Vivek Haldar

What mobile development taught me

After recently doing some Android app programming, I’ve learned a few things about mobile development. These are probably obvious to folks who already have been doing this a while, but I was late to the party.

  • Gotta have custom controls: If you use the standard UI controls, your app will look bland and boring and barely any different from the demo apps that come with the SDK. To get your app even a little bit past the threshold of noticeability, you really need to build your own custom control with its own unique look and feel. Every popular app does this. I can’t think of a single decent app that doesn’t.
  • Design is everything: you have a tiny canvas (maybe not so tiny if you’re developing for a tablet, but still), but unlike the desktop, you have all of it. Also, unlike the desktop, there are very few rules to adhere to. Great design and user experience completely dominates the impact of the app.
  • Your app has richer inputs: my desktop-bred keyboard-clacking geek brain immediately dismissed mobile devices as inferior because they didn’t have a keyboard. I can be stupid like that. The fact is, modern phones and tablets have richer inputs than desktops. Location. Gyro. Touch. Laptops and desktops are archaic and crippled by comparison.