When it comes to mobile app development, one of the most important steps in each project or even your initial direction if you are a new startup will be deciding which app development technology to use. Obviously, a large part of this falls in the hands of the company that handles your app development process. However, it is critical for you to at least understand the basics to help you make the accurate choice.
What App Do I Need?
Firstly, the decision will, of course, be heavily influenced by what apps types are available. Here is a rough guide to the basics:
Native Mobile Apps
Native mobile apps are, in many ways, the “classic” app and a mobile app development company’s bread and butter. These are developed to be native to Android, Windows phone or iOS. They offer a great user experience, as the app is only developed for one mobile platform.
However, it is disadvantageous in terms of cost; to launch apps on multiple platforms you would have to write an app for each platform. This means that much of the programming cannot be recycled across the platforms and different scripting languages are needed.
And, occasionally you would have to consider the developers’ skills as not all developers work on all platforms. Yet, you need the following: Java for Android, the notoriously difficult Objective-C for iOS, and, of course, Microsoft technology for the Windows phone [C# or VB.net].
Hybrid Mobile Apps
Hybrid apps are installed on phones in the same as native apps are, but they run via a web browser and use HTML5 language like websites do.
It seems as though the future of mobile technology is heading towards more hybrid apps as this option eliminates the need to rebuild apps for different platforms. However, we are far from there yet. In fact, many apps which were developed using this option (for example, Facebook) have restarted with native apps again. This is because, at the moment, hybrid apps have a reputation for being slower, less smooth and less reliable than native apps.
Mobile app development companies need to be aware of both the pros and cons of hybrid apps and that the general thrust is still trying to improve the hybrid app as the future of app technology. It is a fine balance and you need to get it just right.
Wholly web apps can be responsive, traditional or adaptive. A website is technically a “traditional” web app. Responsive apps adapt to the devices on which they are being viewed and change, depending on the limitations, such as the screen size.
Adaptive apps do not change the design, but “tweaks” how it performs on different mobile devices. They are easy to develop and use standard programming languages. They do not use the intrinsic hardware of the device (for example, the camera) and do not appear in app stores for marketability.
How Do You Make a Choice?
The choice you make between these types of apps will be heavily influenced by your end users’ needs. Next, the mobile app development company you use or developer pool you have available will be the next factor, with budget helping to modify the decision along the road.
For example, a website is still the best “home on the web” option for an initial company presence. However, your potential customers will likely demand that the website look good on mobile devices as more people access the net solely on a mobile device. In such cases, you will likely have to look at a responsive web app as the best mobile app technology to use.
If you think you need a shopping app, you may want an app that is geared to work on mobile platforms and appears in the various app shops, such as the Google Play store and the iStore. Ideally, you would opt for a native app for each platform here. Ths would give the apps a maximum market share.
Also, native apps would be required in situations where the use of native hardware, for example the camera, is critical to what the app does. This is a “perfect world” solution where cost is no matter.
Budget will become an issue here for many companies as a full native app design for each platform gets costly. This is because you either need to have one really good developer who can use all the scripting languages or a team of specialists who can work well together. So, instead, you may well want to open with a hybrid app and take the small functionality hit in favor of a cheaper, quicker to make alternative for all platforms. These are the sort of decisions you need to make in the planning stages to ensure you get the perfect fit for your needs.
Alternatively, you may want to target a specific platform first (for example, Android since up to 80% of the current smartphones use this platform) so that you can get the app’s functionality running more quickly and cheaply. This would then get the app generating income, while you look at rolling out other versions for the other platforms as the budget allows.
Depending on your developer team, you may also want to focus where your “specialities” are. Perhaps you only want to work with a proven good developer and the language in which they program. In this case, you may want to specialise in a specific technology and target any app development goals in that general direction.
In the end, picking the app development technology comes down to balancing the developers’ skills, what the app needs to do, and the budget you have to work with in the best way for your goals. A good app development company will help you make the right choices here.
Do you have a favorite app development technology or even a favorite developer you work around? Let us discuss the pros and cons of all these approaches below.