Native Mobile Apps – Are They Really Better Than Web Apps?

There is a general perception that native mobile applications – which can be directly downloaded from the Play Store and installed on your phone – are more user-friendly than web-based apps, in terms of their general features. The high sales figures of native apps also seemingly bear evidence to this view. However, do these native, customized applications really outsmart the web apps on all counts? Let’s take a look:

  1. Creation – As far as the process of mobile application development is concerned, native apps do win hands down. Since they are customized for the different mobile platforms, the entire coding is done by the in-house developers of app companies. Detecting bugs (if any) and releasing updates is easier, and monitoring the application analytics becomes a cinch too. The time-factor is a concern though, and we will come to that later.
  2. Speed – This round also goes to native mobile applications. When you purchase and install an app from a Blackberry or iphone application development company, it automatically becomes a part of your handset’s built-in features. As such, launching them on compatible handsets hardly takes more than a few seconds. Web apps, due to their requirement of fairly strong internet connectivity at all times, are typically slower.
  3. Cost factor – From the perspective of professional app developers, the mobile application development cost for native apps is significantly higher than that of the web-based ones. Applications that are compatible across several platforms, in particular, can be rather pricey. The average time required to create prototypes of native apps is also higher. If you prefer native applications, you’ll have to wait more!
  4. Usability – According to experts from any top Android or iphone application development company, both native apps and web apps can be user-friendly – although the former seems to have the edge here. This is because most native applications can be seamlessly integrated with the phone camera, sound/video recorder, and other handset features. Apps downloaded from mobile websites are not likely to have this feature.
  5. App Store approval – A major point where web apps outscore the native mobile applications. For a developer who is in the business of iphone app development, it can take up to a few weeks, to get new applications approved and displayed at the online app stores. Even then, there is no guarantee that the app would be able to garner adequate amounts of users’ interest. Web applications do not require such store approval, and are, hence, easier to promote.
  6. Security – While getting visibility on the app stores can be a rather time-consuming process, the procedure can work in favor of native apps too. People can rest assured that a mobile application which has been quality-tested and approved by leading app stores would be bug-free and completely secure (both in terms of its operation, as well as its effects on the phone on which it is used). No such assurance is available for web apps, although the more well-known ones can be easily trusted.
  7. Requirement of internal memory – Native applications require a certain, pre-specified amount of memory space in handsets – for functioning in an efficient manner. That’s precisely why so much importance is given on selecting a mobile application development framework that would not consume too much of the available bandwidth on smartphones. Since web apps do not need any extra memory space to be launched and operated, their convenience is definitely higher on this count.
  8. Monitoring app performance – Way more challenging for native apps, than it is for web-based applications. A mobile application development company specializing in native app-creation would typically have to develop multiple versions of each app – depending on the platform (iphone, Blackberry, or Android) on which it would be used. The analytics for each of these versions have to be tracked, to get an idea of how the application is performing. As far as web apps are concerned, they have a single version, making performance tracking much easier.
  9. Finding the necessary apps – With the gamut of web apps available, it can, at times become slightly tricky for users to find the ones that they actually require on their phones. There are no such room for confusions regarding native mobile apps though – since they are systematically displayed on the Apple Play Store, Android store and the Blackberry App World. Selecting and downloading native apps is generally much less cumbersome than searching for suitable web apps.
  10. Maintenance – Since native apps generally involve customized coding for the different development platforms, their maintenance is deemed to be at least slightly more challenging than that for web apps. The latter typically have a cross-platform single coding involved, making the task of modifications (if required) easier as well. The maintenance cost figures for web applications, understandably, are also lower.

At times, it can be difficult to keep a tab on which version of a native app someone is using, which makes rolling out upgrade plans rather difficult. In terms of quality and performance though, these native applications are mostly better than web apps. All things considered, native apps do seem to offer more user-advantages – although web apps also have several positive points of their own.

Native App Vs Web App: Perhaps A Hybrid?

Hybrid mobile applications are functionally somewhere between native apps and web apps. As these two types of mobile software serve completely different purposes, standing poles apart, hybrid apps fill the space between them, and incorporate features of both sides. What makes them close to native apps, is their ability to utilize native features of a mobile platform. Hybrid apps are distributed through application stores, and may utilize such native feature as, for example, geolocation. On the other hand, it shares many useful features with web apps. It might be so that if you want to build an application, a hybrid one would be the best solution for you.

