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Mobile application development: how it really works

Mobile application development: how it really works
Oleksandr Bachynskyi
Oleksandr Bachynskyi
Chief Technology Officer

Mobile applications is a growing industry that is gaining momentum and investment every year.

The mobile app enables your business to be present where the user spends the most time every day. Since 70% of all internet traffic is mobile traffic, it has become profitable for many companies to adapt their products to users of small devices.

In this article, we'll take a look at what the Mobile Apps are, what their market position is, and all the key aspects of the development phases.

So, scroll and discover the fastest growing industry of Mobile Applications and their ability to help in your business improvement.

What is Mobile App?

A Mobile Application (or shortly - Mobile App) is a type of application designed for small handheld devices, such as mobile phones, smartphones or tablets. They take into account the demands and constraints of the devices, as well as the ability to take advantage of any specialized options they have.

The growth of their popularity for business occurs due to a list of traits:

  • small size - they don't take much place on the user's device;
  • accessibility - phones or tablets - are small compact devices that can be used anywhere, without being tied to a place or, for example, socket availability;
  • contact frequency - a typical user checks their phone about 60 times a day. And it gives you a lot of opportunities to stay "in sight" and continue to communicate even when they're not directly using your app, with the help of a push-up notification feature, for example;
  • growing popularity - partly owing to the changes in the digital market over pandemic time, people are increasingly choosing to use applications and a steady increase in the number of downloads on each of the key platforms is further projected.

One of the key qualities of mobile apps is narrow and isolated functionality. For mobile users, clarity and fast interaction are important factors for a good user experience.

Mostly mobile applications are solutions that make users` life easier - they open the app while riding the subway or walking down the street - so this type of digital products requires a significantly simplified UX design and clear functionality.

A product that provides quality service and can improve the lives of users will be a profitable tool for achieving your business goals.

infographic statistics of behavior of mobile applications users

Key technologies for Mobile App development

Based on the scope of your activities and the expected functionality of the app, you should learn more about technologies of mobile app development. Before you begin development, you'll need to decide which technology is best for your business.

Native Apps

It is an app that is built for a single mobile operating system. These can be both programs that are installed on the mobile device by default, and programs that are specifically designed for each platform.

The examples of native apps are Instagram, Twitter, Google Maps, or Skype. Instagram's case, is a native mobile app where its mobile app functions are different from Instagram that are accessed in web browsers (to say, we can directly upload images to mobile Instagram, which is not possible directly on web apps).

The benefits of native apps include higher performance and ability to fully utilize the hardware features of the device. But, if you need an app targeted at users of both platforms, then, in fact, you will need to create two applications. Therefore, the cost of developing such a product can be quite high, as well as time consuming.

Web Apps

A Web Application is a software app based on the web that will be installed on your system. In this case you would develop a mobile app using the same tools you use when developing a web app or creating a website.

BookMyShow, Pinterest - are some of the examples of Web Applications.

Such applications use a minimum of device memory because all personal databases are stored on the server. For the same reason, Web App requires a good internet connection, and it is a disadvantage of this development technology.

Also, when developing a web app, it's important to pay attention to the user experience on different devices. Therefore, it needs careful design testing.

Given their features, Web Apps can be a good addition, an extension of your site or desktop app, expanding the capabilities of users and making the service more accessible and personalized for them.

Hybrid apps

Hybrid apps, also called cross-platform apps, are an alternative to the two previous technologies that are rapidly gaining popularity today.

Hybrid apps are mostly designed as web apps, but look more like native apps. Simply put, it's a technology that allows you to develop an application using a single code that will work equally well on both platforms (iOS and Android).

Most cross-platform applications are developed using Flutter or React Native frameworks. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the characteristics of your application. Platforms such as Facebook, Amazon are some of the best applications that are performed under the Hybrid Mobile App development process.

However, when developing a Hybrid app with a single code, you need to pay enough attention to adapting the UI design to each of the platforms. In general, using cross-platform development is a good technology that will save time and budget for your project.

Now that we have a detailed understanding of existing technologies, let's move on to an overview of the types of mobile apps that have a popularity in the market today.

Types of Mobile Apps and how they can be applied to your business

At first glance, it may seem that the mobile application market is oversaturated and the competition is too great to come up with its own product. However, just look at the chart - the market for mobile applications is expected to grow steadily for the next 4 years.

infographics statistics of mobile application download growth after the covid-19 pandemic

Expected annual increase in application downloads on the largest Mobile market platforms

Quality programs that aim to improve the lives of users will maintain their position and find loyal users at all times. There are many types of apps offered on the platforms and their functionality is diverse. We have identified 7 main types of mobile products, among which you can find the one that is best suited for your business ambitions.

Lifestyle Mobile Apps

Lifestyle apps have come on strong in recent years. There are ones that accelerate or support the individual facets that define your lifestyle. By this means those types of mobile apps are related:

  • Fitness
  • Dating
  • Food
  • Music
  • Traveling

These are the apps that people turn to on a daily basis to help them find the next new song, restaurant, or destination.

