What is mobile app development, how does it work, and why is it important to your business? Here's everything you need to know about mobile app development for small business.
Due to the exploding popularity of smartphones and tablets, mobile application development is an increasingly popular medium of software creation. In fact, mobile apps have become an essential element of most businesses, This prolific and growing industry has attracted businesses from every corner of the marketplace as consumers detach themselves from desktop computing and turn to their mobile devices.
The creation of mobile applications has much of its roots in traditional software development. The end result, however, is software intended to utilize the unique features and hardware of mobile devices. Modern smartphones are equipped with Bluetooth, NFC, gyroscopic sensors, GPS and cameras. They can be used for virtual or augmented reality, barcode scanning, and more. Mobile apps should utilize the full range of smartphone features, which is easier said than done.
With desktop PC software development, programmers must create an application that can operate on a minimum set of hardware. The same goes for mobile applications, though the hardware variances in this instance are much more minimal. At the same time, the hardware in smartphones and tablets doesn't quite match that in laptops and desktop computers, which means mobile apps must be designed to show optimal performance
For example, a gaming app would be limited in its graphical elements because of the less powerful graphics processors in mobile devices. With that said, cloud computing is making it easier than ever to accomplish mobile gaming. Popular games such as Fortnite, Hearthstone and PUBG connect players across computers, phones and even consoles.
Solving the issue of performance on any given device ultimately depends on developing an app natively on that device. This means designing the code specifically for the hardware on a particular device. In the instance of iOS devices, this proves quite easy, as mobile developers only need versions of the app for the iPhone and iPad to achieve universal usability. For Android devices, however, each smartphone or tablet runs on different hardware and varying versions of the operating system.
Web-based apps, on the other hand, don't depend on the device; they run off of a web browser, making them cheaper to develop and easier to access. However, their performance doesn't compare to that of a native app. For example, with web apps, you cannot use the phone's full features or send proper notifications, and they look less professional.
Like desktop software, mobile apps are designed using a wide range of programming languages and frameworks. While the most popular operating systems, iOS and Android, have done an excellent job of standardizing the types of mobile app development available to programmers, apps can still vary. Here are some mobile app types:
These are apps created for a specific platform (iOS or Android) using the software development tools and languages supported by those operating systems. iOS uses Xcode and Objective-C, whereas Android uses Eclipse and Java. Developers often prefer native apps because of their ability to utilize a device's full potential. With smart home devices becoming more common, developers are creating unique applications that integrate things like wearables, Internet of Things sensors and smart screens for personalized experiences. Of course, development for each platform is a costly and time-consuming process that doesn't work for all businesses.
These apps entail the creation of a container developed in the native system that makes it possible to embed an HTML5 app within it. This allows apps to make use of the diverse and unique elements of each native system. Before creating your own branded app, consider utilizing existing apps for greater impact. For example, by using mobile-focused marketing on services such as Yelp, Facebook and Google Maps, you can drive traffic to both your website and brick-and-mortar location.
Mobile app development requires access to software development kits (SDKs) that provide a simulated mobile environment for programmers to design and test code. However, creating an app does not require full use of these kits. For example, developers can create mobile games using Unity and then use the Android SDK to ensure its deliverability on mobile devices. Developing apps for iOS requires a paid iOS developer license, whereas the Android SDK is freely available to users.
iOS and Android have similar mobile market shares (47% and 52% respectively), but developing for Apple is somewhat easier in that you don't need to worry about a wide range of devices from different manufacturers. Whichever operating system you choose, however, there are barriers to entry.
Mobile app development is changing constantly. Typically, every six months or so, a new version of an operating system rolls out with unique features that mobile apps can utilize. Developing for a specific version of the operating system, or even for a native operating system, usually requires developers to try multiple solutions to find the one that suits their development needs.
Failure to keep up with development updates could cause catastrophic cybersecurity issues. Consider the costs of developing an app, which can range from $5,000 to $15,000 to start, plus the costs for continued development and maintenance. If Android or iOS releases a new OS update, you can be delisted quickly for being incompatible.
Developing an app is only worthwhile if it's a great app. A poor user experience will drive customers away. Be mindful of the user experience and realistic about your budget.
Regardless of the type of project you want to bring to life, the app development process has six key steps. Breaking the project down into these simple steps will help you develop your app quickly and efficiently.
1.Idea: When brainstorming app ideas, put some research into answering a few questions about it. What
problem does this app solve? Who is the target audience? Why are these features important? Do your
competitors have similar apps.
2. Design: Next you'll design a user interface (UI) and to navigate the user through the app and make it easy to follow.
3. Development: During this stage you'll write the code for your app, develop the code and start preliminary testing.
4. Testing: By testing your app, you'll determine its quality, any malfunctions and what you can improve.
5. Launch: Once your app is bug-free and ready to go, you can publish it on marketplaces like the Apple App Store and Google Play.
6. Marketing: Create a marketing strategy to get users to download your app and give you feedback on how to improve user engagement.