Features of hybrid apps, shared with web apps:

– Created upon web technologies (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3). That’s the main distinction from native apps, which presuppose all the further features. The most popular tools for creating hybrid mobile software are PhoneGap and Appcelerator Titanium.

– Easier and faster to build than native apps. This results in lower development cost.

– Cross-platform capabilities. A great advantage, provided by web technologies – you may create the app once for various mobile platforms. But keep in mind, that an app may not run the same on various devices, that is why quality cross-platform software requires comprehensive testing on a list of devices chosen by you. That’s how the possible problems are eliminated before deployment.

– Lower performance than in native apps. That is why more sophisticated apps will be affected by slightly lower speed and graphics. Consider the balance of features and speed carefully – users are quite likely to switch to another app, if they face delays. That’s why hybrid applications are not good for creating complex apps like games.

Features of hybrid apps, shared with native apps:

– Distribution through application stores (such as Apple App Store, Google Play, BlackBerry World and Windows Phone Store).

– Use of native device capabilities. That is an inaccessible option for mobile web apps. In case your software is going to depend on geolocation, camera, accelerometer etc. – a hybrid application will provide you with that.

– Offline capabilities. That’s a feature of the foremost importance for many apps. And that matters much to users – having what they need and what they like anytime, anywhere.

You may consult with your software developers to find out whether a hybrid app is really ‘the golden mean’ that will perfectly fit your project. That must be discussed and firmly decided before the development. The decision depends on the user experience you need to provide, the features of the project, and the market/user audience you chose to encompass and engage into using the app. Business apps that require native access or apps with moderate graphics – these are examples of a good choice for hybrid development.

Processing Real Time Data On the Fly – The Future of Mobile, Social TV and Web Apps

Real time data processing was once a secretive and dark art known only amongst the likes of the CIA and Wall Street’s electronic traders. Not only were the systems that performed these hyperspeed calculations extremely expensive and highly complicated, they were also completely customized to the specific institutions that were using them.

As our digital world continues to become more connected every day, and as the proliferations of devices and affordable internet and data services spread across the world, people are online all the time.

At the same time, we are increasingly bringing our internet-connected devices into common experiences like riding the train, commuting to work or watching television. Nielsen has found that as many as 86% of laptop and mobile owners use their “second screen” apps when watching television.

As such, the opportunity for creative developers, TV networks and mobile development studios to create experiences that take advantage of these massive concurrent audiences and real-time data technology to create unprecedented ‘second screen’ experiences is gargantuan.

For example, you could have a smartphone app specially designed for use during the SuperBowl that would allow everyone watching the show to make play predictions in real-time just before the pass was caught or the audible was called.

Or, during the half-time show you could take in votes from the millions upon millions of current viewers to determine what segment or performer would be shown next, and everyone watching could see the average vote values of everyone on their smartphone screen.

Presidential debates could be revolutionized by the ability for the audience to participate and register their agreement or disagreement with candidates and their stances in real time. This kind of continuous polling app could change the face of broadcast television and politics as we know it.

The central issue that has prevented these kinds of experiences from coming to fruition in the past has been that taking in constant input from television audiences, and processing it in real-time in order to create dynamic and massively multi-user apps, is an extremely difficult technical challenge.

The kinds of audiences that major television events can draw are often staggering. The 2012 SuperBowl drew 111.3 million viewers. Imagine the volume of data that would be generated by even a fraction of this audience sliding up and down on their screen to vote, make predictions or send messages.

It’s not only a big data problem in the classic sense. It’s a real-time big data problem. Any system that is created for this use case would have to not only take in a large volume of streaming data, but it would have to make calculations on this data in flight, and then broadcast the results back out to every connected user to complete the experience.

We can expect to start seeing Social Television apps that weave in audience sentiment, opinion and preferences into the main-screen content soon. The immensity of this change cannot be overstated. Traditionally, television was a one-way broadcast medium. We’re about to see this change.

These new Social Television and massive audience apps are going to make Television a two-way medium, allowing viewers to “talk back” as they convert watching TV from a passive activity to an active conversation.

Imagine a world where you could vote down characters you didn’t like, in real time, as they come on screen and start delivering lines. Imagine being able to have an active role in crafting the future of your favorite programs. Social TV and the next generation of massive audience apps is going to change broadcast media forever.