App Development Overview: Tools & Resources for Every App Developer
Whether you’re a complete newcomer to the world of app development or already have some design experience under your belt, there’s a wide range of tools out there to help you take your ideas to the next level.
Before you determine which tools to use, it’s helpful to look at the big picture. What are you trying to achieve with your app? Are you trying to solve a new problem, or simply expand on existing apps to provide a new service. Short on ideas? Naturally, there’s already an app for that – the Easy App Idea Generator from Microsoft. Once you’ve brainstormed a list of ideas, you can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to find out if there is a demand out there for your product.
From here, you’ll need to lay out the flow and navigation of your app. There are free wireframing tools that can help you with this step of the process. Try to keep it simple at this stage – you can always build on your core idea with upgrades down the line. Once you’re at this stage, you’ll be ready for the design and development of your app, which is where the following tools will come in handy.
Developer Platforms and Tools
There’s a seemingly endless array of developer platforms and app-making tools to sift through. Here’s a quick overview of some of the best.
Are you big on ideas but short on web development expertise? The AppMakr is one of the best options for beginners, and can help you transform your basic idea into a working app. You input the service or content, and it is able to create an HTML5 mobile website as well as native Android or iPhone apps as needed. No coding knowledge is needed, although the app generated will be quite basic. You’ll also need to refer back to this same platform if you want to make changes down the line.
Appery.io is a professional, cloud-based platform which is used by many major businesses including Samsung and AT&T. Its app building tool is straightforward, giving you a wide range of design options and the support of backend services.
German software corporation SAP was one of the first vendors to bring an app development platform to the market, and today it remains one of the most comprehensive. You can choose to customize pre-packaged apps or design your own with a development partner. The platform can also adapt to be used in the cloud or on the premises, depending on your preferences.
Free to download, Appcelerator is a mobile platform based on Eclipse. It offers a vast library of app extensions to sift through, and can be integrated with cloud services as needed.
Designing for the Internet of Things
The most successful app developers are the ones that have their fingers on the pulse of new trends, and at the moment this is the Internet of Things for many people. The construction of a fully connected network of physical objects requires new, complex apps to be built. There are big names like Nokia Networks working on the IoT, but in the meantime small-scale app developers can work on apps that are capable of controlling home devices or using sensors to generate real-time reports.
There are currently Internet of Things platforms that are useful to new developers, and many of the tools mentioned above can be used in this sphere. These platforms give you the base layers you need to create new apps, including features such as ingestion and analytics tiers, activation capabilities, and an API. Examples of new IoT platforms include Bug Labs, ThingWorx, Mnubo, and Xively. Most of which use cloud-based services to spark the development of new IoT apps. Microsoft is also offering an Intelligent Systems Service to enable communication between devices and objects.
Analytics and Feedback Tools
So your app is live! This is cause to celebrate, but you’re not done yet. Be sure to track who is using your app and get feedback that you can integrate towards making improvements in the future. There are free tools like Flurry and Localytics as well as Google Analytics that you can use. Analytics tools allow you to track who is downloading your app, as well as give you access to the engagement and retention data. Tracking customer usage patterns is important so that you can tweak it as needed.