Explained: Mobile App Architecture – The Basis of App Ecosystem

Sudeep Srivastava May 31, 2024
mobile app architecture

Do you know why apps fail?

Often, this is due to developers ignoring a vital component: the mobile app architecture. It takes more than a brilliant idea to make your app stand out in a market with many apps vying for users’ attention. It involves laying a strong foundation to guarantee the app’s usability, performance, and functionalities.

The term “mobile app architecture” refers to the grouping of structural components and their interfaces that together comprise a system and the elemental behavior of the framework. In simpler terms, an app architecture is the blueprint for creating a well-organized ecosystem of mobile apps. It functions like an app skeleton, supporting both its functionality and quality.

The architecture includes everything that makes an app, such as data flow, UI/UX design, platform selection, and the tech stack. Given the high stakes, businesses must focus on building robust app architectures to prevent failure and ensure success.

With this in mind, let’s explore the key elements and layers constituting an effective mobile architecture design.

Learn more about mobile app architecture and craft a robust app through our experts

The Significance of a Robust Mobile App Architecture for a Business

According to a report by Statista, the estimated market value of mobile apps is likely to expand at an annual pace of 9.59% from 2022 to 2027, with a total revenue of an astounding $673.80 billion expected by 2027. Furthermore, it is projected that 7.49 billion people will be using mobile apps by 2025, emphasizing the importance of these apps in the current digital environment.

Mobile Apps Market Revenue Till 2027

Owing to this massive utilization of mobile applications, businesses must prioritize a well-designed and robust mobile app architecture. A strong and well-designed mobile app architecture is essential for organizations to achieve speed, cost savings, risk management, and exceptional quality in their mobile applications.

Businesses can reduce development time and maintenance costs by optimizing resource utilization and ensuring scalability. Furthermore, a robust architecture lowers the possibility of data breaches and system failures by having built-in security safeguards. This proactive risk management improves the app’s reliability and protects user data, eventually resulting in a better user experience and higher user engagement.

A well-designed architecture also ensures interoperability between many platforms and devices, enabling a flawless user experience. Furthermore, a strong design facilitates flexibility and expandability, guaranteeing that the application can scale with evolving business requirements and technology advancements.

On the other hand, an inadequate or poorly designed mobile app architecture can lead to several challenges. It can make the application more prone to bugs and security flaws, jeopardizing its functioning and security. Low code readability might cause delays and inefficiencies in the development process. Poor architecture can also make updating and maintaining the app harder, raising the possibility of errors and reducing overall performance.

Therefore, businesses should position themselves for success, exceed customer expectations, and accelerate growth in the competitive digital market by investing in a strong mobile application architecture.

A Deeper Insight Into the Types of Mobile App Architectures

There are several types of mobile app architectures, each with its own characteristics and advantages. Understanding these architectures is essential for businesses to make informed decisions about the design and development of mobile applications. Let’s have a look at those:

Monolithic Architecture

The monolithic architecture entails creating an application’s user interface, business logic, and data access layer as a single unit.

The monolithic architecture approach entails creating an application's user interface, business logic, and data access layer as a single unit

Initially, it is simple to build and implement, but as the application expands, it may become complex and difficult to manage. Small to medium-sized applications with minimal scaling requirements are best suited for monolithic architecture.

Microservices Architecture

The microservices architecture breaks up the application into more manageable, standalone services, each in charge of carrying out a particular task. In contrast to monolithic architecture, these services provide flexibility, scalability, and easier maintenance through network communication.

The microservices architecture breaks up the application into more manageable, standalone services

But it complicates the development and deployment processes. Thus, it’s better suited for large, intricate applications requiring frequent updates and high scalability.

Layered Architecture

In a layered architecture, the application is divided into logical layers, with each layer responsible for a specific aspect of the application’s functionality. The most common layers include presentation, business logic, and data access layers. This architecture promotes separation of concerns, making the application easier to maintain and scale.

Three layers of mobile app architecture

Changes in one layer have minimal impact on other layers, facilitating modularity and reusability of code. Layered architecture is commonly used in mobile app development for applications that need a clear separation of concerns and a structured approach, as we’ll discuss further in the next section.

The Three Layers of Mobile App Development Architecture

Mobile app development comprises multiple layers that are integral to the development process. Developing strong mobile applications requires a grasp of these layers, which are crucial to the architecture. To grasp mobile app architecture thoroughly, let’s examine each layer in more detail.

