Mobile technology is the fastest-growing technology platform in history. With smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices outnumbering desktop computers, changes in how customers access and share the available information is inevitable.
The unremarkable growth of mobile technology has become a powerful and efficient tool for businesses to accelerate and achieve project objective and development goals. Since its development, the portable technology has been reshaping communications processes, society and the global economy. The revolution has been a turning point in human history. For the first time, customers are given a relatively inexpensive and convenient option to connect with other people no matter where they are or what time of the day it is. Today, customer experience for mobile is more important to businesses than you might think.
Whether it’s web or mobile, user experience is the key to an application’s success, perhaps with good reason. Mobile application development has been a popular choice to meet the demands of the mobile-savvy customers. Since Apple launched the very first iPhone and Google’s Android release, businesses can now take advantage of these and other available technologies to catch up not just with the evolving market but with their competitors as well. As more users turn to mobile devices for their daily activities, the demand for mobile applications is not only on delivering web content but also on performing more advanced mobile app functions.
Typically, when a company decides to develop a mobile application, they have either identified possible business opportunities that are previously untapped or they are trying to win against their competitors. Whatever the reason is, they will want the application built out and released as soon as possible. There are different mobile development technology approaches that businesses can choose from – native, web and hybrid mobile app development. The trade-offs between each approach can be measured in terms of performance, functionality, overall cost and user experience.
Native mobile application development uses different platforms and operating system that is greatly dependent on the tools and technology required by the project. These apps are developed in a very strict-to-stick programming languages and other tools for the specific device or platform. For example the programming language to develop an application for iOS is objective C (recently swift), for Android it is Java and C# for Windows is required. It can fully integrate with the capabilities of both the OS and the hardware on which it resides. In theory, a mobile app developed using this approach has an advantage of faster performance wherein the in-app interaction and look is consistent with other native apps on a certain device. The end user is thus more likely to understand how to navigate and use the application faster.
Native apps have direct access to all the mobile device’s available features including the ones that are unique to the platform. These include motion, proximity, location, audio visual censors and graphics hardware. Most Mobile devices may include unique security settings, peripheral interfaces and touchscreen functions that are only available via native app libraries. Since native apps run directly on the platform without abstraction layers or intermediary containers, native applications are expected and can run with the highest performance possible. Native IDEs offer the best runtime optimizations as well.
The ability to directly access the components of the User Interface in specific platforms mean that native apps can seamlessly blend with whatever the operating system environment is. Given that native User Interface layout and functionality matches the platform, this eliminates any possible disruption to improve user experience.
Websites have a restricted set of abilities as opposed to hybrid and native applications. These restrictions are enforced by browser, effectively sandboxing it away from the mobile operating system. Recent developments with mobile browsers have exposed more device capabilities through HTML5 such as the camera, geolocation, and others.Telerik
These applications can run on the mobile platform but instead of using the Operating System directly, these are running through the mobile web browser. Thus, these applications can run on multiple platforms as long as they are compatible with a device’s browser rendering engine. Most of the web applications run on both the device and a backend server at the same time. The degree of partition between the server and the client can have a significant impact on functionality, performance, and application maintenance. Web-based applications boast the lowest cost possible among the three mobile application development approaches.
Although web-based applications’ libraries are able to access different mobile hardware capabilities, LCD approach is necessary to code through abstraction layers. Because of this, the application must execute a step that is entirely removed from the actual OS and hardware making the performance the lowest among the three mobile application development approach.
Depending on the partition of a hybrid mobile application, there is no reason that it cannot compete with the functionality in terms of feature and on-platform device access that native applications enjoy. A hybrid app can match the performance of native apps for the portion of the application that runs natively, most especially in offline mode.
Hybrid mobile app approach offers a mechanism that turns web-based features into mobile applications that are winning in terms of usability. This makes user experience seamless since there is little to no adjustment needed to navigate the app.
User experience is the key to an application’s success. Fifteen years ago, many executives disagreed with this assertion (some still do), perhaps with good reason. At that time, most websites had a poor user experience so it was not a differentiator. Consider how Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo’s websites looked 15 years ago, for example.YmediaLabs
To summarize, the native approach excels device access and performance, but suffers in updates and high cost. The web approach is much simpler, easier to update and the less expensive option but has limited functionality and cannot achieve the exceptional level of user experience that can convert the market to loyal customers.
The hybrid approach provides a middle ground which, in many situations, is the best of both worlds, especially if the developer is targeting multiple operating systems. Choosing the right mobile app development approach greatly depends on what the organization needs and different parameters such as timeframe, budget, and target market, available internal and external resources, required functionality and infrastructure. This approach makes use of the device’s capabilities to its advantage.
There are distinct and clear pros and cons for both hybrid and native mobile development approaches. One source code, easy updates, speed to market, cross-compatible web technologies, availability of resources, and of course lower initial budget costs make hybrid mobile applications very appealing. However, with 4G network coverage on most phones today, seamless hybrid app experience is actually possible.
One thing is clear: most companies today face an obvious and hard trade-off between application functionality and providing a seamless user experience together with the considerations in development costs and time to market. All of the approaches and metrics should be taken into consideration in order to arrive at a decision that will achieve business goals, satisfy the target market, and accomplish time to completion and application requirements for usability and functionality.