If you are considering building an app for your business the first decision you face is whether to develop a ‘native’ or a ‘mobile’ or ‘web’ app. There are many differences between these two approaches so firstly allow us to explain what each one is and then we will look at the factors you will need to consider when making your decision.
Native App: A device specific program tailored to a mobile device and its associated operating system, examples would be a specific app for iOS for iPhone, or a specific app for an Android device.
Mobile/HTML5 App: A web based program designed to run on any mobile device via a web browser. One development process for all operating systems and devices.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for the mobile development process. The choice between a native or a mobile, or HTML 5, app is dependent on your business needs and resources, the app requirements, your development timeline, and other factors.
With native development, the number of apps you need to build directly relates to the number of platforms you need to support. Whilst the majority of the market own either Andriod or Apple devices, Windows are growing their market share and there are still a large number of users on Blackberry.
A mobile web app can be opened on any device with a browser, a smartphone, tablet, smart t.v. or anything in between. It sounds very easy in theory to build once for all devices but in reality, differences in mobile browsers and their support for the latest HTML5 features will require extensive testing.
For some businesses, the extra oomph provided by a native app may be completely unnecessary. It is important that you define what is really required at the outset.
Publishing and Updating
Regardless of the platform, native apps are published to an app store. Apple has very strict rules in place accepting apps to its app store. It can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days for Apple to either accept or reject an app.
Google’s Play Store is much more flexible so it is much a much easier to submit an app to their store. Windows fall in between these two and rules must be adhered to if you are to successfully deploy your app to any of the stores. Be aware that the same process has to be followed when you make any updates or changes to your app and this can prove to be a costly process no matter how minor the change.
A mobile web app doesn’t need to be published to any store, it is simply accessed by its URL, or web address, in the browser or an app icon/bookmark on a smartphone home screen. App updates are very simple as well. Just push any changes, and the next time the app is opened, the user will get all the new features.
A native mobile app can produce the best user experience — fast and fluid, can give you the best access to device features, and can be discovered in the app stores. On the other hand, building a native app on every major platform requires a much longer development time , and a much, much, bigger budget to build and maintain. For this reason many apps get built as web apps or hybrid apps.