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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Part 2 - Enterprise Mobile App Development - Native vs. HTML5 (and Hybrid)



In my last blog, I discussed the necessity for enterprise businesses to embrace a mobile app strategy to remain competitive in an increasingly mobile world. Two of the approaches for app building, HTML5 and hybrid offer some benefits, with web apps being an easier build for non-mobile programmers and Hybrid apps offering a more native look and feel. But web apps pose a strong security risk, can’t take advantage of device features like camera and GPS, offer limited local storage and have poor offline capabilities and compatibility issues. Hybrid apps offer a better level of security and can take advantage of device features but the complexity of trying to make it “look and feel” like a native app, often requires more coding and can be more challenging than just building a native app to being with. In comparison, native apps, the third app building approach, simply offer the best overall user experience, bar none.

Native apps offer a wealth of advantages over their web-based and counterparts. Information is far more secure being compiled, encrypted and multi-level. Local databases are available through on-device storage and apps are able to function in offline mode. Native apps are able to take advantage of the full device functionality such as camera and GPS and offer the same look and feel which simply makes the apps easier to use. Fast graphics and fluid animation allow for the smoothest transfer of images and data which is a key for corporate apps that process a lot of information or require frequent refreshing. Native apps also have excellent potential for exposure in the app stores offering dynamic marketing, trending and analytics.

Traditionally, compared with web and hybrid apps, native apps have had the reputation of being costly, with long development cycles due to coding from scratch for each new app. There is also no single mobile platform, so developers have needed to be experienced in Objective-C (iOS) or Java (Android) languages to build the apps for one platform or the other. With there being a shortage of skilled mobile developers to begin with, programmers with the ability to develop for both platforms are even harder to come by. This has meant multiple developers and/or multiple app builds to launch on more than one platform have been required. Additionally, app updates and changes have been challenging when needing to be deployed to potentially tens of thousands of people at one time. That said, native app development has changed for the better.

Along with the benefits native apps offer over web apps or hybrids, there are now tools available to develop Enterprise mobile apps that are timely, cost effective and address burgeoning mobile app backlogs. These development platforms allow the creation of true, native, cross platform apps that are data-rich and require no coding. With a platform that offers visual app development and the option to build and immediately test functionality, even non-mobile programmers are able to quickly and easily build quality apps. This means past concerns over native app development equaling a lengthy time-to-market, challenging prototyping, searching for mobile-skilled programmers and high costs are no longer warranted. Instead, enterprise organizations can address their mobile app backlog by leveraging all their existing programmer resources to launch the cross platform, native apps that will offer their end users the best overall experience, period.

Alex

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