The Mobile App Development Process


What if you could request a ride from your phone? The idea originated back in 2008 when two friends attending LeWeb had a hard time getting a ride back to their hotels. Recent millionaires Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had a lot of money lying around. Travis Kalanick had just sold his startup to Akamai Technologies for $19 million, while Garrett Camp was in the final stage of closing a $75 million deal with eBay. They designed a time-sharing Limo app for the time they were in Paris for the conference and then went on with their life back in the States.

Back home, Camp continued working on the idea as a side project and came up with the first prototype in 2009. He invited Kalanick to be the chief incubator for the project. Uber was founded in New York in 2010 with just three cars and was valued around 100 billion at the time of its IPO in 2019, making the two instant billionaires.


Does an app have to be original?

Whether you have an original app idea or are trying to offer an app for your services, the mobile app development process is time consuming and expensive. It takes thorough planning, extensive research, and endless collaboration between various teams to build the next TikTok or Snapchat.

However, you don’t need an original idea to build your next app on. It just needs to be original to the mobile world and should provide a unique experience in the form of an app. Tinder did it to online dating with gesture-based navigation and geo-fencing, Uber did it to online taxi booking with real-time location sharing and messaging, Instagram did it to photo sharing with filters, WhatsApp did it to texting with video and image sharing and single-step registration, and Google Maps did it to online mapping by adding turn-by-turn navigation, pinch-to-zoom, and voice commands.


Mobile app development process steps

Every app starts with an idea, whether yours or somebody else’s. It doesn’t matter as long as you implement it right. Once you have the idea, it is important to come up with the game plan of how you’re going to implement your idea in the form of the app. Of course, the idea must revolve around  the center theme of the app and various features the app is going to have. For example, if you’re developing an app that tracks your cycling activities, then you need an algorithm that can tell a cycling session from a motorbike ride. It would be convenient if it could show both cycling speed and a map of the cycling path.


The anatomy of an App idea

An app idea should be one that can take advantage of the device’s hardware to add distinct features that would add value to its users. Modern smartphones have powerful hardware that can show your precise location on the map, take high quality photos and videos, connect to high-speed internet, process console-quality graphics, run AI/ML workflows such as NLP and computational photography, and run biometrics scans.

Mobile apps have a push notifications service that allows them to receive notifications even when the application isn’t running in the background.


Analyze the idea to bring out features

An app idea tries to solve an existing problem that your users were facing. The first step in analyzing your app idea would be to figure out the app’s workflow in pure software terms. That is how it executes its primary task. In the case of Uber, the primary task is to call a taxi in the shortest amount of time. In addition to its primary task, an app also has to perform additional tasks. If your app is a video editor, in addition to editing videos that one captures on their mobile device, it should also be able to upload videos to YouTube and other social media apps within the app.


Design the UI elements

Most of the app development projects target two platforms, Android and iOS. For UI design, both Google and Apple have a different approach, hence distinctive design languages. Google Android uses something called material UI which insists on putting UI elements at the top of the screen. Material UI is also heavy on the use of a hamburger menu and is common in mobile apps made by Google such as Gmail and Chrome.

Apple’s design philosophy for iOS devices recommends UI elements to be placed at the bottom of the screen. iOS apps are also heavy on gestures. A lot of screen interactions that used to require clicking buttons on the UI can now be done with gestures such as swiping from the left for back function and swiping from right for forward function.


Development of the app and business logic

With the iOS app development process, you’re restricted to two programming languages which are Objective C and Swift. iOS app development also requires a modern Mac with XCode installed. When developing iOS apps for iPhone, Apple recommends the Cocoa Touch framework.

Android’s app development process works natively with two programming languages, Kotlin and Java. In order to develop Android apps, you’ll need Android Studio which works on Windows 10, macOS, and most Linux distros.

Developers that are trying to save time building separate apps for each platform may opt for one of the cross-platform development frameworks, such as Flutter or React Native.

Development is perhaps the most cumbersome and demanding step in the mobile app development process which may consume most of your time till launch.


Testing the app for quality

Once you have integrated the code base with the UI elements to build the first prototype, you must pass the app to your testing team. In the testing phase, the development and testing team tend to collaborate on a shared platform wherein the development team pushes the latest builds and testing team runs their scanners to test the build against a number of prewritten test cases. A test case has a number of inputs that should produce a desired output. A buggy, unpredictable app goes back to the mobile app development team to be fixed. The cycle continues until the testing team stop finding bugs in the app and approves the quality. Some of the quality analysis techniques are functional testing, performance testing, unit testing, load testing, security testing to name a few.

To ensure the mobile app maintains a certain threshold of security, functions and performance, resilience, etc., testing team also enforce quality control.


Deployment of the app in various app stores

In order to deploy applications on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, you’ll need to have a developer account which may carry an annual fee.

Apple has a history of being notorious with its strict App Store guidelines and may reject you from the App Store on your first try. Google is more liberal with new applications and publishers, and you should have no issue getting published on the Play Store on your first go unless something’s literally wrong with your app.

Getting published on an app store is also subject to various local rules and restrictions. For example, VOIP apps are banned in the middle east while VPNs are banned in China.

You may also need to translate your app into the local language before launch.

Further, app stores have been taking privacy a lot more seriously recently. Your privacy policy should be transparent and comprehensible. Apple insists developers show their ‘privacy labels’ in their app listings.


Support the users with helpdesk

Users that are facing difficulty while using your application must have a way of contacting you and resolving their queries. We recommend you set up a helpdesk that’ll attend and help solve any incoming queries. Mobile app developers with good support tend to have a higher customer retention rate.

Major app stores also ensure you provide a support email address in your app listings.


Is mobile app development for you?

Mobile app development is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that requires a multitude of resources, computing power, and equipment. Not every company has the budget to hire an in-house mobile app development team to kickstart their mobile app development process. For such companies, outsourcing part of their project or the entire project to an external team of mobile app developers makes more sense, monetarily and logically.

Rare Crew has vast experience in developing privacy-centric mobile apps for Android and iOS. We have a global clientele that trusts our mobile app development services. Contact us to find out more.



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