Mobile applications are indispensable today, creating an accessible presence for businesses and allowing them to move beyond boundaries. Both businesses and consumers are using mobile apps for different purposes. Consumers use these to order their favorite items, read informative content, watch entertaining videos and pictures, chat, educate, etc. Businesses use mobile apps to connect with customers, improve brand awareness, drive more sales and revenue, etc., and offer exceptional services to the clients. Also, companies are aware that mobile touchpoints are becoming more effective and engaging than traditional ones due to an increase in the number of mobile applications.
In the 1990s, the first smartphone came into existence loaded with some basic applications such as Sketch pad, calculator, contacts, etc. Over time, the download, discovery, and use of mobile apps has evolved much more owing to the rise of new development platforms like Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In addition, new technologies such as Java and C# took the basic functionalities of mobile apps to an advanced level.
At the present time, usage of mobile apps is rapidly increasing leading to the creation of a diverse and vibrant mobile app ecosystem. Mobile application development companies are now creating more smart, powerful, and convenient apps focused on improving customer experience.
Mobile Application Development: Explained
Global smartphone users exceeded the threshold of 6 billion in 2022 and are expected to rise continuously over the coming years. This brings numerous opportunities for the mobile application development industry. Keeping the high demand for smartphones in mind, companies are launching mobile apps for entertainment, gaming, social networking, e-commerce, productivity, etc. Globally, more than 255 billion mobile apps were downloaded by consumers from app stores in 2022.
A typical mobile app development process consists of several stages. The first phase is the conceptualization and planning phase, in which the functionalities and features of the apps are determined. Then comes the design phase, in which the user interface and overall look and feel are determined. This part generally falls under the front end. After this, the final step is where the actual coding and programming of the app are initiated by the developers using programming languages such as Java and CSS. After the development, developers test the application for bugs and errors to ensure a better user experience.
It takes a lot of effort, resources, and workforce to develop user friendly and efficient mobile apps. The developers and companies in app development use multiple development platforms, approaches, languages, frameworks, etc., based on the requirements of business and users.
Mobile App Development Approaches
There are four development approaches that developers and businesses utilize in developing a mobile application. Developers finalize their approach based on some specific requirements and goals of the projects. These developers also consider the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches before selecting them. These approaches are native mobile, cross platform native, hybrid, and progressive web as discussed below:
Native Mobile Applications
In the native mobile application approach, the tools and programming languages are used exclusively for a single platform. Since native applications are platform dependent, they can only run on a single platform. These apps can access the basic features of a phone, like GPS, camera, and storage, to deliver the best-in-class user experience. Native mobile applications are generally considered costly as the code is designed keeping a single platform use in mind. Some widespread benefits of native mobile applications are as follows:
- Offline functionality
- Access to device features
- Improved performance
- Push notifications
- Easy integration with other apps
- Better security
- Enhanced User Experience
Some popular native mobile application development tools include Xcode, Android Studio, and React Native. Whatsapp, Spotify, and Waze are the most used native mobile applications.
Cross-Platform Native Mobile Applications
This approach is an evolved version of native mobile applications in which applications can run on different platforms using a single source code. Developers do not need to develop separate applications for other platforms like Android or IOS due to which this approach is considered cost and resource efficient. Some benefits are as follows:
- Single codebase for multiple platforms
- Faster development time
- Reduced development cost
- Access to device features
- Enhanced speed and performance
Hybrid Mobile Applications
Hybrid mobile applications are a combination of web and native technologies such as Ionic, Xamarin, Flutter, etc. These technologies are either combined; or a single framework is used for development. These applications are packaged like native apps and can be distributed through official and unofficial app stores. Some significant benefits of these applications are as follows:
- Web codebase can run on multiple platforms
- Faster development response
- Reduced expenses
- Access to device features through plugins
- Improved process efficiency
Progressive Web Applications
These web applications behave like native apps but are accessible only through a web browser. These applications are relatively fast, reliable, and accessible despite poor network coverage. These applications are designed so the user can add them to their device's home screen without installing them. PWAs are also accessible in offline mode when internet connectivity is not there. The popularity of these applications is still in the initial phase, and support for these applications is only available for some devices and browsers. Some significant benefits of PWAs are as follows:
- Can work offline
- Responsive design for multiple devices
- Easier to discover through search engines
- No installation required
- Access to device features through browser APIs
Out of all approaches, native and cross-platform native mobile applications are widely popular among developers and businesses. However, developers are also opting for hybrid and advanced mobile applications, hugely contributing to the growing popularity.
