With the rise and rise of mobile websites and apps the issues about deciding which platform to use are quite simply mind boggling.
Here at responsive web design we have done both and our clients ask many questions about the fores and against for both methodologies.
Firstly lets define what is an Native App these types of apps are build with the software development kit specifically designed to create apps for that platform.
On Android it is Eclipse which uses Java and XML data structures to create the application, the tools and methods used are specific to the operating system that the app is designed to run on so the buttons, drop down boxes and forms can be implemented to work across all android devices and look super slick, I must add that Eclipse is a dog to install and work with but that’s how Google want it, open source.
On Apple you must already have a Mac to even think about developing an app because Apple is proprietary software therefore to use there software development kit you must have a Mac before you can even download X Code to develop your application.X Code is written in objective C, and has its own particular quirks, using this closed environment Apple has more control over its developers and what they publish.
Using these methods Apple scrutinise your app to see if it has reached there quality controls and then after a six week period they will let you publish there app for around the £100 pound mark.
So depending on your app what you want it to do and how long you have to make it there are decisions to be made.
- Does the app require location technology
- Does the app need to be released on one or all platforms
- Can the website and app be amalgamated
If the app require location technology you must use the native software development kits to use the gps functionality on the phone as web apps cannot use this type of service.
Developing on two different platforms like Eclipse and XCode will need lots of resources and high levels of skill and inevitably time.
Building an application to be a web app can solve these problems as long as you do not need location or gps technologies built into the app.Using this method you can incorporate responsive web design techniques so the users of your app may not even realise that they are using a app although to use this method you must have a constant internet connection.
So designing a website responsively can also provide you with a web app but you may ask how will users be able to download it on their phone, well with the use of web view and media quires we can make the users think they have downloaded an app but really it is a shortcut to a website which is optimised for mobile browsers.
The clever thing about doing the development this way is you only have to build one website then build the Eclipse application to launch your webview, so the users click on the icon on their phone and the app is launched, we also follow the same procedure in XCode creating a webview so the users believe they are launching an app.
Build one website for all uses that’s the smart way but some functionality is only found on phones this would be the one gripe that I would say native apps are closed to those that don’t own the technology, to run them on so games and other useful applications can only be used by those with I phones ,the wider implications for those in less fortunate circumstances could circumvent the idea of the world wide web.