You use your phone for almost everything. You know that your organization can do some amazing things with a mobile app whether it makes one of your processes work better, or whether it helps you better engage your customers more effectively. To put some more numbers around this, according to comScore here is how Time Spent on Digital Media grew for Desktop, Mobile Browser and Mobile App from June 2013 through June of 2015:
- +53% for Mobile Browser
- +90% for Mobile Apps
- +16% for Desktop Apps
So, time spent on Mobile Browsers and Mobile Apps is where users’ attention is at. What we will delve into today is the exploration of having an application developed ONCE as all three things: a Mobile Browser App, and iOS app and an Android app (the other app stores are possible too, but we’ll focus on iOS and Android here).
There is a valid argument out there that developing iOS or Android apps are better done Natively, or in other words, better done in using tools and languages specified/offered by each app store – and the argument is valid for certain applications. However, for the vast majority of business applications, which at most, will typically only need access to the device’s camera and GPS, developing all of this with a hybrid web standards approach can achieve the same result.
This really comes down to two very important questions:
- What are you trying to build, and more importantly WHY?
- What is your budget to achieve your outcome?
If your WHAT and WHY lead you to believe that you need minimal resources from the device (like the GPS and Camera), the answer to the budget question can be much lower than you previously had in mind and here is why:
- If you want to write a mobile web application for the browser, iOS and Android, you could have up to three code bases to create (and maintain) – one for each store, plus web. Think of having to set aside nearly three times the budget for your project, and add yet another multiplier for each additional app store you want to deploy to.
- If you have the code written once using the web standards hybrid approach, you’ll have two tightly-coupled code bases to maintain, and MOST updates can be done on the fly without having to “re-deploy” to the app stores.
What about the look and feel of the app? Will it feel like a native application? Yes, this is the case more and more every day, thanks to libraries like React Native and Famo.us. The hybrid web standard based apps look and feel just like apps that were written natively – because they are effectively deployed natively.
So, what about cases where this approach may not be the best option? They exist, and not just in gaming. There are scenarios where integrations with back-end systems, a feature-rich experience, and/or access to more of the hardware capabilities of the device are needed. This is a decision that needs to be made during the initial discovery intake for your project.
Apps continue to be faster to scale and implement as the market progresses. This was designed to help you consider some of the things that can guide your decision between native or web standard hybrid solutions. We hope you find it helpful.