Mobile App Development for Startups in the UK

October 4, 2023

The mobile app development landscape has witnessed a massive surge in the UK. In 2021, the total money spent by users on mobile apps amounted to 2.7 billion pounds. This presents mobile apps as a compelling pathway for startups to achieve success.

As the leading mobile app developers, MAD presents you with this detailed guide on mobile application development for startups in the UK. We will look into the advantages of mobile apps for startups, the types of apps, the technologies required, and more.

So if you are a startup planning to develop a mobile app, this is the blog for you.

Let’s get right into it!

What Exactly is Mobile Application Development?

We know it’s elementary, but still. Mobile app development is the process of building applications that run on mobile devices. Usually, these apps are downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. But sometimes they come preinstalled on smartphones. In the case of web apps, they can be accessed through a browser without having to install them.

Just to give you a brief overview, here’s how mobile apps are created:

Conceptualisation: The app’s purpose, target group, and features are defined.

Design: Wireframes and prototypes are created to visualise the final app.

Development: The code is created using technologies like React Native, Flutter, Kotlin, Swift, etc.

Testing: Automated and manual testing methods are employed to check the app’s functionality.

Deployment: The app is launched on the App Store and Play Store.

Advantages of Mobile App Development for Startups

Mobile apps have transcended from luxury to necessary tools for success in this digital era. While the advantages they offer are simply uncountable, here are the biggest ones you should know about:

Create a Digital Presence

Today, mobile apps are just as important, if not more, than websites to create a digital presence. 85% of shoppers prefer using mobile apps over websites for online shopping.

After all, the convenience offered by mobile apps is simply unparalleled. If you want to target smartphone users, mobile app development is the way to go.

Increased Reach

As of 2023, the total number of smartphone users in the UK is 55 million. That’s a large number of people you can reach out to by developing a mobile app.

Smartphones have become an irreplaceable part of people’s lives. They are the primary devices used for most activities like making payments, managing finances, entertainment, healthcare, etc. By developing a mobile app, you can get your business as close to your clients as possible.

Beat Your Competition

If your competitors do not have a mobile app but you do, that’s a huge leap in terms of engagement and revenue generation. Mobile apps are much faster and more convenient than traditional websites, giving you a serious advantage over your competitors who do not harness their power.

High Engagement

People keep their smartphones with them almost all the time. By developing a smartphone application, you ensure that your business is just a few taps away.

A major pro of mobile apps is push notifications. They are highly effective in making announcements and promotions and inviting abandoning users back to the app.

'Not having a mobile app is like being closed every Thursday' – Michael Singer

iOS and Android: Pick Your Poison

With Windows out of the game for ages, iOS and Android are the biggest platforms in the smartphone market. Amongst these two, Android has a higher market share globally, constituting roughly 70.8%. However, in the UK, iOS and Android have an equal share of the market. Let’s look at them in more detail:

Why Go For iOS App Development?

Better Monetisation Opportunities

While iOS has a limited user base globally, the Apple App Store generates 85% more revenue than the Play Store. iOS users are more likely to pay for in-app purchases. Along with this and the fact that iOS has limited side-loading options, users are compelled to pay for apps from the App Store.

Faster Development Time

iOS apps are significantly faster to develop compared to Android apps. This is due to the fact that there are a very limited number of iPhone models out there. Also, most iPhone models are very similar to each other and do not require special modifications.

The compatibility testing for iOS apps is significantly faster due to having to test on a much smaller number of phones.

Consistent User Experience

As most iPhones have similar interfaces, developers have to make minor to no tweaks to ensure responsiveness across all devices. This results in a seamless user experience across all iPhones.

Why Go For Android App Development?

Consistent User Experience

Android provides so many customisation options that it outshines iOS by miles. Android’s flexibility and open-source nature stand as clear advantages for tailoring mobile apps to user preferences.

Open source is actually the biggest advantage Android has over iOS. You can customise your app as you desire.

More Reach

While the numbers are more or less similar in the UK, the global user base tells a different story. Android’s market share in terms of users is more than twice that of iOS globally. It stands as a clear choice for startups that want to get their brand out there.

Free Integration

Developers can easily integrate third-party libraries with Android. This allows you to provide next-level functionalities and access deeper system-level APIs. And most of the third-party libraries are open-source or offer free tiers. This makes it easy to add sophisticated features without having to deal with financial burdens.

Overall, the choice between iOS and Android depends on your priorities and business requirements. At MAD, we suggest our clients go for both to maximise their potential in the digital world. In cases of budget limitations, we analyse their business goals to suggest the ideal platform.

Types of Mobile Apps

There are three types of mobile apps available on the market. These are Native, Cross-Platform, and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Each of these app types comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Native App Development

Just like the name indicates, a native app is one that is designed and coded specifically for a particular operating system. Platform-specific coding languages and tools are used to develop native apps. For example, Swift is used for iOS and Kotlin for Android. This platform-specific approach allows you to harness the full potential of the OS and mobile devices.

