What I found so far is basically the idea of cross-platform design. This deals with the issues that arises when designing an app for a multitude of devices. The solution one article points out is the cross-platform design scheme. The article lists some pros and cons of a cross-platform scheme. Before I get into the pros and cons I should at least mention what such a design is. The idea of a cross-platform design is to enable you to write one code that would be implemented across different devices, be it an iPhone, Android, Android Tablet, iPad, etc. The image to the right shows the same app on different phones, the iPhone and some Android device. Companies offer packages and software that allows you to write in some dynamic or script language that would be implemented across different device platforms. Appcelerator and PhoneGap are examples of products that do this. Now into the costs and benefits:
Pros of using a cross-platform framework:
1. Code is reusable: as the title of the design suggests, the code can be used across different device platforms.
2. Plugins: Major frameworks, such as Appcelerator and PhoneGap as mentioned before, allow access to plugins and modules that can plug into other services or tools.
3. Easiness for web developers: this one goes to us, the team creating the multitude of different implementations of the same app. It would make it easier for the web developers behind the scenes
4. Reduced development cost: instead of spending money and resources making different code and design for different devices, you write one version that is implemented across different platforms for you.
5. Support for different Cloud services: the frameworks also offer integration with cloud services like Box.net, which we use to share stuff as well.
6. Easy Deployment: this goes along with having only one code to be implemented across many platforms
Now for the Cons:
1. The framework may not support every feature of the Device or Operating System: this is because any update to the devices from Google, Apple, Microsoft, or whoever that brings to light a new feature will not be compatible with the framework, that is until an update comes around.
2. You can't always use your own tools: Most frameworks want users to use their own development tools and suites, and that can mean that a developer has to forgo his or her own IDE preferences and use something else. PhoneGap actually allows one to use the IDE preferences native to that device platform. Otherwise, you may have to just do the project without the cross-platform framework.
3. Code might not run as fast: cross-platform compiling may take considerably more time than using the operative system's native tools and calls for an app.
4. High-End Graphics and 3D Support is Often Limited: some tools, like Unity, allow for much better 3D and High-End Graphics
These are just things to consider when making an app. Most likely, we won't use a cross-platform framework due to the fact that using your own tools and features are not supported very well and I wouldn't like to be tied in. What I got out of it was opening my mind to the idea of having different versions of the same app that would be used on different devices.
What differentiates different mobile OS?
The first one I will talk about is open source OS's. I'm not going to spend so much time here because they are fading from use in phones and devices and major companies beat the competitors. These are used on the cheaper phones and do not have many special functions built in. 3D video and other luxuries are only available on major brand name phones, like the iPhone and Samsung devices. When designing for these OS's, keep in mind the restricted functionality not found on branded OS's. Also keep in mind that some open source operating systems, like Android's OS, are used openly by other companies and do have increased functionality.
A major OS found is the Blackberry operating system. It is made primarily for business, with functionality taking precedence of personality and aesthetics. Focus is on communication features like email and BBM and not on media display.
Another OS found is Apple's iOS which is found on both it's phones and iPads. Operating system security and compatibility has been a point of contention for some in regards to iOS. It is entirely closed-source, and Apple chooses on its own which software the platform will and will not support. Aesthetics do take high priority here as does ease of use.
Windows now has its own line of phones and therefore its own OS to go along with it. Because it is a Microsoft product, it is easily compatible with many Windows programs such as Microsoft Office, making it a popular choice for businesspeople.
The Android is based off of the Linux operating system. Originally developed by an independent organization, it was later bought by Google, although the OS itself remains free and open source. Android is praised by many for his flexibility as a platform. Anyone can develop apps for the OS, and any company can release a phone using it. Even with this fact, however, there are still differences in functionality and appearance across Android phones and caution should be used not to overgeneralize Androids.
Given the nature of technology, updates must be regularly checked for and accounted for. In just 3 months, the phone and device world can be changed drastically with the release of a new product or technology.