New Tool for Mobile App Development in 2019: Blockchain
Blockchain technology is most associated with cryptographic currencies, but all signs point toward it becoming an important tool in the mobile developer’s arsenal in the new year.
One description of the mysterious technology (from the book “Blockchain Revolution“) is: “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
With such potential widespread functionality, blockchain is increasing being used for mobile development. But how exactly?
“Any organization or business that requires recording and/or sharing of digital data through their app can benefit from implementing blockchain in their mobile apps,” said dev company ChromeInfotech in a November post.
A post by eLearning Industry provides more info, including the types of apps most suitable for an infusion of blockchain. “As mobile transactions are getting momentum for many businesses, blockchain-based mobile apps are increasingly getting popular,” said the site.
Its list of common types of blockchain-based apps is dominated by cryptocurrency concerns, but also includes others:
- An app for exchanging cryptocurrencies can make things easier for asset traders and miners. Like stock market apps, such cryptocurrency apps allow you to have total control over your digital assets and trade with them. Cryptocurrencies that are powered by blockchain can be used for all sorts of payment and transactions through such apps.
- Electronic wallet apps that can store your digital assets and money and allow you to spend on transactions involve blockchain technology.
- There can also be digital asset tracker apps to provide you updated information about the rates, cryptocurrency trades, market dynamics and a portfolio of various cryptocurrencies.
- Retail apps allowing its customers to pay through bitcoin or other based cryptocurrencies is another type of blockchain-based app.
- Smart contract or self-executable protocols that respond automatically to some predetermined triggers is another facet of blockchain that can be used in mobile apps for driving automation.
Topcoder, a crowdsourcing development specialist, also examined the topic of using blockchain in mobile app development.
“Blockchain is a very buzzy term in tech,” Topcoder said. “While many are adopting it for a variety of scenarios, is it right for mobile app development? There are pros and cons to designing applications with it. It’s often touted for its security because a blockchain cannot be corrupted and is always transparent. These traits bring both opportunity and challenges.”
Topcoder also explored the use cases for blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“While it’s mostly discussed in the context of bitcoin and transaction records, it has many more uses,” the firm said. “Blockchain technology does something that other structures cannot. It allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied. It’s the architecture for a new kind of internet. Beyond just a backbone for bitcoin, blockchain development has many uses in the tech world.
“With a decentralized app, there is no single authority accountable for the storage, management, and organization of the data. Everything is stored on blocks, which are then distributed on a ledger, ensuring traceability, transparency, and the inability to alter it. It operates autonomously. However, since there is not a single owner, changes are made by the consensus of all stakeholders.”
In its discussion, Topcoder notes the pros and cons of distributed databases — another blockchain implementation — quality assurance concerns and more. But, again, cryptocurrency is still the No. 1 use case.
“You’ll find that the more your app is like bitcoin, the more likely a blockchain architecture makes sense,” Topcoder said. “Study the details if you aren’t intimately familiar with bitcoin, but don’t assume that bitcoin is the only way to use a blockchain. Possibilities await for those businesses that want to take advantage of the technology and all that it offers.”
One possibility beyond the nuts and bolts of actual mobile app development is the app store itself, and not just the traditional Google Play and Apple’s App Store. HealthcareITNews discusses just such a specialized niche implementation in a recent article that reports on a blockchain-based app store that connects AI developers, providers and imaging centers in the medical field.
But blockchain might be used to shake up those primary app stores also, says the site CoinTelegraph in the article titled “App Stores of Future Will Be Based on Blockchain, Promote Transparency.” Reporting on app store plans from the firm AppCoin, the article says, “Google Play and the Apple App Store are the most widely used mobile marketplaces across the globe. It’s because of this duopoly that they are able to impose a 30 percent cut on all purchases, app downloads and in-app items alike.
“AppCoin wants to change this by utilizing Blockchain technology, disrupting the traditional app economy. This economy is worth nearly $77 bln today and may double by 2020.”
The app store issue is also addressed by NUS Enterprise in a post titled “Blockchain technology: is the app store business ready to be disrupted?”
Among other functionality, the post says blockchain technology can be used to reduce inefficiencies in advertising, in-app billing and app approval.
“In our opinion, blockchain technology is a tool that will undoubtedly help all sorts of markets and services become open, decentralized and free of monopolies,” said the post. “Our contribution to the app market uses blockchain to create a new, more clear and fair space where developers, manufacturers and OEMs can truly be rewarded and benefit from the app economy, as well as to give users more incentives to invest, use and spent resources on the market.” The firm provides the AppCoins Protocol, which it says is the first open source blockchain-based protocol.