Trending now: the state of mobile app development jobs

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Motorola cut the cord when it placed the first handheld mobile phone call over 40 years ago. Ever since, the race for smarter mobile development lives on.

From that first call to the height of the smartphone era, it goes without saying that mobile development trends are (more often than not) on the move. Despite continuous change in the mobile universe, however, we can count on two constants: iOS and Android. In fact, these two operating systems alone accounted for 99.7% of all smartphones shipped in 2017.

And with smartphones come apps. Lots of apps. At the close of the first quarter in 2019, the Google Play Store took the lead as the largest app store with 2.1 million apps available for download. A close second, the Apple App Store, was stocked with nearly 1.8 million apps.

All of this to say, the future of mobile development looks bright. But what trends are impacting tech professionals and companies in the modern mobile space? Outfitted with Indeed data, we discovered a decrease in job seeker activity and uptick in employer interest. Oh, and skyrocketing demand for mobile developers skilled in Kotlin. (Spoiler alert: Now might be the perfect time step into a new mobile developer role.)

In a slump: Mobile developer job seeker interest

According to Indeed data, mobile developer job seeker interest has significantly decreased from May 2018 to May 2019. Looking closer, we see that search results from this time period show iOS searches down 25.61% and Android 26.34%. Overall, job searches for mobile developer roles have also declined on the job site by 32.89%.

What could be causing this lull? When we look at it from both a developer and consumer perspective, a few trends stand out—trends that may be influencing mobile developers to transition into other roles (for instance, software development) that might appear to offer greater compensation, long-term stability and demand.

From a development perspective, it’s important to note that mobile development is a smaller market than web development. Not only is web easier for companies to adopt, but it reaches a much wider audience. Plus, it’s generally easier to pivot into mobile development as a web developer versus the other way around.

The rise of responsive websites also might play a role. About 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, so many companies are now building mobile-friendly websites rather than pouring resources into creating a mobile app that, in the end, consumers may not even consider downloading (more on that later). Additionally, improvements to hybrid frameworks (e.g., Xamarin, React Native) make it possible for web developers to create simple apps without running into major issues or setbacks along the way.

From a consumer point of view, the overall usage of apps could be affecting job seekers. A report by comScore shows that primary app users (those aged 18 to 24) dedicate two-thirds of their digital time on smartphone apps—and they’re willing to pay. In fact, 70% claim to always be on the lookout for new apps to try, compared to only 37% of users aged 35 to 54. But while younger generations are driving app interest, they don’t make up for the majority. The hard truth is that most US smartphone users download zero apps in any given month. Job seekers own waning interest in apps could cause a similar dip in app development interest.

Employer interest trending upwards (with a soft spot for Android)

On the bright side, employer interest in mobile developers climbed from May 2018 to May 2019—specifically for talent skilled in Android. Whereas job postings for iOS Developers increased just 1.79%, Android Developer job postings saw a 10.61% boost. Job postings for mobile developer roles rose 4.93%.

To learn more, we uncovered which iOS and Android skills really make an employer’s head turn. Not surprisingly, the skills listed within job postings during that same time frame reflect the higher demand for Android and lower interest in iOS. Mobile skills trending upwards include Android SDK (2.81% increase) and Kotlin (89.41%). On a very slight downward trend are iOS SDK (3.46% decrease), Cocoa (12%) and Objective-C (3.18%).

Such a dramatic spike in Kotlin demand—nearly 90%—sparked our interest, so we went a little farther back. As it turns out, in just two years, demand for Kotlin has jumped above three other major mobile skills (on its way to catch up to Objective-C).

What’s driving the demand for this skill? For one, Kotlin is a modern Java alternative that’s easy to learn, easy to use. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s the 4th most-loved language, according to a 2019 Stack Overflow survey. But what else might be fueling interest in this programming language?

Demand for mobile developers talented in Kotlin is up—by 90%. Time to upskill? Click To Tweet

Well, shortly after Kotlin’s final release in 2016, Android started supporting Kotlin that following year. Then, in May 2019, Google officially announced Kotlin as the company’s go-to language for mobile app development. According to Google developer advocate Chet Haase:

“Android development will become increasingly Kotlin-first. Many new Jetpack APIs and features will be offered first in Kotlin. If you’re starting a new project, you should write it in Kotlin; code written in Kotlin often mean much less code for you–less code to type, test and maintain.”

