Mobile App Development Options

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With over 800 million iOS devices sold and 900 million Android devices activated, mobile is outpacing desktop.  86% of mobile users prefers apps versus the browser. With good reason. The native experience is superior. It’s the layer underneath the browser. It’s what communicates seamlessly with the hardware. In 2014, that hardware is the phone. And the tool for designing software on the iPhone is Xcode.

Can you imagine Photoshop or Sketch on the browser? Some people have. Yet no one has successfully made one. Likewise, the most disruptive products are apps: Uber, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat. All of them taking full advantage of the underlying technologies of native: camera, phone, GPS, accelerometer, Bluetooth, etc. Uber on a mobile Web browser wouldn’t be nearly as good. The lag would be unbearable for such a fast-pace use. Facebook famously spent 2 years betting on HTML5. And they called it their biggest mistake.

 

Choices among Native, HTML5, or Hybrid?

  • Native apps are specific to a given mobile platform (iOS or Android) using the development tools and language that the respective platform supports (e.g., Xcode and Objective-C with iOS, Eclipse and Java with Android). Native apps look and perform the best.
  • HTML5 apps use standard web technologies—typically HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. This write-once-run-anywhere approach to mobile development creates cross-platform mobile applications that work on multiple devices. While developers can create sophisticated apps with HTML5 and JavaScript alone, some vital limitations remain at the time of this writing, specifically session management, secure offline storage, and access to native device functionality (camera, calendar, geolocation, etc.)
  • Hybrid apps make it possible to embed HTML5 apps inside a thin native container, combining the best (and worst) elements of native and HTML5 apps.

 

Mobile development is a constantly moving target. Every six months, there’s a new mobile operating system, with unique features only accessible with native APIs. The containers bring those to hybrid apps soon thereafter, with the web making tremendous leaps every few years. Based on current technology, one of the scenarios examined in this article is bound to suit your needs. Let’s sum those up in the following table:

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.23.43 PM

 

The infographic make some interesting comparisons. You can take a look at it below:

 

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Ted is the founder of Gainko. He started his first P2P hyper-local Mobile Internet product in middle 2012, and first social commerce marketplace in 2014, working with a group of incredibly talent software developers.

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