Creating a life-style Mobile App, you’ll need to do something to wow your user and what your competitors don’t do. Then you will have an app that will become a part of the user's life, as now are Spotify, Uber and Airbnb.

Social Media Mobile Apps

Social media apps are some of the most popular types of mobile apps available. Most of us check a lot of them every day. They give each user the opportunity to express themselves and find a community of like-minded people.

Many apps allow you to share a product, high score, or news item with your social network. They make it easy for their users to share something they feel passionate about without having to leave the app.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are some of the biggest social media apps. However, in addition to them, there are many apps with a narrow range of users who belong to a special community.

A few years ago, we launched - Great Coach - a web and mobile app that also targeted a very narrow user - coaches, sports organizations, athletes and their parents. Nowadays it is the official software partner of USA Hockey.

Utility Mobile Apps

Utilities are the types of mobile apps that we may use most often without thinking about them as apps. Many of them come pre-installed on your device and serve a single function.

Some examples of common types of mobile apps are reminders, calculators or even flashlights.

To successfully monetize such a utility app, you must accumulate efforts to increase the frequency of use. The short visits that users make to such applications are not as profitable, but many of them can add up to a significant revenue stream.

Games & Entertainment Mobile Apps

Gaming apps are the most popular and the most downloaded category of mobile apps. Businesses are willing to invest a lot of time and resources to develop this type of app, because it is a profitable market, although very competitive.

Another popular type - Entertainment apps - are platforms that allow users to stream video content, search for events, chat, or watch content online. Video streaming apps such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video have become incredibly popular with users all over the world.

Entertainment and game apps make the user stay inside the application for a long time, which gives many benefits if the app plans to generate advertising revenue.

Since the moment of introducing Flutter into our technology stack LinkUp Studio team has implemented a number of successful projects like Party Mafia, Word Links, Mafia Moles using it

Productivity Mobile Apps

These types of apps help their users accomplish a task quickly and efficiently, making what are sometimes mundane tasks easier or even fun.

Examples of productivity apps are, well, many of the products from both Google and Apple, like:

  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Wallet/Pay

Convenient features that allow them to get from point A to point done are what set this type of mobile apps apart. Both managers and teams can benefit from such platforms aimed at introducing a systematic approach and automatization to their business activities.

Some of our projects as Wholesum and Neatly also belong to the Productivity Mobile Apps category.

Education Apps

This category boomed during the pandemic, and their relevance continues to grow steadily. Education Apps are especially valuable for users, as they allow you to gain some skill and develop yourself while working with the phone.

Their advantage is the time that the user spends in the app as well as the frequency of visits - usually the training program has a schedule and the user receives regular reminders.

As an example, English-learning app MusicWords was developed by LinkUp Studio as an Education App that allows users to study new English words and phrases based on the songs they listen to every day.

News / Information Outlets Mobile Apps

News and information apps are pretty straightforward. They supply their users with the news and information they’re looking for in an easy to understand layout that efficiently navigates them to the things they care about most.

Examples of different types of popular news apps are Buzzfeed, Smartnews, Google News & Weather or Reddit.

Developing a news app, you’ll need to find a unique way to communicate with your users, because the news will all be the same. Choosing the type of application for the development of your business, we should note that you must first pay enough attention to the research and analysis of the needs of end-users of your digital product.

A mobile app will be popular and profitable if it can create real value for your customers and make their lives better.

How Mobile Apps Make Money

Now it's time to talk about probably one of the most important questions for business - how can you make money from your own mobile app?

The Mobile App market by 2021 is about $98 Billion, and projected revenue will reach $690 Billion by the end of the year.

Obviously, the approach to such a market involves significant competition, so the financial model for your app should be thought out in great detail, taking into account the study of the target audience and the financial models of your competitors.

Apps hosted on major platforms, such as App Store and Google Play, have two main financial strategies, named Freemium (free to download apps) and Premium (paid apps).

In the chart below, you can get a better look at the popularity of strategies for each of the app categories.

infographics statistics of paid and free mobile applications on the App Store

Pricing Strategy in Most App Categories

The choice of a model - Free or Paid - varies depending on the category and your target customer. Paid programs are best suited for apps in the B2B market, when customers can know what to expect from use. And if your business is aimed at the mass consumer, the free app will allow the user to test and "feel" the service on themselves.

And that's significant numbers! But, the phrase "download for free" doesn't mean that the application doesn't make money.

Referral Marketing

Informational content about an affiliate company is placed in the app and, based on clicks and installs, you receive rewards. These rewards are based on a cost-per-action (CPA) model or revenue share.

Amazon is a great example to show how affiliate marketing works. Select a product you would like to advertise in your app and receive advertising fees based on each redirected purchase.

In-App Purchase & Freemium Model

It is possible to sell virtual or physical items, offer premium functionality or bonuses, block ads, or open new app content. The app store manages all these transactions, and the owner gets a commission from every trade.

The model is only plausible and lucrative for top apps in the segment that have many users. As well, a downside to this model is the high commission fee (30%) taken by app stores.

Subscription Model

It is one of the most popular ways to make money with applications lately.

