A mobile application (or generally shortened to app) is a computer program designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.
They are generally distributed through specific application distribution platforms or “markets” for instance “Google Play” or the “Apple Store”. Generally they are provided as entirely free, for instance as a sales portal for an e-commerce organisation; free to download but supported by advertising; or paid for. There are many different kinds of apps in most conceivable categories. Their market is huge; in 2013 there were over 100 billion app downloads which generated revenue of around $26 billion.
The development process
The development process requires specific development environments which depend on the platform for which the app is targeted. While apps may be produced to work on different platforms, generally it is developed for one, for instance Android, and subsequently adapted for others such as iOS.
The mobile app development process is a well trodden path, but one that is important to navigate carefully. Falling to the wayside is the reason why so many apps fail to fulfil the purpose for which they were conceived.
• Goals and expectations – it is imperative that the developer and you share the same vision regarding your goals and expectations, including the most important objectives as well as any optional extras.
• Project scope – once the overall goals and expectations have been agreed, the next stage is to decide on the scope of the project, which includes all of the features and functions of the application.
• Technology and strategy planning – Once the above has been precisely, the next step is to identify the key technologies that will be required and to develop a project strategy to deliver the required solution.
• Design, architecture and coding – The next step is to begin work on the architecture, interface coding. Depending on the complexity of the project this may involve one or two programmers or perhaps teams of developers who are tackling different elements of the application.
• Testing and Approval – initial testing of the apps is carried out within the development environment (for instance using emulators) and a live server followed by testing in the field. Once all bugs have been ironed out and the app approved, it can be delivered and implemented.
You may choose to build your app in house or to outsource its development. As app development is a complex and highly specialised process, it is unlikely that you have either the skill set or time resource in-house. Unless your business is app development, then developing an app yourself isn’t a core activity and not one for which you should invest precious resources that are best used developing core aspects of your business.
For most businesses outsourcing app development is by far the best solution. While you can choose to outsource the project to a local developer, by outsourcing application development overseas, your application ideas can be implemented at far lower cost than they could be by either your own team or by a local developer.
It is also important to choose a developer that isn’t merely technically competent; you should select a developer that combines a high level of technical skill and expertise with an ability to understand your business requirements as well as the requirements of the project and with which you are able to establish a good relationship. It almost goes without saying that good communications must be maintained through each stage of the project, so it is important to get them right at the outset.