Mobile Application Curriculum: Intro to Mobile Development Platforms

Introducing students to the variety of common mobile development platforms is a great place to start with mobile development curriculum. The differences between these platforms and the available technology varies with the design approaches for each platform. It is beneficial to introduce students to:

1.Examining different mobile development platforms and their interfaces (Android,iPhone,Windows) and defining the differences between them.
2. Review differences in device technology and technology capability as it relates to the visual and technical design of a mobile application.
3. Review and understand the current design standards for iPhone and Android(includes icon design, design resolution and interface).
4. Define different design approaches for different mobile platforms. Explain strategies used to have the application work across platforms.
I have provided a list of resources and descriptions of how they can connect with developing students understanding of the Android and iOS platforms. Use these as starting points for class discussions and
strategy development. The links below can provide an outline for instruction.

Review of Android & iOS Developer Guidelines
Review the contents of the iOS and Android Development guidelines.These guidelines have been prepared to assist developers with making apps that the marketplaces can support and also are user friendly to the consumer. These documents can be quite deep but it is important to notice how specifically they are written and how their details can influence the successful deployment of an application or additional phases of debugging.

Platform Design Standards
After reviewing the design guidelines for Android and iOS you should be able to clearly identify the major differences between these platforms. During this part of the instruction the discussion/review of the reading can be done individually or used as a basis of discussion. Students should be able to identify major differences in how these two platforms are approached differently from a design perspective.  This looks like notes to the teacher, not instruction to the student.

Differences Between Android & iOS Hardware/Software
In addition to design standards, what are the described differences in hardware, software or operating system you see defined in the design guidelines of these two platforms? You should clearly identify known operating systems or device based hardware. You may also infer knowledge of current operating systems on specific devices.

Common Strategies For Cross Platform Design
Research using search engines(Google,Bing) the alternatives to creating apps for iOS or Android. Use the questions to guide the search.
  • What other opportunities for app marketplaces are there?
  • Can students find a current breakdown of the market share for different types of mobile application development?
  • Who are the contenders?
  • What does the market share breakdown tell us about the choice of development tools or platforms?

Students will ideally be able to differentiate between platforms and define the technology behind them.

These questions can help identify learning objectives.

1.Define three major differences between Android and iOS applications.
2. What is an alternative to developing for Android or iOS? What is a challenge to this alternative?
3. Which platform has an operating system which is open-source (free to upgrade and download)?

Understanding the variety of layouts and possible user experiences which are available in the two largest development platforms (Android and iOS) will help students understand the design possibilities. In this lesson students should begin to see the wide world of mobile application development. The goal is to introduce to students the current guidelines for application development for the two major platforms and differentiate the needs of each platform in terms of design.  Based on the knowledge gained from guided discussion and research on mobile platforms students should also better understand the larger context of the mobile development market.

Sample Assignments

1. Short Essay: After reading the Android and Apple Design standards, define the major differences between the Android and iPhone platforms. What do the design standards tell you about technology required and used to create mobile applications? Was there something that was unexpected in these documents? If yes, what, and why were you not expecting it?How would you use these documents to assist you in creating a mobile application for either platform? Which platform do you prefer and why?
2. Case study research and presentation. Research a mobile application using internet search engines which has had multiple design issues related to being placed on different app markets. What were the issues? How were they resolved? What strategies were used to resolve the issues between platforms? What can be learned and applied to your own possible mobile design? Make a visual presentation using Powerpoint, Prezi or other slide-based presentation tool representing your answers to these questions.

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