Ever since the inception of the smartphone, mobile app development has steadily increased, and there are no signs of this slowing down. Regardless of how large or prolific any business is, the need for a mobile app to promote their business and achieve the new length of success is something no one denies. And so, every organization wishes to take its business into the digital realm via a mobile application.
Due to the global pandemic, people are now more reliant on their cellular devices than ever, thanks to a multitude of amazing apps. The entire world has now experienced the evident convenience mobile apps provide. In a recent report, the app installation rate moved up by 50% from 2019 to 2020. In 2021, app installations moved up by 31% in the very first quarter. Furthermore, there are now more than 2 million apps on the App Store alone and almost 3.5 million apps on Google's Play Store.
But, if you are new to this trend and want to develop a successful mobile application for your business, you need to know more about mobile app architecture and why mobile app deployment architecture is a must to ensure success in the mobile app marketplace.
In this article, we will cover every aspect of mobile app architecture so that by the end of it, you'll have enough information to start your mobile app development journey.
What is Mobile App Architecture, and Why is it Crucial?
Application architecture is a set of instructions, techniques, and patterns used for designing and developing applications. Application architecture makes the development process easy by providing a blueprint to the developers and the designers, which they follow to build a product. If the architecture is implemented accordingly, the result is a well-structured application that is robust, flexible, and scalable.
Mobile app architecture covers both: back-end and front-end services. The front-end is concerned with user interaction and user experience overall, whereas the back-end deals with the logic behind the application, provide data, and helps with connecting other related systems to make the app functional.
Mobile app architecture is the cornerstone for making an app successful. If not given its due attention, your app may not be able to capitalize on its potential success - the more intricate the application, the greater the need for sophisticated architecture. A well-thought-out mobile app architecture will be beneficial in terms of time efficiency and optimal energy consumption, resources, and cost. In addition, proper architecture will be advantageous during the development process, and it will guarantee future stability, expandability, and maintainability.
The Essence of Sophisticated Mobile App Architecture
A well-structured app is only possible when mobile app architecture is created and applied in the development and designing process. Some principles for this process include the following:
Along with the principles, mobile app developers should also focus on clean architecture. Every single app layer is independent of each other or any other external programs. These layers connect using the Dependency Rule when transitions within the boundaries between the layers are achieved. These boundaries represent the input and output ports, making the transfer of data possible among the layers.
The application of clean mobile app architecture is universal. Software developers leverage this architecture to make the development process convenient. For example, it helps to add various plugins in an app with ease, implement rapid troubleshooting and unit testing, which ultimately make app scalability effortless. In short, the development process speeds up, resulting in minimum usage of resources and cost-effectiveness.
Another thing that should be kept in mind is the platform (iOS and Android) where the app will be deployed, as each has its requirements and uses of different technologies to build an app.
The Three Layers of Design
Every mobile application follows a pattern of multiple layers, and the most popular one is a three-layered design comprising the presentation layer, business layer, and data layer.
The presentation layer is responsible for displaying data visually to the users. It deals with the feel and the look of the app that a user experiences. The primary focus of developers and designers in this phase is particularly the User Experience (UX) design and User Interface (UI). The elements included in the UI and UX are themes, fonts, colors, intuitive app navigation, connecting various peripherals to the device, and much more.
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This layer works as a back-end side of the application. It deals with managing the data flow and operational processing. The tasks handled at this layer of mobile app architecture are data caching, validation, exception management, logging, etc. Furthermore, the business layer decides business guidelines, carries out complicated business methods and procedures, and directs the workflow.
The data layer handles all the operations concerned with the safety and maintenance of data. It comprises service tools, access components, and data-related utilities. During the development process of this layer, developers need to be mindful of the scaling aspect as there might be some changes necessary in the future due to constant changes in the requirement of businesses. Moreover, robust techniques need implementation for data validation and access; because it is always a top priority to make sure a well-structured app keeps data secure from faulty data insertion and hacks.
What is the Right Architecture for Your Mobile App?
Developing an architecture for a mobile app depends on various factors, like, who is the target audience, the targeted platform(s), the number of features and complexity of functionalities to include in the app, the budget and time you are willing to spend on development, and the level of expertise of development team.