Types of Mobile App Development
There is a rapid increase in the number of mobile users owing to the benefits and features they provide to consumers. These features and benefits use different operating systems or platforms, such as Nokia using Windows, Samsung using Android, and iPhones using iOS. To target customers effectively and efficiently, determining a suitable platform is the need of the hour for any business.
It is the most popular mobile app development platform having a huge user base and an inbuilt app store hosting a large number of apps. In 2021, out of the total smartphones sold, around 83.32% were android. It is an evolved version of Linux kernel and other open-source software and was introduced by Google to compete against other platforms like iOS. With a huge customer base and an inbuilt app store, i.e., Google Play Store stands as a reliable platform for businesses in acquiring new customers using a mobile application.
The Android operating system is open-source, meaning Android app developers can modify and distribute the source code freely without permission. Due to this, the Google Play store has become the largest and most diverse ecosystem of apps and games for users. With over 20 million downloads, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook were the top downloaded android applications in 2022.
Once a mighty competitor to the iOS and android phones was Blackberry which was known for its premium line of smartphones, tablets, and services. However, its market share reduced gradually, and a tiny population uses Blackberry devices. BlackBerry is known for its robust security features and intense focus on enterprise use. Blackberry devices utilize their OS, which is the BlackBerry operating system.
It is closed-source, which means not everyone can freely modify and distribute the source code. Certified and official developers can only use BlackBerry's official tools and frameworks to create apps for their devices. BlackBerry has a more miniature ecosystem of apps compared to Android or iOS.
iOS is another mobile app platform driving customers crazy owing to its user-friendly interface and sleek design. iOS is also closed-source, due to which iPhone app development businesses are only allowed to use official tools and frameworks provided by Apple. Utilization of these tools ensures high quality and consistency across apps on Apple devices. In the 4th quarter of 2022, iPhones generated over $42.63 billion in revenue due to this high quality and consistency.
Popular devices with iOS include iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices.
The total sales of wearable devices stood at 533 million units in 2021 showing its huge potential in the upcoming years. Smartwatches, wristbands, and fitness trackers were among the majorly bought products. The global wearable market is anticipated to grow up to $460 billion by 2029 due to the intense focus of developers and businesses on wearable technology. Wearable OS types such as watchOS, Wear OS, Tizen, etc., are also optimized for small screens and work with limited input methods for a streamlined and intuitive user experience.
Major Business Segments Using Mobile Apps
Banking and Finance
Many banks and financial institutions are now utilizing mobile apps to serve their customers with an enhanced experience efficiently. According to GoodFirms, customers mostly prefer mobile banking apps for checking account balances, transferring funds, paying bills, etc., from their smartphones or tablets. Moreover, mobile banking apps are hugely boosting the growth of the banking and finance industry. This is because new mobile payment apps and digital wallet-based businesses allow users to make more transactions securely and quickly.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce applications were hugely downloaded and used by the consumers. M-commerce, i.e., shopping through mobile, is rapidly increasing, owing to which the market will grow by $400 billion by 2024. Shopping through mobile is convenient for the users due to which most e-commerce companies now offer their products and services through mobile apps. Through these apps, consumers can easily purchase their desired products and services directly from their mobile phones and tablets. In addition, these apps also provide various other features as follows:
- Personalized product recommendations
- Push notifications for sales and offers
- The ability to save items to wishlists
- Making online purchases
- Sending gifts to loved ones
Mobile apps' annual revenue can increase to $613 billion by 2025. Entertainment categories like mobile games will actively contribute to this increased revenue. Apps from other categories, such as music, short videos, chatting and dating sites, video streaming platforms, etc., dominate worldwide downloads and consumer spending charts.
Entertainment-based mobile apps are hugely focused on features that can ensure customer satisfaction through entertainment services. Entertainment apps such as TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, etc., were the most downloaded and revenue-generation applications.
Healthcare and Medical
Healthcare and medical businesses are also leveraging mobile app technology to provide adequate care and treatment to patients. Mobile applications are allowing medical professionals to quickly deliver their services remotely to the patients. Medical apps allow patients and medical professionals to perform various functions such as appointments schedule, view test results, and communicate their concerns. Healthcare and medical app development companies are designing these apps in such as manner through which patient engagement can be improved while helping individuals manage their health more effectively.
