Mobile App Development Terms: Essential Building Blocks

Mobile App Development Terms: Essential Building Blocks

Ready to learn something new? Here are some golden nuggets used by mobile app development companies to get started with developing their mobile application!

You might have a great mobile app idea, but it is highly likely that you do not feel like getting ahead with it. What stops you from achieving what you aim for? Is it the small components that weave the software development process? What is involved in a mobile app’s success? You need to start with understanding the technology first in order to be able to make your mobile app succeed.

Why is it essential to have an understanding of the mobile app development terms?

While some of the reasons that we discuss here might sound vague or non-technical, but they still affect the scenario as a whole. Knowing about app development terminology can be helpful to enable communication with developers, designers, or other members of a development team can help in simplifying the project development cost, understanding to know the app development process, learning terminology before building the app and collaboration between developers, designers, and project managers.

What are the essential mobile app development terminologies that you need to be watchful of?

This discussion should start by defining and understanding the types of mobile apps.

Mobile App Types

The type of mobile app that is best for a particular use case depends on factors such as the target audience, business goals, and desired features. Within these three main categories, we also have subcategories such as enterprise apps, gaming apps, educational apps, social networking apps, and more. There are three main types of mobile apps:

  • Native Apps: Built specifically for a particular mobile operating system such as iOS or Android.
  • Web Apps: Built to run on a mobile device’s web browser. They are platform-independent and don’t require installation, but they have limited access to device features.
  • Hybrid Apps: These combine the features of both native and web apps. These offer the convenience of web apps and the performance of native apps.
  • Progressive Web Apps: By definition, a combination of HTTPS + service worker + web app manifest makes Progressive Web Apps. Important frameworks that help to build PWA are ionic, Vue.js, Angular, React, Polymer, Knockout etc. PWAs use a technology called Service Workers, which enables them to work offline and provide push notifications. These have app like interactions, updated periodically, served via TLS, accesses the re-engagement UI’s of the OS as in push notifications, plus these are always installable and linkable.

Front-end development

This refers to the development of the user interface of an application that users interact with directly. It defines the way a app appears to the end users – potential customers, or visitors.

Frontend developers consider (1) typography, (2) the arrangement of content, (3) graphics, and animation, (4) font size, (5) font styles, (6) font color, (7) UI components, (8) tags (header, paragraph, anchor, image, unordered list, list item, table, division, selector, declaration, property), (9) scripting, (10) event handlers, (11) functions, (12) if-else conditions, (13) variables, (14) Margins, and much more.

Web designers try to fix all these frameworks, libraries, tools, in place and make the application look right and appealing. So that frontend combines visual appearance of the application, AJAX requests, DOM with data, file structure, and overall styling and designing the website and the app components.

Back-end development

This refers to the development of the server-side of an application that is responsible for processing and storing data. Application backend is inclusive of database that is the storehouse of all the details, which can be fetched from frontend.

Backend tools or frameworks are piece of software that help in finding relevant data and displaying it on the user interface. Many prominent databases like Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, SAP, EnterpriseDB, Sybase ASE, IBM DB2, MYSQL, NoSQL, PostgreSQL can be used to support applications. It is important to keep the application compatible, interactive, and functional. Popular backend frameworks for mobile app development include Node.js, Django, Flask, Ruby on Rails, .Net framework, GraphQL, Laravel, and Express.js.

API (Application Programming Interface)

This is a set of protocols and tools for building software applications. It provides a standard way for different applications to exchange data and services, regardless of the programming languages or platforms they use.

APIs allow different systems, applications, and services to interact and exchange information with each other. This enables software developers to integrate different tools and services seamlessly. These can be classified into different types, including web APIs, operating system APIs, and database APIs, among others.

APIs are the most common type of API used in modern app development, where they provide access to web services and data over the internet using standard protocols such as HTTP and REST.

Developers can use APIs to create new applications and services that can access existing data or functionality from other systems.

APIs can provide access to third-party services that can enhance the user experience of an application, such as maps, payment gateways, or social media platforms. These can help scale an application by distributing the workload across different systems and services.

