Keeping in view the global market conditions and consumer behavior, it is quite safe to say that mobile apps are what businesses are focusing on – and this possibly is what will be the real deal-breaker in terms of their long-term success or failure.
According to a report, the global revenue from mobile apps was more than US $365 billion. By 2023, this amount is expected to go beyond US $935 billion. With such numbers, you just cannot ignore the significance of mobile apps and the way it affects a business entity.
In light of these facts, the way you develop and design your mobile app is going to play a vital role here. In other words, you need to know inside out about ‘app architecture’ to excel in this competitive digital arena.
Understanding the Basics of App Architecture
What does it take to come up with an effective, informative and easy-to-use mobile app to your targeted user? Should you go with a Native or a Hybrid mobile app? What are the best practices to develop mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms? – These are the answers that you, as a business owner, or even as an app developer should have prior to developing an app.
In the simplest of definitions, app architecture is a collection of all the aspects, interfaces and techniques used to design a mobile application and the overall behavior of all these structural elements. This is the initial roadmap and a comprehensive and detailed guide as to how a mobile app is supposed to perform. If the app architecture does not define the whole vision and ways to meet user’s expectations, it is more than likely that the app will eventually fail.
Basic Layers of App Architecture
Mobile apps are usually structured in different layers such as a business layer, presentation or user experience layer and a data layer. However, there are a number of elements associated with an app architecture.
Have look at the image below:
This layer contains all the UI/UX components of the app.
This layer contains all the basic workflows, business entities and other relevant components that work interchangeably.
This layer contains data utilities, components and service agents that access app data.
Other Elements Associated with App Architecture
Apart from the aforementioned layers of app architecture, there are a number of key elements that work in cohesion in order to achieve the desired objective.
The image below will give you a rough idea of those important elements:
Starting from the UI/UX design, the user will interact with your mobile app once it has been downloaded and installed on a mobile device. Depending on which specific platform the app was downloaded, it will have its own set of rules and dependencies. Then comes the business logic and the way all workflows and processes are implemented as per the primary goal of the whole app.
Data storage, security, access permissions, etc., all of these are also integral parts of an application’s architecture.
What is Native Mobile App Architecture?
In the simplest of terms, native mobile app development revolves around creation or development of mobile apps that only run on specific operating systems and users can access these apps only from specific app stores.
Since Google PlayStore and App Store are the two major platforms, native apps are considered to be the apps that run on these dedicated app stores.
Native App Development for Android
If you are planning to develop an app on the Android platform, the developers will most likely use Kotlin, Java or C++ programming languages. Google provides developers with various development tools such as the following:
- SDKs – Software Development Kits that include Android Studio and IDE, the Integrated Development Environment
- Android Jetpack – a set of Android components
- Firebase – mobile development platform
- Various other command line tools for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems
A large number of Android apps are based on virtual machine instances that assist in dealing with potential specifics – one of the reasons why Java was the first choice of language. With more than two decades, Java is still the most widely used Android language that developers use. Furthermore, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) has allowed app developers to write their codes in a way that can be executed by the JVM.
In addition to this, NDKs (Native Development Kits) allow developers to write important sections of the app directly in C or C++ (native code).
Native App Development for iOS
Developers can create iOS native apps using programming languages such as Objective-C or Swift. Initially, app developers had to learn Objective-C, which was a variation of C language. However, in 2014, Apple first announced the launch of Swift – a multi-paradigm language which was far more simpler than the Objective-C.
Even though developers can still interact or access legacy codes using Objective-C, Swift has certainly reached greater heights in terms of flexibility and maturity. For any new app developer who is looking to develop a native app for iOS, he or she should start with Swift.
Benefits of Native App Development
Let us now have a look at some of the common advantages that you can get from developing a native mobile app:
Due to the exclusivity element of the mobile app in terms of the platform that it is created for, native mobile apps have better performance as compared to hybrid apps. Since these apps are created for a specific platform using the core programming language over that particular platform, these apps tend to perform and execute in a more efficient manner.
In addition to this, native apps interact with other native APIs and do not have to depend on plugins and WebViews. Due to the fact that there are lesser dependencies, these apps tend to perform much faster as compared to hybrid apps that have to go through a number of middleware plugins and other software.
Needless to say, native apps have lesser bugs – mainly due to the fact that developers do not have to maintain two separate codebases. Hybrid apps usually use tools such as Xamarin or Cordova, tools that are used to access hardware via a bridge in hybrid apps. This, in return, adversely affects the speed of your app and eventually, impacts user experience.
Quick Access to New Features
Being a developer, you can directly access all new features of a specific platform if you are developing a native app. Native apps have direct access to device hardware such as cameras, microphones, etc., and this is mainly why the overall user experience is far better in native apps as compared to hybrid apps that require plugins in order to access data.
Moreover, push notification is another benefit that you get with a native mobile app.
App Store Guidelines Compliance
Since native apps are exclusively made for a specific platform, these tend to comply better with the platform’s guidelines and terms. In addition to this, native mobile apps expect lesser change of rules or guidelines as hybrid apps do, mainly due to security concerns.
For example, Apple rejects apps that rely too heavily on WebViews. This means that native mobile apps is the future of mobile app growth.
Better User Engagement
Since these apps tend to run in a more ‘smooth’ way as compared to hybrid apps, the overall UI elements are far better and quicker to access. The use of native SDKs give a more consistent and tidy look or feel to the finished app.
Disadvantages of Native App Development
As with any other technological component or platform, native apps come with their own disadvantages, too. Let’s have a quick overview:
Two Codebases to Keep a Track of
One of the biggest drawbacks of going with the native app development architecture is the fact that the development team has to maintain two separate codebases and databases – one for Android and the other one for iOS.
Apart from Android Instant Apps, all other native apps require installation.
Difficult to Monitor and Execute SEO
As compared to other app architecture, it is difficult to run SEO campaigns and strategies on a native mobile app.
Native Mobile App Architecture – Our Final Thoughts
Even though the initial cost of development might be higher than a hybrid, web or a cross-platform app, native apps are still believed to yield better results in the long-run. Since these types of apps tend to give better user experience, user engagement and other performance triggers – your users eventually get a better overall experience and give you a higher ROI as compared to other app architecture types.