Comprehensive guide to learning mobile app development

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The development of mobile applications is one of the most important software professions because of the significance of smartphones, and the process of building any application is no longer the same way.

Let us analyze it in detail and learn about the most popular ways of developing mobile apps, the options available, and what the app developer should know.

Steps for the development of mobile applications

Let us comprehend what route we will take before our journey to professional mobile app development:

  • Understand the types of applications.
  • How to choose between application types.
  • Identify the tools.
  • Programming languages used.
  • The best hybrid application development platforms.

Types of applications

There are 3 types of applications according to the techniques used in their development and we will explain the three types in detail:

Web applications

They are built using the same web-building techniques and run within a web browser as well as web sites. They also exist on a specific domain that is reserved specifically for the application, such as websites. It fits into its capabilities and it can also work on computers.

Native Apps

They are the most popular type of applications, built using native languages. It is used to build a custom application for only one platform, where the Android application is built using the Java and iOS application built using Swift or Objective C. It only works within the platform and can be downloaded from the platform.

Hybrid Apps

They are mixed applications between web applications and native applications, which use Javascript, CSS, and HTML to build them.

How to choose between application types

The programmer needs to know what kind of application is the most suitable for the application that they want to build, and how they can distinguish between different types and choose one to implement the application, so let’s discuss the pros and cons of the 3 types and how to choose between them:

Web applications

Pros:

  • Easy to build as they are built in the same way as the website.
  • Great ease of maintenance without having to re-upload the app or install it by the user.
  • Any programming language or technology suitable for the web can be used, no matter how different and without restrictions.
  • Less expensive than native and hybrid applications.
  • A single application can be built for all platforms and all devices as long as they have a browser.

Cons:

  • The need to have a browser and run the application by typing the link of the application each time.
  • Slower than native applications.
  • Less interactive and less flexible.
  • There is no application-specific icon to run as it works within the browser.
  • It cannot be uploaded to the App Store.
  • It cannot be sent between users like native and hybrid applications.
  • It cannot interact with physical parts of the phone such as the camera, location, etc.

Native applications

Pros:

  • Used to build powerful applications for a specific platform.
  • Very easy to publish on the app store.
  • More interactive and smoother to work on the phone.
  • Great ease of handling physical parts of the phone such as camera, location, Bluetooth, memory, and others.

Cons:

  • The application is intended for only one platform and if the programmer wants to publish the application to Android and iPhone users, he should build two versions of the application for each platform.
  • Languages ​​used are relatively harder than other types as learning Java or Swift is much harder to learn than JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.
  • More expensive when hiring a professional programmer where you need at least two programmers to build one application-oriented to two platforms.
  • The difficulty of maintenance and modification where the programmer needs to upload a modified version to the store and then the user needs to download it and install it.

Hybrid applications

Pros:

  • Ease of construction due to the use of web technologies.
  • Much cheaper than native applications.
  • Cross-platforms, one application can be built for all mobile platforms.
  • You don’t need a browser to run, you can upload it to the store and run it like native apps.
  • The physical parts of the phone can be accessed and handled via an API based on the platform used.
  • Much faster in development than native applications.

Cons:

  • Slower than native apps because native apps are customized for a specific platform.
  • More expensive than web applications.
  • Slightly less interactive than native apps but constantly evolving.

Top mobile app development tools

The programmer needs to use some tools when starting to develop mobile applications and the choice of tools depends on the type of application to be built:

Native applications

  • Android Studio: It is the work environment for Android applications that need to download SDK (Software Development Kit) for this type of application. 
  • XCode: is the environment dedicated to building iOS applications, and also need the presence of SDK for iOS applications.

Hybrid applications

Hybrid applications need some different add-ons from native applications and do not work within their software environment but need the following:

  • A text editor: such as Atom or VS Code to write program files and easily manipulate the project.
  • Upload the files of the user frame, such as React Native, so the developer can start developing.
  • Download the platform SDK that the programmer would like to go to.

Web applications

Since web apps use the same tools as a web developer, the app developer doesn’t need to change anything when they start going for mobile phones.

  • A text editor to write code.
  • Browser to view results.

Programming languages ​​used in the development of mobile applications

  • Java: the language used to build native Native Apps.
  • Swift / Objective C: Both can be used to build native iOS-oriented apps.
  • JavaScript: Used in both hybrid and web applications, but depending on usage and code form.

The most famous hybrid application development platforms

Many platforms can be used for the development of hybrid mobile applications, the most famous of which are:

  • React Native: a platform launched by Facebook for the development of mobile applications, it uses JavaScript in programming applications and is the most famous and powerful among the various platforms.
  • Xamarin: Microsoft’s platform, a platform that uses code based on the .Net platform and programming language #C, through which applications developed for Android, iOS and Windows Phone can be developed.
  • PhoneGap: One of the most popular hybrid application platforms that support Javascript, CSS and HTML in building applications that can work on different mobile devices.
  • Ionic: A fully open-source platform for hybrid phone applications, powered by web technologies, is free and licensed by MIT and supports the physical part of the mobile phone such as Bluetooth and finger touches and others.
  • Mobile Angular UI: A convenient framework for Bootstrap and Angular fans, and all the developer needs are some AngularJS commands to deliver one of the best user experiences.

In this guide, we tried to cover the most important steps in the development of mobile apps.

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