Mobile application development: 35 terms you should know

In 2019, people downloaded 204 billion mobile applications worldwide. With consumers adopting more digital tools and channels to carry out their everyday tasks, this number is set to rise exponentially in the coming years.

Whether the aim is to create brand awareness in the market, engage with the audience, or drive revenue, launching a mobile app can present a lot of opportunities that businesses can leverage. So if your business doesn’t have a mobile application rolled out yet, now might be the right time to get started and make sure you connect with your users on the channel they prefer the most.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to help you get your mobile development process off the ground:

Initiating a mobile development process

Launching a mobile application is as much a strategic initiative as a technological one. So before you get down to the brass tacks, there are some key elements you need to plan for:

1. Viability: Before proceeding with development, it’s necessary to map out some crucial details about the app. This involves understanding the purpose of the application and how it’s going to reach the end user.

  • Would this app be beneficial for the target audience?

  • What problems is it solving?

  • How is it going to stand out from the competition?

  • Which monetization module do we need to adopt?

  • Will it work on Android or iOS or both?

  • Is it going to be a hybrid app?

2. Development: Is the app going to be built in-house on a low code-platform? Or is it going to be outsourced to a technology partner? This is the stage where businesses map out the time and costs that they’re ready to invest in the project, and evaluate the costs and benefits of different development options.

3. UI/UX interface: After finalizing the platform, the next step involves creating the ideal interface and the basic look and feel of the application. Here, the wireframe and the right CTA buttons for the app are implemented. This process becomes easier when working on a low-code platform, as it enables a designer to implement changes in the application design without relying much on code.

4. Performance metrics: Businesses need to decide how their app is going to perform in different situations. Is it going to run with low network coverage? Would it work offline? How to ensure that the app doesn’t crash?

5. Security measures: End users value a secure network more, or at least as much as, the UI or performance of the app. Hence, it’s crucial to ensure that all the data being transmitted through the app is completely secure. If you’re creating an app on a low-code platform, security measures are automatically taken care of. Most of these platforms offer secure firewall grids or virus scans to protect the user’s data.

6. Branding: Businesses need to ensure that the app is aligned with the brand’s story and guidelines. It should have all the elements that can enhance a user’s experience.

By keeping these elements in mind, you can ensure a smooth and seamless development process for your app.

A mobile application development glossary

Here are some of the basic terms that can help businesses in understanding this process better:

1. Application Programming Interface (APIs)

An API is a computing interface that enables the building and integration of applications using a defined set of protocols and interactions.

Building APIs becomes much easier when using a low-code platform. Low-code enables developers to drag and drop components on a dashboard and integrate them by just following simple instructions.

 2. Software Development Kit (SDK)

An SDK is a downloadable set of tools used by developers to build applications with advanced functionalities on different operating systems.

An SDK ideally includes sample code, licenses, libraries, and more, and is specific for every platform. For instance, if you’re building your app for Android, you’ll have to use the Android SDK toolkit, and if you’re creating the app for Apple, you need the iOS SDK.

 3. Android Application Package (APK)

An APK is the package file format used by Android OS for the distribution and installation of various applications. This file typically contains all elements of a program’s code, like assets, resources, certificates, and manifest files.

 4. Application Portfolio Management (APM)

An APM is a framework used for managing and overseeing inventories of software applications. From an application’s usage to its maintenance costs, APM provides a transparent overview of the application to evaluate its performance.

As per Gartner, most APM approaches have a variation of these basic steps: End-user experience monitoring; runtime application architecture discovery; modeling and display; user-defined transaction profiling; component deep-dive monitoring in an application context; and IT operations analytics.

 5. Android Runtime (ART)

ART is an application runtime environment used by Android OS which is now used in the place of Dalvik, the original process virtual machine used by Android. Some of the features implemented by ART include ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, improved garbage collection, improved app development and debugging, and more.

 6. AWS Device Farm

AWS Device Farm is an application testing service that enables developers to test their apps across multiple desktop platforms and mobile devices. It generates videos and logs to help identify app issues quickly.

AWS Device Farm supports different applications, like native, hybrid, Android, iOS, web apps, cross-platform apps, and more.

 7. Bug

Bug refers to a coding error in any application or software. By setting up the right bug tracking tools, bugs can be identified and dealt with before all the code is affected. Bug tracking tools can also be used while creating applications on low-code platforms.

 8. Code-division Multiple Access (CDMA)

CDMA is a technology that facilitates the transmission of information from multiple channels simultaneously over a single communication channel. This technology is used by 2G and 3G wireless communication and operates in the frequency range of 800 MHz to 1.9 GHz.

 9. Custom API Integration

Custom API integration enables an application to connect and communicate with other applications. For example, a cab-booking mobile app is able to show a destination’s location on Google maps by integrating its API.

 10.  API Monetization

API monetization refers to the process of businesses generating revenue from their APIs. Businesses choose a monetization module once the APIs are set to be rolled out in the marketplace. Some of these modules include a free usage model, a tiered approach, a pay-as-you-go model, indirect monetization, and more.

 11.  Data Encryption

Data encryption is a method to ensure secure information transmission. Under this method, the message is shared in an encoded manner and can only be decrypted by the user with the matching encryption key. For instance, while having conversations on a messaging app like WhatsApp, users can opt for end-to-end encryption, so that their conversations are safe.

 12. Data Decryption

Data decryption is the process of decoding an encrypted message into a language that can be understood by the current computer system. Encrypted data is also known as ciphertext and unencrypted data is called plaintext.

