Approaches for Mobile App Development
In 2016, the volume of traffic from mobile devices on the web surpassed desktop traffic. In 2018, mobile comprised over 50% of website traffic, with desktops holding about 45% and tablets making up the remaining four percent. Today, more than 55% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, and 92% of internet users access the web using a mobile device this is why it is imperative to use specific approaches for each mobile app development project.
For CEOs and app developers, optimizing online presence for mobile is critical. But it’s no longer enough to simply build a responsive website: these days, users expect an experience seamlessly integrated with their devices—something that a website alone simply cannot provide. This is why more and more businesses are turning to mobile app development to meet user expectations.
The Benefits of Mobile Applications
Device-native applications provide a fuller range of functionalities supported by the device. Accessing things like the user’s camera, photo library, and native file system is easier. Data retrieval happens more quickly because user data can be stored on the device rather than on a remote server. Apps can also provide a better user experience because user preferences can be remembered and saved.
Approaches to Mobile Development
There are three primary approaches to mobile app development: native development, hybrid development, and progressive web app development.
Native Mobile Apps
Native Apps are built with OS-specific programming languages and tools—meaning an app developed for iOS will run only on an iOS device, and an app developed for Android will run only on Android. They are downloaded and installed from app stores and operate independently from the browser.
Native apps are more costly to develop because they require engineers with skills in OS-specific languages like Swift, Gradle, and Objective C, and because a separate version of the app will need to be built for each platform (iOS, Android, etc.)
The benefit of native apps is that they allow for richer features to be built because they interface directly with the device in the device’s native language, meaning all hardware features of the device can be easily accessed and utilized. When developed properly, they also run more reliably than hybrid apps.
Hybrid Mobile Apps
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that behave like apps. They cannot be downloaded from an app store and operate solely within the browser. However, they offer an enhanced experience for the user over a normal website.
PWAs frequently make use of a device’s local storage to save user preferences and data, and to allow for offline use. The benefit of PWAs over native or hybrid apps is that PWAs do not require lengthy release cycles or app review every time a patch or update needs to be made. The drawback is they have limited functionality and usually run less efficiently than native applications.
Choosing the appropriate software product development environment and tech stack, keeping in mind the target audience, and clearly outlining your business’s specific goals for the application can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful mobile app development project.
Each approach to mobile app development has its benefits and drawbacks, and no one approach is necessarily better than the others. The approach you choose will largely depend on the resources you have available and the functionality you need. Do you have engineers who know Swift and Java? Do you have time to build two separate versions of the same app? If not, you may be better off sticking with a hybrid approach or progressive web app than undertaking the task of developing a native application.