SDK (Software Development Kit)

A software development kit (SDK) is a collection of tools, libraries, and documentation that developers can use to create high quality software applications for a particular platform or operating system, quickly and easily. It typically includes APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to interact with specific hardware or software components, as well as sample code, debugging tools, and other resources that simplify the development process.

By providing a standardized set of tools and resources, an SDK streamlines the development process and allows developers to focus on building high-quality applications, rather than worrying about the underlying technical details. For example, if a developer wanted to create an application that uses the camera, they could use the SDK provided by the smartphone’s operating system to interact with the camera hardware and capture images or video. Without an SDK, the developer would need to write custom code to interface with the camera hardware, which could be a time-consuming and error-prone process.

IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

A software application that provides comprehensive facilities for software development. It typically includes a source code editor, a debugger, a compiler or interpreter, and other tools and features that simplify the development process. Popular IDEs include Visual Studio, Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and Xcode. By integrating multiple tools and features into a single application, an IDE can streamline the development process and reduce the time and effort required to create high-quality software. It features:

  • A code editor with features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, and code refactoring.
  • Debugging tools that allow developers to step through code and identify and fix errors.
  • Integration with version control systems such as Git or SVN to manage source code.
  • Automated testing tools to verify that code works as intended.
  • Project management tools to organize and track the progress of development projects.

Version Control

The management of changes to documents, computer programs, and other collections of information. Version control, also known as source control or revision control, is the practice of tracking and managing changes to software code and other files. The primary purpose of version control is to enable developers to collaborate on software development projects, track changes over time, and revert to earlier versions if necessary. Version control systems (VCS) are tools that enable developers to manage and track changes to code and files over time. Some popular version control systems include Git, SVN, and Mercurial. VCS tools are helpful in Versioning, Branching and Merging, Collaboration, and Backup and Recovery


A process of evaluating a software application or system to ensure it meets specified requirements and works as expected. It can be categorized into various types according to the expected functionality:

  • Black box testing, also called functional testing and behavioral testing, focuses on determining whether or not a program does what it is supposed to do based on its functional requirements. Black box testing attempts to find errors in the external behavior of the code in the following categories: incorrect or missing functionality, interface errors, errors in data structures used by interfaces, behavior or performance errors, initialization and termination errors. Through this testing, we can determine if the functions appear to work according to specifications. However, it is important to note that no amount of testing can unequivocally demonstrate the absence of errors and defects in your code.
  • White box testing: This testing is based on knowledge of the internal logic of an application’s code. Also known as Glass box Testing. Internal software and code working should be known for this type of testing. Tests are based on coverage of code statements, branches, paths, conditions.
  • Unit testing: Testing of individual software components or modules. Typically done by the programmer and not by testers, as it requires detailed knowledge of the internal program design and code. may require developing test driver modules or test harnesses.
  • Incremental integration testing: Bottom up approach for testing i.e continuous testing of an application as new functionality is added; Application functionality and modules should be independent enough to test separately. done by programmers or by testers.
  • Integration testing: Testing of integrated modules to verify combined functionality after integration. Modules are typically code modules, individual applications, client and server applications on a network, etc. This type of testing is especially relevant to client/server and distributed systems.
  • Functional testing: This type of testing ignores the internal parts and focus on the output is as per requirement or not. Black-box type testing geared to functional requirements of an application.
  • System testing: Entire system is tested as per the requirements. Black-box type testing that is based on overall requirements specifications, covers all combined parts of a system.
  • End-to-end testing: Similar to system testing, involves testing of a complete application environment in a situation that mimics real-world use, such as interacting with a database, using network communications, or interacting with other hardware, applications, or systems if appropriate.
  • Sanity testing: Testing to determine if a new software version is performing well enough to accept it for a major testing effort. If application is crashing for initial use then system is not stable enough for further testing and build or application is assigned to fix.
  • Regression testing: Testing the application as a whole for the modification in any module or functionality. Difficult to cover all the system in regression testing so typically automation tools are used for these testing types.
  • Acceptance testing: Normally this type of testing is done to verify if system meets the customer specified requirements. User or customer do this testing to determine whether to accept application.
  • Load testing: It’s a performance testing to check system behavior under load. Testing an application under heavy loads, such as testing of a app under a range of loads to determine at what point the system’s response time degrades or fails.
  • Stress testing: System is stressed beyond its specifications to check how and when it fails. Performed under heavy load like putting large number beyond storage capacity, complex database queries, continuous input to system or database load.
  • Performance testing: Term often used interchangeably with ‘stress’ and ‘load’ testing. To check whether system meets performance requirements. Used different performance and load tools to do this.
  • Usability testing: User-friendliness check. Application flow is tested, Can new user understand the application easily, Proper help documented whenever user stuck at any point. Basically system navigation is checked in this testing.
  • Install/uninstall testing: Tested for full, partial, or upgrade install/uninstall processes on different operating systems under different hardware, software environment.
  • Recovery testing: Testing how well a system recovers from crashes, hardware failures, or other catastrophic problems.
  • Security testing: Can system be penetrated by any hacking way. Testing how well the system protects against unauthorized internal or external access. Checked if system, database is safe from external attacks.
  • Compatibility testing: Testing how well software performs in a particular hardware/software/operating system/network environment and different combination s of above.
  • Comparison testing: Comparison of product strengths and weaknesses with previous versions or other similar products.
  • Alpha testing: In house virtual user environment can be created for this type of testing. Testing is done at the end of development. Still minor design changes may be made as a result of such testing.
  • Beta testing: Testing typically done by end-users or others. Final testing before releasing application for commercial purpose.

