How to develop a mobile app for IoT
You might not realize it, but you are surrounded by IoT. Biometric scanners, smart home security appliances, virtual assistants, wireless internet and smartwatches — each of these products, and many more, make use of IoT.
IoT, or the Internet of Things, refers to a system of interlinked computing devices, both mechanical and digital, which transfer data over a network without the help of a human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction. One example of IoT is the use of an app on a phone to monitor the security system of a house.
According to Gartner, there are approximately 20.4 billion IoT devices in use in 2020. McKinsey reports that in every second, 127 new devices are connected.
Additionally, the IoT market reached a value of 150 billion USD in 2018, and by 2025 will surpass a staggering 1.5 trillion USD globally, according to an IoT Analytics market update. Therefore, one thing is certain: the sector is highly profitable and in demand, and it is likely that the trend will continue.
The connection between mobile apps and IoT
What makes smartphones truly smart? The applications. This is what the IoT sector leverages. Mobile apps provide a platform to grow and effectively monitor IoT devices. IoT-based apps have the potential to boost the quality and efficiency of organizations as well as improve user experience.
Developing mobile apps for IoT can help the industry grow immensely. The platform is highly flexible when it comes to data transmission. It allows for convenient remote control of smart gadgets.
Creating an IoT App
To create an IoT app, you must come up with an idea and features that you want in your app. However, before delving into the steps, you must first understand the technical aspects of IoT.
At the most basic level, any IoT system consists of four elements, namely:
- Software. Software refers to the IoT app developed. It must be a cloud-based app that helps relay data collected by hardware to a dashboard that manages and monitor all IoT devices connected to the given app.
- Hardware. Different low-energy sensors and physical components are included in the hardware of IoT. You must ensure that such items are operational over Bluetooth. The mobile device in question is also hardware.
- Cloud. The cloud is the most crucial technology for IoT. Here the data collected by the software from the hardware is processed and arranged. There is no human interaction here, nor is there a need to physically store the given data.
- Network. The network relays the data collected by the cloud from a primary mobile phone and sensors to other connected devices and vice versa.
IoT mobile app development process
Here are some of the steps you must be mindful of when creating an IoT app:
Brainstorm product idea and decide an industry. The first question you should ask is, what exactly you want your IoT app to do? To answer, you must first narrow down the sector where you want to create a solution. You have a plethora of options. Just to name a few, you can create an app for healthcare, retail, security, manufacturing, commerce and the corporate sector.
Once you know what niche you want to explore, understand the needs of the people within the niche. The challenges they face will assist you in identifying which product will best help them. This will help you in developing an app that is truly relevant.
Select the right platform. You will find many options when researching for a platform for building your IoT app. However, not all of them are worth it.
During your research, focus on the type of technologies they support, their cost, and quality. Reviews of other developers may come in handy in this stage.
Some of the top IoT platforms include:
- IBM Watson
- Microsoft Azure IoT
- Google Cloud
- Amazon Web Series
- Cisco IoT Cloud Connect
- Oracle IoT
The mentioned platforms feature varying versatility of usage, effectiveness, efficiency and cost. You must select one which best suits your requirements.
Choose the hardware. There are two approaches you can take when choosing hardware: either you create hardware from scratch specifically for your IoT project, or you select hardware already present in the market. If you choose to do the latter, make sure that the hardware you select perfectly meets the needs of your app. Look for reliability and accuracy. For instance, if you are creating a health app, you will need the smart device to have different sensors. Such sensors must relay as accurate data as possible.
Consider scalability right at the start. Just because you are creating a basic app today doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. To remain relevant in today’s ever-changing world, you need to evolve your app, as per user needs. However, once you design the hardware and software, scaling can be difficult to do. Think of its scalability from the get-go. Leave room for managing high amounts of data and connectivity with multiple devices.
Ensure a high speed of your app. Real-time data transfer means that the app you develop must be immensely fast. For example, IoT is used to create smart cities where users can use their mobile apps to know which routes to take, depending on traffic. You cannot have a lot of lag in information or else the data delivered will become irrelevant. In automotive IoT, you can control your car through your phone and IoT sensors. Imagine the disasters that can happen if your app doesn’t communicate your commands fast enough.
Prioritize security. One of the biggest challenges for IoT is data security. Because there are a lot of connected devices within a single network, the industry is very vulnerable to data breaches. Considering that retail, home security, health are some of the most popular niches of IoT, this is alarming.
To best satisfy users as well as protect their sensitive information, you must develop a secure app. Here are some tips that will help in doing so:
- Select hardware vendors very carefully and run it all by security specialists.
- Only use proven and well known IoT platforms.
- Protect your app from network attacks by encrypting all data.
- Use app security practices, including encryption, two-factor authentication and obfuscation.
In a world of data breaches and cyberattacks, you must take all possible measures to mitigate the risk.
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