Two developers at the office talking about mobile app developer challenges

The Top 4 Challenges Encountered by Mobile App Developers

Three billion smartphone users will spend over $100 billion on mobile apps in 2019. In addition to the large revenue potential of the mobile app market, companies understand the value of having their services available on smartphones for higher availability and a more seamless experience.

There is huge potential here: (1) whether you’re aiming to build an app that provides a valuable service and generate revenue directly, or (2) an app that integrates, streamlines, enhances, and augments an existing solution or service.

Understanding the top mobile app developers challenges will provide valuable insight, whether you are a developer, entrepreneur, or just a curious mind interested to learn more about mobile development.

Unfortunately, developing a solid mobile app is not a walk in the park. You’ve got to make something that people want, then get them to use it, and you will almost always have stiff competition. There are over 2 million apps on both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, and thousands of new apps are added every day.

In this highly competitive market, there is no silver bullet for developing a successful mobile application, however, there are common challenges faced by top mobile application developers. In this article, we’ll cover some of the top mobile app developers’ challenges and how to manage them.

Mobile App Developer Challenge #1: Deciding What to Make

All mobile apps fall into one of two categories: revolutionary and evolutionary.

A revolutionary app is unique, has no competition, and is the first of its kind. An app that could turn coal into gold would be considered revolutionary (and very lucrative).

On the other hand, an evolutionary app is one that is based on a pre-existing app. Most often, an evolutionary app adds value by enhancing, innovating, adding new features, or doing an overall better job than its competitors.

Many successful revolutionary apps eventually become evolutionary. In the case of our app Coal2Gold, it turns out that an app that transforms coal into gold is very popular (who would have thought?). Other developers see its success, and before long, similar apps begin to pop up: Coal2PureGold, Coal2Platinum, Gold2Coal, and the App Store chart topper Coal2Diamonds.

These apps are evolutionary because they were created based on an already existing app. A vast majority of mobile apps are evolutionary for the simple reason that it is harder to come up with an original idea.

Regardless of the type of app you are planning to make, you must:

  • Clearly define its purpose
  • Create a value proposition
  • Identify your target audience

Thousands of new apps are created each day, but you probably couldn’t name fifty. You want your app to be memorable. Decide if you want to prioritize your vision or your users’ desires. Do you want to be unique, or do you want to build on an existing app? It is easier to find a gap in an existing market than it is to open up a new market.

Mobile App Developer Challenge #2: Working Alone or in a Team   

Some very profitable and popular apps have been made by individuals, but the majority of the top apps are created by teams. Working alone or working with a team both have their perks and downsides.

If you work alone, you get to decide how things are implemented, and you know everything about the app and understand it 100%.

The upsides of working in a team include wider knowledge, experience, and expertise; different ideas, perspectives, and opinions. In most cases, a team can make more effective decisions than an individual. Teammates can utilize their strengths to develop the app faster and more efficiently.

Some people work better alone, while others prefer a team. Solo developers won’t need to deal with the cons of having a team, however, they will have to do EVERYTHING themselves.

Weigh in the pros and cons, then decide which is the better option for you.

Mobile App Developer Challenge #3: Choosing The Development Platform and Language

If you have a team of expert Java developers and your task is to create an app that enables its users to locate and rate cheesecakes from all over the world, which programming language should you use to create the app? The most apparent answer would be “Java”, but the more likely answer would be “that depends”.

Here are two main factors to consider when deciding on your development platform and language :

  1. The expertise and preference of you and your team
  2. The complexity and type of mobile app you are trying to make

Are you planning to target only Android devices or are you also planning to have an iOS version too? If you need both, you’ll either need iOS developers or a cross-platform development solution like React Native, Xamarin, or Flutter. For simple apps, PhoneGap or Appcelerator are also valid options.

It’s typically more expensive to target individual platforms natively rather than doing cross-platform development. However, the advantage of native applications is that they typically perform better and can be more optimal than their cross-platform counterparts. If your app is quite simple, maybe your Java team wants to try a new language like Kotlin. For a very complex app, it might be better to stay within their comfort zone.

Your ideal platform or language also depends on your app’s requirements.

Does your app have augmented reality or virtual reality features? The vast majority of augmented reality and virtual reality applications are built using Unity (C#), so that would probably your best bet. Building a complex mobile game? Your best bet would probably be C++ or C#.

Understanding your app’s requirements and your manpower capabilities will enable you to make the right choice when selecting your development language and platform.

Mobile App Developer Challenge #4: Knowing When to Release Your App

Releasing your app at the right stage of its maturity is critical to its success. Should you release your mobile app when it is perfectly polished, or should you release it as soon as you have a working prototype? Here are some points to consider:

  • 100% of surveyed users prefer apps that exist to those that don’t.  In general, it is best to release your app as soon as you have your minimum viable product (MVP). Getting your app on the market lets you test demand, get feedback quickly, and helps to determine whether you moving in the right direction.
  • The type of app. If you are dealing with sensitive data such as personal information, you’d better make sure that your app’s security is sound before releasing. Any breach in security will bring about some of the worst PR imaginable. On the other hand, a minor bug in a mobile game won’t be nearly as devastating.
  • Supply and demand. If there are many apps like yours available on the market, a negative user experience can easily drive potential users to your competitors. However, if your app provides value that other apps do not, users will be more inclined to stick with your app and even give helpful feedback if given the chance.

Your app can always get better, but please release it so that others can provide feedback and criticism. What you think is really awesome, might not be so awesome for your users… and vice versa.

The users may not always be right, but they are THE USERS, so adapt and be flexible. If certain features define the app but are not appreciated by the users, it is up to you to decide whether to stick to your guns or to cave in to popular demand.

Final Thoughts

An image showing a developer next to board with the top 4 challenges encountered by mobile app developers

There will always be challenges and considerations that top mobile application developers must face when creating mobile apps and we’ve covered some of them here. By understanding these challenges and using your knowledge and experience to deal with them accordingly, you will have a better mobile app development experience.

At Full Scale, we have a lot of mobile app development experience and knowledge. Our mobile app developers challenge convention while following industry standards, to create meaningful, useful applications. We have expert native and cross-platform mobile developer teams that can help you implement your ideas.  You can contact us for advice and guidance on how to turn your mobile app idea into reality.