Mobile application development is the process of making software for smart phones, tablets, and digital assistants, most commonly for the Android and iOS operating systems. The software can be pre-install on the device, downloaded from a mobile app store or accessed through a mobile web browser.
Mobile app development is rapidly growing. From retail, telecommunications and e-commerce to insurance, health care and government, organizations across industries must meet user expectations for real-time, convenient ways to conduct transactions and access information.
Today, mobile devices and the mobile applications that unlock their value – are the most popular way for people and businesses to connect to the internet. To stay relevant, responsive, and successful, organizations need to develop the mobile applications that their customers, partners, and employees demand.
Types of mobile applications
In the early years of mobile apps, the only way to ensure an app could perform optimally on any device was to develop the app natively. This meant that new code had to be written specifically for each device’s specific processor. Today, the majority of mobile applications are device-agnostic.
Before developing an app, you need to determine which type you’ll be creating. Here’s a breakdown of several types of mobile app development technologies with information about each.
The Mobile Application Development Lifecycle
The Mobile Application Front-End
The mobile front-end is the visual and interactive part of the application the user experiences. It usually resides on the device, or there is at least an icon representing the app that is visible on the home screen or is pinned in the application catalog of the device. The application can be downloaded from the platform app store, side-loaded directly onto the device, or can be reached through the device’s browser, as in the case for PWAs.
The Mobile Application Back-End
Regardless of what front-end platform or development methodology is being used, delivering high-quality mobile applications that delight and retain users requires reliable back-end services.
Given the critical importance of back-end services for the success of mobile applications, the developers have several important architectural decisions that they must consider. These decisions include which services they should build themselves, which third-party services they should leverage, and whether they should run and maintain their own services or take advantage of third-party services.
The answer is increasingly clear to improve developer productivity and efficiency, mobile app programmers should only build their own services if they are highly specific to the domain of the application and embody unique intellectual property. Also, even for the services they build themselves, they should almost always leverage cloud-based services to build and maintain their back-end infrastructure.
Key Mobile Application Services
There are hundreds of cloud and 3rd party services that mobile application developers can leverage to speed up the development and delivery of their applications. However, it’s unlikely that a developer is going to be able to become an expert in each of these individual services.
Instead, the mobile developers should look for a development environment that makes it easier for them to integrate, use, and consume the most commonly required capabilities into their application quickly and easily, while still preserving the freedom to take advantage of the many individual services available.