Mobile App Development: What It Is And How To Get Started

The smartphone revolution brought with it an unforeseen reliance on mobile applications and thus, an illustrious and seemingly never-ending cycle of app development took hold. App stores were flooded with apps of beer jugs that would spill their contents if the phone’s gyroscope sensed it rotated, and social media apps and their clones (remember TweetDeck?).

Soon enough, developers started to take app development seriously and utility-first software was introduced to the mobile platform. Additional functionalities were added as the operating systems running them became more complex and intelligent. Today, there’s virtually an app for everything.

But it hasn’t stopped developers from innovating and introducing new ways to make everyday life easier. While software development service providers and individuals still hold aspirations of introducing the next billion-dollar app idea to the world, the process to build apps isn’t the easiest.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about the types of mobile apps, their development process, and how you can get started with the development of your next interactive mobile app. And we promise that by the end of it, all your questions regarding app development and processes involved in getting one made for your business will be answered.

What Is Mobile App Development?

App Development Process

Mobile app development is setting up procedures to build custom software for hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets. This process is very similar to web development and programming with the difference in its implementation and optimization.

Mobile apps, for instance, are built to take advantage of the specific features of a mobile device. The beer jug app we alluded to earlier was particular to the iPhone at launch since it was one of the first smartphones with a built-in gyroscope. Similarly, Samsung’s healthcare app made use of their S-series flagship phones that had heart rate monitors built into the back of the device.

Today, the two most popular platforms and operating systems for mobile app development are:

1. iOS

iOS App Development

iOS development pertains to all apps that are specifically coded to work on Apple devices. Notice how we mentioned Apple devices and didn’t retain iOS development only for mobile phone line-ups. It is because Apple’s iOS uses its proprietary programming language to build apps, and these can be ported to work on its smartwatches, laptops, and tablets.

The development platforms required for iOS development are:

  • C#
  • Swift
  • Flutter
  • Objective-C

2. Android

Android App Development

Android development refers to all custom software development for Google’s mobile and tablet OS lineup. Android is by far the biggest mobile operating system in use globally and runs on countless devices from hundreds of different brands and manufacturers. The Google Play Store also boasts the largest number of apps available for any operating system.

The open source languages required to learn to develop Android apps are:

  • C#
  • C++
  • Java
  • Kotlin
  • Python
  • JavaScript

While there are more operating systems available today, iOS and Android reign supreme both in terms of the user base and developer interest. Operating systems such as Samsung’s Tizen are also gunning for prominence with the manufacturer’s line-up of smartwatches already running on the OS.

Similarly, after the US and European sanctions on Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, the company has developed its operating system to rival Android. Today, developers in China are taking HarmonyOS seriously and developing custom apps for the Huawei-exclusive operating system.

Finally, a third category exists that aims to blur the lines of operability and device support without compromising user experience. This category of apps is called cross-platform apps. These apps work on all major operating systems. Developers build one version of the app for the iPhone and it works on Android phones and tablets too, and even on browsers that support web apps.

3 Different Types Of App Development

The earliest iterations of mobile apps were bound by a big hurdle. To properly optimize them for stable functionality, they had to be developed natively. It meant that developers would have to write code specific to the device and the processor it ran on. Today, most mobile apps are device-agnostic and are called cross-platform applications.

The three main app development types today are:

A. Native App Development

Native Apps

Native Apps are built from the ground up specifically for a mobile’s operating system or the chipset it uses. It means that native Android and iOS apps exist, as do apps native to the Snapdragon processor lineup or Huawei’s Kirin.

Due to the specific preference for devices and OSs, native apps cannot work across the board. This specificity bars the iMessage application on Apple devices to work on Apple, for instance. And users of Blackberry phones will remember a similar predicament with BBM where the proprietary chatting app wasn’t available on Android or iOS.

Native apps do tend to be faster and more reliable since they aren’t designed to run on a multitude of devices. Developers code one instance of the app and expect it to run on all similar variants of the platform or device.

However, native applications require separate development efforts for different platforms. The code isn’t reusable and it can drive up costs significantly.

B. Web App Development

Web Apps

Web apps look and function like ordinary native applications but instead of operating from a container, like an APK on Android, they are accessed through the internet browser. Web applications are very similar to responsive websites that scale down to the device’s screen size and resolution.

These applications seldom come in downloadable packages from the app store and when they do, they bookmark the website URL to the browser on our device.

Web apps are easy to build and cost far less than native apps since developers don’t need to code for specific OS and devices. They don’t hog up the memory either and make maintenance easier since no downloadable patches are sent to the user.

They are, however, completely functional only when the device is connected to the internet. Offline browsing isn’t supported.

C. Hybrid App Developmentinvitation video apps are a blend of web and native apps. They have all the characteristics of a native app, in that they:

  • Can work offline
  • Need to be downloaded
  • Have a responsive design
  • Receive over-the-air (OTA) updates

But in reality, hybrid apps are web apps that are made to look like native apps. A hybrid app is cheaper to build than a native app and can be the best option for people looking to develop their product for the first time. It is especially helpful for eCommerce stores where constant inventory updates can be managed on the website but sync with the hybrid app too.

However, hybrid apps aren’t the most robust to use since they can lack features and the power that native apps inherently have.

4 Different Types of App Development Methodologies

Once you’ve figured out the exact type of app you require, the next logical planning decision is to have all developers working with the same methodology. These methodologies can help in development process automation and bring everyone on the team on the same page. Here are the four most commonly used ones:

I. Agile

Agile Methodology

The Agile methodology is by far the most implemented in app development companies around the world. It is in large part due to the flexibility and speed it offers to the team and their clients. In Agile, the team breaks down the entire development project into smaller chunks.

