What is Mobile App Development?

The world of mobile appl development is constantly evolving, with software engineers creating apps for smartphones using various programming and markup languages like Java, Swift, C++, and HTML5. These apps can be preinstalled on the device, downloaded from an app store, or accessed through a mobile web browser, providing users with real-time access to information and transactions. As mobile devices continue to be the preferred mode of internet access for people and businesses, organizations in industries ranging from retail and e-commerce to healthcare and the government must prioritize developing responsive and convenient mobile apps that meet the expectations of their customers, partners, and employees. By staying relevant in the world of mobile app development, organizations can ensure long-term success and growth.

iOS vs. Android

In the ever-evolving world of smartphones, two platforms dominate the market: iOS from Apple Inc. and Android from Google. The iOS platform powers Apple’s line of iPhone smartphones, while Android is used by many other OEMs to create their own smart devices. Despite some similarities between the two platforms, developing for iOS vs. Android requires the use of different software development kits (SDKs) and development toolchains. While Apple exclusively uses iOS for its devices, Google allows other companies to use Android as long as they comply with specific requirements, such as including certain Google applications on their devices. By targeting both platforms, developers can build apps for millions of devices, paving the way for innovative and creative mobile solutions.

The Mobile Application Development Lifecycle

There are two interlinked core components of a mobile application:

  1. The mobile application “Front-End” resides on the mobile device.
  2. The service “Back-End” that supports the mobile front-end.

The Mobile Application Front-End

Mobile application development involves a range of specialized skills and expertise, with front-end development being a critical component. A front-end mobile app developer is responsible for creating the user-facing aspect of the application using various programming languages and technologies.

The team size for developing front-end mobile applications can vary depending on the complexity of the app, ranging from a single developer to large teams with specialized skills. In addition to front-end developers, the team may also include dedicated creative/graphics designers who create visual elements like icons, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

User experience and user interface designers may also be involved in the development process, working on the layout and interaction of various components. For games, a team may include motion graphics developers and engineers who develop physics engines that govern how components move in the app, such as a car in a racing game. By leveraging the skills of specialized team members, developers can create engaging and dynamic mobile applications that meet the needs and expectations of users.

The Mobile Application Back-End

Creating high-quality mobile applications that engage and retain users is heavily reliant on the back-end services that support them. To achieve success, mobile app developers must make critical architectural decisions regarding their back-end services. This includes determining which services to build themselves and which third-party services to leverage, as well as whether to run and maintain their own services or rely on third-party services.

To maximize productivity and efficiency, it is recommended that developers only build their own services if they are highly specific to the application’s domain and embody unique intellectual property. Additionally, even for self-built services, leveraging cloud-based services can improve the scalability, security, and maintainability of the back-end infrastructure.

In today’s highly competitive mobile application market, investing in reliable back-end services is a necessary step toward delivering engaging and successful applications that meet user expectations. By making informed architectural decisions and leveraging the benefits of cloud-based services, developers can deliver high-quality mobile applications that stand out in a crowded market.

Types of Mobile Applications

Mobile application development has become an incredibly diverse field, offering developers a wide variety of technologies to choose from when building their products.

  • Native applications- One of the most popular options is native applications, which are built using integrated development environments (IDEs) and mobile OS languages such as Apple iOS or Google Android. While these apps offer a high level of customization, they can also be more costly than other technologies.
  • Hybrid apps- Another option available to developers is hybrid apps, which are web-based applications that mimic native apps. Hybrid apps are developed using technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. They are more cost-effective and faster to develop than native apps but may lack some of the advanced features of their native counterparts.
  • Progressive web apps- A third option is progressive web apps (PWAs), which are essentially websites that behave like mobile apps. They are built using web technologies like Facebook React and can be accessed through a web browser. PWAs are easy to update and maintain and can offer a similar user experience to native apps.
  • Encapsulated apps- They are a technology that developers can use to create mobile applications. These apps run within a container app, and tools like Microsoft Power App drag-and-drop app creation tool enable less experienced developers to build a mobile application rapidly. However, encapsulated apps may have some limitations due to their lack of isolation from the core OS, OS lock-in, and relative newness.
  • Frameworks and libraries- It offers reusable code written by someone else to accelerate mobile app development. Developers can use this pre-written code to speed up the development process and reduce the time and effort required to build an app. Ultimately, whatever technology developers choose, the key to creating a successful mobile application is to focus on the user experience and provide value to the end user.

What is the Mobile App Development process?

Developing a mobile app can seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be an exciting and rewarding process. Here are some steps that can help you develop a framework for building your app.

Step 1: Define your strategy- Start by answering key questions that will help you form the foundation for your app. These include identifying your app’s objectives, target audience, business model, investment, timeline, marketing strategy, design, and testing criteria.

Step 2: Select your team– If you’re building the app on your own, do you need to hire a developer or a marketing person? If you’re creating the app for an organization, will stakeholders from multiple departments participate in the process?

Step 3: Brainstorm and sketch out your app’s features and functions-Focus on solving the problems you’ve identified and keep user experience in mind when developing your vision. This includes design, usability, security, and performance.

Step 4: Develop your product roadmap-Use your brainstorming results to create a step-by-step process for assessing your priorities and deliverables.

Step 5: Select app development tools based on your requirements-There are various development tools available in the market that can help you build your app.

Step 6: Begin app development using an agile process– Adopt a DevOps mindset and use key functions, such as automation, cloud services, open source tools, frequent communication, and continuous testing.

Step 7: Create a prototype of your app and share it with investors or stakeholders– Use their feedback to refine the app’s development and conduct further testing for functionality, performance, and ease of navigation.

Step 8: Beta testing–  Once the app passes the necessary tests, roll it out to users for official beta testing. Conduct multiple rounds of review and incorporate user fixes before creating a deployable version of your app.

By following these steps, you can create a successful mobile app that solves problems and delights users. Remember, building an app is an iterative process, so be open to feedback and continuously refine your app.