Mobile development encompasses developing applications for phones, tablets, smartwatches, and all other kinds of wearable devices which run some kind of mobile operating system. In fact, mobile applications can even be developed exclusively for mobile devices but entirely as a web application.
Mobile apps are powerful because they are, if designed and implemented correctly - small and singular in purpose. It packs a lot of punch in the small package as a smartphone or a smartwatch.
Mobile development is arguably the future of development, as mobile devices are becoming larger and larger parts of our lives. Used to be a time when Blackberry ruled the business world, and flip phones were the game. App development had not taken the limelight and no dominant platforms had existed. That all changed with the introduction of the iPhone back in 2007. Since then, mobile experiments have flourished and given rise to new applications and even newly minted billionaires. Today, two main contenders exist - iOS and Android, and then there’s the rest.
User onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users will successfully adopt your product.
When launching a product, you need to spend a lot of time and resources to attract a sufficient number of users. There are a variety of means to attract users to your app, including advertising, referral programs, public relations, and content marketing. But when people finally download the app, they sometimes feel abandoned or let down. Therefore, you must do an excellent job at showing users why they need your app and how they should use it.
Onboarding can sometimes be an integral part of the app, where we show the user how to behave within the app. This dive in effect is especially useful if we incorporated some new features that might be unfamiliar to our users. Tooltips can also be used to show them how things work.
Iconography is a visual language used to represent functionality or content. Icons are used when we don’t have enough space to display textual content. Therefore, icons are meant to be simple visual elements that are recognized and understood immediately.
In practice, we will encounter both version of these icons. They can appear outlined or filled, but the whole icon set needs to be consistent and employ the same stroke. However, this is something that is more related to visual design. When it comes to UX, one thing is sure. If we use the outlined icons for the normal state, then we should probably use the filled icon for the active state of the button. It’s important to indicate which section is currently active by highlighting the icon in a specific way. Although we could change the color of the outline, this approach is not ideal when we are dealing with a light background, so it’s better to use the filled/outline approach. This makes recognition of active tabs and controls more straightforward. Icons at the end are here to serve as navigation to other section of the app.
There are several cross-platform solutions which compile the final code down to the native format for the mobile operating system and hook directly into the native libraries and APIs. Xamarin, which allows you to write your app in C# but still get all the benefits and features of a full, natively-built application.
There are many other options to choose from. Other cross-platform solutions, like Cordova for example, take a hybrid approach where the application is not a native application, but it looks like one.
Typically, native is going to be faster and look and feel more like the mobile platform the app is running on, but some of the cross-platform, hybrid solutions are getting so close to the native that can be difficult to tell the difference.
Mobile apps can be developed natively or as hybrid apps, while mobile-friendly websites can be developed as adaptive or responsive. The basic design process behind all of them is more or less the same. The only thing we need to consider when designing for mobile is that we have a specific set of rules we need to follow. Apple has its own, and so does Google.
When you’re designing for iOS or Android, the underlying process is the same. First, we do research that will outline best practices and show us what we can do on a certain platform and what not. Research helps us we learn restrictions and take advantage of possibilities a given field.
Designers are likely to work on both native app and responsive web designs. Native apps are important because we want the user to have them on their dashboard, and this way we want to help users in their everyday activities. Some native apps can work offline while others can’t.
Responsive web design is important for SEO and Google indexing. So, if we want to have your project well-ranked on Google, you definitely go for a mobile-friendly responsive design.
iOS is quite arguably the “big dog” when it comes to major app development platforms, partially because it was the platform that finally brought mobile development into the modern day and age by completely transforming the idea of a mobile device and mobile software. iOS is, of course, developed by Apple, and it runs exclusively on Apple products.
iOS runs on iPhones, iPods, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TV, but we expect there will be more devices which will run iOS in the future. iOS at its core is very Unix-like; it is based on Darwin (BSD) and OS X. It shares some important frameworks with OS X, and its user interface is based on Apple’s Cocoa UI, which is used in OS X applications, but has been modified and redesigned for touch devices and called Cocoa Touch. Apple provides iOS developers with several native tools and libraries to develop iOS applications, and, although you don’t need to use Apple’s development tools to build your apps, you do have to have a Mac running OS X to develop your application.
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If it’s not iOS, it’s probably Android or both. Android is the other dominant player in this space. Android was a little later in the game, first being released in September 2008, almost a year later than iOS, but it has still managed to gain a pretty large share of the mobile market. Android is the mobile OS with the largest, most dominant share of the market, weighing in at around an 80 percent share compared to iOS’s 18 percent share.
Those numbers are a bit deceiving since Android is a fragmented market, consisting of many different devices made by different manufacturers, running different versions of the Android operating system. That is the primary difference between iOS and Android. Android, backed by Google, is open. iOS, backed by Apple, is lately also open source with Swift. Anyone can build an Android device, and it is designed to run on a variety of different hardware platforms and devices with very different form factors and capabilities. iOS is designed to run, and only runs on, a specific set of Apple devices. Android is based on the Linux kernel, and the source code for Android is released as open source by Google.
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