2. What is an SDK?

A quick guide to the mobile software development kit.

The advantages of mobile software development kits (SDKs) are multifold.

First and foremost, SDKs make the life of a software developer easier, since there is seldom any need to search for compatible individual tools. Everything a developer needs to create an app is bundled in a single package that is easy to install. Mobile SDKs also help with an app’s stability and overall performance. A highly-functional app is likely to receive publication through Android, the Apple’s App Store, and Google Play. According to Statista, there are more than 4 million apps available collectively on these digital storefronts – a level of mass distribution which mobile marketers crave.

Another key advantage of the mobile SDK is the ability to work with sophisticated mobile-ad campaigns. Developers can personalize the content within apps — mobile creative in particular — to target, adapt to, and contextualize mobile experiences according to individual customers’ shopping preferences.

Meet the SDK: What’s Inside

Mobile software development kits are “kits” in that that they are a collection of tools to help in the creation of apps for mobile devices.

SDKs usually include a hub for the programming interface, known as an integrated development environment (IDE). The IDE is packed with numerous elements — namely a programming window for writing source code; a debugger to fix program errors; a visual editor that allows programmers to work on the program’s graphical user interface (GUI); and a compiler which assembles the apps from source-code files.

Often a sample code resides within a mobile SDK so that developers can learn the fundamentals of how a program should look. Once developers have this knowledge base, they are then able to make their own additions and modifications and construct a more robust app.  Mobile SDKs are also known to have tutorials, FAQs, and even a style guide (of sorts) — i.e. graphical buttons and icons that can be woven into an app’s design.

Most mobile SDKs can be downloaded for free, as an incentive prompting programmers to create apps for their mobile platforms. However, mobile SDKs are not the same for every company, so it may take time for a developer to learn each kit’s unique nuances.

Choosing the Right Mobile SDK

While getting an app into Google Play or the App Store is an accomplishment, it’s a crowded marketplace and an app with limited capability will not cut through the clutter. A lower quality software development kit could even lead to app crashes, excessive battery consumption, and a slowdown in the performance of users’ mobile devices. None of those experiences are conducive to a context-rich and satisfying brand–consumer conversation.

And so, brands must focus on SDK solutions and partnerships with a proven track record of stability and performance. Mobile SDKs must use data efficiently and keep customer data safe — an ever-growing concern for brands — so permission-based and opt-in features should be top-of-mind. The ultimate goal is to work with high-quality mobile SDKs that feature expanded functionality and data security as priorities.

A solid mobile SDK will help create in-app experiences that deliver improved customer retention and loyalty. That’s a win-win for advertisers and consumers alike.


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