Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mobile Applications - How Are They Useful

By: Alastair Espie

Have an iPhone, Blackberry or any other smartphone? If you do, chances are that you've already integrated mobile applications into your day-to-day lives. For those of you not familiar with these revolutions in the world of technology, mobile applications are programs, often downloadable, that run on mobile devices. They come in a variety of forms and serve numerous purposes be it to increase productivity, network or just provide pure and simple entertainment. As even the most inexpensive mobile phones are capable of running mobile applications, the scope for development is limitless and applications are only really constrained by the imaginations of developers.

Mobile applications date back to the very first mobile phones. SMS, or text messaging was in fact the first mobile application and today is still the most widely used. It was other early applications though, such as built in games, that changed the way people came to think about what mobile phones could do. With the introduction of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), phone users were able to access news and sports results but more importantly, could download applications such as ringtones, wallpapers and games allowing a degree of phone customisation. As significant as this was though, WAP was not capable of offering the complex and sophisticated applications that are so prevalent today.

Since the introduction of smartphones, specifically the iPhone, mobile application development has experienced a boom. Because many phones now have near perfect Internet connections, users have been able to develop greater quantities of data and consequently, larger and more sophisticated applications. Developers have responded in kind by producing applications capable of such an array of functions that just about any need can be serviced by the right mobile application.

Currently, most mobile applications are downloadable and for offline use. Google though is hard at work on developing web-based applications. While this means users will require a reliable internet connection, wireless networks are quickly becoming more dependable and far reaching. Offering applications that don't need to be downloaded allows developers a far greater scope to be creative and push the limits of what is possible. Along with the development of 4G networks capable of handling far greater quantities of information, it is clear that both the quality and complexity of applications will continue to develop substantially.

Importantly, mobile applications present ain incredible opportunity for businesses to advertise. Mobile applications are widely used and notably, used by a diverse cross-section of society. It is therefore possible for very precise marketing campaigns to be inserted into applications. Be it through title cards or themed applications, the opportunities are limitless.