Mobile application development strategies – Past till Future

When the initial iPhone and android phone was launched a decade ago no one really understood what app store and play store (Formerly, android market) are meant for. There were only less than 100 apps in both the stores when their initial phone was launched. However, every one realized that there is a huge opportunity to take their creations directly to the customer by putting apps at the stores without any OEM’s approval. This opened a huge market for iOS and android developers. Also this made iOS and android the only 2 major mobile platforms of the future.

The development strategies on these 2 platforms changed over time in the last 10 years. I would like to call this evolution as mobile applications development strategy from 1.0 to 4.0.

Diagram - Future mobile apps development
Trends in mobile application development strategies

Mobile app development strategy 1.0 – 

This is the Web to Mobile adoption age.

Web was predominantly used as a platform to reach the customer using websites on a browser as interface. This was the case even on the mobile phones. However, the emergence of play store and app store have given a new way to reach out to the customer on their smart phones using mobile apps and not just websites. 

Frontends were built using reactive web or native mobile platform development, mostly as an extension to your existing websites. Since this stage was a smart-phone adoption era, the mobile apps have to consume the same web-services that the websites were consuming. There was no significant change in the way databases were designed for mobile apps.

This was generally considered as heavy weight development for the mobile applications because of too many isolated components in development and because of its complexity and maintenance effort. 

Mobile app development strategy 2.0 – 

This is the era where the shift was towards Mobile-First approach. 

Even bigger enterprises moved towards mobile first approach and built the entire infrastructure for the mobile platform and later utilized the same infrastructure for web interfaces. In fact, this can be considered as the reverse of mobile app development strategy 1.0. Mostly MEAN or MERN stack was used for this approach. 

Angular JS, Bootstrap JS or React JS or native app developments were mostly used as frontend dev stack while the node JS would carry the backend server code. Also there was adoption to NoSQL database like MongoDB. 

This was medium weight development since this would still need configurations on backend and frontend by developers.

Mobile app development strategy 3.0 – 

Mobile only approach was getting into predominance because of huge adoption of smart phones. 

10 years into android and iOS mobile platforms, enterprises and individual developers started to concentrate only on mobile apps leaving websites behind. However, websites are coming back in the form of PWA’s (Progressive Web Apps). These are web apps similar to mobile apps except that it utilizes the web kit on the mobile platform. They are not truly native mobile apps but having some features of native apps. Even on mobile only approach, many use and prefer native mobile apps development vastly because of high performance and rich user experience. 

Frontends were developed using native mobile apps development and java script. There is a huge difference in the way backend and database would be used. Mobile back ends and storage tools like firebase are used rather than customizing the cloud to suit mobile backend.

This is the light weight development model because of the quick implementation time in developing the apps.

Mobile app development strategy 4.0 – 

This is the most growing model – AI First Approach. 

Be it a web app or mobile app delivering more personalized content to the customer is the key. This will drive more meaningful user engagement with the app. Prediction and recommendation are the other terms that can be used for this approach. The UX and the way the apps are built will be different from the traditional mobile app development guidelines. 

UI/UX were given more importance. Every interaction will be unique for every user. Frontends are built using any modern web app or mobile app development tools and technologies. Mobile optimized back ends are preferred. There is a drastic adoption of big data storage. Later these data can be used to derive analytics. 

This AI centered solution development is going to be the future of mobile apps development.

AI and machine learning are becoming integral part of any solution design. So in the future more than the technology itself, the developers should have higher analytical and problem solving skills.

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