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Organizations that plan to implement a custom application face a number of decisions about how to build the app.
Before diving into the process of mobile app development, IT teams and developers must first decide what type of app to develop and deploy based on user needs. IT must also decide whether the app should run on Apple iOS devices, Google Android devices or both; they might also want to support Microsoft Windows devices or even BlackBerry devices.
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Many IT teams deploying mobile apps are now turning to mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) for their infrastructure needs. MBaaS decouples front-end development from the back-end systems. Effective MBaaS provides the services necessary to support apps throughout their lifecycles, as well as for integrating with other systems and managing security and synchronization. As with other services, however, IT must ensure that MBaaS can integrate with its existing systems and support operational workflows, without interfering with desktop and application management.
Another consideration in the process of mobile app development is whether to build native, web or hybrid apps. Native, built-from-scratch apps generally perform better than other app types and can take full advantage of the device's built-in features. Native apps are more difficult and costly to build, however, because developers must create a version of the app for each supported platform, often having to learn new languages and systems in the process.
The hybrid app falls somewhere between the two. It uses open standard technologies like web apps, but can take greater advantage of a device's native features. The hybrid app uses the same core code for all platforms, but for each platform, the code is wrapped in a platform-specific shell. This makes it possible to access many of the device's native capabilities.
As part of the overall process of mobile app development, an IT team should take into account their users and the app's purpose. For example, they might want to invest more in customer-facing apps than those used only internally. If a web or hybrid app can provide the functionality necessary to support the workflow, there is no need to invest in a native app.
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Lastly, IT teams and developers might also consider tools such as mobile application development platforms (MADPs) or rapid mobile application development (RMAD) services to accelerate the process of mobile app development. MADPs and RMAD tools offer end-to-end software for building, deploying and managing apps. For an organization to use these tools effectively, however, it must provide the ability to easily integrate the apps into existing systems.
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