Last week we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of having a mobile app for your business. This week we'll look at the various types of apps and what is different between them.
These apps are built in a framework, almost always a standard mobile web framework and packaged for the app stores. This means that they can be developed once and deployed to each platform (iOS, Android, etc.), saving both time and money. Furthermore, they can sometimes reuse resources already developed for your mobile website. However, they also have access to the fewest native features (advanced graphics, augmented reality etc.) and the overall quality and responsiveness of the app is lower than the other types. This can negatively impact brand trust.
Upsides: Quickest and easiest to develop
Downsides: Quality and compatibility can be low, not as many features as the other types
These apps are similar to and sometimes confused with hybrid apps but they are different in a few important ways. They gain the advantage of being able to develop once for multiple platforms but look and feel like native apps. These frameworks have access to most, if not all, of the native features of the device that they are running on so they are fast and responsive. Native frameworks like react native, xamarin and others are a little newer than native and hybrid apps but have been growing fast and currently represent a very stable platform for development.
Upsides: Quicker and easier to develop than entirely native apps, use native features and UI
Downsides: Must be familiar with the framework being used
These apps are built specifically for each platform (iOS, Android, etc.) Therefore, an app developed for one platform will have to be completed redeveloped if it is to be released on a different platform. This can inflate time and cost dramatically. Certain apps, primarily games, must be developed this way in order to meet performance or other requirements. Due to complete separate development paths, there is no guarantee that the same app on a different platforms will behave the same.
Upsides: Can use all available features of the platform
Downsides: Increased development costs, different platforms could behave differently
Progressive Web App (PWA)
These are the newest types of apps although not necessarily the most advanced. In fact, in many ways they aren't even traditional apps. Basically, they are just a mobile website with additional app-like features. When users visit the website in their browser, they can "install" the website as an app. They are especially powerful on Android devices and Windows devices as they can run in the background and receive push notifications. Since, they are installed from your website there is no way to list it in the app stores. It will however, give users a native app-like experience without the time and effort of creating a traditional app (hybrid, native, etc.)
Upsides: exactly the same UI as existing mobile website, potential for very little additional development time
Downsides: not listed in the app stores, can't receive push notifications on Mac devices (yet)
We've explored, hybrid, native framework, fully native and progressive web apps, their features and their benefits. If you have any questions be sure to let us know.