The mobile landscape is constantly changing. Developing countries have completely skipped the wired form of communication that most areas experienced, such as land-line telephones, and moved straight to wireless as the technology became a great deal cheaper. There are a few factors that illustrate the huge impact mobile devices have been having on the developing world, as well as the developed world.
More people in developing countries have access to a mobile phone, but not electricity. Mobile phones are everywhere and people are prioritizing their ability to communicate over getting electricity. Phones and other devices tend to be much easier to obtain and setup, rather than dealing with the bureaucracy of getting electricity for a home. As a result, the number of people who are using mobile devices is constantly expanding.
“Mobile money” or methods of transferring payment from one mobile phone to another, are rapidly increasing in popularity and are set to become a $617 billion dollar industry by 2016, with 80% of all of these transactions currently occurring in East Africa. A full of half of Kenya’s GDP is transferred in one way or another through mobile money services.
These facts indicate the enormity of mobile development. If software development companies and other companies do not adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape, they will be left behind. There are three main options that need to be considered when a company is considering the development of a mobile app.
Use the Native Platform or Native Language for the Device
For example, if the mobile app needs to be developed for iOS, then the program should be written in Objective C by using Mac + XCode, or other functions that capture this same native language. If a company is developing an app for Android, then Java needs to be written using Eclipse on a Windows, Mac, or Linux system. For a Windows Phone 8, it should be written in C# on a machine running Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012.
The main advantage to writing in the native language is that it allows for full access to be reached to the device, platform, and APIs. Using the native language also tends to increase the overall performance of the user interface. Finally, the native language will allow for the “discoverability” factor when introduced to the app store.
Using the native language approach to each device will require new languages and tools to be learned each time. This can slow down the development process. As a result, using the native language is the most expensive option for development. The client code will also not be able to be reused between platforms.
Use an Online Mobile App
Another options is to build a mobile, online app. This is an app that is built online and hosted online. When a user accesses it from his or her mobile phone, he or she will need to access the Internet by using the browser that is on the phone.
This tends to be the method of mobile app development that will result in being able to reach the largest number of people. The code that is used to make up such a mobile application can constantly be reused as the website is made responsive. The base of the code can also be reused from one platform to another. The fact that any code can be reused at all will significantly minimize the amount of time that it takes for the development process to be completed. Finally, most people are able to develop online mobile web apps, so it is relatively easy to find a person with the skills to do the work that is required.
When using an online mobile app, it is very difficult to have adequate access to APIs. There is also no presence in any app stores, or a very limited presence, which reduces the overall “discoverability” of the app. This means that it might take awhile for the app to become truly popular. Finally, online mobile apps tend to be more difficult to use to make money, rather than the other methods of creating mobile apps.
Use a Cross-Platform Tool (CPT) to Make a Hybrid
The main advantage that is associated with using a hybrid mobile app is that it can reuse any languages that a team is already familiar with. If a company’s development team has an in-depth knowledge of HTML and CSS, then these languages can be used to create the app, saving the time that would be needed to learn another language. Another advantage is that the code base can be reused from one platform to another as long as the platform is supported. This type of mobile app will be able to access the majority of APIs on a device and can be added to an app store in order to make it easy to discover by other users. This is often one of the most cost-effective strategies to create an app that provides excellent user experience and can be used from platform to platform.
The biggest issue with using a hybrid mobile app is that it can be extremely difficult to debug. If there is a problem, that problem has the potential to slow down the entire development process and raise costs. Another problem is that all of the target platforms might not be able to support it.
Depending on the strengths and weaknesses of a development team, any of these mobile app options will suit the needs of the company. However, it goes without saying that choosing one and developing mobile apps will help companies not fall behind in the technological landscape.
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