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mobile apps

Mobile App Development Process

by Svitla Team

August 31, 2018
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App Development Process

The universe of mobile applications is expanding at a relentless pace. This fact opens up an interesting subject as mobile applications continue to be uploaded every single day to multiple platforms and application stores.

As defined by IBM, an application is “a collection of programs that satisfy certain specific requirements (resolve certain problems).” With that being said, applications are here to stay and evolve.

Since smartphones and tablets are so readily available and commonly used, businesses and developers have the daunting task of bringing intuitive and simple-to-use apps that are friendly to the end user by utilizing a repeatable and consistent  Mobile App Development Process. Whether it’s a social network app, a game, or an e-commerce app, the Mobile App Development Process follows a set of common guidelines to build and deliver a successful app.

Building an app from scratch means that a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the mobile app requirements is imperative. This knowledge sets the tone for the platform that is going to be used for the app and the methodology to develop it.

Mobile Application Development Process

In essence, the Mobile App Development Process is the action of designing and developing a mobile application. If you take a look at your phone, some apps are factory-installed and delivered to you without any involvement on your part. These pre-installed apps are ready for execution and oftentimes ensure the correct functioning of your device. To download an app, you simply go to your device’s application store and look for the app you want to install on your phone or tablet.

All of this with a few simple taps. This simplicity, although sometimes overlooked, is deceiving.  The comprehensive Mobile Application Development Process has involved decisions about screen size, hardware specifications, user interface, servers, and more. Additionally, mobile applications can be categorized into web-based or native applications, which are created for a specific platform.

These are the common ground steps to building an app from scratch using the Mobile App Development Process:

  • Idea definition: Whether it’s a game or an informative app, you must clearly define the purpose and goal of the mobile app you want to develop.
  • Prototype: Build a mockup or prototype to illustrate the ideas and structure of the mobile app you want to see.
  • Backend: Define and build all the elements required for backend development.
    • Structure: Create the building blocks for the mobile app and set up the backend structure.
    • Users: Manage user accounts and authentication methods.
    • Server: Develop a server-side logic to create the mobile app backend.
    • Customization: Define and develop how the user experiences the entire application.
    • Data: Integrate data to enable users to access and share information to 3rd party website providers such as social networking sites.
    • Notifications: Develop push notification services to engage with the end user inside the mobile app.
  • Frontend: Define and build all the elements required for frontend development.
    • Caching: Generate the caching data services that store data locally to improve the performance of the app.
    • Synchronization: Synchronize data so it can be accessed even if the user is offline.
    • User interface: Design and develop the user interface that is going to be implemented into the mobile app.
    • Enhancements: Include all enhancements you want into the mobile app so that it behaves as desired.
    • Testing: Plan for the Testing and Quality Assurance (QA) phase to identify defects and bugs. After identifying defects and bugs, make the necessary corrections to improve the usability of the app.
    • Deployment: After a thorough testing period, the mobile app is ready to be deployed and presented to the mobile app world.

Developing an App

Development of a mobile application usually begins with a brand new idea or as a solution to an existing or future anticipated problem. Many people consider apps as smaller versions of a desktop site, but in reality, apps are developed to be used on small, yet powerful, wireless computing devices while offering specialized functions that can be very distinct to a business website.

The most prominent programming languages for developing an app, as listed by DZone, are:

  • HTML5: Considered the best programming language for developing an app that is web-fronted. 
  • Objective-C: This is the leading programming language for iOS apps as it is fully integrated to work with Apple frameworks.
  • Swift: Designed to work alongside Objective-C, this programming language is the newest member in the iOS ranks.
  • C++: This comprehensive programming language is considered the most functional solution to build apps for both iOS and Android.
  • C#: One of the most sought-after languages for developing an app in Windows.
  • Java: A favorite of developers, the Java programming language is object-oriented and can run in browsers or virtual machines.

Next, we are going to highlight some of the most important aspects of developing an app that should be taken into account.

Mobile Apps Requirements

Usability. Usability is the heart of mobile apps requirements. Mobile devices come in all shapes, sizes, and capabilities. Because of this flexibility, mobile apps must be designed with flexibility in mind.  Its essential for users to use the app effectively and seamlessly wherever they are and on any device. The design and development of the mobile app focus on meeting usability needs to provide the best user experience.

Security. Mobile apps must securely store sensitive customer data to protect its users and also enforce a security system that protects from breach or wrongful usage by external parties.

Speed and Connectivity. Mobile apps requirements must be detailed to accommodate an assortment of speed and connectivity resources. Not every user has the same data plan or WiFi availability, which is why apps should function properly or at least operate to an extent without compromising basic functionality with a limited internet connection.

Customer pain points. This requirement is in charge of verifying that the mobile application addresses or solves specific customer pain points. A mobile app should be designed and developed to meet the preferences of a target market to ensure their needs are being addressed.

