The web, for all its warts, pushed a major advance in software construction. The separation of concerns. This is the idea that, just as you wouldn’t have the same person paint a house as lay the foundation, you should have different people design the user interface and the internal guts of software applications. The skillsets are simply different.
But, the mobile device, with its native apps, is a huge step backwards. Sure, there’s still plenty of scope for people who just want to make things work–APIs and server side logic are a large part of most mobile services.
But for the client side, it’s not enough for designers and UX folks to be fluent in the traditional tools. They can still do mockups, but the UI for mobile devices is constructed in code (objective C or android java, primarily). That means that the finer points of UI must be added by developers. No longer can they be delivered by HTML and CSS.
And hence, the rise of the proverbial unicorn, who can do mobile development, design and UX. And makes very good money, since there are very few of these.
Is this sour grapes? Nope. I know that one of my limitations is my aesthetic sense. (If I harbored any illusions about this, my wife would be quick to disabuse me.) And I think that the unicorns should ride this market for all it is worth. It just frustrates me that we came so far with web applications and separate of concerns and now are taking a huge step back.
And indeed, I agree that native development of mobile apps made it a lot more difficult, that’s why I’m a huge supporter of the hybrid mobile platforms. I think they’re becoming more common as well, and it makes it easier for both developers and designers (imho).
Interesting. I know there is some buzz around hybrid platforms (I hear good things about Ionic) but most of the mobile jobs I see are for iOS or Android developers–I see very few phonegap/cordova jobs. So while I’m convinced that hybrid apps are a solution much of the time, I’m not sure that is the industry trend.