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Legacy apps on mobile devices still need a lot of work

As 2015 draws to a close, the staff of TechTarget’s end-user computing sites took to Slack and held an hour-long chat about the year’s biggest trends. Over the past few days, we’ve brought you slightly edited excerpts from those discussions. In today’s final post, our editors discuss mobile apps and user experience (UX).

Alyssa Wood, managing editor:  With mobile, everything is moving toward having a better overall user experience starting on the development side rather than simply trying to convert legacy or desktop applications into workable mobile apps. One of the challenges is a shortage of developers to create these apps, although there are emerging tools to help people develop mobile apps without actual developer expertise.

Bridget Botelho, senior news director:  Yes, more codeless app dev tools have cropped up this year. But it sounds like there is still a lot of work to be done to make desktop apps work on mobile devices.

Colin Steele, editorial director:  There is. App refactoring gets a lot of buzz, but I see that as a feature, not a standalone product. Making Windows apps more mobile-friendly should be something that’s built into your VDI platform or your mobile application development platform (MADP) — not an additional tool you have to buy from an additional vendor.

Alyssa: Isn’t an MADP an additional tool from additional vendor, too?

Colin: For now, but not the way the market is going. MADP vendors like IBM and SAP are also into enterprise mobility management, which makes sense, because you need to manage the apps you build. Consolidation is leading us to more monolithic mobile platforms.

Bridget: Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform allows developers to create apps for Windows that work across any device, so that should help (at least, for the small segment of Windows mobile device users who get those types of apps).

Maggie Jones, site editor: *any Windows device

Colin: I don’t know how much universal apps will help, to be honest. You have to build them specifically for that platform. So it doesn’t address the problem of getting legacy Windows apps on iOS and Android devices, which is the real challenge businesses face.

Carl Setterlund, associate editor: Apps were also a hot topic in the desktop virtualization market this year to reflect that people are willing work on their phones. Users don’t want a full virtual desktop on their phone, but they’d probably use an individual app, which is part of the reason why VMware acquired CloudVolumes (now App Volumes) for app layering and added app remoting capabilities to Horizon 6.

Colin: But then you still have the UX issue: if the virtualized apps still rely on a point-and-click interface, they’re going to be hard to use on touchscreen devices.

Read our prior Slack chats on EMM market consolidation, mobile device hardware and Windows 10.