The first rule for businesses to stay afloat is an online presence. For some companies launching a website is more than enough. However, for most progressive and competing businesses having a robust and customised mobile application is an effective way to get more customers.
To build a tailored mobile solution that would satisfy business needs and meet the expectations of the target audience, software developers should use proper mobile app development tools. These tools should be reliable, effective, and suit the purpose of a developed mobile app.
What Are the Common Types of Mobile Applications?
Before developing a mobile app, it is essential
to choose the right type of mobile application. It can be native, hybrid, or cross-platform. Depending on its type these mobile apps can perform various functions and even serve different needs. Also, they require various development tools specific to a particular app type.
The main characteristics of each mobile app type:
● Native mobile applications
Native mobile apps are built with a specific programming language (Java, Objective С, Swift, etc) and run on one of the mobile platforms (iOS or Android).
Native apps are robust, fast, and have access to a device full functionality such as GPS, camera, accelerometer, and others. On the other hand, native apps are platform-dependent and may be slow and expensive to build.
● Hybrid applications
● Cross-platform mobile applications
Cross-platform apps are similar to hybrid ones, their code is easy to share among platforms, however, they aren’t identical. Cross-platform solutions have fewer limitations than hybrid apps as they use bridges that connect their codebase to native components. This makes cross-platform apps closer to native apps by UX and functionality, while they are easier to implement and develop than native solutions.
Tools in Mobile Development
Different types of mobile applications require different development tools. Let’s have a closer look at what tools mobile developers can use to accelerate app development, minimise the number of critical errors, and provide fast time-to-market.
Native mobile app development
The most popular platforms for native app development are Android and iOS. They together occupy 99% of the world mobile market, however, the development tools are different.
Eclipse is an integrated development environment (IDE) that facilitates software development by gathering different development activities in one program such as testing, debugging, source code editing, and others.
Android Development Tools (ADT) plug-in for mobile development allows:
● Setting up Android projects quickly,
● Adding the Android Framework API components,
● Debugging Android apps with Android SDK tools,
● Exporting APKs for app distribution.
All these functionalities make development procedures go faster and smoother while standardizing the development process and reducing the number of possible mistakes in the code.
Maven is a project management tool that helps to organise and automate project dependencies. Maven includes three components that help it to manage development projects effectively:
● The POM represents an XML file that describes a project and its dependencies;
● The directory is a standardised file format for Maven to describe projects in the POM;
● Repositories for storing third-party software.
With Maven mobile developers can run app tests, manage conflicts, handle documentation, and much more. Mobile developers use Maven with various IDEs, including Eclipse.
Realm is a modern and fast database that’s used for storing data for mobile applications. Realm is:
● Easy to use as it utilises objects for storing data,
● A cross-platform tool as it’s written in C++,
● Super-fast in comparison to the most popular databases, like SQLite,
● Compact as it provides a list of object references instead of copying data,
● Used for Android and iOS mobile application development.
● Automates recurring tasks and shortens app development time,
● Helps mobile developers to quickly navigate through a development project,
● Provides hints for code autocompletion,
● Helps with source code refactoring,
● Inspects app code and prevents possible mistakes and code issues.
With AppCode development tools mobile developers can build robust and effective iOS apps much faster and easier.
CocoaPods is a dependency manager for building iOS mobile applications. It resolves dependencies between libraries, provides the resulting source code, and links the results with Xcode workspace. All these help to build mobile apps faster, remove and update project libraries easier, and manage app projects simpler.
Hybrid Mobile app development
With PhoneGap, mobile developers can build solutions that run on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile operating systems. Many companies prefer developing their mobile apps with PhoneGap as it is:
● Cost-effective as it allows building cross-platform solutions,
● Closer to native apps as it provides access to the Native APIs and opens access to camera, geolocation, contacts, and other native app features,
● Easy-to-use, software developers don’t need to learn any extra programming languages if they’re already acquainted with web technologies,
● Customisable as it provides a set of UI libraries for improved customer experience.
● Simple to learn, those software developers, who are acquainted with web-technologies well, can build mobile solutions after just several tutorials and learning Cordova Command Line Interface (CLI),
● Allows access to the native app features, with Cordova software developers can build mobile apps that utilise the camera, SMS, media, geolocation, and other features,
● Cost-free, the framework is completely free for use,
● Easy to add to app stores, Cordova compiles its apps into APK files for Android, IPA files for iOS, and even APPX files for Windows.
● More than 50 build-in UI widgets for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry,
● A layout manager that allows organising data and content on various mobile devices with different operating systems,
● Adaptive layouts with native-looking skins and animations.
Ionic is an open-source mobile app development framework based on HTML5. With its HTML5 SDK, mobile developers can build both the front-end and back-end of an app.
● Quickly develop and release mobile apps,
● Conduct app development mostly in a browser,
● Develop iOS and Android apps simultaneously,
● Add a variety of UI components,
● Add plugins to use smartphone features like NFC, geolocation, fingerprint scanning, and others.
Cross-platform mobile development
Xamarin is an open-source platform by Microsoft that allows building iOS, Android, and Windows-based applications. The platform is versatile and packed with various tools. With Xamarin software developers can build native and cross-platform mobile solutions. The cross-platform development tool Xamarin offers:
● Equal UI for different operating systems,
● Sharable backend code,
● Accelerated development process due to recurring tasks automation,
● A variety of mobile APIs,
● Development support, unit, and other testing types,
● Writing code on C# with .NET language infrastructure.
XAML is a descriptive language by Microsoft that helps to design UI elements. It allows building UIs for Windows and mobile apps. The main benefits of XAML are:
● Easy to design UIs,
● Short codebase,
● Ability to design dynamic UI,
● Division of UI elements from the business logic.
Visual Studio allows:
● Migrating the existing C++ libraries to Android, iOS, or Windows platforms,
● Utilise Xamarin for building cross-platform mobile solutions,
● Develop Android-native apps,
● Use set code samples and templates for faster app development,
● Develop project elements in Xcode, an IDE for iOS.
The choice of development strategies and tools depends on many factors. To understand well how to build mobile apps and what tools to use, businesses need to realise the aims and objectives their applications are going to fulfil. All that is easier to do if stakeholders realise the mobile development life cycle and understand what specialists to address next and at what stage.