What Is Mobile Application Development?
Mobile application development is the process of creating software for iOS, Android, and other mobile operating systems. Every application on your smartphone and tablet is the result of mobile application development in one form or another. Developers can build apps from scratch or reuse code to make them available on a different platform. Read on to learn more.
What Does Mobile Application Development Involve?
While some mobile apps work offline, many apps today access remote resources over the internet. For this reason, mobile application development involves more than creating a software package that users can install on their devices (which is known as front-end development).
It also involves the implementation of backend services to enable the app to access data over the internet. Known as back-end development, this is usually carried out through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), or software intermediaries that enable different software platforms to exchange data.
The front-end of the app is the visual interface that the user interacts with. Depending on the type and complexity of the app, front-end development may involve one or a team of developers, including creative and graphic designers who create the graphic interface.
During back-end development, developers often integrate third-party services into the infrastructure of the app. For example, to allow the app to retrieve information from a database stored in the cloud.
Types of Mobile Apps
The process and tools developers use to create an app depend on the type of the app.
- Native mobile apps – Developed directly for a target platform such as iOS or Android using frameworks and programming languages provided by Apple or Google. These apps offer the best possible performance for the target platform since they are optimized for it.
- Cross-platform apps – Built using different frameworks and programming languages to speed up the development process for apps across platforms. Cross-platform apps look and feel like native apps.
- Progressive web apps – These are web applications that provide an app-like experience. They require no installation but don’t support all native device features.
Native app development requires knowledge of platform-specific programming languages. Hybrid and cross-platform app development, on the other hand, requires a less specialized skillset. With it, developers can use plugins, web frameworks, and other tools to save time. As a result, building a hybrid or cross-platform app is often a simpler and less time-consuming process than building one native app at a time.
The Mobile Application Development Lifecycle
Mobile app developers can use different software development methodologies to bring an app to life including Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, or Kanban.
For example, Agile developers build the app incrementally, releasing a working version and then adding more and more features to it instead of developing a fully-featured product at the end of the development timeline. This dynamic approach can accelerate development, facilitate the exchange of feedback, and have other benefits.
Regardless of the methodology developers choose, the app development lifecycle involves a few key stages:
- Gathering requirements and planning – Drafts, scope, wireframes, and planning.
- Design – User interface design.
- Development – The technical work, including code-building and integrating services.
- Testing – Testing the functionality, interface, and rest of the app.
- Launch – Releasing the first version of the final app in app stores or through other channels.
- Maintenance – Improving performance, fixing bugs, and adding new features.
Mobile app development usually doesn’t stop with the launch of the app. Developers can continue to improve the app through regular updates.
How Long Does Mobile Application Development Take?
Developing an app can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The type and complexity of the app are two of the major factors that influence app development times.
However, app development today is a dynamic process that enables you to get an essential version of the app as soon as possible. After that, you can continue to add new features to it through updates.