Web App Development

Web apps are different from native apps in that they are built using languages and standards such as HTML5 and CSS3 web tech, rather than being programmed in a platform specific environment. Therefore, apps developed using web languages can run on pretty much any mobile platform via a standards-compliant web browser. On the other hand, native apps only work on the one platform they were programmed to work on.

So why build native mobile apps? There are several reasons, such the native app technology makes for a superior user experience and they are quicker and easier to access from the interface of most mobile devices. Often native apps are the option that companies should opt for if they are looking to build deeper relationships with existing client bases, but for companies looking to save money or looking to build a presence via mobile search, mobile web development is the right answer.

While we have talked of the advantages of native apps in several previous posts, lets examine the benefits of mobile web development for applications. One key advantage to web apps, is there’s no need to develop for a specific platform. Instead, apps will work on any device that offers a web browser. Additionally, native apps typically takes a bit longer to build than an equivalent web app would, this can be a benefit where timelines are critical.

One area where developing web apps has a pretty strong advantage is with updates. Typical mobile users update their apps very infrequently, therefore, the user base for a particular native app is spread across multiple versions usually. However, having an out-of-date web app is pretty close to impossible. It is a similar situation to loading a website on your desktop or laptop computer. Each time you load a site, you are loading the latest version (unless you have a version in your cache). If we updated the logo on our homepage, you wouldn’t have to go download an update to our web site, you would just see it the next time you visit.

One of the areas where native apps have a strong advantage is their ability to leverage the phone’s hardware seamlessly. Native apps can access your phone’s accelerometer, GPS and camera but, web apps can only access GPS in a limited capacity. Web apps can’t access your phone’s camera or even utilize photos you’ve already taken so a web developed app will certainly not be the right choice in situations where you require those features.

Smartphones Have An Average Of 41 Mobile Apps Per Device

Based on the most recent numbers from Nielson, half of US mobile service subscribers own a smartphone and each of those, on average, has 41 mobile apps on their device. This is a 28% increase over the previous year according to Nielson, so its pretty easy to see that there is some fantastic growth with regards to mobile application sales. Especially when you take into account the incredible growth in terms of the number of smartphones sold.

Another factor of this survey that stands out is by how much users prefer native mobile applications to html5 applications. Users will spend a great amount more time on a native app than they will on an html5 application. Clearly in most situations, building a native application is still the best choice for now. Nielson’s report also highlighted the incredible growth of this industry in terms of handsets. Right now there are a total of 84 million Android and iOS users in the US and that is more than double the number from just a year ago.

Studies like these tend to punctuate the need for businesses to address how they can leverage mobile apps or they will soon find themselves on the outside looking in. Well conceived and built mobile applications are regularly used by savvy consumers and provide a great way to access an audience that is often turned off by traditional media.


The Emergence of HTML 5

HTML 4 has been a staple for nearly a decade now in the Internet world and we find that more than ever, developers are seeking new techniques to provide better functionality. Web developers are feeling held back by the constraints of the current language and browsers and are ready for more powerful tools. This is becoming more of an issue with the proliferation of smartphones that is creating an even greater need for smartphone friendly tools.

While tools like jQuery have helped, they have not provided the shift that many web developers are looking to find. On top of that, the Internet and web design are fields where things we learn today can be out-of-date tomorrow, only further pushing the need for a shift to a more robust tool.

HTML 5 introduces a complete set of new fundamentals that make it much easier to structure pages and develop high power web sites that are more smartphone friendly. Most HTML 4 web pages contain a variety of common structures, such as headers, footers and columns and more recently it is almost universal to mark them up using div elements, giving each a descriptive id or class.

To give authors more flexibility, and allow more interactive and exciting websites and applications, HTML 5 introduces and enhances a wide range of features including form controls, APIs, multimedia, structure, and semantics. These tools will usher in a new era of web development with a bold vanguard of web designers at its forefront leading the way.