However, there is another side. It can be quite risky when the Subscription Model is the core in the financial model of the application, as users tend to have 3-7 subscriptions at a time. So, in order to be an application to which the user wants to subscribe, clearly convey its value.


This one is a fairly new way to monetize an app for free. Custom software developers may use the following platforms to raise funds for app development and marketing needs: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, CrowdFunder, and AppsFunder.

Usually, at the Business Analysis stage (Discovery phase) we dig deep into a product business idea, which provides an opportunity to develop a long-term strategy of the product development and in this way it becomes clear how to monetize the app. Thus, the profit strategy is chosen based on the most important factors, such as the target consumer, market status and functionality of the application itself.

But the Discovery phrase is only the first step in realizing a project idea for your business. Once you understand what Mobile Apps are and what their place in the market is, it is worth making you know what the whole App Development workflow actually looks like and what stages it involves.

Development process details

Workflow of an App Development process in each software company is different. However, the skeleton remains the same:

  • First, a thorough discovery of the market, the product itself and creating a project development plan;
  • Direct work of a team of designers and developers on the implementation of your product;
  • The release.

We'll look at each step in more detail and you'll understand how your product will be implemented from idea to launch.

mobile application development process workflow

Discovery phase, as we have already said, is the first stage of development. At this stage, Linkup Studio is a team that includes a Business Analyst, UI / UX designer and Solution Architect. They are working to create a full project functionality specification document with the development plan and budget calculation, as well as provide a prototype of the future digital product.

At the end of the Discovery phase, you will fully understand how the project will work and feel once it is finished.

Development phase begins when the development plan is formed according to the project timelines. In this phase you get a clear prediction of milestones. The dedicated team works on implementing all planned product features but it's flexible to apply changes if it is necessary.

At the stage of direct development, communication with the customer takes place in the format of weekly calls with the team, so you will always be on the same line and will be sure that the project is going according to the plan.

After the Development phase is complete - the last stage - Release & Enhancement - starts from a detailed testing of the whole system. When everything has been implemented and developers produce a tested and bug-free system, it's time to release the product.

After the product was launched, usually software development companies render support programs. For our projects, we provide 2-month free support after launching.

If your app has successfully penetrated and promoted the market, later you can think about upgrading and introducing additional features to improve the user experience and adapt the product to new trends.

Who can you trust to develop your app?

Finding the right development partner is, perhaps, the most crucial step in the entire development process. Understanding the technology stack, development challenges and other technical aspects can be difficult. So, you have to find an app development partner that takes care of your project professionally, without you having to look into everything.

There are three main and most popular options for finding your software development partner:

  • Create an in-house development team
  • Hire a freelancer
  • Find an outsourcing software development company

Creating an in-house development team

It can be a good option if you have your own company and you can allocate office space and other additional costs related to payroll, taxation, etc. - won`t be critical for you.

The advantage of an internal team is that you have complete control over the entire development process. Your internal team will be very flexible for innovations and changes in the plan.

Probably one of the main drawbacks besides the price is the dependence on the location. In some countries, such as the US or Western Europe, the cost of hiring a developer can be several times the cost of a developer's work of the same level in Asia or Eastern Europe.

Hire a freelancer

If you have a small project - you can hire a full-stack specialist on a freelance basis. Best for small projects, when you have enough time to develop and not such a big budget.

The freelance model allows you to choose the professionals who are best suited for your project without paying attention to the location. It also gives you access to developers with very different experiences, which can bring fresh ideas and solutions to your product.

The hardest part about working with a freelancer is communication. Especially if you need a team of developers - due to team fragmentation and lack of management, the project can take much more time, and the quality may suffer. So you have to be prepared that you will have to take responsibility for the organising of communication and work processes.

An outsourcing agency

Software outsourcing agencies are companies that have already formed comprehensive teams for product development and provide a full range of services, from business analysis, design and technical support after launching. Most outsourcing agencies already have processes in place, which allows you to minimize risks and be confident in the development.

Another advantage is that companies have experience working on different projects, so they can implement cross-industry solutions that have already proven their effectiveness in the products they developed.

The cost of hiring a development team will be the average between hiring a freelancer and creating your own in-house team. Also, as with a freelancer, you are not geographically limited and can choose the best developers for your budget from anywhere in the world.

Either way, choosing a partner to develop your digital product is up to you and will depend on the timing, budget and complexity of the app you want to implement.

What to keep in mind when starting to develop your own mobile app

Developing any digital product is a complex process that requires awareness, expertise and a strong idea at the core. We hope that this dive allows you to better understand what Mobile App Development is and how it really works.

Creating your own mobile app is a profitable investment, given the state of the market and ever-increasing demand. Businesses are going to be investing more resources in mobile apps as mobile devices overrule desktop devices when it comes to the number and engagement of users.

To reduce risks and confidence in the return on your investment, it is extremely important to find a reliable partner, who like you will be interested in the best product development.

With 10+ years of experience in Mobile product Development, we are ready to help you realize the idea of ​​your app and become a trusted partner of your business.

If you still have any questions about developing a Mobile Application - contact us.

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Oleksandr Bachynskyi
Oleksandr Bachynskyi
Chief Technology Officer
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