Predictions for 2016 Mobile Development

Well, it’s 2016 and technology doesn’t stop advancing.

A couple of months ago, I though Xamarin was the best platform for creating cross platform apps from the same (or mostly same) source code. From a technology standpoint, Xamarin offers the mechanisms to use all of my Visual Studio and .NET skills to build cross platform apps. All I needed was a MacMini hidden in my basement to do compilations. Let’s not forget their Xamarin Forms technology that gives you a single thing to learn to build user interfaces for the three major platforms.

I built a lot of web apps, some with Angular or other SPA frameworks, but to be honest nothing made it worthwhile. Plus the fact that I find Angular soooo complicated to learn.

Fast forwards to today. The web has advanced, and all new Windows machines have Edge, a great browser without the need to install something else such as Chrome. Angular 2 is in beta, as well as Aurelia: new SPA frameworks that embrace the latest advances in html5. Add to that the new web UI frameworks (e.g. Framework7) that skin web apps with the same look and feel as native apps on IOS and Android (I guess UWP support will be trivial to add to these frameworks). I’ve built an Aurelia app with these technologies, and I have about 10 times less code to do the same thing as with Xamarin Forms. Coupled with ManifoldJS, I can package a web site to a mobile app…

Now where does Xamarin Forms stand in this new world ? I believe the cross platform technology for normal, business apps has a very short future ahead of it. As some of you who follow what I do know – it’s full of bugs which I keep on declaring and there are always a regression here and there. I still believe in the technology, but I believe Xamarin needs to open source it’s Xamarin Forms project. In a matter of weeks I am certain the bugs will disappear and a bunch of new functionality will emerge. That will make a difference. I believe Xamarin’s value proposition is in reusing .net skills and know how, not an cross platform API. Besides, Xamarin Forms is useless without the core Xamarin engine to generate the IOS and Android apps.

Now for my predications. In 2016, I will only start new projects with web technologies. If Xamarin Forms is open sourced, I will consider it again. Obviously, project specifics might make me use one or the other whatever my current preferences are…

 

 

 

 
Comments
Patrick Moreau

Hi Erik,

I’m in the process of writing my own mobile app, I found your post very interesting.

After starting with Android Studio and Java, I switched to Xamarin. I have to agree with you about Xamarin Forms.

I had played with Hybrid apps in the past and never found them to offer performance on par with native. Has the technology improved enough that it’s no longer an issue? What is your take on current performance? I feel like to offer good UX the UI has to be kept simple with little of the nice transitions/bells and whistle of each platforms (like Instagram and Twitter). But then again my experience is limited on the subject.

Currently I’m building my app using Xamarin, ReactiveUI with ViewModel First navigation. I like it because it makes my views (Activity, Fragment, UIView, etc…) very basic with the least amount of code possible but I do have to redo the UI for each platform.

Well, the fact that Microsoft now owns Xamarin will bring more life to that community. I think I would stick with that for a while, see where they bring it.