Mobile App Development Architecture Layers

Presentation Layer

This layer examines how to present the application to end users. It is crucial to identify the right client type for the intended infrastructure when designing this layer. Additionally, the client’s deployment restrictions must be considered. Another necessity is selecting the correct data format and using robust data validation mechanisms to protect the apps from invalid entries.

Business Layer

This layer examines elements on the business front. In layman’s terms, it examines how businesses are presented to end users. This consists of business components, workflow, and entities under two sub-layers: Domain Model and Service. The service layer looks into the definition of common application function sets available to the end users. While the domain model layer looks into the knowledge and expertise linked to specific problem areas.

Data Layer

The data layer in mobile app development serves as a crucial component responsible for managing data access and transactions efficiently and securely. It must be designed to meet the application’s specific requirements, ensuring that data can be accessed and manipulated as needed.

Developers need to consider the maintenance aspect of the data layer, ensuring that it can be easily modified to accommodate changes in business requirements over time. This layer comprises various components such as access components, utilities, helpers, and service agents, all working together to facilitate seamless data management within the application.

Also Read: Data Lakes: Next-Generation Data Management Solutions For Your Business.

A Closer Look at Mobile Application Architectures for Different Platforms

Different patterns exist for mobile application architecture design across various platforms and operating systems. Here’s a detailed explanation of the mobile architecture examples to help you maximize scalability, maintainability, and performance during the app development process.

A Closer Look at Mobile Application Architecture Examples

Android Mobile App Architecture

Android mobile apps are native to the Android operating system and are developed using languages like Java and Kotlin. The Android ecosystem includes a wide diversity of devices, so it is vital to consider various screen sizes and hardware combinations. Due to this variability, adopting a one-size-fits-all architecture for Android app development is difficult.

The Clean Architecture is a common Android app architecture that is especially well-liked in business mobile app development. The concepts of layers and inversion of control serve as the foundation for Clean Architecture. The presentation layer, which handles the user interface and interactions; the business layer, which houses the essential business logic; and the data layer, which handles data access and storage, make up its three primary layers. These distinct layers interact with one another via well-defined interfaces.

Android Mobile App Clean Architecture

There are various benefits of the Clean Architecture, including:

  • Simplified Testing and Troubleshooting: The separation of concerns makes it easier to test each layer independently, leading to more robust and maintainable code.
  • UI Separation: By separating the user interface from the business logic, user interface development is made more flexible and scalable.
  • Independence from External Dependencies: Clean Architecture makes it simpler to adjust to evolving needs and technological developments by minimizing reliance on third-party databases, frameworks, and libraries.

iOS Mobile App Architecture

iOS apps often follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, where the Model manages the data, the View displays the UI, and the Controller handles user input and updates the Model and View accordingly. Nonetheless, because of their capacity to enhance the testability and maintainability of code, the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) and Model-View-Controller-View Model (MVCVM) patterns have also grown in favor in recent years.

iOS Mobile App Architecture

There are various advantages to MVC architecture, including:

  • Faster Development Process: MVC’s separation of concerns enables developers to work on different app components simultaneously, resulting in quicker development.
  • Clear Communication Across Layers: Developers can understand and handle the codebase more easily because each layer has well-defined roles.
  • Simplicity and Ease of Maintenance: MVC’s simple structure makes introducing new features or modifying current ones simple without impacting other application areas.

Hybrid Mobile App Architecture

The architecture of a hybrid mobile app is based on web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These technologies are then wrapped in a native container that grants access to the device’s functionality. This methodology facilitates the creation of cross-platform applications that function across many operating systems, such as iOS and Android.

The Apache Cordova (previously PhoneGap) framework is one of the most widely used tools for creating hybrid applications. Developers can use JavaScript to access device components like the accelerometer, camera, and geolocation by leveraging a set of APIs provided by Cordova. Ionic is another well-liked framework that offers a collection of UI components for creating dynamic and eye-catching hybrid applications.

Hybrid Mobile App Architecture

Hybrid applications have various benefits, such as:

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Developers can reach a wider audience using hybrid apps, operating on many platforms with minimal or no adjustments.
  • Faster Development Time: Since hybrid apps use web technologies, developers can create mobile apps more quickly by utilizing their already-developed web development expertise.
  • Access to Device Features: Plugins enable hybrid apps to leverage device characteristics, allowing developers to design rich, native-like experiences.

