A career in mobile apps

A growing numbers of smartphone users has led to an increase in demand for mobile app developers who keep you tuned in all the time.

A growing numbers of smartphone users has led to an increase in demand for mobile app developers who keep you tuned in all the time. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee finds out what it takes to be a mobile app developer .

Mobile phones which were once a luxury and moved on to become an entertainment tool, have today graduated to become a necessity. Special applications or `apps` are making life easier for smartphone users across the globe.

Apps like m-Indicator, which provides information on Mumbai local trains, Instagram, used for uploading and sharing pictures or Soundcould, where you can listen to all kinds of music, are available across operating systems with a rapidly growing user base. As the user base grows, so does the need to keep up to date with their demands and it is the job of a mobile app developer to keep up with the requirements of these users.
According to projections made by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, in June 2014, more than 180 million people were accessing the web through their mobile phones. Although that represents a small percentage of the population of the country, it is a increase compared to the 130 million in December 2013. On account of this growth, most businesses have shifted focus to the mobile space. “Earlier it was alright to have a presense on the web platform. However going forward it would be extremely difficult for a web application or a portal to survive without having a corresponding mobile application,” says Nikhil Jhalani, director, Design Studio, Mumbai. .

Although there are no specific academic qualifications required, it is preferable for students to have a Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Computer Application degree from a recognised institution. “I am a self-taught iOS developer, ” quips Siddhartha Banerjee, founder, Code Conclave, Bangalore, who has a non-programming background.

Apart from a background of engineering or computers, an aspiring mobile app developer must be proficient in C, C++, Objective C++, C# or Java, which are the building blocks of every mobile application. In addition to the popular programming languages, training is also provided for cross platform mobile app development frameworks like Sencha, PhoneGap, Xamarin etc. There are a number of institutes which provide application development training for different mobile platforms.
While Microsoft has its own certified training exam, the more popular platforms like Android and iOS do not have any such exam.

A training programme typically consists of 30-40 hours of course instruction provided that the candidate has some basic programming knowledge. The complete course duration is spread roughly over a period of 2-3 months.

“Students have to develop a mobile application independently after the course, which takes around 100 hours,” informs Harsha Marigowda, founder, Mobignosis, Bangalore.

In addition, a student must possess good analytical skills to excel in this career. Understanding an application just from a developer’s perspective may result in a technically sound app which may not be user friendly. “Understanding the app from a user perspective is important too,” advises Jhalani.

While a fresher in this sector can expect a salary of Rs 2 to 4 lakh per annum depending on the domain of the company, there is tremendous scope of growth in this sector. “Within five to six years the candidate can earn a salary around Rs 9 lakh per annum,” says Banerjee.

Apart from the application coding, app developers must also be aware of the user interface preferred by different mobile platforms. “Generally Apple and Google recommend User Interface design guidelines which must be followed by the developers. They must also take into account how an application will behave in phones with low memory or poor network,” informs Marigowda.

There exists a thriving market for mobile app developers to make their mark. So much so that, in addition to fresh graduates, even experienced professionals are eager to explore the sector. “Today, if a programmer has no experience in the mobile sector, it is considered as a skill gap,” says Yogesh Kadam, who has decided to shift to app development after more than a decade’s experience as an app tester.

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