What is a Mobile SDK and how does it work?
A Mobile SDK is a software package that contains a set of tools that can help to build platform-specific mobile applications and implement new features in existing mobile apps. The resources contained in an SDK include libraries, documents, code samples, guides, and APIs.
The acronym SDK is short for "Software Development Kit". It works as a kind of shortcut during the process of developing a mobile application. Thus, developers can build more complex functionalities without the need for in-depth domain knowledge. An SDK also saves time and investment, as it can deliver a pre-built solution without a professional having to write code from scratch every time a new implementation is needed.
How does an SDK work?
Unlike an API, an SDK does not just function as a communication bridge between two separate systems. It is a package that brings the materials needed to add new components - and this includes everything from code libraries and tutorials to the APIs themselves.
In some cases, an SDK can help in creating an entirely new application for an Android or iOS device. Another option would be to enhance existing apps by implementing features, such as monetizing a tool through custom ads or including push notifications in the system.
The Facebook devkit allows applications to offer the option to register and log in via a social network account. The SDK also allows integrating games and adding some marketing features.
Owned by Google, the Doubleclick, or Mobile Ads SDK, lets developers create ads: banners, interactive videos, or other formats, and earn revenue from them. The app can even manage the ads according to the target audience.
The Unity platform allows creating games in 2D and 3D, as well as interactive experiences. It is currently one of the best-known platforms in the world and offers a type of learning center, with a community of enthusiasts willing to exchange ideas about the tool.
Many applications that have the need to include maps, such as food delivery or riding apps, use the Google Maps SDK to add the functionality.
Firebase Cloud Messaging
Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is a cross-platform push notification sending solution, meaning it works for apps on iOS, Android or Web apps. It is widely used by mobile app developers.
What are the benefits of using SDKs?
Mobile SDKs can simplify the work not only for developers, but also bring advantages to the companies that offer these packages. As mentioned earlier, for those who use SDKs, there are savings in time, staff, and money invested.
For SDK owners, it is possible to speed up the process of adopting their solution since the 'setup' cost is significantly reduced.
To ensure that an SDK is valued and used by other companies, it is important that it has some basic characteristics, such as ease of use, detailed documentation about how the code works, and relevant features. In addition, a good devkit should work well with other SDKs without impacting the CPU, battery or data consumption of the device in a negative way.
How to decide on using an SDK?
Using an SDK makes it possible to speed up the implementation of functionality rather than having to develop a solution from scratch and thereby reduces time to market and minimizes opportunity cost. By opportunity cost, we mean the growth and revenue lost while developing an in-house solution instead of immediately implementing a complete solution.
Besides performance-related characteristics, another key point that needs to be carefully analyzed is the protection of the user's data. Generally, this can be evaluated by the reputation of the company that develops the SDK. This kind of care prevents a customer’s security and privacy from being put at risk by an outsourced SDK.
To read in-depth considerations of mobile application development using an SDK, specifically for location intelligence purposes, read this Incognia eBook, Location Technology - Build vs. Buy.