Understanding mobile app development stack
A mobile development stack, also known as a mobile stack, is a collection of technologies including programming languages, platforms, frameworks, tools, and UX/UI software that are necessary to create a functional mobile app. The stack is typically divided into four components: Frontend, Backend, Development, and Supporting.
The Frontend technologies are used for creating the user interface, the Backend tools and software handle the server-side processing, the Development platform offers the necessary libraries and interfaces for building the app, and the Supporting technologies enhance the security, flexibility, and performance of the app.
The choice of technologies for your mobile stack will depend on the platform that the app is being developed for.
When developing a mobile app for Android, there are certain technologies that are commonly used in the Android technology stack.
For programming languages, Java is a popular choice due to its widespread usage and support, as well as its scalability. Kotlin, which was declared the second official Android development language by Google, is also a common choice. It offers a cleaner code and takes up less space than Java, while still being 100% compatible with JVM.
For app development tools, Android Studio is the official development platform for Android apps. It is built on Jetbrain’s technology and provides an easy-to-use interface for developers.
For UI frameworks, Jetpack Compose is a modern toolkit that allows developers to describe UI elements, and it dynamically renders them. While it is not yet production-ready, a developer version is available. Additionally, Android provides pre-built templates for quickly building user interfaces.
When building an app for iOS, there are certain technologies that are commonly used in the technology stack.
For programming languages, Objective-C is the original language used to build iOS apps, and Apple still provides support for it. However, many developers now prefer to use Swift, which is a newer language introduced in 2014. Swift offers a safer syntax, reducing the likelihood of mistakes, and makes it easier and faster to develop apps.
For mobile development tools, Xcode is the official tool developed by Apple, and it is used for both Swift and Objective-C. It has all the features needed to build a native iOS mobile app, including a visual interface builder. AppCode is a third-party open-source alternative to Xcode but lacks some features and is still somewhat dependent on Xcode.
For UI frameworks, UIKit is the basic framework for building graphical components in iOS apps. It contains templates that define the UI elements which form the building blocks of the app. SwiftUI is a newer framework that offers a more efficient way of designing UI elements in iOS apps. However, it only works for iOS 13 and above and resources are limited as it was just launched in 2019.
If you’re building a mobile app that needs to work on both iOS and Android, you can use a cross-platform technology stack that allows you to use the same codebase for both platforms.
Using a cross-platform technology stack can help reduce time to market and keep development costs low. However, it also means that you are limited to the functionalities provided by the toolkit and some device-specific features may not be accessible.