This content is part of the Essential Guide: Essential guide to mobile application platforms

Challenges of developing applications for mobile platforms

This podcast explores developing applications and the challenges for independent app developers across various mobile platforms.

Developing applications is tough enough. Bring Android, iOS and Windows into the mix, and the job to create apps gets more challenging because each platform has its own tools and languages. However, that's only one problem facing independent app developers. In this podcast, Nick Landry, senior technical evangelist at Microsoft, discusses the challenges for independent, non-corporate app developers and the issue of releasing frequent bug-fix updates.

There's an even bigger challenge that extends well beyond the development process: Making your app visible so that people want to download it. If an app is not in the top 50 to top 100 across a category in an app store, the likelihood that it will ever be downloaded is very small, Landry says. He added that 17% of independent developers generate no revenue from their apps, while another 18% make less than $100 a month.

For app developers, testing on a wide variety of devices is a huge obstacle. The Apple device ecosystem is somewhat limited, but getting access to every single device model (iPhone, iPad and iPod) across all recent versions of iOS is a real challenge. The Android world is by far the hardest hurdle to overcome, Landry says. Even though Android has close to 80% market share worldwide, the number of devices is enormous. While app suites that can test these various scenarios are available, many of them cost more than independent developers can afford.

Whereas a corporate app may have several thousand users, an app released to the public at large can end up with hundreds of thousands of users. Microsoft has a mobile platform called Application Insights to help developers get a grip on how users navigate an app. With just a few lines of code and a library included in an app, the developer can see which app pages and features are used most and also receive data on crashes. Custom measurements can also be added.

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