Mobile Application Development

This article on Mobile Application Development provides brief introduction to technologies and complexity involved in creating software for mobile devices.

Mobile Application Development

Introduction

Mobile applications are what makes your smartphone smart. From updating your status when eating out at a restaurant to managing your business throughout weekend, almost anything can be accomplished using mobile applications today. Mobile application development needs no initial investment (conditions applied), and has the whole world available as its market. Maybe that is why internet is flooded with mobile applications and mobile application development has become the fastest growing industry worldwide.

Mobile applications don't mean applications just for your smartphone, these in fact cover the gamut of all the handheld devices. Though the biggest platform for such applications is your phone or tablet. This fact has turned the focus of mobile application developers towards a handful of platforms, particularly more the famous ones namely iOS, Android and Windows. Various mobile application distribution platforms, otherwise known as app stores are now hosting millions of applications.

Mobile Application Development

Mobile application development is one of the stages in mobile app development life cycle (MDLC), which also includes Strategy or Inception, Designing, Testing and Deployment in that order. Development infuses into the first stage itself and lasts till third stage of MDLC. This infusion will help you be aware of the implementation difficulties that you may face early on to accordingly make necessary changes in the design.
Mobile application development is mainly about a few deciding factors:

  1. Should application be platform specific or not?
  2. Platform specific applications have an advantage of performance but it is costly to develop them for all platforms. Otherwise application can also be web based (mostly created using HTML5) in which updates are easier to employ but HTML5 still cannot be considered fully developed.

  3. What tools do you want to use to develop your application?
  4. This is also a cost and functionality specific question considering that there are hundreds of different tools available, free or licensed, providing different specific functionalities.

Once you have answers to above questions, you can move to actual development. Development should be an agile process starting from design, development, testing and deployment.

Features to Keep in Mind:

Mobile application development is unlike software development due to a few special features available solely on mobile devices.

One has to consider the following constraints:

  • Limited battery power
  • Small Display
  • No separate input output devices etc.

And advantages:

  • More interactive UI
  • Sensors such as accelerometer, GPS and even Camera
  • Portability etc.

Applications must also be optimised for various different types of mobile devices for example, applications should work on various screen sizes, different GPUs and processors.
User Interface

One of the most important aspects of a mobile application is its User Interface (UI). A user friendly and self-explanatory UI is more likely to be a hit. Too much of anything can lead to a bad UI, for example:

- Too many inputs needed by user

- Too many complex functionalities etc.

UI of a mobile application is almost all the time user focused, taking into account the various constraints and functionalities different from computers. UI of an application is supported by processes on the backend. Backend processes make sure that the UI is efficiently performing according to the inputs given by user. Backend facilities include working offline, security, data routing, authentication etc.

Integrated Development Environment

Mobile applications are developed using specialised IDEs or integrated development environments. These IDEs are often platform specific but there are IDEs available such as Xamarin, Visual Studio Community and Intel XDK which let you build cross platform applications. These IDEs use various but specific to itself programming languages and have various different facilities available.

Selection criteria for IDE:

  • Target mobile platforms
  • Programming skills
  • IDE's system requirements matching to available infrastructure
  • Smooth conversion over different platforms
  • Performance.
  • Requirements specific to application's use of available technology.

After development comes testing of the mobile app, for which either actual device or some emulator can be used such as Google Android Emulator and TestiPhone to name a few.

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Mobile Application Development

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