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Intel courts mobile app developers

Steven Max Patterson | Sept. 2, 2015
Developing mobile apps that work on both iPhones and Androids isn’t easy – or cheap. And given the shortage of developers that continues to plague IT, a framework that allows app shops to repurpose code from one platform to the next promises to save both time and money. That’s what Intel is promising.

Until recently, if you wanted to build a mobile app that worked on the two most popular smartphone platforms, you had to make some difficult choices. On the one hand, you could build one app for both iOS and Android using a cross-platform tool like Cordova, usually resulting in an inexpensive app with a poor user experience. Or you could build two separate native apps to get a great user experience at a greater cost.

That could be changing.

Developers now have the chance to preview Intel’s Multi-OS Engine (MOE), which is designed to drastically reduce the development time needed to build separate native iOS and Android apps.

Intel wants to save mobile developers time – and businesses money – by allowing them to reuse Android code in iOS apps while preserving a native UI. Yep, Java running on iOS. Intel claims it has a unique approach, too. Mobile development teams can reuse the core mobile app logic written for Android by compiling the Android code into Apple compatible iOS code with MOE. According to Intel’s Jeffrey McVeigh, as much as 60 percent of the Android code could be reused in iOS apps.

Mobile developer shortage made acute by native UIs

Gartner’s Jason Wong says “the mobile developer shortage poses a challenge to enterprises to recruit experienced mobile developers who can work anywhere like Facebook, Google or Twitter or at a hot startup, often putting them out of the reach of more typical enterprises.” The need to build redundant apps for both Android and iOS is one of the root causes of the mobile developer shortage. The native UIs of the two platforms are so different they can’t be included in a single Write Once Run Everywhere (WORE) mobile app development framework. Where rich, responsive and immersive mobile apps that attract hundreds of thousands and millions of downloads and retain loyal users are needed, native apps have become the only alternative.

WORE mobile Web apps were once expected to mirror the WORE web development experience. And these days, everyone expects websites to accurately render in all popular web browsers. But the user experience of WORE mobile web apps didn’t meet expectations. Three years ago, Facebook dropped HTML5 and mobile Web development as the core of its mobile strategy and staffed separate Android and iOS development teams, essentially giving up on mobile WORE. Many other mobile developers followed suit. As the size of the development teams inflated with redundant iOS and Android platform developer specialists duplicating one and other’s work, the mobile developer shortage became acute. Attracting and retaining a large audience of loyal users with responsive native apps mandated redundancy.

 

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