Monday, April 2, 2012

What is a mobile app?

mobile app (n.) a software program that runs on a smartphone, tablet or similar device.

Many people ask this question about the definition of mobile app because they are looking for a precise technical definition.  As with many commonly used technology terms, mobile app does not refer to a specific standard or protocol but rather to a general category of technology solutions.

Mobile App
What is a mobile app?
Mobile app is, of course, a shortened form of mobile application. Mobile apps are software programs that run on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Many use Internet protocols for transport and communication layers while others are standalone applications that run entirely on the mobile phone without any need for server side communication. They may run in the web browser of a smartphone, within a native rich client container or as a standalone native application.

Similar to other applications, a mobile app has a data layer, a business logic layer and a user interface layer. As with other client-server and web application architectures, when mobile apps interact with a server,  there is also a need for a communication and transport layer as well as server context management.

The Magic RIA clients for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Android and iOS are native operating system (OS) applications for any of these devices, implementing the Magic RIA client protocol. They are essentially mobile apps themselves that interact with metadata to run the client side of the mobile apps created using the development studio of the Magic application platform. This same development studio can also create the server side application running on backend enterprise systems (Windows, Linux, Unix and IBMi).

So with any of these Magic RIA clients for the different mobile devices, developers can deploy enterprise connected, highly interactive RIA applications on the different mobile devices: Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Mobile. For this reason, the Magic Application Platform is considered to fully support the Mobile Enterprise Application Platform concept.

Additional important concepts:

What is a mobile enterprise?
How does mobile app design differ from design for  desktop and web apps?
What is a mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP)?
How do mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAP) differ?
How can I make money as a mobile app developer?
What job skills do I need to develop mobile apps?

Glenn Johnson is a Senior Vice President at Magic Software Enterprises, Inc. Active in the software industry since 1984, he frequently speaks at industry conferences and writes for numerous publications.