Reliable vs Trendy: Should I Use The Newest Mobile Technologies?

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Artem Petrov

28 Mar 2018 - 7 min read

Looking to use the newest mobile technologies in your mobile app?  The good news is that you can, but you might want to think twice. If you have a great deal of experience with mobile technology, you may already have exactly what you want, and that’s cool. Without experience, it makes sense to talk with a knowledgeable developer before you choose.

So, before deciding which specific technologies you want to use, it is absolutely critical to first look at your goals for your app.

Most businesses approach mobile app development as an investment to increase sales and attract new customers or automate work processes. To ensure this business investment provides a steady return, you probably want to do everything you can to minimize your risks.

Market Size and Device Compatibility

How many people use the device, operating system, or meet the technical requirements to make use of your app and its features?  These questions are inherent to defining your target market. The normal business objective aims to include the largest possible, logical audience.

Android comes out with a new version every year. Each offers improvements and new features. Knowing each version’s relative user volume should play an important role in your decision making. It ties into the minimum requirements to run your app and how backward compatible you should be to maximize your market size.

The following statistics reflect the relative distribution of Android versions as of February of 2018, as tracked by AndroidAuthority:

  • Through 2012 – Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean – 5.7%
  • 2013 – KitKat – 12%
  • 2014 – Lollipop – 24.6%
  • 2015 – Marshmallow – 28.1%
  • 2016 – Nugat – 28.5%
  • 2017 – Oreo – 1.1%

Simply speaking, releasing an app that only works with Oreo may not be such a good idea, though you can be assured your market will grow over time. This is an issue all software developers face. The best advice is to examine the pros and cons of each technology or feature relative to how many people will be able to use it.

Resources and Security Vulnerabilities

Stability and security run roughly proportional to the volume of overall use over time: the more people-hours a system experiences, the higher the odds that issues will be found and solved. Newer versions of programming languages and operating systems usually have more problems, since fewer developers have spent less time debugging and testing them.

In today’s mobile app world, security is paramount. The website InformationIsBeautiful offers a great view of the frequency and scope of major data breaches throughout 2017, by type. You can filter by what sites had poor security, were hacked, accidental leaks, etc. With this sort of information being so easily available, you don’t want to be on their (or anybody else’s) list of vulnerable sites.

On top of that, 2017 brought us the whole Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities, impacting virtually all electronic devices with CPUs. For these, we have to trust the original chip manufacturers like Intel for fixes. But over and over again, we’ve seen vulnerabilities in nearly every new operating system release. Depending on your business model, you may want to allow some time for developers to find and fix security risks before betting your project on a brand new OS release.

Developer Availability

How many developers are proficient, or even specialize in the newest mobile technologies you have your eyes on?  If your project is mission-critical, you will want to be prepared with a backup plan. If your first team doesn’t come through, that will give you another developer, available to rescue your project. However, with very new and niche technologies, that backup may be hard to find.

Technical Longevity

You want the technology you select to be around for a long time. Problems most frequently arise here when designing apps for specific hardware devices. It’s not unusual that devices fail to catch on. Then the original manufacturer halts production, goes into bankruptcy, or gets bought out by another player. Even the big boys are at risk here, as we saw Amazon’s Fire Phone fizzle, not to mention all of the strangeness associated with Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.

The Right Tool for the Job

Every tool has a function. While you can use a flathead screwdriver like a hammer and even with some Phillips head screws, it’s going to work best with slotted screws. The same principle goes for the vast array of platforms, languages, application frameworks, and devices developers can choose from today. Your app can be written in Ruby, Python, Javascript or any number of other languages. Which one is best for the job?

That’s a great question to ask your developer after you explain everything you want your app to do. They will be able to tell you what tools are best and why. Then, you’re free to take that answer to another developer to get a second or even third opinion. Your developers may not be in agreement, but odds are good that you will end up looking at a validated shortlist to compare against.

The following table, from our previous article on Cross-Platform Development, helps to show how specific solutions might work best for different types of apps:

Compile-time solutionsRuntime solutionsWeb-based solutions
Xamarin Platform
iOS, Android, WP
Unity 3D
C#, UnityScript
iOS, Android, WP
Facebook React Native
iOS, Android
Adobe PhoneGap / Apache Cordova
iOS, Android, WP, Blackberry OS, Samsung Bada, Tizen, webOS
Embarcadero RAD Studio
iOS, Android
Marmalade SDK
C++, Lua
iOS, Android, WP
Appcelerator Titanium
iOS, Android
Ionic Framework
on top of Apache Cordova
iOS, Android
iOS, Android
C++, Lua, JavaScript
iOS, Android, WP
RhoMobile Suite
iOS, Android, WP
Intel XDK
on top of Apache Cordova
iOS, Android, WP
iOS, Android, WP
Corona SDK
iOS, Android, WP
iOS, Android
IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation
on top of Apache Cordova
iOS, Android, WP, Blackberry OS
iOS, Android
Unreal Engine
iOS, Android, WP
Adobe AIR
iOS, Android
Telerik Platform
on top of Apache Cordova
iOS, Android, WP

When to Adopt the Newest Mobile Technologies

New technologies of all kinds favor those willing to take a big risk for the chance of great reward. So, when it comes to adopting the newest mobile technologies for use with your business app, are you willing to gamble?

The augmented reality, real-time video facial recognition app we designed for Looksery is a good example. Victor Shaburov raised $46,000 against a $30,000 goal on Kickstarter to help finance Looksery. He then went on to sell Looksery to Snapchat for $150 million. Was that a sure thing? Not by any stretch.

Victor was known for starting Handster which was acquired by Opera, where it transitioned into the Opera Mobile Store, where he continued as Vice-President. As an experienced and successful serial entrepreneur, he had his thumb on the pulse of mobile and web-based technologies. His highly educated guess reaped great reward. However great his reward, others have set their sights much higher. Twitter turned down a $500 million bid from Facebook. Dropbox said no to an $800 million offer from Apple.

But these examples are not your typical businesses. Moreover, for each of these big-time success stories, there are scores, if not hundreds, of stories ending in financial loss and sometimes ruin. Your business strategy and plan should drive your willingness for risk.

One Step at a Time

Developing a mobile app is a lot like building a house. At some point, it will look finished, but there will still be lots of work left to do. When everything works as intended, it’s all good. When it doesn’t? You might have to tear the house down to keep it from collapsing on you.

The way to prevent these kinds of problems is to talk with your developer and demand a professional quote. A proper estimate will take into consideration every last detail you describe, leading to an itemized list of everything your app will need, every module, every technology, how much work it will involve, how long it will take, etc. An unprofessional estimate will lack these specifics and you’ll find it hard to get answers when you ask for them. Your developer should answer every question you have to your satisfaction, including why Python or Javascript or Node.js or Ruby is better for your app than other available options.

If you have an idea now and would like to talk to someone, why not check out our App Evaluation Workshop? Talk with our world-class UI/UX designers, mobile developers and business analysts and see why Reinvently is one of San Francisco’s Top Mobile App Developers according to!

Additional Recommended Reading:

There's a Better Way to Manage Your Mobile Business

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