I really appreciate this insightful answer that I'm embarrassed for my reply. Although it's mostly your speculation it's great to hear you share your direct experience in this subject matter.
For me, I've always had friction beginning in mobile dev. I've written some libraries, but the mobile UI paradigm is far too different from the web. It demands so specific skill that iOS and Android engineers have recently become roles companies hire.
I really like the bit you analyzed about the mobile apps craziness vs the web. To add to that, I think during the earlier mobile app hypes most apps that thrived were simple enough to be used on mobile. Now there are services that aren't suitable for it and there's also a shift in the social app trend to more work and life, which require a bit more real estate than a phone's screen.
I can totally relate. I took a very long break from mobile app development and find it pretty hard to get back into it mostly because of the UI. I'm also professionally dwelling more in the back end for the last couple of years, mainly writing web services. So yeah those skills definitely get rusty over time.
Funny that you also mention social apps that are getting less suitable for phones. A couple years ago I teamed up with a designer and we started work on a social app / platform. We tried to target mobile devices first and we desperately tried to cram our ideas into that way to small screen real estate. I was very frustrated working on those mobile app UI prototypes, and we faced several hard problems we could not really answer thinking in terms of mobile app UI. It was really limiting. And it also caused a ton of miscommunication between the designer and me.
After a longer break we began revisiting the concept, but I insisted on targeting desktop browsers first. It was completely eye opening for the both of us. We finally got to a point where we could freely express our ideas and discover suitable interaction ways. And we started feeling like: yeah, that's it.
We're taking it from there now, and treat the mobile version as an after thought. In our case I believe that UI enhancements for accessibility will give us some ideas and answers how to handle the smaller mobile phone screen.
If we're lucky and this whole thing turns out to be something, we may end up consulting Android and iOS specialists for fixing our mobile UI writer's block 😆
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