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Unraveling the Mobile Development Landscape – Part1

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to dealing with mobile apps.  Enterprises need to make the right choice when considering investing in a mobile app.   So here’s a breakdown of some of the categories to help you differentiate between certain types of apps and most importantly, help you understand which type is most appropriate for your business?

Native Apps

It is the most basic way to build apps for mobile devices. It is built using the device’s native programming language, and only run on their designated platform. For example, Android apps will only run on Android and not on iPhone and vice-versa. These apps offer the fastest, most reliable and most responsive user experience and can tap into the wider functionality of the device.

Hybrid Apps

A hybrid application is built using web technology, that is then wrapped inside a native container that provides access to native platform features. Most of the app is built using web technologies, and native code is used to allow the app to access the wider functionality of the device and produce a more refined user experience. By building it with web technology it is quicker to develop and easier to publish to multiple platforms (e.g. iOS or Android).  PhoneGap and Sencha are some of the toolkits to write hybrid applications.

HTML5 — Mobile Web Apps

Mobile web applications run in the device’s browser and operate across all platforms.   They are built using HTML5, JavaScript or CSS3. These apps are  usually just a condensed version of the usual website, resized to fit a smartphone screen. However, web apps are not accepted in any of the native app stores thereby cutting off an important distribution channel for the app developers.

Cross Platform Apps

These apps can run on any platform. However, most of these apps take lowest common denominator approach — suitable for quick and dirty apps that ultimately lowers quality.

Cross-platform mobile apps are made using an embedded browser control and writing a web app wrapped up as a native app. Multi-platform environments such as PhoneGap and Sencha use this approach. These tools are designed to make developer’s lives easier by creating one code for all platforms.

In the end it all boils down to enterprise requirements. However, I hope to have suggested some food for thought in choosing your mobile development strategy. The Apexon team is working hard on mobile technologies to help customers extend enterprise applications to mobile faster and effectively.

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