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Overview

Mobile application development is the process by which application software is developed for low-power handheld devices, such as any mobile digital device, most frequently, a cell phone. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during manufacturing, downloaded by customers from various mobile software distribution platforms, or delivered as web applications using server-side or client-side processing (e.g. JavaScript) to provide an “application-like” experience within a web browser. Application software developers also have to consider a lengthy array of screen sizes, hardware specifications and configurations because of intense competition in mobile software and changes within each of the platforms.

Applications developers translate software requirements into workable programming code and maintain and develop programs for use in business. Most will specialize in a specific development field – such as mobile phone applications, accounting software, office suites or graphics software – and will have in-depth knowledge of at least one computer language. Applications, or ‘apps’, can be written for a particular system, such as Windows, iOS (Apple) or Android, or across numerous platforms, including computers and mobile devices.

Typical Work Activities

  • establishing a detailed program specification through discussion with clients
  • clarifying what actions the program is intended to perform
  • breaking down program specification into its simplest elements and translating this logic into a programming language
  • devising possible solutions to anticipated problems
  • working as part of a team to write a specific section of the program
  • combining all elements of the program design and testing it
  • testing sample data-sets to check that output from the program works as intended
  • conducting testing and installing the program into production
  • reacting to problems and correcting the program as necessary
  • evaluating and increasing the program’s effectiveness
  • adapting the program to new requirements, as necessary
  • conducting user acceptance testing to ensure the program can be used easily, quickly and accurately
  • writing detailed documentation for the operation of the program by users and computer operators
  • consulting manuals, periodicals and technical reports to learn new ways to develop programs and maintain existing skills and knowledge
  • updating, repairing, modifying and developing existing software and generic applications

Education

There are campus and online programs at the bachelor’s degree level. One such online program is offered by the University of Phoenix for students who want to earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (IT) with a concentration in Mobile Development (BSIT/MD). Their program teaches you how to work with the technologies that support Android™, iOS® or Windows® mobile platforms — so you can learn how to design, develop and implement mobile applications. When you complete the degree program requirements, you’ll receive a certificate in Mobile Development from the university.

A sampling of the typical BSIT curriculum involves:

  • Information Systems Fundamentals-  introduces the fundamentals of computer systems and the role of information processing in today’s business environment
  • Algorithms and Logic Programming-   concepts covered include the application of algorithms and logic to the design and development of procedural and object oriented computer programs
  • Web Design-   use basic hypertext markup language, scripting and presentational technologies to create web sites with the aid of a software authoring application
  • Business Systems-  include finance, accounting, sales, marketing, human resources, legal and operations
  • Application Implementation-  the process and issues associated with the implementation of a computer application information system

Employment

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 reported the median annual salary for “Software Developers” at $93,350. There were a total of 1,018,000 employed in this occupation  in 2012 and the projected job growth/change rate is 22% between 2012 and 2022.