AS MOBILE PHONE COMPANIES LOOK TO ATTRACT USERS THROUGH SMARTPHONE APPLICATIONS, THE DEMAND FOR SMARTPHONE APPLICATION DEVELOPERS IS GROWING. ADIL MARAWALA EXPLORES THIS ENTERPRISING AND CREATIVE CAREER
The ubiquitous mobile can now do more than merely vibrate and make calls. The handheld telephony device, when infused with 2G/ 3G technology, transforms into a multitasking machine. It opens portals for users to experience a range of functional, entertaining or plain wacky applications. Your phone can now declassify the cryptic bar code markings on products and connect you to an online gaming arena. You can download and read an e-book with 3D illustrations and informative hyperlinks, poke and pucker up with friends, set up a private radio station, navigate your way through the darkest alleys of a big bad city or get a funky digital avatar thanks to mobile applications (or ‘apps’). These apps are small programmes that can be downloaded on to a smartphone and customised to serve your information and entertainment needs. As the world is gripped by apps-o-mania, mobile service providers are queueing up to smartphone apps developers and bidding for the next blockbuster apps to hit mobile screens worldwide.
Currently, the smartphone and smartpad segment allows one to download and use mobile apps developed on Symbian platform, Google’s Android platform, Eclipse platform and Apple’s iOS platform. As an application developer, one can either master the three platforms or demonstrate expertise in either of the platform. Application developers are basically evolving from the tedious webapplication developer roles to create small programmes for smartphones, netbooks, e-book readers and smartpads. The small programmes allow developers to bring personal creativity and carve individual recognition, something not possible when developing web-apps as a team. Says Ujwal Makhija, Chief Executive, Phonon.in, who began his apps business by taking small automation applications for travel and aviation segment. Makhija’s latest apps cater to automated customer service needs of international airlines, travel portals and airports. He says, “A person may forget his wallet but will not leave his home without his cell phone. Mobile applications ensure consistency of quality and real time solutions for clients.”
WORKING ON YOUR OWN TERMS
The role of a smartphone applications developer is essentially entrepreneurial in nature. The developer can work with a software development kit (SDK) and create personal apps. contd on page 2 These apps can be tested on the huge database of Android or iOS platforms and finally run on the mobile device using an appsemulator. This, however, is half the battle won as the developer then has to convince a mobile service provider to invest in his/ her apps and receive desired remuneration by either selling the apps or claiming copyright.
TRY, TRY AGAIN
Abhinav Laad who lost his job in a recession-hit firm in Silicon Valley channelled his expertise to develop three apps – one, counting the number of times an iPhone rotates when you spin it, another, a kiss-o-meter and third, a virtual trial room that simulates the chosen garment on a 3D image of self. Laad’s fortune changed as mobile platforms queued up to purchase his apps. Laad now jet sets between Paulo Alto and Bangalore as a creative director for a software company’s mobile apps unit. “It’s not been smooth sailing: many of my apps were rejected. My advice to apps developers is think simple and stick to the popularity potential of the apps idea as the popularity of an apps translates into higher downloads for the client and better royalty for the developer.”
RIGHT SKILL SET
Most apps developers either have an academic background of engineering, science or computer applications with a working knowledge of C# and operating systems. However, diploma students with a knack of coding in C++ or Java and object oriented programming knowledge are also in demand. Other soft skills required are critical thinking, team playing, problem solving and presentation skills. Most engineering colleges give a basic overview of the programming software and promote application development during college techfests. But now private academies and training institutes too offer short-term crash courses and one year diploma courses in apps development.
Skilled apps developers can function in other technical roles apart from creating apps. Freelancers get paid $30 to $40 per hour to write Android code, in a global market that currently has a short supply and high demand for such professionals. Those with multimedia knowledge can create new layouts, mobile views and menus. One can sync locationbased services, geocoder and compass sensors, and create rich map-based applications. Sunil Nandi, an apps developer for a mobile firm says, “Android developers stand to gain more than iPhone apps developers.” Starting from US$30 per hour on coding and testing jobs, apps developers can quote their own price for their exclusive creations.
Frameboxx Animation and Visual Effects, CMS Computer Institute, IMRI Learning Centres – Mumbai and Bangalore
Adil Marawala, Times Group
Source: EducationTimes, Dec 13 2010