With the rise of mobile technology, tablets and smartphones are overtaking PCs as our primary computing devices. This has led many of us to wonder how far it will go. Many tech experts I’ve talked to believe that for most of our computing needs, the traditional PC will be wiped out altogether.
As a developer, my first concern about this is how it will affect the state of programming. Right now, if all you have is a mobile device, it will be much harder to get into programming. You need a keyboard and a mouse as well as a monitor to start coding- all things that eventually might not be common items.
This would be bad for someone who doesn’t know how to code, but is interested in learning. No one should have to buy a whole computer just to write his or her first program.
Luckily, I’ve found out that there are already some new services that let you program directly on your phone. This seems like an odd niche, but it also shows a lot of promise. I’ve been spending some time testing these platforms out, and they are pretty fun to develop on.
Microsoft’s research division has been testing out TouchDevelop, which lets you code mobile apps from your smartphone as well as your PC browser. With TouchDevelop you select code from a library and insert it into your app using (as the name suggests) touch commands. In addition to this you can also choose to write your code out. It’s a little oversimplified, but it’s also convenient.
In response to this vision, we have developed Rheti. Rheti is an Android app development platform that only works on mobile devices. We believe so much in developing on mobile devices as it speeds up development, as well as leverage native phone features, that we don’t let you use the platform on a PC- you have to use your phone.
It’s a bold move, but to me it seem like it could pay off. Rheti is code free, meaning users build visually- Rheti supplies you with app components, and you assemble them together using touch commands. It sort of reminds me of Legos, except with apps. I’d much rather put Legos together with my hands (touch commands) than with my mouse, so I’d take Rheti’s approach any day when using a visual interface.
If you want more complexity you can code components, which can then be shared with anyone else who uses the platform. If Rheti gets a big enough library of components it could really be something big, because you wouldn’t need to know how to code to build really complex apps. Developers could build and sell components to users, who could build their apps themselves.
I will stick to programming apps on my computer for now, but there is certainly logic to Rheti and TouchDevelop’s models. Programming on the device that your program will eventually run on makes it easier to imagine the user experience. Developing on your phone is also a lot more convenient. There is a huge audience of people who don’t want to spend a lot of time programming, but want to make apps, and both Rheti (and to a lesser extent) TouchDevelop currently serve this niche.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that mobile technology is going to continue to overtake the PC- there could eventually be a time where most people don’t have anything except a mobile device. This will certainly have some unintended consequences, but my hope is that there will still be great programming environments to work in.
It’s nice to see some companies thinking ahead to solve this problem.
Founded in 2012, Rheti’s Android application is proving that any person can build a great mobile application. Rheti requires no previous programming knowledge and leverages a catalog of hundreds of features, third party APIs, and pre-built app templates to create native Android apps using touch commands. Customers who build apps using Rheti get to market 90% faster and can quickly customize their apps to make them unique in both functionality and design. Users interested in learning how to program are also able to use Rheti’s blockly interface to understand the methodologies behind scripting. Rheti is available for free in the Google Play store https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rheti.appcreator.
Please visit http://www.rheti.com for more information.