Two Major Components of Mobile App Development
Mobile application development involves multiple components to ensure creation of best in class apps. Front end and back end are the two major components of mobile application development which covers almost all development aspects. These two components play a crucial role in ensuring the development of performance based applications that can enhance customer experience.
The server side, also known as the back-end, doesn’t come in contact with the users. The back-end development adds functionalities to the front end using code and logical reasoning. A reliable back-end development is critical for the front end to function effectively. The back-end development services cover code building, database management, debugging, etc. to develop quality-based applications. Several back end technologies are trending presently such as Java, PHP, C#, Node.js, Django, Laravel, etc.
Front-end Development and Its Importance
The design and development of a user interface or front view in a mobile application refer to front-end development. Since the user directly interacts with it, reliable front-end development services become crucial for any business to ensure a seamless user experience. Reliable front-end services benefit businesses in many ways, as follows:
Perks of Reliable Front-end Development Services
Better Brand Representation
Reliable front-end development services are responsible for developing a visually appealing, responsive, and user-friendly interface. This can drastically improve brand representation as such an interface will leave a positive impression on users and make them more likely to remember a brand. Positive impressions assist a business in earning the trust of its consumers, which will also increase sales as 46% of consumers are ready to pay more for the brands they trust.
Better Customer Support, Engagement and Experience
70.4% of consumers shift to alternate brands in case of a poor experience with their preferred brands. Customers' experience is directly associated with the features, UI design, level of services, etc. When they encounter any issue like not finding desired options, it hugely impacts their experience. In such cases, they either abandon the brand or contact customer support for assistance.
To lower this brand abandonment rate, developers can use features such as straightforward navigation, responsive design, contact forms, etc. In addition, the integration of these features can result in a higher retention rate, user engagement, positive word-of-mouth, and increased revenue if implemented properly in the apps.
Better Customer Retention and Loyalty
Only 2.6% of the users retain any newly downloaded mobile application after 30 days, which means a low retention rate. The main reasons behind the uninstallation are poor user experience and complex navigation. Reliable and effective front-end services can serve customers with a positive user experience and easy-to-use interface to improve low retention rates. New updates at regular intervals can help engage customers, which can lead to reduced uninstallations.
Around 65% of companies' average revenue comes from loyal or existing customers. Loyalty of these customers can be acquired by serving them with their desired features. Strategies such as loyalty programs, rewards, and other loyalty-enhancing features can help retain the customers for a longer duration of time.
With a reliable and well-designed front end, customers can easily access the products and services for purchase which ultimately increase the sales. Features such as clear product displays, easy-to-use shopping carts, and secure payment options can increase sales. Additionally, front-end development services can help create personalized product recommendations, push notifications for sales and deals, and other sales-enhancing features for customer engagement and satisfaction. Keeping customers engaged and satisfied can lead to repeat business and increased revenue.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction ratings have been falling consistently for the last few years. Poor user experience is the primary reason behind this increasing dissatisfaction. A well-built front end enables users to easily achieve their goals ultimately resulting in improved customer satisfaction. In addition, a good front end can also help determine the satisfaction level or ratings of the users by taking feedback and suggestions from them. Through this, businesses can make new upgrades or improvements to the application for ensuring enhanced user satisfaction.
Popular Front-end Frameworks and Languages
Developers have used HTML for decades for creating and structuring different paragraphs, sections, and links using HTML tags and attributes. HTML is mainly used to create a solid foundation for mobile apps while structuring content logically and consistently. HTML has been evolving, and the latest version is HTML5 which comes with a simplified mobile app development process.
CSS is another popular front-end development language for creating attractive user interface and visual designs in the mobile applications. In this, different font styles, background colors, button sizes, etc. are utilized by the developers to optimize the layout implementation. CSS allows developers to work on the visual design of the mobile app without affecting the underlying HTML structure. Mostly, CSS helps in the development of an user-friendly, attractive, simple, and engaging mobile app front end.
- Helps in creating single-page mobile applications in a maintainable and clean way.
- Its data binding capabilities with HTML give a rich user experience.
- Its reusable components make it efficient in developing front-end applications.
- More flexibility for developers with shortcodes.
