As a developer, I am constantly thinking of great ideas for the next mobile application that I want to create. To me, most of them will change lives, and in the process, I will make millions. Often, I am often at a crossroads of attempting to decide which mobile application development process will be an essential component in helping me build and deploy my new amazing app. In reality, I only have two main directions I can go – either a native app, or a mobile web app.
Everything Is Going Mobile
Huge companies, including Amazon and eBay, are bringing millions of users to mobile applications after peeling them away from their laptops and desktops. Statistics now report that nearly half of all dedicated mobile web users have made at least one purchase using their smartphone, tablet or mobile device. When money is involved, it is essential to do things right.
For a developer to meet that challenge, it means deciding whether it is best to optimize a company’s mobile commerce website, or create a brand-new native mobile application.
A Native App
A native app is an installed application that resides on the device that utilizes the phone’s hardware components, which might include the camera and NFC. These are typically the types of applications that are acquired in the Android and iOS marketplace including Google Play and The App Store.
A Mobile Web App
Alternatively, a mobile web app does not reside on the mobile device itself, but is accessed on the tablet or smartphone’s web browser (like Safari on iPhone, or Firefox on an Android phone). There is no need to download them, as they will never be installed on the mobile device. Traditionally, it is a website-only application, and not a smartphone application.
Which Is Best?
Personally, as a developer, I am caught in the middle of the debate of whether it is best to create a mobile web app, or native app. Some of my developer friends are eagerly excited about building hybrid solutions, suggesting this intense debate might go on for many years between programmers.
For my clients, the right choice is usually determined by understanding their target audience, and how the application will be used by the end consumer.
By understanding exactly which type of mobile equipment the users are currently employing, I am able to determine the most effective mobile commerce strategy based on the answer. If they are using an Android smartphone, a Blackberry, or an iPhone, I am more inclined to develop a native app.
However, if most of their users employ regular mobile phones without smartphone capacity, I am highly inclined to develop a mobile web application. In the end, it is all about the user experience.