Fundamentals of Mobile Application Architecture

Fundamentals of Mobile Application Architecture

đź“• In this article, we’ll discuss mobile app architecture basics, features, and requirements. Mobile software architecture implies a number of layers and components that can be specific to different platforms and native/hybrid development domains. 

This article includes expert advice from TATEEDA GLOBAL’s developers skilled in building mobile apps for U.S.-based customers, especially in the healthcare and medical sectors.
You may see some of our projects here →      

The demand for mobile business applications is exploding, and business is booming for software development companies that understand the complexities of mobile application architecture. To meet the growing demand for high-performing mobile apps, the tools and methodologies for mobile app development are evolving, allowing developers to create high-quality cross-platform products in a relatively short period of time.

If you require immediate help with the development and testing of mobile applications, please book a free consultation with our software development expert and learn more about our services:

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Based in San Diego, Slava knows how to design an efficient software solution for healthcare, including IoT, Cloud, and embedded systems.

Why App Architecture is Important

Mobile app architecture is obviously one of the fundamental factors that define future success and development strategy for your product.

A well-planned mobile app development architecture ensures a number of strengths that will positively affect your long-term development goals and priorities, including:

  • Quality and speed of app performance: if your mobile app is well-debugged and smoothly running, it will obviously be more popular with users than a laggy or frequently-crashing piece of software…  
  • App compatibility with different types of devices and mobile platforms will enable a wider audience to discover and use your application and this will help you generate more income.
  • High levels of scalability and adjustability: is adding new features fast and easy or does it require a massive rethinking of the app structure?
  • User-friendliness, usability, and efficiency in executing intended user tasks and functions.
  • Killer features and other features that support competitiveness and safeguard good market positions of your app.
  • Capabilities for so-called graceful degradation and/or fault-tolerance, which are both necessary to guarantee sustainability and consistent UX of your application. 
  • Cost-efficient application architecture: is your mobile app designed wisely enough to avoid numerous and costly fixes and revisions in the long run?       

When aiming to release a mobile product as fast as they can, many developers opt for ridiculously short versions of development/deployment processes, instead of pursuing higher quality standards and appropriate security methodologies for their applications. Because of these limitations, short-sighted developers end up with poorly-designed or deficient applications introduced to the market. This faulty approach leads to no success but market failures, unsatisfied users, and costly re-development efforts…

A thoughtful mobile application architecture planning should be included in a project from the very beginning. This is the only way for developers to minimize the market risks, prevent security issues, and cut their future expenses (as no crucial fixes or tedious reworks will be needed in the future). 

If you are looking for sophisticated custom app developers in San Diego and California to augment your current or future projects, especially related to medical applications, consider TATEEDA GLOBAL. We’ll make sure that your mobile app is professionally designed and well-debugged for a successful market introduction. 

If you want to learn more about viable mobile app architecture principles, please go on to the next section…    

Mobile App Architecture Principles

#1. Sustainability

It means the ability of a mobile application to deal with environmental challenges. For example, changes in technology and market demands (including platform updates). These changes might entail improvements in back-end technologies and capacities, including servers, databases, app features, etc. A sustainable mobile application is capable of handling the change and minimizing effects upon crucial functionalities. In other words, a well-designed (sustainable) mobile app features a sufficient safety margin and offers technical capabilities that support developers in scaling it up or getting it updated/upgraded shortly and at a minimum cost. 

#2. Maintainability and Manageability

These qualities define how easily and efficiently applications can be updated, fixed, improved, monitored, and optimized. It encompasses tools and mobile app design methods that enable developers to keep the app security logs, capture system faults, and errors, maintain app improvement strategy, ensure superb performance, and much more.   

#3. Reusability

Reusability of code components allows the application developers for faster development and deployment of new features. Any efficient mobile app development architecture includes the reusability factor that ensures faster time-to-market to release new app versions and updates. 

#4. Testability

Every mobile application should undergo an adequate testing process. It ensures the consistency and sustainability of an application under various conditions and modes. Software testability is an important characteristic of software-related artifacts (for example, a mobile app as a whole system, its separate modules, documents on user requirements and design, etc.) to support testing tools and processes of different kinds, including regression testing.

#5. Security

Data security is one of the major prerequisites for building a successful mobile application, as none of the users want their personal or business data to be stolen or unsolicitedly exposed, while developers won’t appreciate being sued for costly data accidents. You can learn more about secure mobile architecture from the next section ⇒  

#6. Performance

Superb user experience and functionality are the utmost priority for all mobile app developers. According to marketing studies, most mobile users believe that iPhone or Android applications should immediately respond to their taps and execute tasks faster than desktop or web applications. It’s just the way people perceive mobile devices. In other words, users can get irritated if your app shows prolonged loading time or responds with a lag—this can easily drive them away and encourage them to seek alternatives. The objective of a mobile application architect is not to disappoint the users and provide them with a brilliantly performing app.