Agile Development

Agile development is an approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and rapid iteration. In an agile development process, a cross-functional team of developers, designers, and other stakeholders work together to create and deliver working software in small, frequent increments.

Some popular methodologies for agile development include Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP). Agile development has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it allows teams to respond quickly to changing customer needs and market conditions, and to deliver high-quality software in a shorter period of time.

Agile development focuses on delivering working software that meets the needs of the customer in small, frequent iterations. It emphasizes regular feedback from customers and stakeholders, and the ability to adapt and make changes in response to that feedback. It prioritizes delivering working software over documentation or other artifacts, with the goal of delivering value to the customer as quickly as possible.


Developing applications to work across multiple platforms prevents the need to write a separate code for every platform, saving time-energy-resources-money. Such applications can be repurposed and customized even at a later stage of development or staging. The code can be tested, and copies can be created to run on multiple servers with different operating systems. Then updates can be pushed to ensure quality under production like an environment before application deployment.

There are so many cross-platform app development frameworks available in the market that can help you do just that, but the decision to bring it into practice should essentially depend upon (1) speed considerations, (2) feature support, (3) framework risk, and (4) development cost.
Many tools are spread all over the place that can be picked and put to good use like PhoneGap, React Native, Xamarin, React Native, Flutter, and Ionic, and their expertise in working with different operating systems like iOS and Android, make them the go-to choice for businesses looking to develop cross-platform apps.

UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface)

These terms refer to the design and functionality of the user interface of an application, including how users interact with it and how it looks. A well-designed UI can improve the usability and accessibility of a product, while a good UX can increase user satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately drive user engagement and business success. UI (User Interface) refers to the visual and interactive elements of a software application that users interact with, such as buttons, menus, forms, and other graphical elements.

UX (User Experience), includes factors such as ease of use, responsiveness, performance, and overall satisfaction with the product. A good UX is one that provides users with a positive, enjoyable, and effective experience, while minimizing frustration and confusion. Both UI and UX are closely related and often work on both aspects of a software application. Designers may use tools such as wireframes and prototypes to test and refine the UI and UX of a product, and may conduct user testing to gather feedback and make improvements.

What are the key takeaways from the discussion?

Knowing app development terminology can help you be more effective in a variety of roles related to app development, from project management to coding and design. It will help you out while developing a mobile application. You will need to hire mobile app developers (in-house or service providers) with requisite technical expertise, and user experience, as they can help to ensure that the mobile app is well-designed, user-friendly, reliable, and scalable, which are essential factors for the success of any mobile app.

By having a shared understanding of these essential app development terms, in-house or outsourced developers can effectively communicate, collaborate, and align their efforts toward successfully developing mobile applications.