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At first, the transition seemed scary since the two fields appeared to be worlds apart. However, as I delved deeper, I realized that embedded and mobile development share more similarities than I initially thought. So, let's explore how these two fields intersect and the skills you can use to excel in both.

Things in common:

Hardware limitations

Embedded developers are accustomed to working in a resource-constrained environment where every byte of memory and every clock cycle counts. This not only helps in writing efficient and optimized code but also develops a valuable skill set that can be leveraged in mobile development. Similarly, mobile development also requires optimizing battery life and processing power, making the transition from embedded to mobile development easier.

Debugging skills

Debugging skills are essential for any type of software development. While there are several debugging tools available, such as logic analyzers or JTAG, what separates the experts from the novices is their methodical and analytical way of thinking, combined with patience and focus. A great developer can navigate through the maze of code, identifying and resolving issues efficiently and effectively, regardless of the technology.

Knowledge of hardware interfaces

As an embedded developer, understanding hardware components and configurations is necessary for dealing with real-time issues. Power optimization is a key objective, given that embedded devices often rely on battery power. Similarly, mobile developers need to understand hardware configuration to troubleshoot communication failures and connectivity issues. Also, battery-related issues can bring down mobile applications, and knowledge of power optimization is essential to help track and resolve battery-related issues, as it can be the difference between a successful or underperforming app.

Handling interrupts and callbacks

Handling interrupts is common in embedded development, where a single device can handle multiple events, such as timers, buttons, and sensors. Since every interrupt is important and any of them can happen at any time, it is essential to have strong knowledge and a deep understanding of how to handle them properly. In mobile development, user inputs are handled as interrupts. Therefore, experience in embedded development is useful in learning how to handle user events in the mobile app properly.

Callbacks are another fundamental concept in embedded development, where they can be categorized as synchronous and asynchronous. Mastering callback handling enables developers to manage events more effectively. In mobile development, asynchronous programming is crucial since most of the user interrupts in the mobile app are event-based.

Biggest differences:


The focus of embedded development is creating software that integrates with the system hardware. Usually, the user interface on the embedded device doesn't exist and the user can interact with the device through small screens or buttons. However, in mobile development, creating an intuitive and appealing user interface is a focused aspect of the development process. As mobile applications heavily rely on user interaction, designing a user-friendly interface is key to delivering an enjoyable user experience.


Embedded development focuses on designing and creating software that runs on one specific device, usually having a resource-constrained environment. Most of the embedded devices are very different so the software can be used only on the device that it's made for. On the other hand, mobile development is focusing on creating software that can work on a range of devices with different hardware specifications. The user might have different devices with different screen sizes, resolutions, and processing power, so the software must be flexible enough to work on all of them. Mobile development requires more consideration of device compatibility, while embedded development can be more tailored to the specific device it's running on.

Challenges I faced when learning mobile development

As an embedded developer, I started my career mainly using C and C++ programming languages. For mobile development, I used JavaScript and React Native which were unfamiliar territories. Learning a new language is always tricky at first, but as they say, practice makes perfect, and with every new task, I gained more experience and confidence in the language.

Another challenge was making an application that is working on both iOS and Android platforms. In the end, as an embedded developer, I was focused exclusively on hardware development, so there were a lot of interesting challenges with creating user interfaces. But hey, what's life without a little challenge, right?

Advice to embedded developers interested in learning mobile development

As always, start by focusing on the fundamentals of mobile development. Take a common framework like React Native and learn its syntax. Then, try your hand at developing a simple app like a memory game or notes app, where you can learn more about user interface and asynchronous programming. After that, give yourself a bigger challenge and make an app that uses multiple screens, databases or even a hardware integration like BLE. Remember, the best way to learn is through trial and error, so don't be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

In conclusion, don't let the differences between embedded and mobile development discourage you from exploring new horizons. Instead, see mobile development as an opportunity to expand your programming skills and add another layer of expertise to your repertoire. Many of the skills you've acquired as an embedded developer are transferable to mobile development, such as memory management, power optimization, and debugging techniques. Embrace this challenge and use your experience to your advantage. Good luck on your mobile development journey!

Written by
Lea Finderle

Software Developer

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