At TATEEDA GLOBAL, we know how to create sustainable and secure applications. We have a proven track record of healthcare mobile solutions, and we would be delighted to provide you with our expertise and assistance. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

Mobile Application Security Architecture

There exist plenty of aspects to be considered in mobile app architecture, like meeting certain security standards and objectives to avoid data leaks and malfunctions. A correctly designed security architecture of a mobile application helps to predict and neutralize almost all potential vulnerabilities and threats. 

⚠️ What are the major mistakes in mobile app security development?

One of the most common mistakes is focusing on accelerated delivery of app features while leaving the app security matters massively underlooked. 
Another “popular mistake” is that developers underlook certain vulnerabilities of the platform(s) or operating system(s) that the app will be run on. Some of the platforms can be prone to specific types of exploits, worms, and trojans that can intercept sensitive data from the applications in a variety of ways. It’s necessary to keep abreast of security reports and developer recommendations issued by authoritative sources, so potential gaps or incompatibilities get covered before they became loopholes for hackers or data leaks.     

How can we avoid mistakes and define the security pain points and priorities in mobile app security development? Mobile app developers/architects should consider the following points:

🔑 Protected data types: What kinds of sensitive information does the application handle? (for example, financial, PII, protected health information, etc.) How valuable is this type of data for potential malefactors? How should data transmissions be encrypted for secure communications? 

🔑 Regulations: Are there any specific rules on how this type(s) of information should be operated? (for example, HIPAA identifies the requirements for PHI management and protection) 

🔑 App hacking strategies: What methods are used by hackers to steal information from your type of application? (for example, is it social engineering, captured access to system exploits, using sophisticated viruses, or anything else?)

🔑 Platform vulnerabilities: What are the known vulnerabilities of gadgets/mobile devices that people will typically use to run your product? Learn official development recommendations and security guidelines issued by the platform representatives (like Android Docs) and any helpful bug reports and/or development feedback posted by peer developers on popular forums and in other shared sources for mobile developers.   

🔑 Real-life situations: What are typical use scenarios for devices with your application installed and what risks do these scenarios incur? For example, tablets used by physicians in healthcare facilities can be sometimes left unattended in public rooms, so specific security measures should be incorporated in medical applications to prevent PHI leaks if a tablet gets stolen or gets into the hands of an unauthorized person (like automatic logout.)       

🔑 Attack points: Identify any weak links or risky points where a hacker attack is probable and build an attack hypothesis/model to set countermeasures.

🔑 End-user skills: How vulnerable might your target users be and how easily can they be socially engineered? What authentication methods will suffice to protect data and prevent unauthorized access.  

This list is not exhaustive but it gives you a solid idea of the “building blocks” that a typical mobile application security architecture is assembled of. If you need a consulting service or help with your app development project, especially in healthcare, please feel free to contact TATEEDA GLOBAL

We are experts in developing secure mobile apps, like a protected patient portal application that we created for LaMaestra Health Centers →

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Layers of Mobile App Architecture

Mobile application architecture has three fundamental layers, or tiers:

  1. The Presentation Tier is what you see on your device screen. It contains components for the user interface (UI), along with the components necessary for UI processing. The presentation layer is accessed through a browser or web app, and displays graphical and text content to the user. It interacts with other layers via an application programming interface (API). Hybrid apps use HTML, JS, and CSS. It is regulated via UI component layout, visual design, and branding matters: each aspect should be attended by a professional UI designer, so the whole layer performs in the best possible way. Another important component of the presentation layer is UX (user experience): it’s based on user personas, user stories, user research, and usability testing processes—it involves business analysts or experienced product managers that conduct user behavior analysis.  
  2. The Business Tier, aka application tier, is on the server-side. It supports the mobile application but is not the app itself. This tier encompasses the app’s functional business logic that allows the application to perform. The key processes that belong to this layer include security, data caching, logging, data validation, exception management, and some others. For the application layer, developers like to use Java, .NET, C#, Python, and C++, among others. The application tier is normally hosted on one or more application servers or in the cloud.
  3. The Data Tier houses the app’s database and data access layer, hosted in the cloud or on-premises. This layer covers all types of data transactions via API and data access components, service tools, and utilities. Also, this tier is responsible for networking communication, routing, error reporting. Popular data storage systems include MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, and others.  

A 3-tiered mobile development architecture helps speed up product development, produces scalable products, and enhances your mobile app’s performance. 

mobile app architecture examples

Learn more: Mobile Hospital App Development: the Ultimate Guide

Hybrid Mobile Application Architecture vs. Native Mobile App Architecture

Depending on your project’s purpose and target audience, you can choose to build a native mobile application or a hybrid cross-platform app. Native apps are designed for a specific single platform, or operating system (OS). The two most common native options are Android and iOS.

Both iOS and Android application architecture are built on the same basic principles, but Android app architecture uses open-source software, while iOS uses Apple libraries created from scratch. Many businesses prefer iOS architecture for its superior security features. 

