9 Differences Between Mobile App Development vs Software Development

There has always been confusion between mobile app development and software development.

  • Is mobile app development the same as software development?
  • Is the same approach used to develop a mobile app and software?
  • How is the software development life cycle (SDLC) different from the mobile app development life cycle (MDLC)?

We know you may often come across such questions, and it must be really daunting for you to find a perfect answer that defines mobile app development vs software development.

Don’t worry; being a leading mobile app development company, we have written this guide exclusively for you to find the difference between software and mobile app development.

Quick Comparison of Mobile App Development vs Software Development

In this section, we are going to compare both types of development processes based on several factors. Whether you are planning to develop enterprise apps or a software program you will get answers to your question by referring to the following table. Let’s find out how software development is different from mobile application development.

FactorSoftware DevelopmentMobile App Development
DefinitionIt simply defines the development and maintenance of software that runs seamlessly across different computer types.It defines the development of mobile applications that run various mobile devices of different OS platforms, such as Android & iOS.
AimThe main goal of creating custom software is to simply meet the objectives of a business and simplify work operations. Businesses prefer enterprise software helping them to manage their business flawlessly.To build an interactive and user-friendly mobile app is to provide comfort and a better experience to the end users.
CompilerNeed to precompile before deploymentNeed to precompile before deployment
ProcessThe software development process includes ideation, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and deploying.The mobile app development lifecycle includes strategy and consulting, UX/UI designing, coding and development, QA and launch, support, and maintenance.
BenefitsDeveloping software brings several benefits, such as improving business efficiency, employee productivity, customer relations, and streamlining the work business process.A mobile app helps a business target and retain users to use the app for the maximum time, boost online sales, build a brand, and improve business efficiency.
FocusGenerally full stack developers focus on writing code that is clean and clear to ensure high-quality software, as well as web apps, are developed.It mainly focuses on adding meaningful features that are helpful for end-users to minimize their day-to-day monotonous work and give a better user experience.
Programming LanguagesMost the languages are common for building software, such as Python, Java, C++, PHP, etc.Use these best app development languages to build apps, such as Swift, Objective-C, Python, Java, and Flutter
Ease of UseSoftware is easy to manage and run on various hardware devices.Mobile apps can be customized and are easy to navigate, and also perform better.
ExamplesMicrosoft Word, a mobile game, a browser, an OSTwitter, Spotify, Facebook, and Candy Crush

Now, we will discuss both the development processes in detail. The first step is to understand the mobile app development team structure. Being a software developer or a mobile app developer, this information will help you choose the right approach for developing technical solutions or products. Let’s start with software development.

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What is Software Development?

As the name suggests, software development is about building software products that involve designing, writing codes, testing, and deploying to fulfill the needs of the users.

In simple words, the software is simply any set of instructions that are run on various hardware devices. Therefore, as a software development service provider, we adhere to a critical software development process known as the software development life cycle in order to create effective software.

Let’s check some of the examples of software and different types of hardware.

Examples of SoftwareTypes of Hardware
  • Microsoft Word
  • A Mobile Game
  • Browser
  • An Operating System
  • The ‘cd’ or ‘dir’ Command
  • The Kernel of a UNIX Machine
  • Desktop Computer
  • Phone
  • Raspberry PI
  • Calculator
  • Router
  • Modem

This means software development, also known as software engineering is all about writing clear code that helps you run software solutions on different types of hardware, from a desktop computer and phone to router and modem.

The goal of software development is to use specific technologies and programming languages to improve business efficiency, employee productivity, and workflow.

So, what is custom-made software? It refers to software that is designed and developed specifically for a specific business or organization.

What is Mobile App Development?

Mobile development is about writing mobile and computer apps for different operating systems, such as Android and iOS devices. Generally, the mobile app development process includes strategy and consulting, UX/UI designing, coding and development, QA and launch, support, and maintenance.

Mobile app development is a process of developing user-friendly mobile applications that are easy to navigate and used to minimize day-to-day monotonous work, from ordering food online from Postmates or finding a cab nearby from Uber.

Usually, mobile apps need to communicate with the web servers to operate, and on the other hand, some simple apps don’t need to communicate with the servers.

Examples of Apps That Need ServerExamples of Apps That Don’t Need Server
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • Candy Crush
  • Google Pay
  • Instagram
  • Default Camera App
  • Default Timer App
  • Calculator App
  • Dictionary App

One of the best examples of a mobile app built by our app developers is TOR VPN. Our client was in need of a VPN app that permit him to access restricted websites in various countries. Our app developers successfully accomplished that task and built a fully functional VPN app for Android.


TOR – VPN App for Android

Talking about the success of TOR VPN, till now the app gained more than 100K users within a year. This app offers safe VPN services across the globe.

As most mobile apps need to communicate with servers, therefore, a mobile application developer needs to do back-end development as well as mobile development. Tech stacks that are generally used to build mobile apps are Swift, Objective-C, Kotlin, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, PHP, Python, Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, and Laravel.

Want to Develop a Mobile App?

Contact us with your requirements. Space-O is a top mobile app development company in the USA and Canada to design and develop more than 4400 mobile apps.

Still, have some queries related to software development? Don’t forget to check the next FAQ section that talks about various development processes, including software, mobile, and also software development.

FAQs About Software & Mobile App Development

What are the advantages of mobile app development?

Here are 4 top advantages of mobile apps you should know.

  • Mobile app development proves to be reliable for your business.
  • For your growing business, a mobile app offers high scalability as it will help you to increase the user base for your business.
  • Custom mobile apps have specialized security features to reduce the risk of your business data.
  • Access all of your documents easily even while traveling and you can keep real-time monitoring of your progress and deadlines.

Which technical skills are needed to become a software engineer?

Here are the technical skills that need to become software developers.

  • Data Structures and Developing Algorithms
  • Programming Languages
  • Source Control
  • Text Editors
  • IDEs (Integrated Development Environment)
  • Databases
  • Operating System
  • Basics of Testing
  • Software Development Life Cycle

What are the challenges of hiring a mobile app development company?

The following table includes the main challenges of hiring a mobile app development company.

BudgetThe majority of mobile app development businesses face cost management concerns.
Therefore, if you need to build an app from scratch hire experience app developers. If you want small fixes, then opt for freelancers.
Time Zone GapsYour remote app developers will not be always accessible due to different timezone, it may delay the project timeline as well.
The Absence of In-person CommunicationCommunication gap is the prime factor in hiring mobile app developers from another country. You might feel that you are not able to convey your message effectively and not receiving the expected output.

Final Thoughts on Software & App Development

In this guide, we have checked the complete difference between the development processes. You get to know that there are a lot of differences that exist in different forms, such as the development process, how they function, and the intention behind developing software and mobile app.

This will now help you to choose whether you want to opt for software development or mobile app development. In case you are still confused, contact us to discuss your requirements through the contact us page. Our tech professional will consult you to know your custom needs and help you devise a strategy tailored to your needs.

Space-O is a well-known development company that caters to various clients across the globe. We have expertise in developing several top solutions, such as Glovo, One8, Aesthetic Editor, and the TOR app. Contact us today to validate your app development idea.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.