Selecting a solid technology stack for app development is paramount to turning your brilliant idea into a thriving mobile app. The technology stack impacts many development aspects such as your product quality, scalability, level of security, project time and budget, and so on. The wrong mobile app technology can set your business back by months, whereas a well-chosen tech stack provides a competitive advantage and helps it grow.
Table of contents
- Why is it important to make the proper tech stack selection decision?
- Mobile app backend technology
- Native mobile technology stack
- Technology stack for iOS app development
- Technology stack for modern Android mobile applications
- Technology stack for cross-platform mobile apps
- Mobile app development tech stack at Onix
- Final thoughts
For 21+ years Onix has been building mobile apps for various industries. You can check our portfolio. Based on our experience, we've gathered the most popular and robust mobile app technologies you can confidently use to make your mobile application development process smooth and successful.
Keep reading to know why choosing the right tech stack for mobile app development is vital, learn about tech stacks for different app development approaches, and find out how to make the right choice.
The chosen tech stack will largely determine whether your mobile application will be scalable, secure, maintainable, and perform well. It will also directly impact your budget and time-to-market. If you want to build a robust, reliable mobile app with future growth prospects, choosing the best tech stack for mobile app development is a crucial element.
Context, criteria, and considerations
Ideally, you should have engaged competent programmers by that time. Full-stack developers or a whole mobile app development company are even better. Together, you should have worked out the functions and design of the future mobile application. The experts should thoroughly know your business needs and restrictions to suggest the best technology stack for your mobile app.
As an investor, you should also be prepared to have a say in selecting programming languages, frameworks, and tools for building your very own mobile application.
The mobile app tech stack should be cost-effective, especially with a tightt budget. It’s also essential to understand the technical possibilities and constraints of various technology stacks when it comes to implementing your ideas.
Your choice should be determined by the problems the app is solving. Ask yourself and the developers working on the project:
- What shall we do to create the best user experience?
- How are we going to ensure security?
- Is performance a priority now, or can we deal with it later?
Ideally, the developers should choose a tech stack to accommodate future horizontal and vertical growth. Once a prospective technology has been identified, run through a checklist together:
You can find some answers on stackshare.io or techstacks.io. If your product is similar to an existing mobile application, learning about its technology stack is helpful too. The more checkboxes in the list you tick, the better your odds are of choosing the optimal tech stack.
Mobile app development requires both client and server-side technologies. So let's start our review of the tech stack from the mobile app backend stack first.
So, if you want to choose the best stack for mobile app development, the first thing you need to do is decide on the backend. ‘Server side’ and ‘backend’ are umbrella terms for the layer where the business logic and data come together to deliver the mobile app’s core functionality. Backend responds to user requests, accesses the database, and executes the Create/Read/Update/Delete operations.
The list of most popular technology stacks out there includes, but is not limited to:
- LAMP is the abbreviation for Linux (a server operating system), Apache (the webserver), MySQL (the database), and PHP or Python (the scripting languages). The stack thus consists entirely of open-source software components. It’s also compatible with other open-source and free software packages. LAMP is considered the best robust and reliable backend technology for mobile app sets; flexible, customizable, and easy to use.
- Vue.js. is a progressive framework for building user interfaces and single-page applications. It can easily scale between a library and a framework depending on different use cases. Vue consists of an approachable core library that focuses on the view layer only, and an ecosystem of supporting libraries that helps you tackle complexity in large single-page apps.
- Python-Django can be used successfully to build backend services for a mobile application. The multifunctional framework is open-source, mature, stable, and has excellent documentation. It’s suitable for whipping up working prototypes and building rather complex apps quickly. Read Also: Django Crispy Forms
- Ruby on Rails is another open-source and free framework. It promotes quick web development thanks to a rich repository of library integrations. This and other benefits of RoR also make it a favored technology for building mobile apps that are simultaneously expandable and multi-purpose. RoR is compatible with MySQL and has its own built-in database.
A native mobile application is designed to perform on a specific mobile OS. Besides the faster performance and higher security, such apps come with more excellent responsiveness, gesture control, device notifications, access to the device’s camera, GPS, contacts, and other hardware/software, and the ability to work offline. Native mobile app development is deemed to be more cost-effective as well.
Currently, the leading platforms are iOS and Android.
To build iOS apps, you can use such programming languages as Objective C and Swift. The open-source Swift is newer and evolving quickly. Its code is simple and intuitive for beginners or experienced developers working with other languages, hence the growing number of developers and companies favor it for building iOS and macOS applications.
The recommended integrated development environments (IDE) are:
- Apple Xcode: The IDE provides integrated documentation, support for Git repositories, source code editor to transform and refactor code more efficiently, a graphical UI builder, and a robust built-in testing engine for creating applications for all Apple platforms. Xcode is free of charge.
