Mobile applications and the market scenario has evolved so much in the last decade in tandem with the technologies and standards. The competition and time to market to do business has become cut throat. An app is a real estate that struggles so much to find its place in the menu of a phone.
This directly has impact on the the things that one need to decide early in stage in the mobile application development process as how to build and deploy an app. The options available today are,
Web Applications &
Let us have a crisp understanding of these before deciding which one to choose.
Native Applications: A native app is an app for a certain mobile device (smartphone, tablet , etc) which is coded with a specific programming language (like Objective C for iOS, Java for Android) and installed directly onto the device. End users typically acquire these apps through an online app store.
A native app generally makes use of the phone’s available features such as camera, geolocation, address book etc.
A native app is specific to the mobile phone it is developed/run on. Meaning, it is tied to a mobile platform and to the particular mobile device.
Web Applications: Web applications are nothing but the mobile web portals that are designed, customized and hosted specifically for mobiles. They are accessed through the mobile device’s web browser using a URL.
Web apps can’t make use of phone’s features like camera, addressbook etc.
A web app again can be,
Dedicated web app: This is a mobile web site tailored to a specific platform or form factor of the phone exclusively. For eg, an app which is designed for Android and iOS, but not for other smartphones or feature phones.
Generic web app: This is a mobile web site designed to match every web-enabled phone.
Selected portions of the app can be written using web technologies. The web portions can be downloaded from the web, or packaged within the app.
An hybrid app is NOT tied to any platform or any particular mobile device. So, essentially it can run on any device once built. Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) type of app.
Now, let us see a comparison between these using some of the mobile application characteristics.
Phone Feature Access
Business Choice: As you see we definitely have more options which score high in their own way. If a mobile application is mainly used to display and interact with online content or services, a web app would be the best choice. On the other hand, if a application is mainly used offline, a native app will offer a better user experience. When a application is targeted for multiple types of devices with rich UI and functionality, hybrid and web becomes the choice.
So, the tricky part is that there is no best choice. The decision to invest in an app depends on the target audience and the functionality of the app. One also need to consider time, budget and resources to develop each solution. Considering one’s business objectives and constraints on-hand a viable decision should be made considering the strengths/weakness of each model.
Sasken is a specialist in Product Engineering and Digital Transformation providing concept-to-market, chip-to-cognition R&D services to global leaders in Semiconductor, Automotive, Industrials, Smart Devices & Wearables, Enterprise Grade Devices, Satcom and Transportation industries.
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