"Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousandfold." - Khan Noonian Singh
For the past year, the number of mobile users has grown by 100 million, topping 5.1 billion worldwide. That makes 68% of the population mobile device owners. As close to the natural ceiling of 70-80% mobile users, it really becomes more about the quality of usage than growth.
The quality of the mobile industry, in general, depends on the quality of devices and the quality of applications.
Device manufacturing is skyrocketing with new grounds being broken every six months. The historic landmark of a \$1.000 mass-produced phone has been reached by Apple. The Android market came back with rethought affordability of top-notch smartphones. The hardware mobile industry is doing well overall.
As for the applications, they’ve come into common use years ago and growing. In fact, by 2020, the global mobile application revenue is expected to reach \$189 billion via app stores and in-app ads. This makes mobile app development one of the most profitable and fastest-growing segments of the IT market. This, however, brings certain limitations like urgency. The mobile market is extremely sensitive for trends and actuality of design and performance.
A modern app has to be modern in all senses. When it comes to mobile, user impatience puts extra pressure on production teams but is rewarding in return.
To be in the hardware business, you’ll need facilities and supply chains. To be in the app business, all it takes is a technical team, a design team, ideas and the knowledge we are about to share.
A mobile app development project is no different from any other development project. You get a project manager to coordinate the work of the team, a mobile designer skilled in iOS, Android, cross-platform, or hybrid application design, a mobile developer, and a QA engineer.
Sometimes we introduce a UX writer at the design stage, a back-end developer if the app has complex server-side functionality.
There are three main F-principles a mobile application development team has to follow:
Firm management. To bridge the possible gaps between the departments and the client, to make sure the next two principles are strongly abided by.
Fixed deadlines. Timeframes are super important for apps. Such thing as seasonal demand for an app is real. That’s why a fixed deadline attached to a fixed product specification is important and unshiftable unless something dramatic happens.
Flexible process. This one might seem to contradict the second principle but bear with us. Flexibility does not mean digression, in fact, it allows to streamline the high-level development process by interchanging tasks and priorities.
For us as both web and mobile development agency, it’s extremely important to maintain the same production pace and efficiency throughout all our projects. In that sense, the development of mobile app is an indicator of the entire company performance. We’ve tripled the speed and the quality of our apps as compared to five years ago. Partially this has to do with technological advancements but mostly, it’s about the people we’ve managed to find and the processes we’ve set.
When we speak of a mobile team, it really is a team. We are committed to making cross-platform developers and designers with a deep understanding of all major mobile platforms. After all,
Mobile development is any kind of software development for any kind of mobile device.
A skilled mobile development team is capable of shipping an app in a matter of weeks. To do that, the team has to function like a well-oiled machine. A typical mobile development team is a guru, a designer, a developer, and a QA engineer.
Guru is a project manager, or design director, business strategist, sometimes the client themselves. This is the focal point of all project team responsibilities. Because everybody on the team contributes to one goal – the perfect app, the guru is the one to control that motion.
To make that happen, a person in charge has to possess deep and diverse experience and knowledge in the business the mobile project is targeting, design, and development methodologies and specifics. Constantly updated UX knowledge is also important. In other words, here’s the outline of a mobile project guru:
- Technical knowledge
- Business knowledge
- Design knowledge
- Leadership skills
Designer is not decorator. Before it even comes to the actual decoration, designer lays out the way the app will work, feel, and look. It all starts with maps and information architecture. Before the first screen is even made, there’s a ton of research of similar apps, experiences, needs, and wants people have in the product. Visual design, colors, fonts, graphics, and illustrations are the final piece. So first of all, a designer is:
- Usability expert
- UX researcher
- Navigation strategist
- Artwork designer
- Sometimes copywriter
The entire project after the design has been confirmed aims at the implementation of that design. All the changes must be made as the result of users’ feedback, not technical limitations.
Developer is a key figure in the mobile team. As opposed to the web dev team where you typically have a back-end and a front-end team, a mobile project is done by a single dev team. Sometimes the app may require a back-end CMS or something and this is where some cross-functioning may happen.
As of recent years, mobile developers have moved towards diversity, Android developers got into iOS and vise versa. That’s because the hybrid mobile development approach has proven to be effective and the boundaries of native development have stretched.
In general, an Android developer is proficient in:
- React Native
- HTML, CSS
- React Native
Mobile development is different from web development in a lot of ways but the main difference is in the attachment to the hardware part, specifically screen sizes and capabilities of the phone.
Operating system developers have played around with different implications of the platforms for various devices. While this was never a serious endeavor, it became clear that a mobile device OS is not a mini-me of a desktop OS. It required a paradigm shift in both the way information is structured and presented.
With desktop OS, what you see is what you get. A mobile OS is you see what’s important at the moment. The biggest challenge was defining what’s important, learning to predict behavior, and understand the user.
Mobile platforms exposed the core of UX – ease of use and pleasure, not the necessity.
Because before 2007, the entire mobile experience was a workaround, a stopgap and it was either deal with it or stay disconnected. Everybody chose being connected but neglected. That was the year the first iPhone dropped. It appealed to everyone because it was exuding an unprecedentedly loveable design.
Some only saw the visual part, tried to copy it but Apple was far ahead with an iPhone being different on so many levels, it made no sense. What Steve Ballmer has famously laughed at, a \$500 price tag, became a new staple for a premium smartphone, ultimately booting out everybody else out of the business except for one company – Google with its Android.
Since it was invented in 2007, iOS hasn’t lost any of its significance. The reason why it came to fruition in the first place, is Apple believed the product was so good, they could not afford to mess it up with third-party software.
Apple transformed the idea of mobile experience and is partly responsible for making it the primary way of accessing digital information. iOS is an exclusive system that is only viable in the context of a restricted array of products: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with slight deviations into Apple Watch and Apple TV.
iOS is based on Mac OS X and Darwin (BSD)