According to a report from Cisco, global mobile devices and connections grew from 6.9 billion in 2013 to 7.1 billion in 2014. And the prediction is, it will rise to 8.2 billion by 2019. And the mobile data traffic will increase 10 fold between 2014 and 2019, globally. With this kind of information, many companies have started shifting towards a new ideology “Mobile First and Desktop Next”. This is creating a revolution in mobile app industry. However, this shift from desktop to mobile requires lots of focus from designers and lots of questions are to be answered.
This revolutionary approach can be achieved in different ways, such as designing a separate mobile site or mobile web app, and companies can build either native or cross platform apps. Now the question arises, which is the best strategy among these three. Should companies invest on mobile web app or native apps or cross platform apps? Before we go into this question let’s find out the differences between these, and the opportunities and challenges they bring with them.
Responsive Web Apps:
Mobile Web apps basically are websites, which are built only for access from smart devices. This is most common option, companies are looking for. A separate responsive website is built and the users are redirected to this website, when accessed through mobile phones or tablets. The technologies used to build these websites include, HTML5, JQuery and others. The underlying technologies are Java, HTML and CSS.
The most important benefit we have with mobile apps is it can combine the resourcefulness of the internet and the functionality of the touch-enabled screen. It works on almost all browsers and across most of the devices. And since it is a responsive design enabled website, we need not be challenged by different sized devices.
Some advantages of mobile apps are:
1.Cater to larger customer base while providing service across multiple device types.
2.Cuts the cost, because single coding base, build once and see it run across platform.
3.No worry about size, works equally well with 20” monitors, 15” laptops, 10” notebooks, 7” tablets and smaller smart phones.
4.Improves SEO, since it’s a single version website.
5.Reduces maintenance cost.
The word “Native” has nothing to do with geographic location. It describes the device’s native features. Native apps are built to take full advantage of particular device’s hardware and software specifications. In other words, native apps are built for specific mobile operating systems. It can take the advantage of the latest technology available in the device like the camera, micro phone, GPS, etc.,
Technologies like Objective-C is used for developing iOS apps and Android apps utilize Java, etc., Each mobile platform offers developers the own developing tools, interface elements and standardized SDK.
There are again many advantages for coding apps in this type:
1.This kind of apps offers the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experiences ever.
2.These apps can tap wider functionality of the device; like swipe gestures, compass, microphone, camera, etc.,
3.Publishers can make use push notifications services and stay connected with the users.
4.Native apps designers delight, because they can give the best user experience possible.
The only downside of a native app is that, when building for multiple platforms, developing a native app therefore can be quite expensive (when done from scratch), as it will require you to build and maintain multiple, and separate versions of your app. It is also general that coders specialize in one platform, so when developing app for different platforms, you need to hire different coders and it costs extra money.
The bottom line is if budget allows you, native apps are the ideal, offering the best experience to the user.
Cross Platform Apps:
Some advantages cross-platforms apps bring them are;
1.Speed – it is potentially faster to develop a cross-platform app than to develop native apps in iOS or Android and Windows platform.
2.Ease of Coding – You can leverage one codebase and customize for multiple platforms, rather that coding separately for different platform.
3.It is cost effective, since you hire only one coder.
However, there are some things to take into notice before we decide on cross-platform apps. The app itself will not be as fast as a native app as it still depends on the browser speed. Getting your hybrid app to run appropriately on each platform generally takes substantial work. And when a user tries to access your web content through the cross-platform apps, the performance may be little sluggish.
What is the Answer?
So, what is the answer? What kind of apps should you develop? That depends entirely on you. Yes the need decides the type of app. If the need for a small static project with budget constraints, we can go for cross platform. And cross-platform apps work well for games. But if budget isn’t a concern and you do not want to compromise on quality, and if it is a large scale, multimedia oriented project, native apps should be the order of the day.