Choosing the appropriate mobile stack for a project has a direct impact on minimizing development costs, speeding up time-to-market, and making your app easily maintainable and scalable for future expansion.
The right mobile technology stack is more important than many business partners and customers realize. The technologies we choose to deploy in an app isn’t only a matter of scalability and stability, but the capacity to solve complex business challenges as well. That's why building an effective digital solution requires thorough consideration not only of the business peculiarities of your product idea, but also all the technology options available in the market.
There are several crucial factors that you need to consider when building a proper technology stack in order to meet the requirements of your mobile app development project.
What is a tech stack?
Before we move ahead with the factors, it’s important to understand what a tech stack is and why it’s crucial for any given mobile app project.
A technology stack is the combination of technologies a company uses to build and run an application and the development project. The term is oftentimes abbreviated to tech stack, and some also call it as a solutions stack.
Development teams create a stack when one layer of an application is built on top of other layers. Most mobile app tech stacks come with two software components: client-side and server-side.
Why is it important to find the best tech stack for a mobile app?
Choosing the specific technologies that go into a tech stack defines the future prosperity and efficiency of the app. Any wrong or hurried decision can cost money, time, and resources, and it may be the cause of project failure.
Therefore, it’s critical to take a deep dive into the mobile app design and development process to define and evaluate the app idea before selecting what goes into a tech stack.
A wide range of potential consequences depend on the selection of a mobile app tech stack. The combination of technologies that you choose affects how robust your app will be or how well it could scale to other platforms and operating systems.
Any wrong, hasty, or miscalculated decision with respect to choosing nothing but the best technology stack available for your product idea will negatively affect its performance and growth prospects.
Negative outcomes of wrong stack selection
If you choose a technology stack that’s not the right fit for your project, your business could face the following issues:
- Realizing later on that you chose the wrong technologies, adopting a new stack will require you to delay project delivery within the planned timelines. Building the product from the ground up will take even longer.
- When choosing a tech stack without scalability in mind, you'll likely face challenges when attempting to scale it horizontally and vertically.
- It’s possible that you’ll have a hard time finding developers with enough experience.
- Your app may encounter security issues resulting from the usage of unreliable technologies.
Factors to consider when choosing a tech stack
Choosing a tech stack for a mobile app can be a tough call. With so many options available, even the most experienced developers and tech geeks can be astounded when making the right decision.
If you’re thinking of launching your own app-based startup but not proficient in technology, you should even be more diligent when studying your options. If you select the wrong technology stack, your dream app can break completely in a matter of months.
To help you decide more effectively in choosing your tech stack, here are the most important factors you must consider.
Type of product
When choosing the technology stack, it’s important to take into account the type of product you aim to build, especially its
The business objectives you aim to achieve with it
The load it’s supposed to withstand
Potential growth, among others.
The more complex the project is (e.g. if you want to make a social media app or an enterprise solution), the more sophisticated the combination of tools it will require to execute your vision.
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Cross-platform vs native app development
It is very common for businesses to choose developing apps native to specific devices, operating systems, or platforms. As the market for mobile apps evolves, new techniques are emerging, such as how to create shared code for multiple platforms, particularly for iOS and Android.
We’ll get more into this below, particularly about tech stack options whether you opt for native or cross-platform development.
It's imperative for you to consider the growth potential and its technical requirements before approving the stack. The function of a tech stack in an application’s scalability is to handle the growing volume of users and load, as well as to enable the expansion of functionalities.
For instance, if you want to create an IoT app, you should carefully choose the tech stack because scalability is a critical aspect to consider when developing such products.
Security and privacy
It’s no secret that security is critical at all times, and it’s also essential to recognize that the risk of cyber-attacks grows and evolves every year along with the progress of technology.
If you’re planning to build a video chat app, a messaging app, a medical software, or any other solution that handles sensitive user information, it’s vital (and legally necessary) to protect your business and your customers with a reliable text stack that manages security and privacy risks. Consider some of the most credible frameworks, like Node.js, that offer security guidelines.
Maintenance and team expertise
It’s important to determine whether or not your team will be able to maintain the application once it’s deployed. Unless you intend to cooperate with an outsourcing software development company that provides maintenance services post-implementation, you should take into account your team’s expertise and experience when choosing a tech stack.
It will be better if you know for sure that your team will be able to use a tech stack successfully and doesn’t require additional training. Otherwise, you’ll need to consider a consultancy firm with the expertise in the tech stack you want to build.
Despite the fact that most of the tools are ready-made or open-source, product owners still need to consider several important aspects that can affect their budget, particularly the following: the developer’s rate that varies depending on the specialization, licensing fees, and product’s maintenance costs.
Ready-made tools allow teams to build products faster. However, some may be limited in flexibility when it comes to the implementation of custom features. Thus, affordable technologies also have their own risks.
How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?
While the technology stack that you choose is one of the most consequential factors that determine the cost of a mobile app, there are other factors that you need to consider as well.
For instance, the complexity of an app (which, of course, impacts the tech stack), entails a lot of variables.
- How many screens do you want?
- Are there third-party integrations?
- How complex is the business logic?
- How complex is the data processing and the database?
- What’s the level of effort needed to conduct the quality assurance (QA)?
The development approach, whether implemented natively or through a cross-platform approach, is also a factor.
