The future of app development: 4 upcoming trends in 2014

The end of 2013 draws nigh! Here’s what we see happening in 2014 in web and mobile app development:

Trend 1: Android to overtake iOS

Android will continue it’s rise as a mobile platform because of increased market share and decreased fragmentation.

81% of mobile devices shipped in Q3 of 2013 were Android and in 2013 the proportion of mobile developers using Android has risen to 71%.

iOS currently brings in more developer revenue, partly because it has larger market share and partly because many Android phones are low-end, with outdated OS versions because they were customized by the hardware maker or carrier and don’t get updated.

But this is changing. Google is slowly winning battles to unify the fragmented Android versions in two ways. First, there are now more “stock” Android products at all price ranges, from the Moto G to Google’s Nexus line. And secondly, Google has been moving functionality out of the core OS and into Google Play Services which is updatable independently of the core OS, so developers will care less about the OS version. And Android is becoming more of a Google-controlled platform.

The public launch of Google Glass is expected in 2014, which also boost Android and the Google platform.

HTML5 has matured as a mobile development platform.

Apple gave up attempts to ban third-party development tools long ago, and iOS 7 officially supports JavaScript as a mobile development language in Apple’s XCode tool chain.

But with iOS no longer the clearly dominant platform developers are looking to expand their cross-platform options. In 2013 HTML5 mobile came a close third after Android and iOS and this is a growing segment.

PhoneGap, an open-source project backed by Adobe, continues to improve and is the most popular option. Hardware access from standard API’s is more widely available and performance continues to improve (hardware-accelerated CSS transitions look great even on 3-year-old hardware).

And Google Chrome continues to push the browser as a platform further on mobile devices with features, performance, and amazing developer tools.

Trend 3: The JavaScript application framework debate narrows

In 2012 it was the Backbone, the contender, vs. at least a dozen upcoming frameworks.

In 2013 AngularJS narrowly overtook Backbone as the most popular application framework with the rest, including Ember.js in spite of it’s very vocal community, trailing far behind in popularity. See the data here.

By the end of 2014 most developers will have made their choice.

We’ve been using AngularJS since mid-2012, but for 2014 the story takes a new turn…

Trend 4: Meteor is on the rise

The Meteor application framework is maturing quickly. With $11M investment by top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and a very impressive full-time development team it’s one of the most impressive projects we’ve seen in a long time. It will reach version 1.0 in 2014, and is already hugely raising the bar for web applications.

It’s full-stack (both client- and server-side using Node.js) and provides real-time UI updates with no extra effort, the killer feature. We’ve found it to be incredibly productive and easy to work with so far.

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments what you think. Have we missed something big? Are we totally wrong? Set us straight or let us know what you think.

We’re working with all of these things, and will take them further in 2014, so why not sign up to our newsletter and get some (very) occasional interesting info in your inbox?

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