What is a Mobile SDK?

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

October 5, 2022

SDK (software development kit) gives application developers everything they need to easily create all kinds of high-performance products. However, the majority of people don’t have a good understanding of what it is and what it is for. In this article, we will try to find out what an SDK is, how it helps make the application better, and what benefits it brings to businesses.

What Is an SDK and How Does it Work?

What does SDK stand for? Let’s start with a definition and figure it out. An SDK is a devkit that allows developers to create software for a wide range of platforms. This kit can include a wide variety of tools (utilities, libraries, drivers, documentation, snippets of finished code, and much more) to write and implement applications. The SDK includes an API (sometimes several at once) which is used to interface with the platform the software is being written for.

Often the SDKs have a license that has to be reckoned with when writing applications. For example, proprietary kits are not suitable for creating open-source software. However, it also happens that the SDK is distributed completely free of charge. This is done to entice third-party developers to use the platform and to convince them to create applications for it.  

There are mobile apps SDK intended for development for a specific platform. For example, there is more than one Android SDK tool  as well as iOS SDK. But the SDKs may be intended solely for internal use and not available to third-party developers.

Sometimes the first letter in the SDK acronym is changed to make the name more closely match what the kit was created for. For example, JDK or Java Development Kit.

What does a good SDK include?

Now that SDK's meaning is clear, now let's look at the main characteristics of a good SDK. The main purpose of an SDK is to be used in conjunction with other software products. This means that a good SDK should:

  • Be easy to use by other developers;
  • Have detailed documentation describing how to work with it;
  • Have rich functionality;
  • Be compatible with other SDKs;
  • Have no negative impact on your hardware.

SDK vs API: What's the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between SDK and API? An API is an interface that allows software programs to communicate with each other, while an SDK stands for a set of tools that can be used to develop platform-specific software applications. The simplest version of the SDK can be an API that contains the files needed to communicate with a specific programming language. Thus, the API can be thought of as a simple SDK without any debugging support and other important features.

Imagine a house that has electrical wiring, for which there is a detailed specification (description). This specification is the API and the SDK is a set of tools and accessories that allows you to create a variety of devices, which you can then connect to this electrical network.

To put it simply:

  • The API is a list of what can be called and what kind of result to expect.
  • The SDK is a list of libraries which contain the functions to be called + the files needed to connect those libraries.
API and SDK differences

Why Is Mobile SDK so Important for Mobile Apps?

A quality mobile SDK will give you access to all the features you need to create a dynamic mobile application. Here are just some of the benefits of using an SDK in mobile development.

Faster Deployment

Some developers may not have a comprehensive understanding of programming or extensive software development skills in their arsenal. But even those who do prefer to save a significant amount of time by using programming tools from the mobile SDKs.

Fast integration 

By integrating high-quality, well-written code with a variety of support materials, you can add new features to your mobile app to ensure it is robust and as good as your competitors' apps.

Mitigated Risks

The mobile SDK helps your app be more stable and perform better. What's more, developers can create customized apps and customize the user experience with a quality mobile SDK.

Increased Reach

Apps are designed for different purposes and are designed in different patterns, so a useful SDK tool can make your app more flexible. By providing a useful and relevant mobile environment tailored to the user, you can increase user retention and manage user behavior on mobile devices.

Whether your target audience consists of employees, customers, or gamers, you can be sure that your app will benefit from having a robust SDK solution that meets the needs of your users.

How to Choose the Right Mobile SDK

Now you know what are SDKs and which benefits they can bring you. Integrating a mobile SDK into your application can be extremely useful, but it is crucial to choose the right one. The main aspects inherent in a good mobile SDK are proper data usage, functionality, and security.

A high-quality mobile SDK will help improve the user experience, reliability, and customer retention rates for the iOS and Android apps. Be guided by your goals and the core functions of your mobile app. Here are just a few examples of popular SDKs commonly used by developers:

  • Google Analytics. Very often, this platform is installed by default on all apps. It's a free solution with all the basic tracking features. Especially if you have a website in addition to a mobile app. Google Analytics connects all the information by channel and provides more comprehensive data.
  • Stripe. It accepts many different cards, from American Express to Chinese Unionpay, and also allows transfers from Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay, etc.
  • Google Maps. This SDK contains a huge number of different tools divided into three categories: "maps", "routes", and "places". Suitable for those who really need advanced navigation.

And that's just the tip of the SDK iceberg. As you can see, mobile SDK in the context of software creation is to make your app more functional and easier to develop. If you need help browsing the vast amount of information available and finding the right SDKs for your development project, contact a trusted app development partner. With reliable professionals on your side, you can create a truly high-quality and functional solution.

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