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Jolt Awards: Mobile Development Tools

, March 04, 2014 The best tools for the nuts-and-bolts of building mobile apps.
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Mobile tools today fall into several broad categories: those that are involved with the coding, building, and testing of the app; and those that provide secondary services such as monitoring usage, providing back-end connections, and pushing ads. Being hard-core developers, we focus only on the first category — the tools for the nuts-and-bolts of building apps.

This category is, itself, divided into two major camps: native tools and those that favor cross-platform development. For the most part, the former tools generate apps that look completely native, while the latter provide a good experience, but lack the ability to use the exact native look-and-feel and frequently cannot access all the device features available to native apps. However, cross-platform tools have the distinct advantage of portability: one code base, multiple app platforms.

It's very clear that during the past 12 months, these cross-platform products have improved significantly. They're both better looking and more capable of exploiting the functionality (sometimes unique functionality) of the underlying operating systems. If they continue to close the gap with native applications, they might well become the tool of choice for all development, save the most demanding. We'll know more in the next 12-18 months about how this scenario will play out.

Following the usual protocol, the Jolt judges have chosen the six top products in the mobile development tools category from a large field of nominees. The top selections are presented in the following slides in this order: three finalists, two Jolt Productivity Award winners, and finally, the Jolt Award for the top mobile development product. The judges in the selection process were: Andrew Binstock, Robert DelRossi, Robert Galoppini, Gastón Hillar, Mike Riley, and Alan Zeichick. Unlike previous years, in which the race for the Jolt Award has had tightly bunched voting, the winner this year was a nearly unanimous first choice — with considerable distance between it and the rest of the field.

Before we ask for the envelopes, I'd like to thank Rackspace and Safari Books Online for their kind sponsorship of the Jolt Awards.

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