Future of App Development – Native Apps or Web App?

This guest column is authored by Gaurav Manchanda, Co-founder TryKaro.com

Today all digital businesses is moving towards native mobile apps. Most of the companies are creating their platforms which are app only. And they have significant reasons for having app only platform over web based platforms:

When you develop an app, it gives you an easy way to showcase your products or services to your customers and prospective customers. Whenever they want, they can just use it as a one-stop point to get all the info they need.

Most shoppers cannot resist the temptation of a good deal or a great discount, especially when one stares at their face. And this is exactly what you can do with your mobile app.

Suppose you have an apparel and accessories boutique at a central location. And you know that many prospective customers walk by your store every day. What if you design an app that lures them to your store when they are in the vicinity?

While it is often a hassle to receive and respond to a customer support request, the same becomes easy when you have an appropriate app to do it. With a mobile app that can offer instructions and how-to’s, you are sure to win approval.

Users today wish for a fuss-free experience, whether they access your site or your app, and whether they do it from their PC or their Smartphone. With a good plan and a clear vision, it becomes possible to deliver on their expectations.

If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis (think EverNote) then an app provides a great way to do that.

Mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.

If you need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a network/wireless connection then an app makes sense.

All the reasons look significant, and I must say they are proving their worth in the market, but one thing which makes all these things still useless is, you have to make customers download your app, which is the most challenging thing to do.

And I have seen most of the companies doing anything to make sure that their app is downloaded by their target user. They are giving huge discounts, doing a lot of advertisements, but I think you can’t force users to download a different app for each and every service they want.

1) As I have mentioned, you have to make users to download your app, and that is not easy at all.

2) All mobile devices have limitations: memory, performance etc.

We need to take care of different mobile devices while developing an app which is a huge challenge for app developers to give same user experience on different mobile devices.

The devices can have different platforms on which they are working, different specifications, different screen sizes etc.

3) If users have so many apps then your app will be lost in the pool of other apps.

This is a big and difficult question for web developers.

Let’s discuss first what are the benefits of having a web app then will try to find how they can be improved or how they are improving:

A mobile website is instantly accessible to users via a browser across a range of devices (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc). Apps on the other hand require the user to first download and install the app from an app marketplace before the content or application can be viewed — a significant barrier between initial engagement and action/conversion.

A single mobile website can reach users across many different types of mobile devices, whereas native apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device. Furthermore, mobile website URLs are easily integrated within other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR Codes and near field communication (NFC).

A mobile website is much more dynamic than an app in terms of pure flexibility to update content. If you want to change the design or content of a mobile website you simply publish the edit once and the changes are immediately visible; updating an app on the other hand requires the updates to be pushed to users, which then must be downloaded in order to update the app on each type of device.

Mobile websites are much easier for users to find because their pages can be displayed in search results and listed in industry-specific directories, making it easy for qualified visitors to find you. Most importantly, visitors to your regular website can be automatically sent to your mobile site when they are on a handheld (using device-detection). In contrast, the visibility of apps are largely restricted to manufacturer app stores.

Mobile website URLs are easily shared between users via a simple link (e.g. within an email or text message, Facebook or Twitter post). Publishers can easily direct users to a mobile website from a blog or website, or even in print. An app simply cannot be shared in this fashion.

Because a mobile website is accessible across platforms and can be easily shared among users, as well as search engines, it has far greater reach capability than a native app.

The average shelf-life of an app is pretty short, less than 30 days according to some research, so unless your app is something truly unique and/or useful (ideally, both), it’s questionable how long it will last on a user’s device. Mobile websites on the other hand are always available for users to return to them.

Just like a standard website, mobile websites can be developed as database-driven web applications that act very much like native apps. A mobile web application can be a practical alternative to native app development.

The investment considerations of app vs website don’t end with the initial launch; properly supporting and developing an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is more much more expensive and involved than supporting a website over time.
So we have some answers for this , which are still looks like a hypothesis.

Some recent innovations in the field of web app development:

Push notification plays a vital role in advertisement, enhances the user engagement, and many other things.

Today all the apps are personalised for you. They work according to your taste, your location etc.

So, for web to work like these we need Geo Fencing for Web.

Apps provide offline features, like Facebook allows you to update your status even when you are not connected to web, and when you are back in network they will update your status automatically.

So for all these things many web based companies are working and have launched new technologies to support all these features of a native app on web apps, even they have released beta versions of some of the features.

For Example:

1) Google’s material design on websites, we have Polymer which is still in early stage and not that many developers are familiar with it yet. But yes I guess in future developer community will use this platform or some other coming platforms to give web development a new face.

2) Bootstrap: Helping developers in making mobile friendly websites.

3) Service Builder, which will provide offline support for web apps.

4) Push Notification and Geo Fencing in latest version of Google Chrome for developers and in Mozilla Firefox.

And many more…

As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.

Want to share some websites which are working on all these futuristic designs and technologies.

https://poly-mail.appspot.com/
http://foodtrack.de/
https://www.chromestatus.com/features/5047308127305728
http://1.daily-stock-forecast.appspot.com/favorite/
http://pubnub.github.io/paper-chat/
https://home-assistant.io/demo/

Image Credit – Graphic Pear

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