Mobile Application Development Process From A to Z

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It’s commonly acknowledged that one of the main trends in the world of consumer electronics in the recent years is the course to minimization and mobility. Big and clumsy desktop PC’s are mostly the part of the history nowadays. Probably the only reason for a user to have one of those at their homes is to have access to high performance required for gaming, computer graphics rendering, etc. In other cases, there’s nothing more natural than the intention to have 24/7 access to applications that became a part of your everyday life. Work schedule, to-do lists, recent news, messengers that help you communicate with other people, entertainment such as streaming video streaming sites or casual games. And all these things should be available to everyone no matter what. Either you’re lazy or sick and want to stay in bed all day, or you’re stuck at the airport for hours.

mobile app development

That’s why mobile application development is important. If you think of creating your own application and you’re sure that everyone will fell in love with, it will be a wise decision not to chain a user to his PC. In this article, we’ll tell you what mobile application development is. It will be a brief introduction that hopefully will encourage you to start your voyage into the world of mobile technologies.

1. Types of Mobile Applications: Native vs Web

Each one of the existing mobile applications architectures has its pros and cons. Before getting started with coding, you have to decide what kind of mobile application you want. There are three possible options available: native application, web application and hybrid application (the latter combine some functions of both native and web apps). Since we’re going to talk about hybrid applications in detail in one of our next articles, let’s speak about the first two this time.

native apps vs web apps

First of all, what is native mobile application development? You should choose this path if high performance on a given device is crucial for you. In this case the code is written specifically for the hardware of a particular device. If your intention is to create a native app, you should use the native language of the platform which are, for example, Objective-C or Swift on iOS, and Java on Android. The reason those apps are so fast is that the code that you write compiles into machine code (Dalvik bytecode in the case of Android applications). What are the possible pros of this approach? Well, first of all, a user can use native apps even if there’s no Internet connection. Looks like a pretty rare situation, but you should remember about such possibility. Secondly, you can use additional functionality that device offers you (e.g. use the device camera, push notifications, GPS and localisation tools, accelerometers, touchscreens, etc.). And finally, it can be distributed via application stores such as Google Play, App Store, Windows Store, etc. Here are the week sides of native mobile applications: development requires more money and time, users must download and install updates on the regular basis, native application excludes users on the other platforms.

Not, let’s briefly discuss the mobile web applications. In this case, only one system need be developed. Then, it could run on multiple platforms (Android, iOS, Windows Mobile). Maintenance process is much easier since your application may be updated once on the server. Here’s the apparent weakness of mobile web apps: the Internet connection is required.

If you’re searching for cutting-edge technologies, you should pay attention to Progressive Web Apps. The concept was proposed by Google not so long ago. The primary intention behind this approach was to take the best of the web and the native apps. Here’s how progressive web apps work in a nutshell. In the beginning, they work as web applications in a tab of your browser. After a while, if you use it over and over again, your browser will offer you to add this app to your home screen. If you accept this offer, the shortcut will appear on the home screen or launcher of your OS. Now you can use it as you use any other mobile application. As you can see, your app “progresses” from one type to another. It starts from a web page and then evolves into a native app with no need of using application stores.

Progressive Web Apps rely on two core technologies. The first one is Service Workers, APIs that provide you with the possibility of using such features as offline access, web push notifications, etc. The second one is Application Shell Architecture, which can be described as a user interface made with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

After you decide which way to go, you should choose the proper programming language.

2. What Mobile Application Language To Select

You’ve probably heard about Java. Along with C++, it’s one of the most widely used object-oriented programming languages over the past decades. Its performance is reached by compiling the code of the program to bytecode. It then can be used in a browser or run on Java Virtual Machine or JVM which works on every computer architecture. If you think of Android as of your primary target platform, this is almost certainly your option.

Objective-C is the language that’is fully integrated into MacOS and iOS frameworks. It is the primary language of the Apple company. At least, it was, until recently. It’s a so-called superset of C language, and it has some extra functionality that makes it useful within the Apple infrastructure (e.g. work with graphics, display functions, and so on) Sounds like a reasonable decision to choose this option if you prefer Apple users as your audience. But don’t hurry until you learn about our next contestant.

