Mobile developers want to focus on platform-agnostic code, report finds

Web development is stealing the spotlight from mobile application development, as smartphone users increasingly prefer to use browsers instead of dedicated apps.

Developers want low-code tools to make their jobs simpler, report finds Low-code development software isn't just for non-programmers: Developers cite it as a great way to automate repetitive tasks and free up time for higher level work.

A study out from Indeed Prime, job search site Indeed's tech employment-focused arm, is bringing good news to iOS and Android mobile developers: It's a job seeker's market.

Two things Indeed noticed from combing its mobile app developer downloads? Kotlin developers are in high demand, and job searches are down, all while employers are looking for even more people to fill mobile development jobs. 

Indeed speculates that the lull in mobile developer hiring may be a result of a trend it sees in developers: They're shifting their focuses into other types of development. 

SEE: Getting started with Kotlin: A resource guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The reason for that, Indeed said, comes from three different factors: Web development is stealing the spotlight from mobile application development, websites are increasingly shifting toward mobile-first designs, and app downloads are decreasing despite the average person spending more time in front of their mobile device.

All of that, speculates Indeed, spells trouble for mobile developers that may be dissuaded from taking iOS or Android development jobs in favor of platform-independent jobs that can reach all users regardless of OS or device type. 

Why the rise in employer interest?

Indeed found that, despite decreased interest from developers, employers are increasingly looking for them. Over the year from May 2018 to May 2019, overall postings for mobile app developers rose by 4.93%, and Android-specific posts rose by 10.61%.

Companies looking for developers skilled in Kotlin rose by nearly 90% over the past year, and Indeed thinks it indicates an element of a larger trend: iOS developer demand is falling, while Android is rising. 

Kotlin was announced to be Google's go-to language in May 2019, which contributed to a massive spike in interest. Along with that, general postings for developers skilled in the iOS SDK fell by 3.46%. That may not seem like that much of a slip, but with Android SDK postings on the rise, and Google-approved Kotlin taking off like wildfire it may be an indicator of a big future shift in employer demand toward Android.

How developers should respond to changing tides

Job seekers and employers seem to be at odds: Their increase in demand for mobile development professionals isn't in sync with belief from developers that web apps seem to be the future.

What this means for the future of development is anyone's guess. Businesses can plan for a particular future, but that does not mean they are tuned in to the demands of mobile device users. If—as Indeed claimed—almost no one is downloading apps, then the landscape may be changing, and universal web apps may be the future of mobile device use. 

It's up to developers which course they wish to take, but as Indeed also stated, "it's generally easier to pivot into mobile development as a web developer versus the other way around."

It might not be a bad idea to get some web development experience under your belt and treat a mobile app development job as preferred, but not guaranteed.

For more on mobile app development, check out "Should Android devs switch from Java to Kotlin? Here's Google's advice on swapping programming languages" and "Google plots future of Go, the programming language used in tech's best-paid jobs" on TechRepublic.

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By Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.