How-To Guide: Basics of Mobile App Development

How to build mobile apps

Interested in learning how to develop and design mobile applications but not sure where to start?

Let Continuing Professional Education guide you in understanding the basics of mobile platforms. Once you gain a general understanding of what you will need to know, enroll in one of our mobile development courses and start building your own applications.  

The increased use of smart phones has made mobile application development one of the most popular forms of coding. With the right instruction and enough practice, anyone can learn how to design and build applications.

Whether learning part-time as a hobby or full-time as a career, there are many perks of being a developer in the booming mobile application industry. Before learning how to program it is important to first understand the basics of how the applications are designed.


Application Development Overview

Mobile applications, or apps, are developed specifically for the mobile platform that they will be running on; typically either iOS or Android, as they have the largest user base.

The iPhone, iPad, and all other Apple product use the iOS platform. To develop an app on iOS, Objective-C, and Swift programming languages are used. An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called Xcode, which can only be run on a Mac, is also used.

Android apps are developed with the Java programming language, an IDE such as Android Studio, and the Android Software Development Kit, which can be run on a Mac, PC, or Linux operating system are also required.


Developing with iOS vs. Android – simplifying the difference

  iOS Apple Android
Devices iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV Samsung, HTC, LG, & Moto phones, Android Wear Watch, Samsung Tablets, Smart TVs
Programming Language Swift or Objective-C Java or C++
Development Tools Cocoa Touch Android Software Development Kit
Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Xcode Android Studio, Android SDK


Both platforms offer similar development tools and require the same technical effort to design. Choosing to build on iOS vs. Android is generally based on preference and what language is most comfortable to the developer. Of course there are many benefits to learning how to develop on both platforms; however, those new to programming should first get comfortable with one platform before continuing on to the next.


Side by side comparison of each of the platforms biggest benefits

iOS Android
Higher app revenue Higher ad revenue
Fewer lines of code Fewer requirements for development
Dedicated user base Biggest market share


Learning Application Development

Whether you are interested in developing iOS or Android applications, there are many great resources to help you get started. If you are unsure about which platform to use, try a few of the free self-help courses offered online. There is no risk and you will be able to quickly determine if mobile programming is right for you.  

  • For iOS: Apple Developer - free online resource provided by Apple, which contains starter guides, tutorials, videos, and documentation.
  • For Android: Android Developer - a series of free articles that walks you through how to make your first app, starting with the basics.

Once you have identified which platform you wish to master, dive deep into learning with Apple Mobile Application Development Certificate or Android Mobile Development offered by Continuing Professional Education at NJIT. Both courses are entirely online and offer expert one-on-one instructor guidance to help navigate through the trickier subject areas, ensuring full platform mastery after course completion.