When you sit down at your desktop or your laptop the interface you use to interact with the software and operating system is pretty similar across a variety of platforms. Be it Windows/PC system, Mac, or Lynx. Sure there are some differences but the key elements of a screen, mouse, and keyboard are all there. For the most part if you can operate one you can operate all three. Furthermore a lot of the software such as Internet Explorer or Microsoft Office have an almost identical interface. Yes nerds, I know there are differences but for the most part they offer a similar user interface (UI.)
However, this is simply not the case with mobile devices. To start with the input features can very differently. Blackberries have a keyboard whereas iPhones and most Android devices don't have a keyboard and iPhones have one button where Androids have four buttons. The operating systems can be very different from mobile platform to mobile platform and even from version to version of different mobile platforms and operating systems. The software and how it interacts can very on different devices as well and much more so then with traditional computing.
Understanding this difference in Mobile vs Traditional computing is hugely important for companies who conduct digital commerce. It will only become more important over time as people are shifting more and more of their computing to mobile platforms. One of the main decisions mobile application developers have to make is whether to use a HTML web base application development or build a native application specific to a given platform.
The advantage of a web based app is it is a one size fits all. You can develop it once and you’re good to across multiple platforms. There are two routes to go with HTML. One is simply just having a web site so users can get on there from their web browser. The other option is having an app that is essentially a book mark that users can click and it feeds in to the web site.
There are major downfalls to either HTML base application. First, the user has to have internet access to use them. People do not always have wireless access and this especially true on non-cell phone platforms such as tablets and other notebooks. The other problem is that mobile devices often times have less computing power and almost always have slower internet access so the delays can give the impression of a clunky poorly designed program. Not to mention that the one size fits all approach does not take into consideration the intricacies of different platforms and this can create glitches from one device to another. It is also likely to have difficulties in its interaction with other software on the different devices.
The other more involved option is to have applications that are specifically designed for each device. This is popularly called a native design. Doing this does involve having to develop multiple applications specific for each device and sometimes even each operating system or even different versions of the same operations system. Even after the initial development patches often times have to be designed for different system updates. All this to say a native approach to web design is almost for sure going to be more complicated and expensive.
However, this is a situation where simpler is not better. The extra effort and resources placed in native mobile app development will reap dividends and reward. There is almost a consensus of this in the mobile app development community and with customers of the superiority of native applications delivering a superior user experience for customers.
The first reason is that with native development you will take into account the different nuances and other feature of each device. This will allow customers to be more familiar and comfortable with using your application. The importance of which should not be understated. Study after study shows that people have a major usually decisive bias towards familiarity with their computing hobbits and which products they chose to use.
The native approach also helps avoid different glitches that can come up with the HTML approach. This is due to the native approach being more likely to take into account the different details of each operating system and device avoiding interference. Also, when designing applications for each individual platform developers will take into mind the computing capabilities of the given device. This can allow them to simplify or optimize the complexity of the application based off of each devices capabilities.
Another major advantage of native development is that the user can retain some functionality even when they do not have internet access. This is both a convenience and a potential money saver for them that they will appreciate. They can interact with the application and once the device has internet access updates can be made without the user having to reengage the application. This can be really good for an application that is mostly static and does not need a lot of follow on information from a separate servers.
The biggest thing though is that a native application shows the customer that you are going to go the extra mile and dive for the loose balls. It will give your organization a presumption of professionalism and give the appearance that you know what you are doing. For all those reason taking a native approach to mobile application development is well worth the investment of extra time and resources.