Cross-Platform Mobile App Architecture

Cross-platform mobile apps are built using frameworks that allow developers to write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms. Examples of cross-platform frameworks include React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter.

JavaScript empowers developers to craft mobile apps through React Native. Xamarin, a Microsoft-owned platform, facilitates the development of native Windows, iOS, and Android applications using C# and .NET. Flutter, a Google product, employs the Dart programming language to enable developers to build native apps for both iOS and Android from a single codebase.

Cross-Platform Mobile App Architecture

Cross-platform applications have several advantages, such as:

  • Native-Like Performance: Cross-platform frameworks leverage native components to provide programs that are nearly native in terms of performance.
  • Code Reusability: By reusing a sizable percentage of their software across several platforms, developers can reduce the time and effort required for development.
  • Single Codebase: Updating a single codebase across several platforms simplifies the development and maintenance process.

Key Elements to Consider When Developing Mobile App Architecture

A robust architecture is essential to ensure your app stands the test of time. Scalability, performance, and security must be carefully considered during development. Let’s have a detailed look at those.

Key Factors to Consider When Building Mobile App Architecture Design

Device Determination

At this stage, you will have to consider the device type. You will need to study the screen size, resolution, CPU characteristics, memory, and storage space, plus the availability of the development tool environment. The app features depend on the software or hardware, which is why it is important to have the details of the devices on which the app would run.

Bandwidth Status

Throughout its lifecycle, your application will face several events where internet connectivity will either dwindle or disappear. Your mobile app architecture diagram will have to be built, noting the worst network conditions. You will have to design the data access mechanism, caching, and state management according to the worst-case scenarios.

Right User Interface

The importance of UI/UX within an application is unquestionable. Ensuring your UI is designed to keep users engaged and provide an intuitive, uncluttered experience is a crucial aspect of your mobile application infrastructure. This enhances user satisfaction and significantly impacts retention and conversion rates. A well-designed UI/UX can set your app apart in a competitive market, defining its overall success and usability.

At Appinventiv, we partnered with Pizza Hut, an Americana Group company, to improve its digital appearance. Their app lacked extensibility and scalability in its architecture, resulting in a poor user experience. Pizza Hut required a mobile app that was not only fully functional but also highly engaging.

Our team focused on designing a visually appealing UI/UX while ensuring the architecture was robust and scalable. We identified user needs through extensive research and drove Pizza Hut’s digitalization using the latest tools and technologies.

Pizza Hut food delivery app screens

We helped Pizza Hut achieve exceptional results with 50K+ app downloads, 7+ seconds increased screen transition time, and a 30% increased conversion rate.

Navigation Approach

While the primary focus is on app architecture design, front-end and back-end development expertise is essential. Based on the understanding of your customers and their app requirements, you should analyze which navigation style would be best for your app:

  • Stacked navigation bar
  • Single view
  • Scroll views
  • Tab controller
  • Search based
  • Model controller
  • Gesture driven

When considering mobile application backend architecture, aligning these navigation styles with a robust backend that supports seamless data flow and user interactions is crucial. Knowing these elements is only halfway to fully understanding the concept.

Real-Time Updates Vs. Push Notifications

While deciding on the mobile application architecture diagram, consider providing your users real-time updates or push notifications. Push notifications are crucial for keeping users engaged by delivering timely alerts and updates without requiring the app to be open.

They offer a resource-efficient alternative to real-time updates, which demand continuous active connections. Integrating push notifications into your mobile application backend architecture ensures your app stays relevant, boosts user engagement, and enhances retention.

Quote peeyush singh

Safety and Compliance

One aspect of mobile app architecture that cannot be compromised is security. Ensure that your architecture includes strong security features like encryption, protected APIs, and frequent security upgrades. Adhering to the applicable laws, like GDPR or HIPAA, is also essential to preserving confidence and safeguarding user data.

Routine mobile application security architecture audits and vulnerability assessments can help identify and mitigate possible threats. Implementing multi-factor user authentication and access control mechanisms further safeguards sensitive information.

The Ability to Scale

Your application’s design should accommodate growth. The application architecture must support scaling up without compromising speed as the number of users increases. Selecting the appropriate databases, cloud solutions, and backend services that can grow with your user base is necessary for this.

