Fundamentals of Mobile Application Architecture
The demand for mobile business applications is exploding, and business is booming for software development companies who 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.
Layers of Mobile App Architecture
Mobile application architecture has three fundamental layers, or tiers:
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- The Data Tier houses the app’s database and data access layer, hosted in the cloud or on-premises. Popular data storage systems include MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, and others.
A 3-tiered architecture helps speed up product development, produces scalable products, and enhances your mobile app’s performance.
Hybrid 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- You may run into roadblocks during the development process that require 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 unsatisfactory user experience.
Tateeda: 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, 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.