Web-based mobile development

App development: native, Web-based or hybrid?



Image: By BiztechAfrica

By Aavishkar Jugwanth, Developer at Barone, Budge & Dominick (BBD)

Calling your mobile device a phone is a misnomer in today's fast-moving world. The proliferation of mobile devices, specifically smartphones and the increased number of tasks users are relegating to their mobile device is a matter of fact.

From booking tickets to banking to chatting and social media, the smartphone does it all and is even being used as an electronic wallet in many countries. As more devices equipped with NFC (near-field communications) appear, your mobile could even open doors and raise the boom at a parking garage in the near future.

Companies wishing to remain top of mind among customers and give them the opportunity to transact and interact with the minimum of inconvenience must take cognisance of the growth of mobile and make themselves easily accessible on these platforms. Unfortunately, when considering the degree of diversity between the different platforms, the user requirements, the budgeting concerns and the numerous architectural paths available in mobile application development, many businesses are confused as to where they should start when it comes to going mobile.

Three options

When considering mobile application development, there are three options to explore: native, Web-based and hybrid applications.

Native: Native applications are, as the name suggests, specific to a given platform. When creating native apps, the developer uses standardised SDKs (software development kits) created by the manufacturer to ensure the standards on that platform are kept up to the level the manufacturer intended.

These applications offer the best performance and user experience. Native applications are faster with fluid animations, full access to the built-in components and ease of use for the user. Also, there is generally much more documentation to assist in creating your application.

These applications can only run on the device they are designed for, so if you want to have an app for multiple platforms, you need multiple applications and specialised developers for each. The development cycle is longer, costs are higher due to specialised resource requirements and you have multiple code streams which will become increasing difficult to maintain over time.

Web-based: Using standard Web technology such as HTML 5, CSS, JavaScript, developers can produce write-once, run-anywhere applications that run in the browsers of almost any mobile device. This is convenient, but comes at the cost of some limitations.

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