Implementing load balancing and optimizing resource allocation are also crucial for maintaining performance under heavy load. Making early plans for future scalability can help save the time and expense of later large-scale overhauls.

Also Read: Application Scalability – Future-Proofing Your App for Long-Term Success

Integration with Third-Party Services

Modern apps rely on third-party services for features like social media sharing, analytics, and payment processing. Make sure your architecture is adaptable enough to allow for the seamless integration of these services, which will enhance the user experience.

Webhooks and API gateways can increase your app’s overall efficiency and streamline the integration process. In addition, the security ramifications of integrating outside services should be considered, and safeguards should be put in place to secure user information.

Let our experts help you understand and create a robust app architecture

Key Considerations to Choose the Right Type of Mobile Application Architecture

To choose the right mobile application architecture, start by understanding your app’s requirements and the capabilities of your development team. Then, prototype and test different architectures to see which one best meets your needs and can scale with your app’s growth. Let’s examine the steps in detail.

Key Steps to Choose the Right Mobile Application Architecture

Understand Your Requirements

Start by outlining your app’s functional and non-functional needs. Consider factors like the intended audience, preferred platforms (Android, iOS, or both), performance requirements, offline functionality, and third-party service integration. Consider the app’s essential functionality and any special features it needs to support. Based on your understanding of these requirements, select the best architecture.

Analyze Development Resources

Determine the skills and proficiency of your hired development staff. Your architecture decision will be influenced if your team is skilled in any particular languages or frameworks (such as JavaScript for cross-platform frameworks like React Native, Kotlin for Android, or Swift for iOS). Consider the accessibility of outside resources like plugins, libraries, and user assistance. Tuning the architecture with your team’s strengths helps boost output and ensure project success.

Consider User Experience

Determine the level of user experience you aim to deliver. Native applications typically offer better performance and more seamless user interfaces, but cross-platform and hybrid apps offer consistency across many devices. Consider the particular user interactions and UI components that are necessary for your application as well. Considering this will enable you to select an architecture that best supports your desired user experience.

Assess Performance Requirements

Native development may benefit high-performance applications with intricate visuals or interactions. Native architecture can be the best option if your software needs to use device-specific features. Consider factors like battery use, rendering speed, and response time. Conduct performance testing to find the best architecture to satisfy your app’s performance needs.

Build a Test App

To see how several architecture patterns, such as MVC, MVVM, and Clean Architecture—handle the needs of your app, build a test app utilizing each style. This test application assesses aspects including implementation simplicity, scalability, and code maintainability. Consider adding standard app functionalities like data retrieval, user sign-in, and user interface navigation to replicate real-world scenarios and evaluate the performance of each architecture in various scenarios.

Also Read: An Entrepreneur’s Guide on Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Consider Future Scalability and Maintenance

Consider your app’s potential for long-term growth and maintenance. Select an architecture that facilitates scalability, feature additions, and updates easily. Examine how each architecture adapts to new platform updates, developing technologies, and required modifications. Evaluate the tools and resources available to support the architecture as well to ensure you can scale and maintain your application efficiently in the long run.

Research Frameworks and Tools

Look into the frameworks and tools that are accessible for every kind of architecture. Consider their documentation, ease of use, and community support. Look for frameworks and tools with vibrant communities and up-to-date documentation; these can offer invaluable assistance and resources throughout development. The learning curve and compatibility with your current development environment should be considered when choosing a technology stack or framework for your app architecture.

Assess Your Development Team’s Readiness

Determine whether your development team can use and implement the selected architecture. Consider their general skill level, familiarity with the chosen design pattern, and capacity to pick up new ideas and technologies. To guarantee your team is ready to implement the selected architecture successfully, offer training and assistance as needed.

Consider Budget and Time Constraints

Consider your time and budget constraints. As cross-platform and hybrid approaches let you manage a single codebase across different platforms, they can save expenses and development time. However, consider the initial outlay needed to familiarize yourself with new frameworks or tools. A successful mobile application development process depends on your chosen architecture, which fits within your budget and schedule restrictions.

Make an Informed Decision

Based on your research, assessments, and testing, select the architecture that best fits your project’s needs, development resources, budget, and long-term objectives. Consider your app’s complexity, the desire for functionality unique to a given platform, and scalability demands. Make sure the architecture you have chosen is both practical for your project’s limitations and able to satisfy the needs your app will have in the future.

