The history

Mobile apps really need no introduction. If you’ve ever used a smartphone, you know what a mobile app is and have probably already used one.

What started as micro-versions of desktop apps that allowed you to accomplish routine tasks on the go have evolved to be one of the ways – if not the primary way – that we consume content online.

Whether you’re designing for iOS, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, you’ll need to decide whether “there’s an app for that!” or not.


The basics

Unlike mobile websites that are somewhat held back by the available technology, native mobile apps can provide mobile users with a completely different experience, and designers can have total creative freedom with how they envision their app working.

Sure, there are best practices to follow, and it’s always best to design an app in conjunction with a user experience expert, but when envisioning how an app looks, feels and works, there really are no limits. Of course, the OS provider typically has guidelines you’re expected to follow (see Resources section for more).