Architecture types include:
Native apps, as the name implies, are apps that are local to a device of a specific platform. Native apps function similar to built-in apps like mail, contacts, or a web browser and have the permission to use APIs and features of a cellular device. Various native apps in multiple categories are available at mobile app stores.
Since native apps are platform-specific and are built with a particular operating system in mind, the programming languages and the frameworks used for them are also definite. For instance, to create an app for Android OS, you'll need to use Java or Kotlin as your primary programming language and Android Studio as your IDE. Similarly, for the iOS platform, you need to build the same application from scratch with the help of iOS-compatible technologies like Swift and AppCode.
These apps are user-friendly, quick, and work offline function seamlessly on appropriate devices. However, they are costly and time-consuming, require instant upgrades, and lack flexibility as each app only operates on one specific platform, and you have to create the same app from the get-go for a different platform.
These apps provide a solution to the problem of native apps that operate on only a specific platform. Hybrid apps blend web technologies and native apps, as they use web-based tools for development that put on a native app shell. You can access the same content from the app as well as from a web server. Consequently, hybrid apps operate using the features of a device's hardware with web-based qualities. Hybrid apps are also available on app stores.
Hybrid apps are economical alternatives to native apps and take less time to develop with native APIs that enable them to make use of a device's camera, contacts, and so on and so forth. In addition, they benefit from only one codebase for multiple platforms, easing the burden by not having to develop the same app multiple times for more than one platform. They are also easy to maintain as compared to native apps.
Now, let's talk about the limitations. First of all, hybrid apps don't provide expandable flexibilities regarding connection. Secondly, they limit offline work, due to which performance is substantially slower than native apps. Third, hybrid apps do not allow you to leverage the complete set of features of each platform because each device may have some features that are not suitable/compatible with other devices and vice-versa. Therefore, it is challenging for them to deliver high-quality performance for multiple platforms. They may need quite a few coding modifications and may not produce a pleasant overall user experience.
Mobile Web Apps
Mobile web apps are web-based technology accessible via a URL from a browser. For user convenience, quite a few mobile web app owners create an icon for their apps located on the main screen and are launched simply from there. Anyhow, mobile web apps are not installed on a device but are bookmarked on your mobile screen.
These apps are well-suited to every platform because of the browser support they enjoy that gives them a wider audience. In addition, mobile web apps are cost-effective and simple to maintain by just making changes in the content once, and these changes are effective on all platforms at once automatically.
Nevertheless, mobile web apps are not allowed access to local device features such as your phone's camera, GPS, etc. Also, they face issues with different screen sizes, and because of this, developers face inconvenience and need to make several adjustments. They do have the ability to work offline but with very few functionalities available. Consequently, this doesn't give the user an ideal experience.
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Other Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Architecture
Creating the architecture of a mobile application is a complex process that raises a few concerns.
Understanding the Hardware
Designing different types of architectures solely depends on your device hardware. So, whether it is an Android, iOS, or hybrid, the device type becomes the deciding factor.
Different choices are made depending on a device's operating system, space, resolution, and storage. It is one of the most crucial steps, as it will determine the features and specifications a device requires and can comply with.
Another aspect is making sure your mobile app is compatible with various types of internet connections. Usually, developers neglect this scenario when working on mobile app architecture. It is good to be prepared for this so that there aren't any surprises during the deployment process.
It is something that should not be left unattended when you need to meet the given deadline. The availability of internet connections around the globe differs from place to place. Some countries already have access to 5G, yet few countries are still depending on 3G. Furthermore, the battery and speed elements also come into play here. So, it is a crucial matter that needs attention to ensure smooth sailing in the development and deployment process.
A stunning UI is a necessity for an intuitive mobile app. However, the secret to success is giving the targeted audience something engaging and creative at the same time, and for that, an aesthetically pleasing UI is a must.
It should now make perfect sense that a mobile app's success relies heavily on a well-thought architecture. It is necessary to brainstorm the types of features you need to add to an app, the deployment process, and how it will be connected at the mobile app architecture phase.
The exemplary architecture for your mobile app depends on many decisive factors like the targeted audience, mobile platform(s), and available resources. It can be a little daunting to remember all these variables when you are planning an app. So, it is a good idea to plan your app with an experienced mobile app development company that will advise you concerning the type of architecture you should choose for your app.