Mobile Application Development

On release of the Apple iPhone a new category of device was launched that required specific applications to be created. Mobile application development is the process of creating software for a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Software is a set of instructions that tell a device how to operate. The lifecycle of development consists of a set of well-defined phases such as planning, analysis, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. The end product is a software bundle having graphical user interfaces (UI) that allow users to manipulate the application to achieve the desired functions, core functions that utilize the hardware components of the device, and backend services that rely on a network connection to work with remote computing resources for data access.

Mobile Application Development Services

Platforms for Mobile Applications

A computing platform is the environment in which software is run. In general, the platform provides supported hardware specifications, an operating system (software) that manages a device's hardware and software resources and provides common services for other applications, software libraries that provide functions to the operating system and other applications, and software development kits, which are collections of tools used in software development.

In today's market, there are two dominant platforms for mobile applications: One is Android from Google. Android powers billions of mobile devices in over 190 countries worldwide. It has the largest installed base of any mobile platform and is still growing. Android runs on devices of all shapes and sizes, and the operating system is open-source and free to use. Android is not only used by Google devices but also by many other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the world that build their own smartphones and other devices. The second is the iOS platform from Apple Inc. The iOS platform runs Apple's popular iPhone smartphone and other smart devices. Apple's iOS is available exclusively for its own devices; no other equipment manufacturer is capable of using iOS.

Building applications for Android or iOS generally requires the use of different software development kits (SDKs) and development tools, although there are some similarities between the two platforms. By targeting both platforms, developers can create apps for millions of devices.

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Types of Mobile Applications

mobile applications (apps) can be divided into three categories; native apps, web apps, and hybrid apps.

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are created in the platform's defined programming language and frameworks and run directly on the operating system, such as iOS or Android. Native apps are designed specifically for the operating system of a mobile platform. As a result, you may create native Android or iOS mobile apps, as well as apps for additional platforms and devices. You can't mix and match apps because they're built for just one platform. You can't use an iOS app on an Android phone, for example, and vice versa. Native apps are developed using a variety of programming languages such as Java, Kotlin, Objective-C, Swift, etc.

  • Best performance
  • The native device UI is utilized, giving a rich user experience
  • A wide range of device-specific features are available, such as cameras, Bluetooth, NFC, etc.
  • Higher development and maintenance costs.
  • For each platform, a dedicated code base needs to be maintained.
  • It may be that specalist developers are needed for each OS supported.

Web Apps

Web apps for mobile devices are created using common web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and are accessed via a browser. They're responsive websites, meaning they adjust their user interface to the device being used. Web apps do not need to be downloaded and installed on the device. A progressive web app (PWA), which is essentially a native app running within a browser, is one type of web app. The app's capabilities depend on the browser in use. Adopting a web app framework can make developing web apps much easier. These frameworks speed up application development by allowing a development team to focus on the portions of their program that are specific to their aims rather than having to deal with common development challenges. Some popular web frameworks are, Angular, Express.js, Flask, Django, Laravel, and Ruby on Rails.

  • Works on almost all platforms and devices.
  • Easy to develop and maintain.
  • A wide range of device-specific features are available, such as cameras, Bluetooth, NFC, etc.
  • Depends on the browser app. It needs a constant network connection, so will not work offline
  • Some device-specific features may not be available.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid mobile apps are packaged as app installation packages and built with conventional web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5, and native platform-specific software. Hybrid apps are a mixture of web technologies and native platform-provided software, typically developed using HTML5, Swift, Ionic, etc.

  • Quick and cost-effective to develop and maintain.
  • Supports a broad range of platforms and devices.
  • Potential low performance, leading to a poor user experience
  • Some device-specific features may not be available.

Cross Platform Mobile Application Development.

One difficulty with developing native mobile apps is that it necessitates a very specific skill set. Few developers are familiar with platform-specific programming languages and development kits. Cross-platform development approaches avoid this issue. Cross-platform mobile apps can be developed in a variety of programming languages and frameworks and then compiled into native apps that run directly on the device's operating system. Therefore requiring a single code base to cover all platforms. Some popular frameworks used for cross-platform mobile app development are: React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, etc. These frameworks provide a foundation on which software developers can build apps.

Mobile Application Development Lifecycle

A mobile application has two interconnected basic components:

  • A device-based front-end, and
  • A back-end that is compatible with the mobile front-end.

Mobile Front-End

The visual and interactive element of the program that the user interacts with is known as the mobile front-end. It usually resides on the device, or at the very least, an icon for the app is displayed on the home screen or pinned in the device's program catalogue. A development team size might range from a single developer that handles all aspects of the app development to tens or hundreds of employees with specialized talents. For example, dedicated creative or graphics designers may be in charge of designing app visual elements such as icons, backdrops, colors, themes, and other parts of the app. The team may also include user experience and user interface designers who are responsible for the layout of the components.

Server Back-End

Building the app logic, which is responsible for making network calls to the back-end services, retrieving data, and updating the data in the back-end systems with new information generated by the app, is a significant component of the development effort regardless of the size of the team. A database containing information that is used in the app is an example of a back-end service for a mobile front-end. To directly access the database, the mobile developer would need to know the database's network location, the database's protocol, the credentials for authenticating and approving data access, and the exact database commands required to extract the required data.

What are the first steps to take in mobile App development development?

Talk to an experienced and trusted partner, such as Ventureaxis. Without obligation we can help you assess the scope of your project and assist in determining a realistic budget and plan of action on how to reach your goals. We can help deliver projects that qualify for Research and Development Tax credits (R&D Tax Credits) which can help significantly with the cost of certain projects.