I used to wonder how mobile apps were created and if someone like me, who isn’t knowledgeable in coding or programming, would be able to build my own mobile app. I assumed it was impossible if I didn’t already have a background in computer science.
However, I found several services, and even apps themselves, where ordinary people could create their own mobile apps. It was just a matter of preparation and dedication to what you wanted to create.
In this article, I will share everything I have learned about creating my own mobile app, including the steps you need to take when building your first app and the tools and services you will need. If you want to know how to create mobile apps for Android, continue reading below.
- What a Mobile App Is
- Every App Begins with an Idea
- Designing a Mobile App for Android
- Creating an App Prototype
- Releasing my Mobile App
What a Mobile App Is
The term ‘mobile application’ or ‘mobile app’ refers to a computer program or software application that is specifically designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
These apps are generally downloaded via distribution platforms managed by the mobile operating system’s owner, such as Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
Another major mobile app distribution platform is the Microsoft Store, which not only offers apps for Windows 10 Mobile, it also has apps for Windows 10 and Xbox video game consoles. Other lesser-known distribution platforms include Samsung Apps, Opera Mobile Store, and the Amazon Appstore.
In the past, mobile apps were created to serve as productivity tools, including email, clock, and calendar, but the boom in mobile users worldwide led to higher demand for mobile apps. As a result, the use of apps expanded into various areas, including video games, location-based services, and even educational tools.
Types of Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are classified into three categories: native apps, web-based apps, and hybrid apps. Native apps are those created for a particular mobile platform. For example, apps developed for Apple devices will not run on an Android device and vice versa. The objective is to make sure that it achieves its best performance for that mobile operating system.
Lastly, hybrid apps are those that fuse the characteristics of native and web-based apps. Examples of these are apps developed using Apache Cordova, Xamarin, React Native, and Sencha Touch.
Every App Begins with an Idea
Now that we’ve discussed what an app is, it’s time to begin our process of creating a mobile app for Android. No matter where I look, one thing experts say about creating mobile apps is that just like any creation or innovation, it starts with an idea.
Remember that in business, ideas for potential products and services are geared toward addressing a particular problem or fulfilling a particular need of customers.
I found out that this is the same with creating apps. If you want to create a mobile app, you need to identify a problem or a need that it will be able to address.
With this in mind, the next step would be to list down the features that you want to be included in the app. Some considerations I employed when choosing features was how it will improve user experience, and what productivity enhancements it will bring to the users.
Identifying Key Factors for App Development
After coming up with an idea and deciding on which features I wanted to include in the app, the next thing I needed to do is to identify my target users. Developers say that an app’s chance at success improves by keeping the target users in mind in its development.
Aside from the target users, I should also be able to determine which mobile platforms and devices I want my app to be compatible with. Things like hardware performance, peripherals requirement, ruggedness, and battery life should be taken into account. In this particular discussion, the apps will be developed for Android.
I also need to identify the revenue model I will use for my app. Most of the time, people will create an app with some sort of revenue generation in mind since maintaining an app requires some sort of funding. I needed to decide whether it will be a paid app, freemium model (in-app purchases), subscription model, or a free app with ads.
Designing a Mobile App for Android
They say looks can be deceiving but in mobile app design, looks could be the difference between a deal maker and a deal-breaker.
With millions of apps available on the Play Store, a good user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) are crucial for your target users to notice your app.
As a user myself, UI design is the first thing I pay attention to when choosing between apps with a similar function. After testing out my shortlist of apps, I select the app that provides the best balance between design, experience, and functionality.
Selecting Your Approach to App Development
Aside from the design, I also need to choose which type of app I will be creating.
Native apps offer the best UX but they take considerable time and skill to develop. Meanwhile, web-based apps are quicker and cheaper to develop but not as powerful as native apps.
On the other hand, creating a hybrid one is what most developers do nowadays. Taking the hybrid approach will enable me to make unique features by combining web codes with native language.
Creating an App Prototype
Next, I need to translate my idea into an actual app with the basic features that I previously selected. Creating a prototype makes it easier to market the idea to potential customers, attract investors, work with manufacturers, and search for licenses. A prototype provides a more tangible basis compared to a simple app description.
To actually build the app, I found a number of app-building platforms that are easy to use and mostly use the “drag and drop” method of building the UI. Among these platforms are Appery, Good Barber, and Mobile Roadie.
While building your prototype, keep in mind that data security is a big concern among app users including yourself so it should be safe from unauthorized usage and data access.
Integration of an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, Preemptive, Mixpanel, and Firebase, could prove beneficial in keeping track of the number of users.
Beta Testing Is Important
When building an app for general use, it is not enough to only create a prototype. It is also important to get initial feedback from my target users prior to the actual launch of the app.
Beta testing not only reduces product risk by using information from users’ feedback, it essentially serves as an initial marketing push for the app. Most importantly, I must set specific goals for conducting the beta test in order to have proper focus and limit risks for the actual launch.
A beta test requires a clearly defined target audience for my app. This is to ensure that the beta testers are the right people who should be testing my app. Bugs that have been identified through an initial alpha test with a few users should have been eliminated prior to beta testing.
Releasing My Mobile App
Once the beta test is over and specific adjustments have been made based on feedback from the testers, it’s time to deploy my mobile app for Android. I must make sure that the correct components of the app were released and that the integrity of the live environment is not compromised.
The launch is not the end of the road for app development. I also learned that capturing metrics is as important as the initial steps of creating the app.
This is because as the number of users increases, the data that could be collected also increases, presenting an opportunity to improve the app further.
Determining where desired user action fails, measuring social sharing, and connecting demographics to user behavior are some of the things that could help improve the app’s performance or increase its user base.
Publishing a Mobile App to the Google Play Store
Mobile apps are distributed via the owner’s operating system distribution platform so launching an Android mobile app means publishing it on the Google Play Store.
To be able to publish on the Play Store, you need to have a developer account first. This entails signing up and paying a one-off registration fee of $25.
Publishing on the Play Store requires creating your app on the platform, setting up the app, managing your Android Package (APK) files, and setting up your store listing and settings. You will find the specific instructions on the Google Play Store.
Overall, the process of creating a mobile app for Android devices is a simple yet tedious process to go through. There may be tools and services that I can use to make things easier for me, particularly in the app development phase, but it will still take hard work and dedication to complete.
What I realized the most is that even the simplest free app that I use on my smartphone has gone through a long and meticulous creation and maintenance process. App developers have gained my utmost respect because of this.