Back-end Development and Its Importance
Back-end development refers to server-side software development which is not visible to the human eye. Reliable back-end development is very essential for businesses to develop flawless applications for their customers. Different back-end components such as databases, logic, APIs, architecture, etc. are used to ensure the smooth functioning of the mobile apps. A reliable and well-developed backend can also quickly respond to front-end user requests which significantly improves the customer experience. Back-end development services also perform quality assurance testing and debugging to eliminate any errors and bugs.
Perks of Reliable Back-end Development Services
58% of consumers expect higher and more from their brands after the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses need to focus on the performance of their mobile apps to satisfy these consumers. This performance can be significantly enhanced using reliable back-end development services.
In addition, good performance contributes to a fast and stable infrastructure which positively impacts customer satisfaction and experience. Techniques such as load balancing, database optimization, caching, etc. are used by back-end developers to ensure consistent and reliable apps.
Handling of Large Amounts of Data
With a robust and adequately developed back end, mobile apps can handle vast amounts of traffic and data. This data is highly beneficial for businesses in serving customized experiences to customers. Around 49% of consumers stated that they are hugely influenced by the level of personalization offered by the brand.
Scalable architecture like microservices and cloud-based solutions allows mobile apps to handle sudden spikes in traffic and data without crashing or slowing down. This is especially important for apps with a large user base or handling sensitive data.
For example, Spotify wrapped is a marketing campaign by Spotify which is annually released by the company in the last quarter of the year. In this, a large amount of data is analyzed by the company using reliable back-end services. Using this data, custom recommendations and playlists are shown to users which can also be shared on social media.
In 2021, the security threats in mobile phones increased by 31 percent. To reduce this increasing count, security measures such as authentication, encryption, and access control can be integrated in mobile app back end. Through these, the security threats and risks can be reduced to a huge extent. This will also positively influence the business performance as threats will no longer hamper the organizational functions.
A reliable back-end can help keep the mobile application available online 24*7, even during high-traffic periods or unexpected issues. This benefits businesses as 83% of users expect instant availability of brands when needed. Techniques like failover and redundancy are used to ensure the continuous functioning of the app, even when a component is unable to function correctly.
Automation is very crucial for businesses in these digital times. 84% of employees are more satisfied with their organization if critical processes are automated. In addition, automation also helps in a rich customer experience and effective app functioning while ensuring accurate and updated data. Processes like data management, reporting, updation, etc., can be easily automated with a well-developed back-end. It also saves the business and developers time, effort, and resources.
App scalability is one of the significant challenges that can influence the sales of any online business when the number of internet users exceeds 5 billion in 2022. Due to the increased traffic, capable and reliable app infrastructure is needed to accommodate more users. Reliable back-end development services can develop scalable mobile applications that can quickly adjust to the growing traffic and data load. These scalable applications can ensure better performance for long-term success.
Better Analytics and Reporting
95% of businesses are leveraging the power of analytics and reporting through their mobile apps. Mobile apps allow businesses to collect user data in a more sophisticated manner. This data can be used for accurate predictive analyses associated with revenue forecasts, sales estimations, etc. This predictive analyses is very beneficial for firms in making data-driven decisions as they can better understand how users interact with the app.
Around 90% of companies experience data and process integration issues in their functioning. A reliable and properly built back end can resolve these integration issues for improving the efficiency. A good back-end allows efficient integration of different platforms and systems in the app. Through this, businesses can enhance the functionalities and capabilities of mobile applications. In addition, developers can easily add new features using databases and third-party APIs.
Popular Back-end Frameworks and Languages
Around 34.22% of developers used .Net framework globally in 2022. It was developed by Microsoft due to which it can be easily integrated with other Microsoft technologies such as C# and Visual Studio. ASP.NET is a robust and popular .Net framework that can effectively handle large-scale applications. It can quickly build mobile and web applications using tools like MVC patterns, API, web forms, etc.
Microsoft recently launched its lates version i.e. Net 7 framework with significant upgrades to support more platforms and functionalities. The new Net framework helps develop various applications for platforms, including cloud, mobile, IoT, Desktop, etc.
PHP is a popular language used in around 77.8% of websites globally. It is majorly used as a server-side programming language.in content management systems like Drupal, WordPress, etc. It is a server-side programming language, which means the code is executed on the server side, and results are sent to the client side. Around Laravel is a popular PHP framework that provides features like middleware, routing, ORM, etc., to build better mobile applications and their back end.