These chunks are called sprints, with each sprint having its delivery date and quality assurance requirements. For people looking for the most planned methodology, Agile is the best bet. The process also doesn’t rely on prototypes and instead, only moves on to the next phase once a sprint is complete.

Pros of Agile

  • It makes project management easier for the entire team
  • Brings every specialist together to work on the same project

Cons of Agile

  • Requires solid leadership in place
  • Meticulous planning is required to table the progress of the development

II. Waterfall

The waterfall methodology is also an incredibly popular technique of software development employed today. In this methodology, the entire project is mapped out in the planning and analysis stages. Once you have all the features and functionalities decided on the product, the project manager tasked with it creates the entire workflow.

The waterfall method gets its name due to its downward-moving workflow. Once a process is complete and the next begins, teams cannot revisit the previous step for changes. It requires clients and teams to be on the same page from the first meeting to ensure a smooth development lifecycle.

Pros of Waterfall

  • Very detail-oriented methodology
  • Great for clients on a fixed budget

Cons of Waterfall

  • Does not account for changes in development
  • Customer input is negligible once development begins

III. DevOps

DevOps Methodology

With DevOps, the development and operations teams aren’t “siloed”. It means that the two are merged to work together to develop an app. DevOps utilizes a single team of engineers that plan, design, and test the app as it is developed. And if security testing is part of the development plan, the process changes to DevSecOps.

Pros of DevOps

  • Development is incredibly quick
  • Improves collaboration with the client and different teams working on the app

Cons of DevOps

  • Issues can occur with legacy systems
  • Not many engineers available that are familiar with this process

IV. Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Rapid application development is based on prototypes which means that the teams strive to produce a working version of the application as soon as possible. They then iterate and improve on the functionality. RAD also promotes closer collaboration between the client and the development team and aims to refine the product with each version.

Pros of RAD

  • Faster delivery timelines
  • A close relationship between development teams and clients

Cons of RAD

  • Requires a skilled and expensive team to develop the app
  • Not applicable for all sorts of apps where prototypes aren’t necessary

How To Get Started With Mobile App Development?

The mobile app development process can be a difficult terrain to tread on, especially if you haven’t had an app developed for you in the past. Navigating through the immense amount of planning and development can be daunting for many if you don’t know where to begin.

Fortunately, Aloa’s experience as a premier app development firm makes this process as easy as it can be for prospective clients. Our teams are meticulously vetted and handpicked from a global talent pool.

We also ensure all members of the development team remain up-to-date with the latest development tools and best practices for faster delivery times and high-quality apps.

Here is a guide to help you get started with us:

Step 1: Figure Out The Purpose Of Your App

The initial phase of any business is based on research and planning. Apps need to be treated as such too since they’ll be responsible for generating leads and being the public face of your brand. Figure out what the app is and what problems it solves for its intended users.

The best apps today promise to solve a particular problem that, most times, is unbeknownst to users themselves. Your app should be a problem solver too. Once highlighted, ensure that there is a need for it in the consumer market. Run keywords on Google Keyword Planner to check how often the problem surfaced and whether there are competing tools available to users.

Step 2: Detail The Features

How To Get Started With Mobile App Development

Once you’ve understood the purpose of your app and confirmed its need for users, you must begin to list down all the features it will have and a rough outline of what its user interface should be. This process is called wireframing where you build the skeletal frameworks of your app on paper that serves as a visual and functionality guide for the developers you’ll hire.

App developers thrive on information. So the more information you can provide to your team, the better it’ll be to plan out the development route and ideal methodology for its execution. Once you have all core elements and features mapped out, it is time to trim the selection down a little.

Features tend to become novelties and any unnecessary additions will cost extra. Try and get rid of the non-core features that can be added in later iterations of the app.

Step 3: Have A Design-First Approach

Developers that just want to get on with the coding process and do not spend enough time combing through the app’s layout aren’t worth your time or money. A basic UI design template may look nice and clean, but it can also make your app seem devoid of features.

Considering mobile app design is an important category of development, hiring the best developers who prioritize the visuals can go a long way. Design isn’t just about the app being aesthetically good but also includes user experience and navigability. Always hire developers who aim to focus a great deal on the design of the app.

Step 4: Hire An Outsourced App Development Team

Hiring a dedicated outsourced development team is often the most cost-effective and time-saving measure any individual or company can take. It is because development teams are tough to assemble by first-timers, and this process can quickly become expensive too.

For state-of-the-art mobile application development techniques and best practices, Aloa is the defacto company of choice for your needs. The team is always prepared to tackle any challenge and present the clients with the best possible solutions.

Once a team is assembled, you should ideally look to set up developer accounts with the app store you want to release the app on. For instance, an Android app should preemptively have developer accounts set up on the Play Store. Similarly, apps functioning on iPhones should have access to the Apple app store.

Step 5: Get Feedback Quickly And Improvise

Customer reviews are an excellent place to gauge why your app is one of the fan favorites, or whether it has constant improving demands. Users can provide valid insight into the app in the review section of the app store.

Whether it is something on the back-end of the app or the front-end, getting in user feedback can be an important part of gradual and iterative improvements on future versions of the app.

Conclusion

Mobile app development can be a tricky task for anyone looking to get an application developed from the get-go. Not only are most developers comfortable in their own settings, but they may also not be the first best options for the development job.

App development is a team effort and we hope that with our guide today, you are on your way to assembling the development dream team for all Android and iOS apps.

Consider Aloa for all your app development hiring needs. We are an excellent first resource to get in touch with for potential developers and designers. With our team of highly skilled app developers, we guarantee that you will receive your app without any delays and without the product's quality being compromised.

Get in touch with Aloa at resources@aloa.com today to get your mobile app development underway.

The views expressed in this post are the writer's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aloa or AloaLabs, LLC.
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