Being a mobile developer in 2018 is amazingly easy, here's why.Read time: 4 minutes
I've been developing things on mobile devices since 2012, I started on my jailbroken iPad 1. i think it was iOS 5!
Imagine iOS 5 and Node 0.4.x.
It seems like a million miles away and that they were dark days, I made do with my lot which turns out to be an awful lot. There were NodeJS had iOS binaries all the way to Node 0.6.x. Back then the gear was
- jailbroken iOS on an iPad
- NodeJS 0.4.x - 0.6.x
- Gusto - Code editor
- Codea - Lua for scripting toys on the go
- Bluetooth keyboard
- (optional) A train with an empty seat and a table
While it was a great platform for passion projects, this setup also saved my career more than once. My job at the time was building digital content for Harrods iPad magazine. Naturally, being able to develop the code on the target for the target was very novel I can remember at least 2 or 3 times on a tube to demo the latest and greatest tech to the client my then boss would break what I had built.
Being able to debug and fix on the platform is incredible, it probably helped save my job each time I did it.
It was hard work getting a workable development platform on mobile but most of the trouble was in learning how to get used to the new thing.
Fast forward to 2018, I haven't done much development on mobile in recent years. Closest I got was using my Surface Pro 3 with Ubuntu. This drove me to start an electronics project which is an x86 processor (Apollo Lake) and 8GB of ram. Yada yada. It's a cool project that I might never finish but it got me thinking about the current state of mobile development.
I started looking around for existing x86 architecture phones. None. Zip. Zero.
Then. One day my YouTube algorithm showed me an advert for Samsung DEX. 🤯
This. This was game changing. I could leverage mobile development, the way I'd always imagined it. Literally identical to the phone I started to design earlier n the year. A phone when unplugged and a desktop computer when plugged in.
This means a couple things for me, I can invest my time into looking setting it up as a development platform and I can backlog my phone idea and design a much simpler USB-C battery powered screen to dock my phone in for multitasking work.
Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of work for Dex to do to make it a truly capable web development platform such as
- Blink dev tools built into Samsung internet.
- when in dex mode browsers should all switch to desktop mode.
- dex labs should allow more flexibility in what it can do to any apps manifest such as
- Make all windows resizable
- I would like to see multiple app instance support as an option
- I really need the shift + space hotkey disabled option (this is a bug IMO)
- Make all apps scroll with a wheel instead of the cack handed click-drag-scroll pattern (Looking at you Gmail)