Mobile Development

Mobile architecture – what are the types?

Marlena Walburg
Marlena Walburg

It’s hard to disagree that good mobile application architecture is the foundation of any well-designed software. The design of such architecture will depend on many factors, such as the platform on which the application will run, its size and complexity, the possibility of scaling or advanced functionalities you want to include in it. You should also not forget about business values and make sure that the technical infrastructure goes hand in hand with the goals set by the company wishing to implement the application project. Therefore, it should be carefully considered and planned, taking into account all risks, as well as project requirements and assumptions. Unfortunately, it is often not an easy process and requires appropriate knowledge and experience. Therefore, we decided to introduce you to this topic a bit and explain the basics to help you choose the right approach. 

What exactly is mobile app architecture?

The architecture of the mobile application is a set of patterns and techniques that are used to build the entire structure of the mobile application. It is a kind of a backbone of the app that determines how it works. Everything that the app consists of, the UI/UX, platform, the technology stack, data storage etc. is a part of a mobile app architecture pattern. The design of the mobile app architecture usually contains multiple-layers within an application:

  • Presentation layer – mainly User Interface components. An important step in designing this layer is to define the client’s profile so that all the visual elements and their arrangement satisfy your users. Of course, it comes down to researching a group of application recipients and then translating these results into a successful UI, bearing in mind, of course, the right User Experience.
  • Business layer – business entities, workflows as well as business components, and all the technicals. This layer contains all the development work on the mobile application. There is also room for complex business procedures and rules. There is simply the façade of the application with the basic workflow, components, and entities, i.e. everything related to the app’s logic and business.
  • Data layer – components, Data utilities, and service agents. In other words, it is all about the data and their security.

Why is it important to choose an architecture pattern for app development?

The process of choosing the right architecture for a mobile application is sometimes ignored. This often leads to serious problems in the mobile application not only for developers but also for end-users. Lack of thought makes the application full of bugs, unreadable code, and ultimately makes it difficult to build and maintain the right product. As you can see, by neglecting an important element in creating the architecture of the mobile application, the project’s success is jeopardized. The complexity of building a high-quality architecture depends on the size of the application, so the right choice will save a lot of time, energy and costs in the future.

Types of architecture

It certainly won’t come as a surprise that there are plenty of types of mobile architectures. These architectures may differ for each operating system. Moreover, for both iOS and Android, there is more than one effective choice. So take a look at the details of mobile app architectures for these two systems.

Android Mobile App Architecture

A typical Android app contains multiple app components, including activities, fragments, services, content providers, and broadcast receivers. Most of these app components need to be declared in the app manifest. The Android OS then uses this file to decide how to integrate the app into the device’s overall user experience. Given that a properly-written Android app contains multiple components and that users often interact with multiple apps in a short time, apps need to adapt to different kinds of user-driven workflows and tasks.

In the Google documentation, we find an annotation saying that it is impossible to write an application in one way that works best for each scenario. However, adherence to common architectural principles is always a good starting point. These are:

  • Separation of concerns – which is the most important principle to follow. It’s a common mistake to write all your code in an Activity or a Fragment. These UI-based classes should only contain logic that handles UI and operating system interactions. By keeping these classes as lean as possible, you can avoid many lifecycle-related problems.
  • Drive your UI from business logic – you should drive your business logic from the UI, preferably via persistent ViewModel. ViewModels are components that are responsible for handling the data for an app. They’re independent of the View objects and app components in your app, so they’re unaffected by the app’s lifecycle and the associated concerns.

iOS Mobile App Architecture

The architecture of the iOS application is layered. It contains an intermediate layer between applications and hardware, so they do not communicate directly. The lower layers in iOS provide basic services, and the higher layers provide the user interface. By default, the architecture can be divided into four parts:

  • Core OS – The kernel level, which works with the file system, controls the validity of various certificates belonging to the application. It is also responsible for the security of the entire system. Includes low-level access to device components.
  • Core Services – Provides access to databases and file controls.
  • Media – Contains tools to process most multimedia data.
  • Cocoa Touch – an interface level that has many elements for creating mobile interfaces, and also provides other layers with information from the user.

Apple gives developers a little easier task by recommending a specific pattern for creating iOS applications, i.e. MVC (Model View Controller). There are three main parts to this architecture: model, view, and controller.

  • Model – contains all data structures, objects representing data, persistent layers, data management classes, network code, all kinds of helpers, etc.
  • View – shows everything visible as the user interface and usually doesn’t contain complex logic.
  • Controller – manages views using data from the model using the delegation pattern. The controller implements view methods by which data is passed to individual view objects and enables the view to indirectly manipulate data in the model.

However, this is not the only pattern used in mobile applications. This one is the most popular and recommended for its simplicity.

Enterprise Mobile App Architecture

Many businesses use enterprise-level applications that make it easier for the client and employees to communicate with the company, and thus affect the effective functioning, efficiency and achievement of results. This type of application uses monitoring, communication, shopping options, and filtering the company’s services and products. The strategic use of technology, including in the form of a mobile application, is one of the priorities for modern business. This is to help achieve business goals in such a way as to obtain a competitive advantage in the market. Rapid market changes may result in a discrepancy between the technical infrastructure and business requirements in the architecture of the company’s mobile applications. The problems of information architecture of business solutions are most often associated with insufficient speed and low scalability, unreliability, as well as the complexity of software updates and maintenance. Therefore, when designing enterprise-type solutions, you should take into account all risky areas and take care to create a scaled, effective mobile architecture.

How to choose the right architecture for a mobile app 

When designing the architecture of a mobile application, it is worth following some good practices and taking into account the key factors for the success and good operation of the application:

  • Flexibility: consider whether the chosen one allows for any change of elements so that it does not adversely affect the entire application. This is of great importance in possibly emerging and fixing errors. The greater the flexibility, the less these errors will be;
  • Extensibility: Being able to add as many features as you want to your application is extremely important;
  • Scalability: reduces development and maintenance time. The robust architecture allows direct development in several parallel threads.
  • Testability: When the architecture of a mobile application is easy to test, the number of errors decreases, and its reliability increases.
  • Transparent code: the code should be understandable and transparent so that even a new developer can quickly get into the project.
  • Efficiency: A fast and smooth running application is your goal. A system that is efficient, reliable, and can handle all workloads is more attractive to users.

Summary

You can probably already see that choosing the mobile application architecture is not a trivial matter and requires the work of many people. Be aware of good practices as well as application requirements. After all, this architecture tells how an application is to be built and how to operate. The platform on which your software will run is also essential. You have to decide whether it will be both iOS and Android or a single platform. All such decisions depend on the target group, the problem that your application will solve, or other needs of your business or customers. Certainly, this process will be easier with the appropriate team of experts who will not only help you determine all technicalities but also ensure that your business goals are met. If you need experienced specialists who will learn about your needs and build a digital product of your dreams, contact us. At BinarApps, we will take care of every aspect of the project and high-quality implementation.

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