What is Mobile App Development?
Mobile development is building software to run on mobile devices like tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches. Everything from Instagram to enterprise apps fit in this category. Mobile apps are built for the general public, private companies, and the government. Mobile apps might be native (written in a specific platform’s language) or non-native, written to work on multiple platforms. Android apps are typically written in Java while Apple/iOS apps are written in Swift or Objective-C. These languages are preapproved by the vendor who manufactures the device.
How to Become a Mobile App Developer
You could get a degree in computer science and then teach yourself Swift, Objective-C, or Java online. This option will take ~4 years and cost over $100,000. While Android and iOS aren’t the only platforms out there, they do comprise 99% of the market.
Mobile Developer Bootcamp
Learning to code with a bootcamp is probably the fastest option. If you learn better in a classroom, need career assistance, or want the connection of a cohort to bolster your learning experience, then bootcamp is for you! Most bootcamps specialize in either iOS or Android. Mobile bootcamps can range from 5 weeks to 10 months, and vary in price from $5,000-$15,000. Tuition range depends on a variety of factors based on location, immersive vs part-time, online vs in-person. Many bootcamps now offer deferred tuition, Income Share Agreements, and financing options.
Online Learning Resources
Of course, you can learn the technical skills to become a Mobile App Developer entirely online. This option is for the self-starter who is disciplined and creative enough to build their own curriculum or pay for an online, self-paced curriculum. Online resources like Team Treehouse and Codecademy offer free trials and paid monthly subscription.
How to Choose a Mobile App Development Bootcamp
The best mobile app development course for you depends on your own learning style, career goals, availability, etc. Here's our advice for choosing the best app developer bootcamp:
Narrow down your options – you can rule out some bootcamps based on location, cost, and time commitment.
Examine the curriculum – does the bootcamp teach the most modern mobile app developer tools like Swift and Unity? On top of those new languages, you should also be learning fundamentals like Java and iOS.
Ask About Projects – in the world of mobile app development, your portfolio is important! At a good mobile bootcamp, you'll build at least 2-3 projects to add to your portfolio!
Meet the Instructors – do the bootcamp instructors have real-world design experience? Have they worked for mobile app agencies or built their own apps? Pro-Tip: Take an intro course or free workshop hosted by the bootcamp to really understand the teaching style.
Ask About Outcomes – do past bootcamp graduates get jobs in mobile app development? Ask the school directly for their CIRR report or job outcomes report, read bootcamp reviews, and even reach out to alumni on LinkedIn to ask questions.
Red Flags – instructors don't have experience building specifically for mobile, the school can't tell you about past student career success, or the bootcamp only teaches no-code tools instead of training you in the underlying programming languages.
Mobile App Developer Jobs
Mobile app developers are in high demand regardless of which platform you choose to build for. The mobile app economy is expected to hit $102.5 billion in revenues in 2020. There have never been more mobile devices on the market as there are right now. After a mobile development bootcamp, you can design native apps for a vendor like Apple or Google, develop apps at a startup, or even create your own app and start a business yourself!
Here is a list of the most common Mobile App Developer job titles for bootcampers:
- Mobile Application Developer
- Mobile Application Programmer
- iOS Mobile Application Developer
- Android Developer
- Mobile Engineer
- Mobile Software Engineer
- Hybrid Mobile Application Developer
- Mobile Developer
- Software Developer, Mobile
Mobile App Developer Job Description
The job description for a Mobile App Developer often depends on the employer. The primary duty of a Mobile App Developer is to create, maintain, and implement source code that meets the requirements of the client. A Mobile App Developer should understand the different platforms, tools available, and be able to design for any mobile device. They should be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their team in order to fulfill the client’s needs. The Mobile App Developer should understand the entire development process of an application. As such, they’ll also understand how to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). Their duties may include one or all of the steps in the design, develop, test, release, maintain lifecycle.
Mobile App Developer Salaries
|Mobile Developer Job
|Mobile App Developer
Mobile App Developer Skills
Most app developer positions do not require a degree but they will require you to prove your skills with a coding challenge or whiteboarding. You should have a portfolio of your own apps ready to show potential employers, too! Strong communication skills are a must in app development because most positions require collaboration with other designers, developers, and departments as well as interaction with clients.
A Mobile App Developer should have strong analytical skills, be creative, pay attention to little details, and be able to solve problems with little to no assistance. Depending on whether you choose to develop for Android, iOS, or both will determine if you need to know a few of the technologies listed below or most of them. You will be able to learn these skills at a mobile development bootcamp.
To be an Android Developer you’ll need to know:
Java - is a core language that is the most commonly used language for Android development. Apps built in the Android Studio are written in Java.
C++ - C++ is an object-oriented core language that is less commonly used but still sometimes found in Android mobile apps.
Android Studio - Android Studio is the official Integrated Development Environment for Android app development.
Eclipse - Eclipse is a tool similar to Android Studio used to develop code for android apps.
XML - XML is a markup language used to store information.
Unity - Unity is used for Android game development.
To be an iOS Developer you’ll need:
Objective-C - Objective-C is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that was created in 1980. It is the main language used for iOS and macOS.
Swift - Swift was created by Apple in 2014 as the first protocol-oriented programming language. It’s used to build apps for the iOS platform.
Xcode - Xcode is the Integrated Development Environment for iOS apps.
You can develop on both operating systems using:
Text Editor - A text editor is a computer program that allows users to edit a variety of programming language files.
Other useful skills for Mobile App Developers include:
HTML - HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is a standardized markup language used for creating a webpage. These pages can include writing, links, pictures, sound, and video. HTML is used to denote these elements so that the web browser can display them correctly.
- Bootstrap - Bootstrap is a CSS framework for developing responsive and mobile-optimized websites.
Android vs iOS Mobile App Development
The demand for Android and iOS Developers are about the same, with about 5,000 open jobs each in the US on average. The pay for Developers on both platforms is almost equal as well. In the US market, iOS controls about 58% while Android makes up about 41%. Globally, however, Android takes over 73% of market shares while iOS rings in at just 26%.
Aditya Narayan, the CEO and co-founder of TurnToTech says, “Because there is so much opportunity in mobile right now, it’s completely legitimate to go with what you like to use as a user. But you can be more analytical than that. If your aspirations are tied to the international market, Android is a good option. If your focus is the US market or you want to monetize through in-app purchases, iOS is your best choice. It’s not a once in a lifetime decision. If you can write apps in iOS, you can easily transition to Android and vice versa.”
How to choose between Android vs. iOS: If you’re starting as a complete beginner, then Android and iOS will likely take the same amount of time to learn. If you’ve already learned Java, start with Android. If you’ve already learned C++ or C, pick up iOS first.