Choosing the set-up of your development team is also a key input. Will you be engaging an in-house team, freelancers, a consulting agency, an extended team — or a combination of these? The cost of a mobile app is determined not only by the app itself, but also by who works on it and how they do their work. Even the location of project members is a key consideration.
Further, software or mobile development consultancy firms may use one of two approaches when providing you with a cost estimate: time and material versus fixed pricing.
This choice is also a factor you’ll have to look into. The time and material method rarely yields a specific price, instead depending on hourly rates and the time required to construct your mobile app. A fixed price quotation, on the other hand, will provide you with an estimate for the complete project based on the agreed-upon scope.
Native vs cross-platform mobile app development
Native app development is the process of creating platform-specific applications. Those who wish to launch their apps across several platforms (e.g. iOS, Android, web browsers, desktop) build them separately — natively. However, doing so involves separate development processes for each.
Cross-platform app development, also called multi-platform development, is the process of building mobile apps that can be deployed in several operating systems within a single development process. Instead of writing separate code for iOS and Android, mobile engineers can share some or most of the code between multiple platforms.
Native development and cross-platform development have their own pros and cons. One approach might be better for certain types of projects. Further, the tech stack for each approach also varies.
Tech stack for native mobile app development
Native apps tend to perform better than cross-platform apps when it comes to security, speed and performance, stability in maintenance and updates, customization on UI/UX features, and maximizing the use of hardware features (e.g. NFC module, camera). To get the most out of native app development, here are the technologies that you should consider for your tech stack.
Programming languages: Objective-C & Swift
iOS mobile development tools: Xcode
It has been the main coding language for years, and it’s still extensively used. Mobile app development teams may choose Objective-C if they need to handle a huge legacy project or if they lack qualified Swift developers.
On top of that, you can pick Objective-C because of the following reasons:
- A tried and tested language
- Offers good compatibility with C++
- Provides easy use of private APIs
- Has an expressive code syntax
Swift is relatively new, yet it’s among the best technologies for mobile app development. Swift is a more useful and robust technology for building iOS apps. Developing in Swift also tends to be quicker and cheaper for businesses. We use this language to build some of our own products.
It’s quite popular for the following reasons:
- Faster work and better performance
- Safe and more resistant to errors
- Its clear syntax guarantees better code readability and easier support
- Progressive and versatile language
- Huge community support
Native Android app development
Mobile teams prefer native Android development because of the following:
- Highly secure
- Easily scalable and portable
- Self-operative memory management
- Multi-threaded capability
- Vast functionality
Programming languages: Java & Kotlin
Android app development tools: Android Studio
Java is a seasoned computing language for web development, big data, and many more. Open source libraries and technologies reduce development and deployment times for software developers. Consider the following for your technology stack when developing natively in Android.
Kotlin is a consistent and lightweight tool for developing Android apps. Kotlin is younger than Java, but it’s already a robust programming language. It’s also compatible with Java and facilitates multi-language development. A lot of our internal products and client projects use Kotlin.
In my view, it’s better for Android mobile app development option due to these reasons:
- Lazy initialization feature to prevent threads
- A clear and effective syntax that results in up to 35% fewer lines of code compared to Java
- Better security and fault tolerance
- Extension function
- Large ecosystem, good support, and strong community
Tech stack for cross-platform app development
Cross-platform development has a clear advantage over native development when it comes to the following:
- Shareable code: Developers create a single codebase without the need to write new code for each OS.
- Faster development: Development teams don't need to write or test as much code, which tends to accelerate the development process.
- Cost-effectiveness: The cross-platform solution can be a good option to consider for startups and companies with smaller budgets because it allows them to reduce development costs.
On the other hand, here are its disadvantages:
- Performance issues: Some developers argue that multiplatform applications don't perform as well as native apps.
- Difficult to access native features of mobile devices: Building a cross-platform app that needs to access platform-specific features requires more effort.
- Limited UI consistency: With cross-platform development frameworks that allow you to share the UI, applications may look and feel less native.
To take advantage of cross-platform app development, here are the technologies that you should consider for your tech stack.
Technologies: React Native & Kotlin Multiplatform
- Number of open source libraries
- Big community
- Reusable UI code
- Good for small mobile MVP projects
On the other hand, Kotlin Multiplatform is a software development kit (SDK) that simplifies cross-platform app development by allowing development teams to write the same business logic for multiple platforms from a shared codebase. Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM), its subset for mobile platforms, enables developers to write logic for iOS and Android.
The unique advantage of Kotlin Multiplatform is that it has the capability to accommodate both native and cross-platform development approaches.
It’s growing in popularity because of the following:
- Optionality in code sharing
- Ability to expand and enhance native apps
- Accommodates native development of hardware-dependent functionalities (e.g. camera features)
Ensure success of your mobile app by selecting the right tech stack
Choosing the ideal mobile app technology stack is a difficult process with a wide range of factors to consider. There are already a lot of tried-and-true solutions and combinations to explore, but it's critical to plan strategically. Define the goals of your product idea. Flesh out the features and functionalities. Analyze industry practices.
There’s no silver bullet to success, but it’s critical to be able to communicate well with your technology team, whether internal or external, so that they’ll be able to provide you with all available technology options and give advice on which ones fit best with your business priorities.