What is mobile app development?

Unlock the potential of mobile devices with our in-depth articles on iOS and Android mobile app development.

    October 23, 2023

What is mobile app development?

What is mobile app development? five steps of mobile Mobile app development

Mobile app development is creating software designed for smartphones, tablets, and digital assistants, primarily for the Android and iOS operating systems.

Mobile app development is a crucial component of software development for mobile devices. The software can either come preinstalled on the device, be downloaded from a mobile app store, or be accessed via a mobile web browser. The programming and markup languages used for this type of software development encompass Java, Swift, C#, and HTML5.

Mobile app development is experiencing rapid growth. Various industries, from retail and telecommunications to e-commerce, insurance, healthcare, and government, are compelled to meet user demands for real-time, convenient transactions and information access. Today, mobile devices and applications that power them are the most prevalent means for individuals and businesses to connect to the internet. To remain competitive, responsive, and successful, organizations must create the mobile apps their customers, partners, and employees expect.

Nonetheless, mobile app development can seem challenging. After choosing the operating system platform(s), you must navigate the constraints of mobile devices and surmount potential distribution obstacles. Fortunately, by adhering to fundamental guidelines and best practices, you can streamline your path in application development.

For in-depth insights into mobile application development on either platform, you can explore our articles on iOS app development and Android app development.

Selecting a platform

Many independent app development teams opt to start with Android for their app development. The rationale behind this choice is that roughly 70% of smartphones run on Android, and the Google Play Store imposes fewer restrictions compared to the Apple App Store. Conversely, iOS app development targets a smaller set of devices, making optimization relatively straightforward, and it often enjoys higher user retention.

However, the choice of platform may hinge on factors such as the intended use case, target audience, and organization's preferences. For instance, if your app is meant for internal use by your organization's employees, you may need to support the platforms they use, necessitating the development of cross-platform apps compatible with both Android and iOS. On the other hand, if your app's user base primarily consists of iPhone users, prioritizing iOS app development is crucial. Other considerations include monetization strategies and anticipated user behavior, which can be influenced by geographical and cultural factors.

Boost Efficiency and Security through Platform and Device Management Integration

Developing for Both Android and iOS: Native or Hybrid?

Suppose you need to develop mobile applications for both Android and iOS. What's the best approach to software development?

One option is to create two separate native applications. Leveraging native APIs and OS-specific programming languages can lead to the development of robust apps. This approach is particularly beneficial for enterprise apps, especially those with substantial API traffic.

If you decide to build native apps one at a time, starting with Android is advisable, for reasons similar to those followed by independent developers. Developing the full application as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) on Android and then converting and optimizing it for iOS post-release is a common strategy.

However, it's important to note that you'll still need to debug and rewrite code in the native language and redesign the user interface since the two operating systems have distinct functionalities, making seamless cross-platform operation challenging.

So, why not start from scratch? While you can't directly translate code into a new programming language, much of the backend can be replicated cross-platform. Frameworks, libraries, and third-party extensions often work similarly in both environments, allowing you to avoid costly reworking. You can also utilize a prebuilt mobile cloud service.

Another approach is to go hybrid, adopting a write-once-run-anywhere strategy. Hybrid apps rely on a single codebase that can function on either platform. They are typically written in universally recognized programming languages, such as Java, JavaScript, HTML, or CSS. Hybrid mobile application development is best suited for simple web applications—typically, those with three or four pages and limited functionality.

Think Light: Designing for a Mobile Platform

Whether you opt for native or hybrid mobile app development, one of the initial challenges to overcome is the relatively limited resources on mobile devices. Mobile devices have significantly less processing power and memory than desktop computers or enterprise servers. This constraint may appear daunting, particularly if you're more accustomed to the abundant resources available for conventional web app development.

The limitations of mobile platform resources mean you need to adapt your app design goals.

Throughout the mobile app development process, developers must work to ensure that their mobile app is less resource-intensive compared to a typical desktop application.

Providing a superior user experience is crucial. This begins with the understanding that the user interface of a mobile app should be simpler than that of a desktop application. By creating a straightforward user experience design focused on essential functions, you can deliver a better user experience while consuming fewer resources.

Your mobile app's interface should be tailored for touch input. Mobile users should be able to navigate your app easily and provide input without extensive typing.

Fortunately, these requirements for efficient, touch-based apps align with user expectations. Mobile users typically seek to accomplish tasks with minimal effort, using just a few taps. They prioritize apps that are fast, convenient, and easy to use on their mobile devices.

Offload Processing to the Cloud

What if your mobile application demands more processing power than a typical mobile platform can provide? Consider offloading that processing to the cloud.

By judiciously using APIs, you can connect your app to cloud-based services and databases to offer advanced functionality without slowing down your application or overburdening the device it runs on. You can even delegate data storage and caching to a cloud-based server, leaving minimal data on the device.

Extend Your App with Advanced Cloud Services

The cloud offers not only performance enhancements but also additional advantages. You can connect your mobile application to powerful cloud services to introduce new features and enhance usability. Use APIs to integrate features such as push notifications, AI analytics, integration with Internet of Things (IoT) smart devices, and more to elevate your mobile apps.

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