Swift was released in 2014. One of the intentions of developers was to create a modern replacement for Objective-C. Initially, the idea was to provide an Apple developer with the possibility to work both with Objective-C and Swift. But it seems like Apple will choose Swift as its primary programming language. One of the main advantages of this new technology is a decreased number of possible security vulnerabilities. You can use this language to write the code for the latest Apple’s API’s, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. So, if you just plan to work as a mobile developer for the Apple mobile platform, pay attention to this option.

C# for the Microsoft is like Objective-C for Apple. This programming language implements unique features of the Microsoft’s programming environment. If you are not confused by the fact that the share of mobile Windows users at the market is more than humble, your luggage of knowledge should include C#.

These are the primary languages for mobile software development. Of course, there’s always a possibility to prefer something more exotic. You can prefer Lua for creating cross platform mobile applications. But at your first steps, it’s wise to switch to modern classic.

3. How To Choose the Best Mobile Application Development Platform

In the case of programming language your decision is largely determined by the chosen platform. You may ask yourself “Which platform is best for mobile application development?” Well, it depends.

First of all, think who your target audience is. If your app is for the mass market, your priorities are iOS and Android. If your target audience is the business community, corporate-based platforms like BlackBerry may be a good choice. iOS and Android have the largest audience while BlackBerry and Windows share a smaller part of the market. Take time to learn as much as you can about your potential users before taking a decision.

Pay attention to ROI statistics. Developing mobile apps may be your hobby or your day by day work. In any case, you’ll need revenue to keep your business going. Consider the expenses and the return on investments you’d like to make before you start your application development adventure. Make some research. Explore trends and statistics. Find out the median mobile revenue per app according to the platform.

Piracy issues may be important too. Keep in mind that Android apps can easily be pirated and then circulated all across the Internet as apk files. On the other hand, applications from App Store require validation by Apple before being downloaded.

Great! You have chosen the target platform and the programming language you’re going to use. But if it’s your first experience, you’re probably stuck at this point asking yourself “How to start mobile application development?” Have no fear. We’ve prepared a little guide that can help you.

4. How To Design a Mobile App. A Brief Step by Step Guide

Here’s how the mobile application development process may look like:

  1. Define your goals. You should clearly understand what problem your application is going to solve. What is it target audience? What’s its core appeal? Answering these questions will help you work faster
  2. Make a sketch. Spend some time on making sketches. It’ll help you form a visual concept of your future application
  3. Make a research. You should find out whether there is application that doing the same things as yours. Check the technical requirements. Define the better ways to market and monetize your creation
  4. Create a Mockup and Storyboard. It’s time to clarify how your app will look like. You can use services like Moqups for creating mockups. Storyboard is a roadmap of your application. It helps you understand how long it will take to get from the starting screen to one or another part of your application
  5. Define the Back End. You should draw a sketch of your servers, APIs, and data diagrams which will be extremely helpful for developers
  6. Build the Back End. Set up servers, databases, APIs, and storage solutions. And don’t forget to sign up for developer accounts at the app marketplaces
  7. Design. Add design elements (e.g., colors, logos, font, etc.) to your mockup
  8. Test. Test and re-test your application to make sure that everything works fine
  9. Release the application. Finally, it’s time to place your application to an app marketplace.

Conclusion

It’s important to keep up with the times. Particularly in the case of modern technologies that are extremely sensitive and responsive to changes in people’s lifestyle. Nowadays, there’s nothing easier than travel through the countries or even the continents. And IT industry have responded to that by creating tons of applications that can help you make a hotel reservation, call a taxi in an unknown city, or stay in touch with relatives or colleagues from all around the world. Mobile applications provide all these possibilities.

It does not look like the market of mobile applications is going to decrease soon. And if you want to stay trendy, it’s crucial for you to take thought for creating a new mobile service or a mobile version of the existing one. We hope that this article will help you with that.

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