For example, using Swift, we created a photo editor app that people can use on the go to polish their photos and share them via favorite social media.
If you want to create a native app for Android, you can choose Java or Kotlin. The latter’s abilities are similar to those of Swift. Google backs Kotlin, so it may be the future. The recommended toolkits are:
- Android Developer Tools for Eclipse IDE: The ADT plugin provides a guided project setup, tools integration, custom XML editors, graphical UI builder, emulators, and test automation support. App development with ADT is arguably the quickest way to start. The plugin is free, but compatible versions of the Eclipse IDE and Android SDK must be installed first.
- Android NDK: The Android Native Development Kit facilitates the implementation of application parts using C or C++, which compiles to native code. Developers working on certain mobile apps can reuse code libraries written in those languages. Although such code requires higher-level skills, it’s more stable and faster to execute. The tooling is also free of charge.
- Android Studio: Android Studio’s code editor provides code completion for Kotlin, Java, and C/C++. There is also an efficient visual layout editor, template-based wizards for common application components, a rapid emulator for different configurations and features, built-in profiling tools, and abilities to reduce the app size and create from a single project build variations for different devices. These and other features facilitate speedy and more productive development on all devices. Android Studio is free to download.
Using the above technologies, we developed a video player mobile app for Android with audio normalization for the most comfortable viewing. The app provides a voice enhancing feature, smoothing sharp drops in sound, smart volume correction of the entire audio track, and normalization loudness of special effects.
Сross-platform mobile app development means simultaneously creating mobile apps for multiple platforms. Developers build such applications using a combination of web and native technologies.
Building an application for several platforms can give your business a competitive advantage, help reach out to a broader target audience, and increase sales. Code repeatability also helps reduce costs.
Below we share some popular frameworks for creating cross-platform apps:
- Unity: Great even beyond gaming, Unity allows developing applications for numerous platforms and hybrid apps. The IDE provides enhanced built-in support for audio, animation, and physics. Ready-made pieces of applications are available at the Asset Store. There’s a free version for beginners, but monthly subscriptions offering more advanced features start at $35 per seat.
- Flutter is Google's free and open-source UI framework for creating native mobile applications. Using Flutter, developers can create mobile applications for both iOS and Android with a single codebase and programming language. It makes developing iOS and Android apps simpler and faster.
For example, using Flutter, the Onix team successfully built a delivery app with all the required features such as tracking the orders, categories and filters, searching for an item, choosing a restaurant, payment, and many more.
Working with tech stack for app development, we use both the latest and proven technologies to ensure a high level of mobile app performance, reliability, and security. Based on our 23+ years of experience in mobile app development, we can advise you on the following tech stack:
Using this tech stack, our developers built various successful mobile apps, for example, a mobile application for self-learning or a unique service application, where users could make a perfect wine match while dining at a particular restaurant. Top-notch and state-of-the-art technologies allowed us to build reliable, fully functional, and properly operated mobile app solutions.
The choice of the best technology to develop mobile applications determines both the product's qualities and the speed and cost of app development. Before making a choice, it’s essential to consider the product, project, and market requirements and study the various technology stacks currently in use.
Unfortunately, there are no cookie-cutter technology stacks that work for everyone. The optimal stack for your mobile solution depends on your business situation, and it’s always best to consult professionals.
Are you looking for mobile app development services? Our experts work with a broad spectrum of languages, frameworks, and platforms. Get in touch with Onix for the best technology advice and development.
- What is a mobile application technology stack?
A technology stack is the combination of programming languages and software products that are used to create a mobile or web application. A stack is created when one layer of an application is built atop the other. Most mobile application technology stacks come with two software components: client-side and server-side. These are also known as frontend and backend.
- Why is it so important to find a suitable technology stack?
The chosen mobile app tech stack will largely determine whether your mobile application will be scalable, secure, maintainable, and perform well. It will also directly impact your budget and time-to-market. The wrong technology can set your business back by months, whereas a well-chosen tech stack gives a competitive advantage and helps it grow. However, it's important to note that not only technologies play an important role in the app development, but also the specialists with whom you cooperate and who surely know how to use the chosen technologies.
- How to select the right tech stack for mobile app development?
The larger and more complex your project, the bigger the mobile technology stack it uses. The choice of technologies may depend on the type of the product, its load and security requirements, market deadlines, competition, regulatory concerns, accessibility and affordability of developers, existing team’s knowledge base, available development tools, cost of licenses and support, the target audience’s preferences, the size and age of your company, etc.
The development team should also consider whether you already build or maintain web services, the existence of databases or data that need to be migrated, or legacy systems that need to be transferred to the new system.