The History of Mobile Apps
It was way back in 1983 that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, first suggested that we’d be able to download software over our phone lines in the future, anytime we wanted it. The first primitive apps appeared around the time of the first mobile phones and PDAs – the Newton Message Pad built in 1993, for example, had rudimentary apps built in allowing users to search the web and send emails. One of the first games (Snake) appeared in 1997 with the Nokia 6110.
It wasn’t until the iPhone burst onto the market in 2007, however, that things really began to take off. Apple did something almost heretical here – they opened the market to third party programmers to develop the new apps to go on their phones.
In the next year or so, Apple launched their app store with 552 products, of which 135 were free. Within a week, there had been some 10 million downloads. We take this number for granted nowadays but, if you consider the lower ownership of smartphones at the time, it’s actually quite incredible.
The App Market Today
App development technologies have improved immeasurably over the last few years. What custom apps can do is only limited in some respects by our own imagination. We have augmented reality or AR, where users can simply point their camera in a particular direction and get interactive information on the screen of their smartphones. This has been used to great effect in games like Pokemon Go but has real applications in providing information for tourist destinations and even helping with the weekly shop.
There’s machine learning as well. Our apps can develop and learn with us and from us. They can second guess what we’re looking for and find solutions that we’re never in the original programming.
Then there’s the Internet of Things where all our devices are becoming connected in ways we could never have imagined. You can link your home energy system to a smartphone app, get real time diagnostics from your car and control your life more intricately than ever before.
Today, you can download any of 2.2 million iOS apps or 2.8 million Android apps. And those app development technologies continue to develop, almost by the day.
The Future of Mobile App Development
So what lies ahead?
One of the key drivers at the moment may well be virtual reality. Combine with AR, it’s beginning to gather pace and gain enthusiastic supporters. It also has a wide range of potential uses including online learning, medical diagnosis and business marketing.
Programming languages like Swift need to develop in conjunction with other technological developments, of course. 5G will soon be upon us and speed is still the perennial issue, particularly in more remote areas. Functionality will improve with options including voice control which has taken a leap forward in the last couple of years.
More and more businesses are moving to apps as their primary way of marketing their goods and service rather than the traditional website. Apps come with higher degrees of functionality and are easier to access, presenting unique opportunities to get users to engage with brands on a personal level. For average subscribers, apps are just that much more convenient. You can access them anytime, anywhere and even link them together.
Whether we’re learning a language, selling our own products, trying to work more efficiently or simply sitting back with a little video entertainment, there’s no doubt mobile app development has changed our lives and will continue to do into the foreseeable future.