In part 1, we mentioned that when it comes to Native and Mobile Web development approaches, it is not simply an either/or proposition. Let’s explore that notion further.
Just A Toolset
Each development approach should be considered as a distinct and viable toolset. And, as with any toolset, each has its intended uses and scenarios in which it excels. For this reason, we always advise that clients remain open-minded about both approaches. There should be less of a debate and more of an open discussion about which approach is more suited for the particular requirements at hand.
The primary intent of Mobile Web is to fulfill that age-old promise originally offered by Java, i.e. write it once, run it reasonably well everywhere (no matter the platform).
The primary intent of Native Mobile development is to take advantage of the deep integration and differentiators offered in the various platforms, e.g. Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.
These differing intents guarantee that each approach has scenarios for which it is better suited.
Let’s examine the main attributes of each approach. Some of the defining attributes of Mobile Web are as follows:
- App creation by way of a cross-platform specification (typically HTML5)
- Runnable on most all leading mobile platforms
- Mid-level performance due to the need to generalize
- Ability to utilize the common denominator of features across the leading mobile platforms
- Lag time in integration of new platform features due to those features needing to first be implemented across most of the supported platforms
- Minimal increase in development costs as the number of target platforms increases
Native Mobile development has the following attributes:
- Platform-specific creation environment
- Runnable only on the mobile platform for which it was built
- Potentially high performance due to platform specialization
- Ability to use the common as well as specific features of the target platform
- Ability to implement new platform features as soon as they are made available by the vendor
- Increased development costs as the number of target platforms increases
Which Approach Is Best In My Company’s Scenario?
Broadly speaking, Native Mobile development provides the best user experience, performance, and integration with a given platform. This does come at a cost; for example, precious few aspects of the client application code base can be shared between given platforms. This drawback may or may not be a deal breaker in your scenario.
Again, broadly speaking, Mobile Web provides lower development cost (when targeting multiple platforms simultaneously). This too comes at a cost: generally less superior user experience and access to fewer touch points of the various platforms. Depending on the requirement of your product, this may or may not be a concern.
As you can see, the question of which to use when cannot be properly addressed in the absence of the product requirements. Hence, our qualm with those who blindly advocate one development approach over another without even asking about the product (recommending a utensil without even knowing the meal).
At the end of the day, it is not some hotly contested debate. Determining the best approach requires considering the above-listed attributes within the context of your product’s requirements. This is the best way to approach such a decision.
Happy decision making!
Director of Operations