 13. Emulator

An emulator is a device or software that enables a computer (referred to as a host) to behave like another computer system (referred to as a guest). For instance, by using an Android emulator, users can test their application on various Android devices without actually needing these devices. This enables faster testing and fixing of issues on the application.

 14. Low-code

Low-code is a visual development approach to application development. It enables everyone from a project manager to an IT professional to develop and deploy multiplatform applications, using drag-and-drop components without having to write endless lines of code.

 15. HTML5

HTML5 is a markup language that’s used for structuring and presenting content on the internet. It enables easy integration of multimedia and graphics to a particular website, without depending on third-party plugins.

16. Hybrid App

Hybrid apps are applications that are developed using multiple languages, like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. This software application combines elements of both native apps and web applications. Hybrid apps are preferred by many developers, as they only need to write one set of code to make the application work on multiple platforms.

 17.  Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT refers to the global network of physical devices that collect, store, and share data over the internet. Any physical object can become an IoT device, once it’s connected to the internet. For instance, mobile applications that enable users to access physical objects remotely, like switching on a light bulb using an app, makes the bulb an IoT device.

 18. Integrated Development Environments (IDE)

IDE facilitates the easy development of applications. An IDE ideally consists of a source code editor, text editor, toolbar, and an output viewer.

 On low-code platforms, IDEs are available as developer tools that display a framework of forms, reports, schedules, workflows, and more. Application IDEs can be easily accessed by less experienced developers.

 19. Java Native Interface (JNI)

JNI is a programming framework that is used for writing Java native methods and embedding Java virtual machines into native applications. JNI can also be used to make an existing application written in a different language compatible with other Java applications.

 20. JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)

JSON is an open-standard format that’s used for storing and transporting data objects consisting of attribute-value pairs. It’s a language-independent data format with a diverse range of applications.

 21. Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP)

MEAPs offers a complete suite of products and solutions that enable application development. It can be used to develop applications once and support various devices and operating systems without maintaining different sets of code.

 22. Mobile Device Management (MDM)

MDM is security software used by IT management teams to control, monitor, and secure various applications and devices being used by a particular audience, like employees of an organization, users using rented devices, etc. MDMs are also used to diagnose and troubleshoot applications remotely.

 23.  Mobile App Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A mobile app CDN enables faster content delivery over a globally distributed network of servers, computers, or other electronic devices. CDNs are typically used by applications with a global audience or high traffic, to effectively deliver content speedily.

 24. Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)

MBaaS is cloud-hosted infrastructure that enables mobile app developers to link their applications to backend cloud storage and access APIs, storage, and social networks easily. Most MBaaS platforms provide extensive cross-platform support for mobile applications, and backend cloud storage is also offered in many low-code platforms.

 25. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

MVP is the version of a new product that has enough functionality and features that are required to gather feedback from users, and subsequently for future development. Taking feedback at this stage enables developers to understand customer expectations and keep it in mind while developing the final product.

 26. Native Apps

A native application is an application developed for a specific platform or device. These apps can utilize all device features to carry out their functionality, like camera, microphone, GPS, and more, and in some cases, can be accessed offline by users.

 27. Open Source

Open source is collaborative computer software in which source code is made available for use and modification by users. It simply means that users can fix bugs, customize the application for their own use, or improve its capabilities without needing to deal directly with the original developers.

 28.  Operating System (OS)

An OS runs all the basic operations to enable the installation and execution of applications. Some common OSes include Windows, Android, IOS, and Linux.

 29. Over-the-Air Programming (OTA)

OTA refers to the various ways in which new software can be distributed, settings can be configured, and encryption keys can be encrypted to support various electronic devices. On smartphones, an over-the-air update refers to updating software or applications over the internet, without a computer.

 30.  Quality Assurance Testing (QA)

QA testing refers to the process of checking and evaluating various aspects of a project and making sure it’s on track, with respect to set expectations. The idea behind introducing QA testing is to build a high quality application with a great user experience.

 31.  Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Infrastructure

SOA is a system that recognizes IT Infrastructure as a service. This architectural style combines software services with well-defined, loosely coupled interfaces to make it a complete system and share functionality.

 32.  Tracking Code

This is a code snippet that’s used to collect and send data to Google Analytics from the app, to get better performance insights. This tracking code can also be applied to applications created on several low-code platforms.

 33.  UX

UX or User Experience refers to the way a user reacts while engaging and using an application. A UX designer or developer works on user navigation of the application, with the goal of ensuring that users find it easy and intuitive to interact and work with. UX, and the ease-of-use it delivers, are key to driving adoption and retention by end users.

 34.  UI

UI refers to the design of an application, which is created while keeping in mind the user’s experience. A UI designer works on the graphical layout of the application, which includes deciding the color schemes, screen layouts, button designs, and so on. These elements also impact the usability of the application and guide the user’s behavior through subtle visual cues.

 35.  Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

WAP is an international standard protocol used for determining the ways in which wireless or mobile devices can be used for internet access.

Launching a mobile application for your business can take a lot of time and effort. However, by making the right choices at each step, the process can become more efficient and successful. By following the guidelines we mentioned above, you can get started with your application development process and streamline it to create great user experiences.

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  • Bharath Kumar B

    Bharath leads the Marketing and customer success initiatives of Zoho Creator. 
    He has over 12 years of professional work experience across SaaS, ERP & Telecom domains. Loves travel, playing badminton and yoga. He believes in keeping things simple.

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