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Mobile application development is the act or process by which application software is developed for handheld devices, such as personal, enterprise digital assistants or mobile phones.These are software programs you can download and access directly using your phone or any mobile device. Not all apps work on all mobile devices. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during manufacturing platforms, or delivered as web applications using server-side or client-side processing (e.g.JavaScript) to provide an “application-like”experience within a browser. Application software developers also have to consider a long array of screen sizes, hardware specifications and configurations because of intense competition in mobile software and changes within each of the platforms.

As part of the development process, Mobile User Interface (UI) Design is also essential key in the creation of mobile apps. This considers constraints & contexts, screen, input and mobility as outlines for design. The user is frequently the focus of interaction with their device, and the interface entails components of both hardware and software. User input allows for the users to manipulate a system, and device’s output allows the system to indicate the effects of the users’
manipulation. Mobile UI contexts signal cues from user activity, such as location and scheduling that can be shown from user interactions within a mobile application. The UI of mobile apps should consider users’ limited attention, minimize keystrokes, and be task-oriented with a minimum set of functions. This functionality is supported by Mobile enterprise application platforms. Mobile UI, or front-ends, rely on mobile back-ends to support access to enterprise systems. The mobile back-end facilitates data routing, security, authentication, authorization, working off-line, and service orchestration.

Criteria for selecting a development platform usually contains the target mobile platforms, existing development skills and infrastructure. When targeting multiple platforms with cross-platform development it is also necessary to consider the impact of the tool on the user experience. Performance is another significant criteria, as research on mobile applications indicates a strong
correlation between user satisfaction and application performance. In addition to performance and other criteria, the availability of the technology and the project’s requirement may drive the development between native and cross-platform environments. To aid the choice between native and cross-platform environments, some guidelines have been published. Typically, cross-platform
environments are reusable across multiple platforms, leveraging a native container while using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the user interface. In contrast, native environments are targeted at one platform for each of those environments.

Mobile applications are first tested within the development environment using emulators and later subjected to field testing. Emulators provide an inexpensive way to test applications on mobile phones to which developers may not have physical access.

One way to ensure that applications show maximum performance on a given device is to develop the application (app) natively on that device. This means that at a very low-level, the code is written specifically for the processor in a device. When an app needs to run on multiple operating systems, however, there is little code that can be reused from the initial development. The application must
essentially be rewritten for each specific device.

In the future, it’s expected that a majority of mobile application development will focus on creating browser-based applications that are device-agnostic. Browser-based applications are just websites that are built for mobile browsers. Such sites are built to load quickly over a cellular network and have finger-friendly navigation.