4 November 2019

Enthralling Open Source Platforms for Developing Mobile Applications

Open sourceDevelopment of mobile applications

Codes are the blocks of instructions that convey your intention to the computer. It is coding that helps you get the best out of the machines. Thus every, program or software is a creation of codes and the way they are structured and written defines the specialty of that software.

In programming terminology, we call them the “source code.” The “source code “ thus is fundamental to the program. So, if we consider a program as a property, then the way to define it for ownership, sharing, and improvement is to use the “source code.”

Thus if you have the source code, you have the program or software.

Let us look at an open free source, i.e. water. Water is free, and it is flowing in the rivers, ponds, springs, etc. But some companies decided to do some extra work on the water like filter and process it. Then bottle it and say, this water you can’t have as you can have from the springs, rivers, and ponds. For this water, you will have to pay an amount, an amount equal to the work we did on it. Thus is born mineral water or bottled water.

The same scenario applies to the world of programs and software. Many programmers use their ideas and creativity to develop software.

Now, some programmers and companies will like to close their source code. For example, Microsoft Office is a product owned by the Microsoft company, and it will give you only the key to use its pre-designed features. You cannot access its source code and edit it to add additional features. Even to view the source code is complicated in the recent versions of the Microsoft.

But here we are discussing the platforms which are open to all and the source code is available to all users. But before we do that let us understand some basic differences between web apps, native apps, and cross-platform apps.

A web app is one that runs on a browser, and it is quite easy to create it, but the problem is that they take a longer time to run, are less interactive and less intuitive, etc. It is also tricky to put web apps in app stores.

While native apps are typically made for a particular platform and using native programming languages, hence, they will be faster, interactive and intuitive. However, they will have to be developed separately for each platform, harder to learn and maintain and are quite expensive. Thus an Android app and an iOS app are an example of native apps.

A cross-platform app is one that will work on multiple mobile platforms. They are gaining popularity as it makes life much easier for users, without worrying about the device. With the hybrid, rapid mobile app development and Progressive Web Apps(PWAs), cross-platform development is relatively more comfortable now. Cross-platform is uniform, market-friendly and easy to deploy.

The choice of your app (a native, web-based or cross-platform app ) will decide the open-source platforms that are available to you. Now let us look at some popular open-source platforms.

1. Tizen

Tizen has become a buzzword with the news around that Google is planning to move out of Android over some lawsuit and then Samsung will be using Tizen as a substitution platform.

Tizen is an open-source platform that is developed by the Linux Foundation. It is lightweight and very flexible. It offers excellent battery life and has good web app compatibility. One can easily take up more apps when compared to Android. They have a good market in developing countries.

2. Android

Android the first name that comes to the mind when you hear the word “open source.” It is because of the revolution android has created in the world of mobile app development.

Android is known for its comprehensive nature. Android is owned by the Open Handset Alliance and is supported by Google. You can start just with Android, and you don’t even need a physical device.
Android owes its origin to Linux as it uses the Linux Kernel to propel itself. Linux being much light weighted and less resource-heavy; hence user experience is enhanced. Android is used to develop native apps.

3. Kai OS

Kai Os is an emerging operating system. It can make ordinary, feature phones smart has broken the stereotype that “smartphones are the only phones.”. Jio, a 4G network giant in India, used this operating system in its phones. Thus the popularity of this software has further increased and has also found significant market presence. It has already overtaken iOS as the second most used OS in India and globally will rank as the third dominant mobile OS.

It is a modified version of the Firefox OS. Kai OS uses standard web technologies like HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. It saves costs much, and their phones don’t need touch screens, which are the most expensive components of a smartphone. The chips used a keypad is from China and hence helps cut costs.

Kai OS could bring millions of people into the internet with its ability to blend in with feature phones which are rising in the market, especially Africa and India.

4. PhoneGap

PhoneGap is an open-source program that enables the conversion of an HTML, CSS JavaScript sites into a native mobile app. It is necessarily a cross-platform mobile application development tool. It thus allows access to those areas which a web browser generally does not’ have access to like battery status, compass GPS, etc. It helps you build iOS, Android and Windows apps for mobile devices.

5. NativeScript

Nativescript helps you to run native iOS and Android apps from a single Javascript codebase. There are no web views in NativeScript, and it has no HTML and DOM. Contrary to web-based interaction in PhoneGap and similar programs which has limited API, NativeScript provides complete APIs.

There is no cross-compiling and has 100% access to Native APIs as well. Though it sounds similar to React Native, they are not the same. Unlike React Native, there is no need to write Objective-C code, java code or Swift code.

So, open-source platforms in the hands of creative programmers can not only lead to new mobile app technologies but also ensures that the world wide web passes on to profit-seekers alone and like public parks and spaces they will allow young programmers to bud and flower.
Hubs: Open source Development of mobile applications
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