How Can Appinventiv Help with Your Mobile App Architecture

The success of any mobile application heavily relies on its architecture. Therefore, it’s really important to pay attention to what features you plan to include in your app, how you will deploy them, and how they will be connected in the architectural layers.

At Appinventiv, we have been providing custom app development services across various industries for nearly a decade. With extensive experience, we have collaborated with top global brands like KFC, IKEA, and Domino’s, and have also assisted startups such as EdFundo, Vyrb, and JobGet in securing up to $950 million in funding, driving their digital transformation efforts.

Our team of designers and developers often advises our clients on choosing the best mobile app architecture pattern and then designing, developing, and implementing the same. We always recommend building native applications for their intuitive performance and functionality. However, cross-platform application development is a viable option if your goal is to be present on multiple operating systems.

Looking for just the perfect mobile app architecture for your application? Plan your app development with Appinventiv – an award-winning mobile app development services company, which can suggest the best architecture type to choose from and the most effective ways to develop your app.

Connect with our experts now to plan your app development cycle accordingly!

FAQs

Q. What is application architecture?

A. Application architecture refers to the high-level structure of the application, outlining how various components such as user interface, data storage, and functionality are organized and interact with each other. It defines the framework and guidelines for designing, developing, and deploying an application to meet specific business requirements.

Q. What are some of the best practices for developing mobile apps?

A. Some of the top mobile app development best practices include:

  • To Build a User-Centric Design: To improve app usability and satisfaction, prioritize the user experience.
  • To Take Care of Performance Optimization: Make sure your software runs smoothly and loads quickly by optimizing its performance.
  • To have Cross-Platform Interoperability: Ensure your application operates on multiple platforms and devices without a hitch.
  • To Make Frequent Updates: To keep users engaged, keep the application updated with new features and bug fixes.
  • To have Feedback Integration: Use feedback loops to collect user input for ongoing improvement.
  • To Ensure Testing and QA: Ensure your application satisfies requirements for quality and is error-free by conducting extensive testing.
  • To Ensure App Store Optimization (ASO): Implement ASO strategies to raise your app’s exposure and rating in app stores.
  • To Ensure Scalability: Create an architecture for your app that can grow with the user base and feature complexity.
  • To Integrate Analytics: Integrate analytics tools to gather insights on user behavior and app performance.

Read this latest 2024 guide on mobile app development best practices to know more. 

Q. What are some of the key principles of mobile app architecture?

A. Defining a good architecture involves adhering to various principles, which also provide guidance on selecting the right architecture for your mobile app.

Portability: A key aspect of good architecture is its ability to adapt to changing environments. For mobile apps, where market and technological changes are frequent, a robust architecture ensures the system is portable enough to respond effectively, minimizing the impact of these changes.

Maintainability: Adapting to evolving requirements and environmental changes is essential for addressing faults, improving performance, and enhancing overall functionality. In such a scenario, there is always a need for constant app maintenance. A good mobile architecture and programming must ensure high maintainability while reducing the efforts needed to keep the system running.

Reusability: A good app architecture must understand that for a faster mobile app development process, it is important that components and protocols can be reused during updations or redesigns. Therefore, the architecture must have the space to add reusability in the structured app development cycle.

Security: Data security is a major need for applications. The architecture must be robust enough to secure the data the app consumes. It should also be in sync with the organization’s security ecosystem, and all data stored on the device must be properly encrypted.

Performance: Users expect applications to be quick and issue-free. If the app takes a lot of time to fetch the details, the likelihood of users abandoning the application increases. A good mobile app architecture should meet every user’s expectations in its entirety.

Q. What are some of the top patterns of mobile app architecture?

A. When developing mobile apps, the following architectural patterns are often used:

MVC (Model-View-Controller): The three components that make up MVC (Model-View-Controller) are the model (data), View (UI), and Controller (logic), which gives the application a distinct structure and organization.

MVVM (Model-View-Viewmodel): By adding a View Model to handle the display logic, MVVM (Model-View-Viewmodel) improves MVC by increasing the view’s independence and reusability.

VIPER (View-Interactor-Presenter-Entity-Routing): This approach enables scalability and testability by breaking the application into five layers, each with a distinct function.

Clean Architecture: This approach makes an application more modular and easier to maintain by focusing on dependency injection and the separation of concerns.

THE AUTHOR
Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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