It is a Python framework which is rising in popularity owing to the benefits such as security, scalability, and ability to handle complex and large data. In 2021, only 13% of back-end developers were using Django, but the number is gradually rising. It works on MVC architectural patterns which divides overall application logic into three components which are model, view, and controller.
Inbuilt features of Django such as ORM, template design, admin panel, etc. are very helpful for the developers in easy handling and development of back end. Moreover, Django allows integration of additional libraries and databases like Pandas and PostgreSQL in the development process for better performance.
Front-end vs. Back-end - Which One is Critical
Back-end and front-end are essential terminologies in mobile application development. Although both of these terminologies are different from each other, they are very critical to the mobile application. While the front end deals with the visual interface or client side, the back end deals with the functionalities and application logic or server side. Both of these are critical components of any well-developed mobile application.
Mutual coordination is a significant challenge that negatively impacts the mobile app development industry. Many times, front-end and back-end developers experience various issues due to improper coordination and communication. It is the responsibility of front-end developers that the front-end components are aligned with the back-end functionalities, and back-end developers should ensure that the provided data and logic can easily interact with the front end.
Digital technologies like AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain, etc. are advancing rapidly in the modern times. These advancements can significantly improve the functioning of mobile applications while ensuring development of reliable front end and back end. These technologies can hugely improve the performance and scalability of the mobile applications making user experience more seamless.
Why is it critical to have a strategized front-end and back-end development?
Businesses must invest in a strategic approach for both the front-end and back-end development services of their mobile applications. These two improve the app’s performance and hugely influence customer experience and satisfaction. In addition, a strategized front and back-end development approach enables businesses to save development cost, time, and resources.
Also, strategically built front and back-end help make apps more scalable and adapt to future upgrades and growth. Through this, businesses can reduce costs and time associated with the redevelopment of the application in the future. Moreover, strategized back and front-end development can help develop more secure apps eliminating security risks and data breaches. This is beneficial in protecting sensitive user and business data from external threats.
How reliable is it to outsource the Mobile Application Development Processes?
Several businesses are now opting to outsource their mobile application development processes. Many consider it a reliable approach due to its advantages over the in-house teams. However, this reliability factor is assessed based on the specific needs of the business and application. Below are some reasons why outsourcing mobile application development is reliable for businesses.
It allows businesses to focus on their core business while the outsourcing firm looks after the application development process. This is beneficial for the firms in utilizing their resources elsewhere to further improve business performance and productivity.
Outsourcing companies usually have access to the latest technologies and skilled workforce through which efficient and advanced mobile apps can be developed. Due to this, outsourcing firms can quickly develop mobile apps with better efficiency, which saves time for businesses that are outsourcing their needs. Another significant benefit is that the outsourcing firm is accountable for all the risks. The best mobile application development companies follow an agile approach that guarantees app success, stability, and sustainability.
Points to Consider while choosing the right source for Front-end and Back-end Development Processes
The business must consider a few points while outsourcing its front-end and back-end development process. Some of these major points are as follows:
- Clarify the app requirements with the outsourcing firm.
- Check whether the firm has a strong portfolio and skilled teams.
- Get detailed cost estimation, including maintenance.
- Consider the post and pre-launch support.
- Evaluate the risks and challenges
- Evaluate the trustworthiness of the company.
- Ensure seamless integration of the back-end and front-end.
- Choose whether you need onshore, nearshore, or offshore outsourcing.
The Future of Mobile Application Development - Will Autocoding with the help of AI take over the traditional methods?
Mobile application development has evolved rapidly in these modern times due to advancements in new technologies like AI and ML. Mobile application development process is utilizing these to build better and more intelligent applications. At present, developers are mostly leveraging the power of AI to automate repetitive tasks associated with data and operations to significantly improve the performance of the mobile apps.
Augmented reality and virtual reality will also have a greater share in the mobile application development journey.
Google’s promises to enhance its Flutter framework are undoubtedly taking the dreams of many to have perfect “develop once, deploy anywhere” applications.
A mobile application with a powerful back-end and the front-end functionalities is sure to enhance the user experience and satisfaction level, and this is directly connected with the brand’s or the business’ growth. Businesses that lack skilled in-house teams for back and front-end development can outsource their mobile application development processes. Service seekers can check the most reliable and updated list of mobile application development companies that can quickly develop your mobile apps at low costs, time, and resources.