An API First Approach to Mobile App Development

January 16, 2017

Over the last few years, we have not only witnessed the mobile revolution, but the explosion of the mobile app marketplace.  In order to meet rising consumer hunger and demand for mobile apps, entrepreneurs,  mobile app developers and enterprises alike have been striving for the next big idea, often adopting a mobile first strategy for their startups.  The problem is, this strategy is not always the best approach.  Below we will outline a few of the biggest reasons an API first approach to mobile app development is the winning strategy.

Given mobile app development often requires rapid development across a variety of target mobile devices and operating systems, an API first approach actually makes the most sense as it ensures greater agility and flexibility.  By leveraging a strategic mix of mobile REST and JSON APIs, mobile application developers are freed from the stress of data storage and retrieving systems of record, while authentication and security policies can be implemented more seamlessly, thus accelerating innovation.  Suddenly your startup becomes device agnostic rather than device-centric.

In addition to a mobile first strategy, mobile startups generally will start with one mobile platform in order to test the market and gain invaluable feedback before developing for additional platforms.  This is highly advantageous, for a number of reasons, the problem simply arises when designing for one single use case (one mobile platform), with the mentality of worrying about the rest later.  Developing with an API first approach will actually make the process of expanding to a second or third platform easier, as the foundation is set for multiple platforms.

Another thing to keep in mind, you may wish to start with a mobile first strategy, but down the line it is likely that you may want to add web functionality in some way, just as say Instagram did, even if very basic.  All that being said, starting with a solid API which utilizes web services in the backend will make for a smooth transition from mobile apps to web.

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