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of Native App Development:

Advantages of Native App Development

High-performance: There’s nothing that comes close to the performance of native mobile apps. They are able to directly tap into the device’s hardware (processor and graphics processing unit) to bring out the best performance. Also, they are specifically optimised for the platform, leading to a seamless user experience.

Device Specific Features: As native apps can use the device’s hardware, they also get access to native features like Bluetooth, GPS, camera, microphone, gyroscope, etc. This allows you to provide some exceptional functionality with your mobile app.

Offline Functionality: Native apps can run offline, and they provide access to certain functionalities without a network connection. This is a major pro if you want to target users who have limited network connectivity. They will be connected with you even if they are trekking somewhere remote or on an aeroplane.

Disadvantages of Native App Development

Double Work: Native apps have to be developed separately for iOS and Android. This means twice the effort, time, and resources required. You also have to maintain two separate source codes for both platforms.

Cross-Platform App Development

A cross-platform app runs on both iOS and Android from a single source code. This means you only have to code once. Here, technologies like Flutter are deployed. Let’s dig deeper into cross-platform app development.

Advantages of Cross-Platform App Development

Single Codebase: The frame used for cross-platform apps allows developers to write a single set of code that can be executed on different platforms. This means the app can be developed much faster, and there’s just one code to maintain.

Uniform User Experience: As there is a single code base, the performance and interface of the app are consistent on both iOS and Android. The features and functionalities will be similar on both platforms.

Faster Updates: Updates can be deployed much faster as the changes have to be applied to a single code-base. Once implemented, they affect all platforms simultaneously.

Disadvantages of Cross-Platform App Development

Limited Access to Native Features: While it is possible for cross-platform apps to access native features, it is significantly limited compared to native apps. Some platform-specific APIs are not readily available and require custom plugins.

Performance Variability: Cross-platform apps cannot achieve the same level of performance as native apps, especially when it comes to graphics-intensive tasks.

PWA Development

A PWA is basically an advanced version of a website that is packaged as a mobile app. It is the middle ground between web apps and native apps. HTML and JavaScript are the primary languages used to develop it. Let’s take a more comprehensive look at its pros and cons:

Advantages of PWA Development

Wide Reach: As a PWA is a website at its core, it can run on any device with a browser and network connection. This encompasses all mobile devices as well as PCs, Smart TVs, gaming consoles, wearables, DAPs, etc. It allows you to reach the widest audience possible.

App-Like Experience: Even though it’s a website, a PWA can provide an app-like experience if optimized properly. It can be launched on the App Store and Play Store, or the user can bookmark the website and add it to the home screen.

Responsive Design: A PWA is highly responsive and can run seamlessly across various screen sizes. Users get a consistent experience on desktops, smartphones, or any other digital device.

Disadvantages of PWA Development

Low-Performance: PWAs just cannot cut it when it comes to integrating graphics and animations. They cannot access the device’s GPU, and the animations are loaded using the network.

Limited-Offline Functionality: As PWAs are websites, they cannot function without a network connection. Only the information that has been loaded and stored in the cache will be accessible without a network connection.

App Type
Development Approach
Platform-specific, using OS-specific languages and tools.
Write once and run on multiple platforms with a shared codebase.
Web-based, built using standard web technologies.
React Native, Kotlin, and Swift
HTML and JavaScript
Excellent, optimised for the platform.
Good, may cause some performance overhead.
Good, depends on the browser and network connection.
Offline Functionality
Can work offline.
Can work partially offline.
Limited offline functionality
App Store Distribution
Launched on platform-specific app stores.
Launched on platform-specific app stores.
Launched as a website and can also be deployed in the app stores.

Mobile App Development Technologies

Technology is the backbone of mobile app development. The right technology is chosen depending on the type of app being developed and the platform it’s going to be launched on. Let’s delve into the major technologies used to develop mobile applications.


Developed by Apple Inc., Swift is a prominent technology launched in 2014 for coding native applications for the Apple ecosystem. It is a modern and efficient programming language that offers many key advantages. Here are those:


Swift employs modern compiler optimisation techniques and low-level programming controls to offer fast performance.


Swift is designed to work seamlessly with existing Objective-C code. If you have partially developed an iOS app using Objective-C, it is easy to transition to Swift.


Apple made Swift an open-source programming language in 2015. This allows developers across the globe to contribute to its development.

Swift drives innovation in the Apple ecosystem due to its evolution and open-source nature.


Developed by JetBrains and unveiled in 2011, Kotlin is a cross-platform, general-purpose high-level programming language. It is used by 60% of Android developers to build native Android applications, as it has been officially supported by Google for Android application development since 2017.

Here are some of the key aspects of Kotlin:


Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java, and both can be used to code the same project. You can leverage existing Java libraries and frameworks.


