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The Next Frontier in Mobile App Development: Your Car

developing for mobile

Demand for mobile apps is high among businesses. Enterprises seeking to improve productivity are mobilizing their workforce though third-party applications and in-house app development teams. With so many mobile platforms available, application developers need to carefully weigh the platforms they choose to support. Think life is tough building mobile applications for Android and iOS devices, and possibly Windows Phone? Get ready for the next big platform: Building apps designed to run in cars.

The New York Times has an excellent article about the battle between Google and Apple to control the car dashboard. Google has developed the Android Auto car operating system, and Apple has its CarPlay. They'll work similarly: Plug your Android or iOS device into your car via a USB connection, and the device powers the car's screen.

The car operating systems are not exact replicas or iOS and Android, because they need to take into account the unique environment and hardware of an automobile, including making sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. So, for example, Android Auto has no "back" or "recents" button.

One day all mobile developers are going to have to build or customize their apps for autos. But writing a mobile app for autos means a lot more than just writing it for the operating system the car uses. Apps for autos have unique requirements, particularly when it comes to safety and distractions. The Times points out, for example, that the U.S. Department of Transportation has set out voluntary app guidelines that say no action should take more than two seconds.

But that's just one of the department's many guidelines concerning distractions. The distraction guidelines include the following:

    • Reduce complexity and task length required by the device;
    • Limit device operation to one hand only (leaving the other hand to remain on the steering wheel (to control the vehicle);
    • Limit individual off-road glances required for device operation to no more than two seconds in duration;
    • Limit unnecessary visual information in the driver's field of view;
    • Limit the amount of manual inputs required for device operation.
That's just the beginning, though. The department is in the process of establishing what it calls Phase 2 guideline, to cover mobile devices and their apps.

Alpha Anywhere is constantly innovating and adapting to the demands of the mobile development market. Click here to learn more about developing for mobile with Alpha Anywhere.
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About Author

Dion McCormick
Dion McCormick

Dion McCormick, Lead Solutions Engineer at Alpha Software, is a recognized expert on agile application development. He helps enterprise development teams around the world transition from slow legacy approaches to high-performance mobile, web, and desktop development using the Alpha Anywhere platform.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.