The process of cellular phone application development is typically very similar to other types of software design and engineering, and these projects often go through many of the same steps along the way. Most cell phone app development cycles begin with the decision of what kind of application to create. After that has been determined, the platform must be chosen. The app may then be prototyped to test various functions and features, though some developers will immediately begin work on code for the final product. Other important steps that must be made along the way include decisions on how to monetize and distribute the application.
Cell phone app development typically begins the same way as other types of software development. The first step involves determining what type of app to create. This process can be very simple or quite complex, and it varies from one developer to another. One general practice is to examine the current app marketplace to locate areas that are underserved, or could be served better. After the general concept for an app has been settled on, the platform must be chosen.
There are several different cellular phone platforms, each of which offers different benefits and drawbacks in the areas of install bases, marketplace crowding and the general difficulty level associated with development. Some platforms are very closed, while others are quite open. The learning curve for a new developer can also have a very wide range, from less than six months for some platforms to over a year for others.
After the platform has been chosen, the cell phone app development process can enter the programming phase. This may involve languages such as Java™, C and C++, depending on the platform. Some software development kits (SDKs) and third-party tools also allow simultaneous cell phone app development for two or more platforms. This type of cross-platform development can increase the length of a project, though it is typically faster than building two separate apps in different environments.
The final step in any cell phone app development cycle typically involves releasing the application. This stage is vastly different from one platform to another due to the varying marketplaces. Some cell phone platforms have closed marketplaces that involve a very rigorous screening process. Other platforms allow developers to sell apps directly to their customers or have less restrictive marketplaces. This stage also involves a decision on how to monetize the application, as it is possible to sell apps directly, offer them for free with support from advertising revenues, or even include an option for microtransactions.