Kotlin offers coroutines that simplify asynchronous programming by providing a streamlined way to work with asynchronous tasks. So, network requests and background processing are much easier to handle.

Functional Programming

With Kotlin, you can write more expressive and functional code thanks to its support for functional programming concepts like lambdas, higher-order functions, and immutability.

Kotlin is an excellent choice to enhance productivity due to its strong tooling support and seamless interoperability with Java.

React Native

Developed by Meta Platforms, Inc. in 2015, React Native is an open-source UI software framework used to develop native Android and iOS apps. Here are its characteristics:

Native-Like User Interfaces

React Native provides components that are mapped directly to native UI elements. This makes the app’s UI feel unique to each platform.

Access to Native Modules

React Native allows developers to access platform-specific native modules as and when needed. Developers can write native code to create new functionalities and features.


React Native provides high performance by rendering components using native APIs.

React Native is the preferred choice for highly platform-specific or resource-intensive app development.


Developed by Google and released in 2017, Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit. It is used to develop cross-platform apps using a single code base. Based on the Dart coding language, Flutter delivers visually appealing, high-quality apps. Here are some of its specialities:

Single Codebase

Flutter allows developers to write code once and create apps for both iOS and Android. This helps you reduce development time and effort.

Widget-Based UI Development

Every element in Flutter is a widget. This approach allows developers to create highly customisable and responsive UI designs.

Native-Like Performance

Flutter apps are compiled directly into native ARM code. This offers indistinguishable performance from native apps in many scenarios.

Flutter is a compelling choice if you want to develop cross-platform mobile apps.

At MAD, we thoroughly analyse your business requirements to select the right app type and technology for you.

Advanced Technologies to Look Out For

The mobile app development industry has witnessed some massive upgrades in the past couple of years. You, as a startup, should be aware of them, as these upgrades are going to define the world in the coming years. By implementing these advanced technologies in your app, you can ensure that your startup is ready for the future.

Let’s look at these technologies one by one.


The year 2022 witnessed a massive boom in AI and ML technologies. Almost every industry has leveraged AI and ML to streamline their workflow, speed up tasks, and increase productivity. Mobile apps are no different.

“Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software.” - Jensen Huang

Here are some of the applications of AI in mobile app development:

  • Hyperpersonalisation
  • Image generation
  • Text generation
  • Human-like chatbot
  • Speech recognition


Wearables and Bluetooth-connected devices are trending. With IoT, people can control all of these devices using their phones. For example, a user can turn on the AC using their phone or get body composition analysis on their phone by stepping on a smart scale. This is extremely convenient and interconnects all electronic devices.


AR and VR are going to be everywhere in the coming years. With the launch of the Apple Vision Pro, VR headsets are changing the way people interact with the digital world. Perhaps they will replace smartphones as the primary digital device once they become accessible enough. 

With AR/VR apps, people can virtually try out products, watch movies, play games, and a lot more.


As the world goes hands-free, NLP will be a big thing. Using the technology, mobile apps will be able to recognise the tone and intent of the human voice. This will make conversations with AI assistants a lot more human-like.

By implementing NLP, you will enable people to use your app with just a voice command, providing them with convenience while driving or cooking.

If your business demands it, investing in these technologies is a must if you do not want your app to feel outdated. MAD holds expertise in many advanced technologies that will serve as the base for skyrocketing your startup to new heights.

How Long Does It Take to Develop an App in the UK?

The time required for mobile app development depends on multiple factors, including the scope and complexity of the app, the technologies used, the app platform, and the features to be implemented. Let’s look at these factors in detail.

Scope and Complexity

This is the most significant factor that determines the app's development time. The more screens you want to develop, the longer the app will take to develop. Simple apps with fewer screens can be created within a matter of weeks, while more complex ones demand months.

Also, cross-platform apps are faster to develop as only one source code has to be written compared to two with native apps.

Programming Language

Certain app development technologies are more efficient than others, resulting in faster development times. For example, Swift and Kotlin are known for their efficiency and productivity. Cross-platform technologies like Flutter allow developers to write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms.


While this does not make a substantial difference, iOS apps are slightly faster to develop than Android.

Features and Functionality

Advanced features like geolocation, real-time chat, AI/ML integration, etc. naturally require longer development time.

For more details on how long the mobile app development process takes, checkout this blog. You can also contact MAD to get an accurate timeframe for your app development process.

How MAD Can Propel You to Success

As the leading mobile app developer in the UK, MAD has what it takes to develop an industry-defining mobile app. We have shown hundreds of startups in the UK the pathway to success in this digital era.

Our mobile app developers hold advanced technologies like AI/ML that help startups maximise their app’s potential and set benchmarks in their niche. They can develop all kinds of apps, from fintech to fitness.

So, without further ado, let’s have a conversation on how we can enhance your app idea and kickstart your mobile app development project.

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