What is Mobile Application Development?

Coworkers discussing about mobile app project

Mobile application development is the creation process of software applications to be used on the mobile phone using network connection and linked to remote computing resources.  This process requires creating installable software bundles (code, binaries, assets etc), using backline services such as data access with API, and testing the applicable on target devices. 

Mobile Applications and Device Platforms

Creating mobile application requires it to be functional on the current mobile phones available on the market.  Currently, these mobile phones operate on two major device platforms, the IOS platform by Apple Inc, and the Android platform by Google. The IOS platform is exclusively for Apple products such as the iPhones and iPads, whereas Android system not only being used by Google products, but also by many other OEMs for their smartphones and smart devices. 

These two device platforms are similar, however developing for these platforms requires using different software development kits (SDKs) and different development toolchain.  Developers can build apps for hundreds of millions devices by using these platforms. 

Alternatives for Building Mobile Apps

Building mobile applications can be handled by these four major approaches:

  • Native Mobile Applications
  • Cross-platform Native Mobile Applications
  • Hybrid Mobile Applications
  • Progressive Web Applications

Each of these approaches has its own advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when choosing the right development approach.  Look into the desired user experience, the computing resources and native features required by the app, the development budget, time targets, and resources available to maintain the app. 

Native Applications

For native mobile applications, programming language and frameworks are written to run directly on operating systems such as iOS and Android devices.

Cross-Platform Applications

For Cross-platform native mobile applications, a variety of different programming languages and frameworks can be written in and compiled and turned into a native application to run directly on the operating system of the device. 

Hybrid-Web Applications

Hybrid-web mobile applications use standard web technologies such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5, and they are compiled in an app installation packages.  Hybrid apps work on a ‘web container’, which provides a browser runtime and a bridge for native device APIs via Apache Cordova, unlike the native apps. 

Progressive Web Applications

An alternative approach to the traditional mobile app development is the Progressive Web Applications, where this approach skips the app store delivery and app installations.  PWAs are web applications that uses a set of browser capabilities that allows for working offline, running a background process, and adding a link the the device home screen – to provide an ‘app-like’ user experience. 

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