Read Also: Medical HR Software Development: Architecture, Costs, Features, Benefits, Guidelines, and More…

A native app is designed to work on a single operating system, and cannot be accessed via an alternative system. If you want to build a native app for both Android and iOS, you basically have to build two different versions from scratch. Because native apps are OS-specific, they often perform faster and are able to tap into the unique features of the user’s mobile device.

Hybrid applications, also called cross-platform applications, operate identically on all operating systems. They are by far more popular than native apps, reaching a broader audience because they can be accessed on any mobile device. Most mobile business applications designed for customer use are hybrid apps, saving the company time and money by building a single universal application. 

Hybrid applications are usually written with JavaScript and CSS frameworks, which get compiled into native code at build/compilation time.

Learn more: How to Build a Lab Information Management System (LIMS)

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Is Hybrid Mobile Application Architecture Less Secure?

Hybrid mobile app architecture is not a single technology but an umbrella term that covers several options, which all massively rely on web-based technology and content, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code structures executed within a native app’s specific container (WebView, a simplified web browser.) 

Hybrid apps use this feature to display their content via a native app wrapper. The main concern about hybrid apps is that they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle cyber attacks: that happens because JavaScript or HTML are prone to reverse code engineering, which may provide hackers with some loopholes for accessing and modification/deciphering of original app code that can be used to their sake. 

Another problem is neglecting proper security for client-server communications in hybrid apps. It’s important to have strong server-side settings because a great part of interactions that happen between a hybrid app and its users are carried out through a server. This means the server often becomes an object to hacker attacks aimed at capturing the app’s database or other control elements. 

Of course, hybrid app developers should keep their eye on the biggest web application security risks and do the necessary to mitigate and control them. If you are interested in a full-cycle mobile application development service that considers all aspects of native and hybrid methodologies, be sure to contact TATEEDA GLOBAL for a free quote and consultation.  

Mobile App Architecture Example: High-level Architecture Diagram for Mobile Applications

When it comes to mobile architecture, one decent diagram is worth a thousand words. 

Similar tech processes and structures were used in different projects of TATEEDA GLOBAL, including the ECG-monitoring tablet application used by clinical cardiologists. This project included efficient and protected client-server communication and a professional-grade presentation layer with a convenient ECG viewer tool. 

This mobile app architecture diagram shows the role of mobile app database and data transactions, different layers, and other technical matters including security… 

Mobile application architecture diagram
Mobile App Architecture Example: Mobile App Structure and Modules

Selecting the Best Mobile App Architecture for Your Project

In addition to deciding between a native and a hybrid app, there are other important elements to consider. Which architectural tools you use depends on the specific requirements and complexity of your project, the size and experience of your development team, the required timeframe from design to delivery, and other project-specific factors.

Read also: Pharmacy Management Software Development

Other facets to consider include: 

  • Target audience. Who will use the app, and for what purpose? Which features will the average user need to get the most functionality and satisfaction from the app?
  • Client requirements. What specific requirements has the client laid out? Which requirements are set in stone, and which leave room for modification/interpretation?
  • Offline functionality. Certain business applications require ongoing functionality, even when internet connectivity is unavailable or intermittent.  Native architecture does a better job of providing offline capabilities because it works with the inbred features of the device.
  • Industry-specific requisites. Different industries require different types and levels of functionality. For example, the requirements of a mobile banking app differ dramatically from those of a designer shoe app.  

Clearly, it is critical to know all the minute details of your application’s purpose and required functionality before you settle on an architectural model and tech stack. 

mobile application architechture

Importance of Selecting the Right Mobile App Architecture

Selecting the right architecture for your mobile app is the single most important step in application development. Failing to choose the right app architecture from the beginning can cause a cascade of ongoing problems that can turn your project into a disaster.

Read Also: Medical Staff Management and Scheduling Software Development

  • You may run into roadblocks during the development process that requires you to backtrack, putting your project behind schedule. 
  • The app may lose some of its functionality and be prone to bugs and errors, undermining user experience and satisfaction.  
  • Source code may be more difficult to read and test.
  • You may have problems maintaining the application, losing regression control, facing refactoring challenges and difficulty fixing bugs. 

Needless to say, an app with poorly chosen architecture is unlikely to meet the requirements and expectations of the client, and can significantly impact their business by delivering an unsatisfactory user experience. 

TATEEDA GLOBAL: Your Premiere Mobile Application Software Developer

The complexities of application architecture demand an experienced and knowledgeable development team, to ensure a high-performing end product. 

At TATEEDA GLOBAL, we pride ourselves on our track record of delivering the highest quality software products to our clients, on spec and on time. If you need a mobile business application that puts you at your customer’s fingertips, contact Tateeda today, and set the wheels in motion for your state-of-the-art business mobile app. 

Written by

Natalia Juhasz

Project Manager

Senior Software Development Project Manager at TATEEDA GLOBAL

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