Mobile Development Lifecycle

The Mobile Development Lifecycle is significantly similar to the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). As with SDLC, there are five paramount stages to the Mobile App Development Process:

  • Research. Define and refine the idea of a mobile app. Developers should work together to solidify an app project. In this stage, you must pinpoint the following:
    • The value of the app and what benefits it brings to end users.
    • Research if there are similar apps out there that resemble your idea
    • Add value to the app by leveraging mobile technologies such as GPS, camera, voice recording, and more.
    • Specify the app’s capabilities, functions, and features.
    • Compatibility capacity of the app to integrate with multiple infrastructures.
  • Design. Define that app’s user experience in terms of general layout, functions, features, etc., and design the user interface.
    • The development and design team sketch a preliminary version of the final product, so the end customer can envision the results.
    • This phase also involves documentation and wireframing of the app. Oftentimes, documentation involves a design document, a features/functions document, and a blueprint or a storyboard of the project to show each screen and how users navigate the app. Wireframing helps fine-tune ideas and guides the configuration of all the components in the design.
  • Development. This is the most resource-intensive phase where the application is built.
    • Coding: User experience architects design and develop the interaction between the user interface and the end user, to build the look and feel of the mobile app.
    • Prototype: Frequently, a working prototype is developed to validate functionality and give an understanding of how the end product will look like.
    • Added value functionalities: Development incorporates all core and non-core functionalities.
  • Testing. QA team tests the application to identify and correct defects and bugs. The app usually goes into alpha, beta, and release phases where a sample audience can use the mobile app and provide feedback.
    • Every development life cycle should test early and test often. Several phases of light and heavy testing can be performed to identify defects, bugs, and issues.
    • The main testing areas include usability, interface, security, stress load, performance, compatibility, and connectivity.
    • Sometimes, external users get to test preliminary versions of the mobile app to discover more bugs or defects with the purpose of correcting them before the app goes live.
  • Deployment. After the app is fully developed and tested, it is deployed into the app world.
    • At this stage, the mobile app is deployed and made available through numerous distribution options or application stores. For example, Android has an open approach to app distribution where end users can download and install apps from 3rd party stores. As listed by Microsoft, a few of the most popular Android app stores are Google Play (the official Google app store), AppBrain, Amazon App Store for Android, Handango, and GetJar.

These app development process steps can be used in numerous SDLC methodologies such as Agile, Waterfall, Spiral, and more. For instance, if the Mobile Development Lifecycle project is complex, the Agile methodology is recommended in the development community as it allows for multiple, small iterations if there are continuous changes to the mobile apps requirements while it is being designed and developed.

As stated before, mobile apps in the Mobile Development Lifecycle can be developed under different frameworks; native, cross-platform, or hybrid.

Over the last few years, native apps were considered the norm for mobile application as they are platform dependent and specifically designed with one operating system in mind. Native applications are the recommended choice if it's a rich, heavily structured app that carries a wide range of functionalities.

Recently, cross-platform apps have become a prominent solution for developers since their essence is to build code once and use it across multiple platforms. Cross-platform apps are the recommended choice if the app is designed to be fairly simple and informative.

Hybrid applications combine most of the benefits of both the native and cross-platform development tools, along with some of their drawbacks. Ultimately, a hybrid app is wrapped in a thin native container that provides access to platform features. Hybrid apps are the recommended choice if the app is meant to be simple and usable while the decision is being made about going to migrate to a bigger project.

Whether you go with native, cross-platform, or native apps, you must select the framework that works best for your mobile apps requirements and technological needs. As far as frameworks go, the Mobile Development Lifecycle has its fair share of options. Some of the most recommended frameworks are:

  • NativeScript: Free tool for Android and iOS apps built via JavaScript, Angular, or TypeScript. Fairly easy to use with multiple integrations and plugins for added features. 
  • Flutter: Within the Google umbrella, Flutter enables developers to build native iOS and Android apps by using Google’s native programming language: Dart.
  • PhoneGap: A freeware, open-source platform that helps create apps for Android, Windows, and iOS mobile devices. This product sits on top of Apache Cordova and uses standard languages such as JavaScript and HTML.
  • React Native: the Direct competitor to NativeScript and Xamarin, it lets developers build truly native apps using JavaScript and the React framework.
  • Appcelerator: Enables developers to build apps with great speed using a JavaScript programming codebase

Svitla Systems offers successful mobile app development

Svitla Systems is no stranger to assisting and leading mobile app development projects within the Mobile Development Lifecycle. Our team of highly specialized developers brings powerful know-how on multiple methodologies for mobile app development.

If you would like to stay ahead of the curve, please note that some of the biggest mobile app trends for 2018 include cross-platform and cross-device development. With our experts in the Mobile App Development Process at your beck and call, you can offer a heavily built mobile app that is not limited to a single platform.

Let us help you design, develop, test and deploy the best mobile app for your business. Want to know more? Reach out to us and our team of experts will gladly assist you!
 

by Svitla Team
August 31, 2018

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