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TPDP Episode #1: The Requirements for Developing Mobile Applications

This is officially the first episode in The Polyglot Developer Podcast! I’ve spent a long time thinking about creating a podcast, but now I can officially say that I’ve followed through with it. Episode #1: The Requirements for Developing Mobile Applications is an episode that I’ve broken into several parts because I feel there are different kinds of requirements.

  1. What do you need in a mobile application?
  2. What do you need to build a mobile application?
  3. What do you need to do to drive success in a mobile application?

Those three topics should be considered by everyone looking to develop their first mobile application.

The podcast episode can be found for free on iTunes or Pocket Casts, but in case you’d like to listen to it from your browser instead, it can be heard below:

Because I know many of you would much rather read than listen, I’m going to explain some of my podcast episode here in this particular post.

What do You Need in a Mobile Application?

When I develop a web and mobile applications in general, I like to ask myself two questions before I even start to think about writing source code.

  • What kind of mobile application do you want to build?
  • Who is your target audience?

If you don’t have these two things mapped out, your final product is going to be all over the place, in the wrong sense.

Are you going to be developing a utility type application or are you going to be developing a social media type application? Maybe it is neither, but it is important that you know what it is you hope to develop.

After you’ve decided what type of application you’re building you should really learn who your audience is. If you’re developing an application for yourself, then this doesn’t matter too much, but if you’re developing this application with the intent of having others use it, you should really know who those others are. If you’re making a niche utility application, will the demand be enough to make the effort worth it?

Finally, in the planning phase I ask myself if all the required components are available to me. For example, will this application be accessing data from the internet? If it will be, can this data be accessed easily and for free?

What do You Need to Build a Mobile Application?

If you followed my last step, you now have a general idea on the type of application you’re going to build, who you’re building it for, and are all the required pieces available to you already.

Now it really comes down to, do you have the tools and finances necessary to complete the job?

To develop mobile applications you’re going to need a computer. I know many will argue that you can probably develop applications using a tablet and some paid services, but I’m going to say you need a computer. This brings us to the type of operating system you’ll need to get the job done.

If you want to build Android applications, you can use Linux, Mac OS, or Windows without issue. Essentially any operating system that supports Java. However, things change when you decide you want to develop iOS and Windows Phone applications. If you want to develop iOS applications you must be using Mac OS with Xcode installed. Likewise if you want to build Windows Phone applications you’ll need to be using Windows (at least for now).

I know I mentioned three different types of mobile applications (iOS, Android, Windows Phone), but there are different ways to build them. You can use the native approach or the hybrid web approach. Both will leave you with an application, but using different programming languages.

Yes, I did say programming languages. I don’t think you’ll be able to create a mobile application without knowing how to program. If you’re building native Android applications you’ll need to know Java. Native iOS applications will require Objective-C or Swift knowledge. Native Windows Phone applications will require C# knowledge. If you’re developing hybrid web applications you can get by with only HTML and JavaScript knowledge. Pros and cons on this in a different podcast.

If you’ve got all the equipment and the skills, you’ll need to double check your finances. As of today, the costs to publish in the various app stores is as follows:

App StorePriceRepeated
iTunes$99.00Annually
Google Play$25.00One time fee
Amazon App StoreFree
Windows Store$19.00Annually

Not the most expensive things in the world, but these are requirements that you have to consider.

What do You Need to do to Drive Success in a Mobile Application?

Planning and developing an application isn’t the only requirement when it comes to a mobile application. You need to nurse it and promote the success of it until it can survive on its own.

So how can you get the word out on your fancy new app? Last year I mentioned a few things that could help in my post So You Made an App, Now What? and many are still valid today.

My favorite ways to get the word out are with Twitter and my blog, but I’ve also dabbled with advertising. People report different successes with advertising, but I find it doesn’t help me as much as social media.

Getting the word out isn’t everything though. You need to make sure that the word is good. You’re going to get reviews in the various app stores and those reviews are not always going to be nice. You need to respond with quality customer service, address problems, and convert those negative reviews into positive reviews.

To have a good app, you are required to follow through after you release it.

Conclusion

I’ve made some recommendations regarding some of the requirements necessary when building mobile applications in my first podcast titled The Requirements for Developing Mobile Applications. Everyone will have their own set of requirements that may or may not differ from mine.

In any scenario, it would mean a great deal to me if you left me a five (5) star rating on iTunes for The Polyglot Developer Podcast. This will help other developers to be able to discovery the podcast easier and learn a lot of great things about mobile, web, and game development.

If this is the most recent podcast episode in The Polyglot Developer Podcast and you have questions you’d like addressed in the next episode, submit the question using Twitter.

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy is an advocate of modern web and mobile development technologies. He has experience in Java, JavaScript, Golang and a variety of frameworks such as Angular, NativeScript, and Apache Cordova. Nic writes about his development experiences related to making web and mobile development easier to understand.

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