ELearning Market Update – February 2011

Just when we thought we could rest after the busiest ever Learning Technologies show in January, along comes February. So much happening, so much to report; what do we cover? Let’s start with mobile learning, are you moving too fast?

Everyone, but everyone, was at Learning Technologies polishing their finger-smudged iPads. With the buzz Apple has created it's not hard to see why every company in the world is jumping on the tablet bandwagon and creating iPad apps. However, is creating iPad apps the best route for your mobile development?

One of the reasons the iPad has been so successful is that it provides a rich experience that you just can't get on an iPhone or on other phones. However, Google has unveiled Honeycomb, its tablet-specific Android OS, which will bring with it higher-quality, more-capable Android devices and better apps to run on them. Combined with new tablets such as the forthcoming Motorola Xoom it may be worth waiting to develop apps for the next round of Android tablets with Honeycomb.

You have a number of mobile platforms that you can develop native apps for such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. With native apps being platform specific should you develop native apps at all and should you develop a web app instead?

Many companies will sell you the advantages of a native app for your iPad such as:

  • Good user experience, fast and responsive
  • Tight control over look and feel
  • Can push new content
  • Ability to access the phone's hardware (e.g. accelerometer) and applications (iPod music, contacts)
  • Can be used offline
  • Can put on iTunes store
  • Can charge what you want

However, it is not a one way street. Whilst web apps may not have the same richness of user experience they are improving all the time and they have some distinct advantages:

  • They work across all platforms
  • Write once, publish once
  • Cheaper to develop
  • Content searchable on the web
  • Shared easily and tweetable
  • Access to web analytics
  • No need to get Apple store approval just click the link

So before you buy those shiny iPads just be aware this is clearly a changing space and there will be significant further developments this year. Bets anyone? Follow the discussion and contribute your thoughts on Kineo’s ELearning Professionals LinkedIn Group.

By Steve Rayson