Smart Phones

iPhone app development and Android app development can be broken down into two main categories; web applications and native applications. In this article we’ll look at the differences between them, and which solution is right for you.

Why do I need a Mobile version of my Website?

Every day more and more users get smart phones. Its predicted that the next largest number of online customers will come from smart phones, so having a mobile version of your website is important.

The reason you need a mobile optimized website is because of the usability issues normal websites run into on the small mobile screens. Drop down menus, excess of content and large images all add to a bad experience, and sometimes unusable website.

Native Smart Phone Apps

A Native App is a piece of software (a program) that needs to be installed on a device, like the applications you would find on the Apple iTunes store or Android Market Place. Because these apps are installed, they usually have the added advantage of running offline and can take advantage of the built in hardware and software of the mobile device like the gyroscope, camera, accelerometer and more.

Native apps are device specific, meaning one that runs on the iPhone wont run on an Android or Blackberry. However developing mobile applications with PhoneGap allows you to publish native apps to multiple platforms, which means less investment for a larger market.

Mobile Web Apps

A mobile web application is more or less like any other website, but it has been optimised for viewing on mobile device web browsers. Building a mobile web app enables you to publish to the internet the same way you would with a website. This means there is no ‘approval process’ from the app store required, and it can be instantly used by other smart phones so you don’t need to do any phone specific development. Of course each phone has its own unique browser technology so some compatibility still needs to be taken into account, and the application will not appear identically on all devices of different platforms and screen sizes.

The major setbacks of web applications are older or less capable browsers on older devices that don’t take advantage of CSS3 or HTML5.

The Hybrid Web App Wrapped in a Native App

Because native apps have full access to the system hardware and software they can do some things a mobile web application cannot. For example taking photos. Additionally native apps allow the use of the built in browser inside a special view. This means any capabilities a web app can do can be replicated in a native app. This opens the exciting possibility of developing a mobile web application that runs online, and can also be compiled for iPhone and Android and be submitted to their online stores all with the same core code.

Comparison Table

Web Apps Native Apps
Internet Access Generally Required Not required
Installation & Updates Not required, just hit refresh Needs to be downloaded or deployed by developer
Device Complaibility Currently very good, but as mobile browsers get better this will increase Fully dependent on device hardware and software
Content Manageability Can be done Can be done
Distribution Can be accessed via a public URL Must be downloaded via website or app store (if the app store approves it)
Enterprise Perfect, no deployment For iPhone, Requires Enterprise Apple Developer License and Manual Provisioning of each Device
User Experience Very good, but it depends on the web browser, hardware and age of the device Very good as they are developed for specific devices (which means older or less capable devices are generally not catered for)
Effects & Animations Good, but will increase with better browsers and hardware Very fast and responsive
Sharing with Social Media Very easy, just share a link Will need to be built in
Development Developed for Mobile Browsers with Javascript / HTML / CSS Usually built for a specific device, however platforms like Phonegap enable you to develop across multiple mobile platforms. Code must be compiled for each device.
Hardware Sensor Access Very limited access except for geo location Everything: gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, camera, microphone, web browser, GPS
User Collaboration Can be built in, all data saved on server Can be built in, would most likely use a web browser to do anything like this
Can it be sold? Generally not recommended but it can be walled of with a sign in Can be sold on app store or be sold with a website
Can the content be found online? Yes all content can be found online Generally not, this would need to be built in (unless it just uses a public URL like a normal website)
Advertising Easily done with adwords or paid advertising space Easily done but would need to be built in. iPhone users can use iAd
Graphics Users will get an experience appropriate to the capabilities of the device they are using Users (particularly iPhone users) will get a seamless experience on all devices the software is compatible with
Fonts Is getting better with @font-face but isn’t perfect on all browsers yet Can be built in with a complete control over typefaces

For more information on Brisbane iPhone app development, Brisbane Android app development or Brisbane Blackberry development, please contact us!


  • Meenu

    Good comprehensive post!

  • Mobile Website

    Hello..

    Nowadays getting tech for mobile site, is becoming a mandatory it is a new and a good way of marketing .

  • Mobile App Developer

    I like your perspective. I believe any business needs its own native app in all leading os like iOS and Android to stay competitive.

  • Ricky Noel Diancin Jr.

    Great job! I will continue following your website. I found these information very useful.

  • Peso Ideal de la mujer

    Mobile Web Apps GREAT item Nowadays getting tech for mobile site, is becoming a mandatory it is a new and a good way of marketing . in this century

  • josey jasen

    Do you have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

  • Glacial Acetic Acid

    I need some more stuff for mobile web application.

  • benimmodam

    Thank you very much

  • cati kaplama

    Good comprehensive post!

  • matbaa

    The information given in the quality article is dead on awesome. After hours of searching, this information was right on the mark and very interesting.

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