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Recent release of iPhone 7: what is in it for mobile app developers and users

14.10.2016 Anton Kulich
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Recent release of iPhone 7: what is in it for mobile app developers and users

The official presentation of new Apple products is always associated with massive hype, addicted fans standing in lines since midnight, naysayers criticizing the innovations and experiments introduced, and developers curious about the opportunities and limitations of the new platform. The recent release of new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is no exception – lots of improvements, a controversy of headphones jack removal, and new software and hardware have hit the news, the forums, the social media, and the dev community. This article is looking at some aspects of mob development for iPhone 7 in the view of changes and novelties introduced.

ARM processors have been inherently slow when dealing with full-scale JavaScript. Actually, so slow that the forecasts or hopes of them being able to match desktops in a speed of running JavaScript inevitably led to bursts of laughter. Back in old-old days – three years ago – iPhone 5 was 10 times slower than a decent computer of that time. Who could have expected any drastic boost in mobile productivity of JavaScript processing in foreseeable future?

Well, the future no-one saw coming is already here – the new iPhone 7 runs JavaScript faster than the best MacBook out there. Or, in other words, faster than most laptops on the market. This event deserves to be labelled as a tiny (or not so tiny) revolution. Because it changes the strategy of mobile apps development and opens vast opportunities for mobile software development companies.

Just a few years ago there was an abyss between native mobile apps and web applications in terms of performance. There was no way to make web app run fast enough to be able to use it for professional or other critical tasks. Now there is no difference in JavaScript execution times, meaning that theoretically iPhone 7 is suitable for serious tasks!

We have to keep in mind though, that iPhone 7 is not commonplace – it is still an exception rather than the standard. The top Android phone – Samsung Galaxy S7 – is still three times slower than iPhone 7. But that is also good enough compared to the average performance just a few years ago. And it will obviously keep getting better and faster. The lag as large as an order of magnitude is the fact of the past. This is no longer a concern.

That is not to say that there are no imperfections or limitations. Some hybrid implementations (web+native) may not feel as smooth as pure native – there is room for enhancement yet to be made. Some apps, such as indoor 3D games want to drain all your resources to the maximum – not the best use case for a hybrid approach. But other than that, hundreds of thousands of cool apps can be built by interweaving native and JavaScript code without fear of killing productivity and customer experience.

Another point on the bright side of the new state of affairs is that developing multi-platform services has become easier and faster. The hybrid approach allows creating applications for desktops, for the web, for Android, and for iOS without hiring separate developers for each platform.

Availability of higher performance for web apps is not only enabling us to have previously developed modules or tools to run faster than ever. It is also enabling us to develop brand new concepts and ideas using new approaches. Approaches that have not been feasible for mobile apps before due to extreme slowness.

Even though the pace of technological development in present years is cosmic, and breakthroughs pop up where no-one expects them, one of the rare, but desirable qualities for developers is being a visionary. It is no longer sufficient to be at the forefront of technology – you’d better be a little ahead of the curve and design your applications to be able to easily accommodate new advances, technologies, and methodologies (iPhone 8 is inevitable in a year or so, and, sure thing, it will be even more capable and advanced).

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