Mobile Trends for 2012

Web, Mobile OS and Usability

Oct 20, 2011 | Skip to comments » | Share | |

Apple had finally started shipping their evolutionary iPhone 4S last week, selling over 3 million over the weekend and all of those mobile browsers cannot view certain things if your website isn’t prepared for it.

The Retina Display by Apple is a very capable display but it’s still much less real estate compared to a desktop monitor and there are other limitations that the mobile web uses will encounter if your website is not mobile friendly..

Upcoming mobile trends for 2012 include ways to extend usability to this newer, ever-growing market of people that partake more and more websites and gaming via their mobile phones.

Touch Controls

jQuery Mobile and Sencha Touch both bring a way to utilize the intuitive swipe, flick and other touch controls that are part of Apple iOS, Google Android and popular mobile operating systems.

Game and Application Development

Coding once and deploying on multiple platforms was once a holy grail.

Java once made it quite possible but it also meant that the Java runtime had to be present. Now tools such as Unity 3D and my personal favorite, Adobe Flex 4.5 produce projects that run as native applications for Apple iOS, Google Android, Blackberry Playbook and can be run via a desktop web browser; requiring only the Unity 3D or Adobe Flash plugin respectively.

Adobe announced at AdobeMAX that they had purchased PhoneGap that would allow for a quicker method to go from an existing toolset of web developer tools - JavaScript, et al - to making a mobile application for multiple platforms.

This write once, deploy many times methodology is a sure way to increase your audience per project.

Web Usage and Responsive Design

The pace of growth for the popular mobile operating systems in terms of functionality, complexity and ability is astounding. If you told me 12 years ago that I would be viewing websites in full color with full animations and interactivity, I would have called you insane. But in the last year alone, mobile usage grew 110% and it’s only going to continue to grow.

My colleague Kevin Dees wrote an emphatic article about responsive websites and design and via proper planning your website can serve up an experience to all users. One website for mobile and one for the iPhone or Android device is not exactly always the best way forward.

User Experience and Operating Systems

Earlier I brought up JavaScript libraries like jQuery and Sencha Touch. Very rarely do mobile users use items like a mouse or keyboard. Almost everything is touch based now. You now have to think about whether or not somebody has a 800 x 480 WVGA or 960 x 540 qHD display, or perhaps they’ll have a 1280 x 800 display. If your website was touch enabled and responsive… no problems, right?

You will also have to code to standards. We all know tricks to make Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 which will JUST NOT DIE work like we would expect Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome to predictably work. Apple iOS Safari uses a mobile variant of Webkit, Android favors WebKit but adds their V8 JavaScript engine. And there’s Firefox Mobile of course too, based off of their Gecko HTML rendering engine. And all of those aforesaid browsers render certain things differently if at all - CSS3, HTML5 Canvas and other items.

Gone are the days of mouse hover. There’s really no need for an over state on a mobile friendly state. The way drop down menus are handled need to be rethought. Modal popups don’t always work either on a mobile device. Adobe Flash isn’t always an option - don’t forget that iOS, Symbian and MeeGo/Harmattan (Nokia N9) still cannot run Adobe Flash whereas Android can play it easily.

Final Words

2012 will be an exciting year. HTML5 will mature, canvas support will be even better, responsive websites will deliver your digital content to a wider audience. Apple iOS, Android, MeeGo/Tizen and Windows Phone 7 will continue to mature and add features that benefit digital agencies. JavaScript libraries will continue to wow and amaze folks with its ability to remove the need for a mouse and keyboard.

Geolocation based services will be refined even more so to know what businesses are near you. And devices, be it a telephone or a tablet or other smart devices (hey, they even have browsers in refrigerators now) will allow users a truly full web experience. And more ways will emerge that will take existing code and allow it to run as a native application on the device. 

The Golden Rule will be designing and planning for your audience properly.



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