications as a GIAC certified Secure Software Programmer-Java and as an MCSE.  He is currently Executive Vice President on the COMMON Board of Directors and is active on several COMMON committees. His passion has always been in system integration, and he focuses on open-source applications and integration activities on IBM i. Pete is a speaker/trainer in RPG modernization, open-source integration, mobile application development, Java programming, and PHP and actively blogs at petesworkshop.com.

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