Companies hiring the most for mobile developer jobs

While job seeker interest may be down (at least for the moment), the number of mobile developer job postings and employer interest is still high—and these companies hiring the most for iOS, Android and mobile developers are proof.

Curious about potential salary as a mobile developer? Android and iOS developers have the potential to earn $120K and $110K respectively, while mobile developers are closer to $102,500.

Apple

Without a doubt, Apple (and its team of iOS developers) are responsible for some of the most pivotal moments in mobile history. While many Apple developers are coding in Objective-C and Cocoa, many roles require some level of Swift knowledge. Apple also tops the list for postings for Swift.

Whether developing real-time 3D apps or engaging user experiences across iOS, WatchOS and tvOS platforms, employees at Apple are key in releasing and updating the apps people use everyday. Its team appreciates discounts on the latest Apple products, work-from-home opportunities and, according to one Senior iOS engineer, the “tools, teams and environment so you can succeed.”

Butterfly Network

Butterfly Network is ushering in a new era of healthcare and medical imaging. Using semiconductor engineering, AI and connected mobile software, it brought to life the first handheld whole-body ultrasound system, Butterfly IQ—affordable, portable and a complete diagnostic imaging solution.

Mobile developers at Butterfly Network are Swift-savvy (it’s what the company codes in) and building the native iOS apps reinventing the ultrasound user experience. But iOS developers aren’t the only ones having fun: The company also needs Android developers skilled in technologies like Kotlin, ReactiveX and GraphQL. In addition to working on a revolutionary product, Butterfly Network rewards its team with free onsite meals and unlimited healthy snacks.

CBRE

CBRE is a Fortune 500 company and a worldwide leader in real estate services. Mobile developers at CBRE have the chance to work on advanced digital technologies, including its recently launched mobile app, CBRE 360, to create enhanced employee experiences and an intuitive way to connect property managers, occupants and tenants.

Employees at CBRE are challenged to reach higher, every day. Empowered (and given the freedom) to build their own career path, team members not only enjoy a flexible environment, but are encouraged to explore new ideas and take smart risks. One tech employee describes CBRE as an industry leader with plenty of growth opportunities, and adds “highly motivated individuals will find this a thriving atmosphere to contribute.”

JLL

JLL is building a better tomorrow as a world leader in real estate services, from tech startups to global firms. In joining forces with Google, it recently unveiled a new smartphone-based digital app for office workers—a voice assistant known as JiLL. 

Along with the chance to work on JiLL, mobile developers can get in on building cross-platform, responsive web or native Android and iOS apps, using technologies like JavaScript and React. JLL employees work hard, but still make time for relaxation with perks like onsite massages and yoga passes.

Unleash your potential in a new mobile developer role

The reasons you might consider stepping into a new mobile development role are two-fold: candidate competition may be tapering off while employer interest is building. And by using these trends, you not only have a better idea of which skills employers find most appealing, but can market yourself best to the companies you’re most interested in.

Go ahead: Learn new in-demand skills or platforms, optimize your job searches and tailor your resume to emphasize what makes you a great fit based on trending data—even negotiate a higher salary. 


*Methodology: Indeed analyzed employer interest, based on job postings per million, by a calculated share of postings (per 1M) for Android Developer, iOS Developer and Mobile Developer from May 2018 to May 2019.

Indeed analyzed job seeker interest by a calculated share of searches (per 1M) for Android Developer, iOS Developer and Mobile Developer from May 2018 to May 2019.

Indeed calculated the median mobile developer salary by analyzing the salaries listed in job postings for over the last two years.

Indeed identified the companies that had the highest share of job postings per million on Indeed by calculating each companies percentage of all postings for iOS Developer, Android Developer and Mobile Developer from June 2018 to May 2019.

Indeed calculated the percentage change of Mobile Developer postings that contained “android sdk”, “ios sdk”, “cocoa touch”, “objective c” and “kotlin” to determine the skills in highest demand from June 2015 to May 2019.

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