In recent years smartphones have become part of many people's daily lives. They are used to communicate, stay updated, take photos, listen to music and entertain us with hundreds of thousands of apps. People carry their cellphones around with them wherever they go. They wake up with them, eat with them and go to bed with them.
For companies this presents another opportunity to market and reach out to customers. If you or your company is considering a mobile presence there are two main paths to getting there: an HTML mobile web site or a native app built specifically for one or more mobile devices.
This article does not discuss whether you should or should not create a mobile presence. This article presents 10 reasons why you might want to consider creating a mobile app instead of or in addition to an HTML mobile site for both companies and developers.
- A well done native mobile app will almost always provide a better user experience. While HTML web apps have improved they are still unable to match the speed and responsiveness of a native app. If a user clears their browser cache and history your app will need to be downloaded again. Native apps can more easily be designed to work offline without having to download resources from the web after the initial install or update.
- You have more control over what the user experiences. The capabilities of HTML sites depend largely on the browser being used.
- Native apps can achieve more functionality than web apps. While web apps are gaining ground it is still easier, faster and more reliable to use native code to access device hardware and run in the background. Use of the gyroscope, compass, camera, microphone, gps, bluetooth, filesystem, SD card, local databases, 3D capabilities and local media resources are all more capable and stable in a native app.
- On some platforms native apps have the ability to communicate and share with other native apps using hooks and APIs. Your app can also be designed to accept and act upon data from other apps. For example, native apps with the correct permissions can access phone data such as the address book and calendars, or they can offer users the ability to upload photos or messages to multiple services.
- Your app will be installed directly onto users' devices. Once a user installs an app it will either appear directly on one of their home screens or in their app list. In either case your app is constantly on their device and all they need to do is touch it to launch your app. Your app's icon will serve as a constant reminder of your company to users and it’s much easier for users to touch an icon than it is to navigate to a web site.
- Apps allow for another method to connect with users. When an app is updated users will be notified of updates. It's also possible to build apps that send push notifications, allowing you to communicate with users even when they are not using the app.
- Apps give users another reason to talk about your company or service. It gives companies another path to reach users in addition to traditional marketing and web sites.
- If you sell your apps or goods and services through your app there is a potential to make money. You can leverage the platform’s payment services and have millions of potential users already set up and enabled to purchase goods and services through your app.
- Designing and developing for a native mobile app can help you to develop a more service based architecture, which can help if you plan to expand your online services to other devices.
- As a developer designing a native mobile application allows you to expand your skillset. It is a great learning experience for any developer interested in mobile development.
Whether or not you decide to build a native web app depends mostly on what type of app you want to create. In most cases a native app is not needed, but if your app could benefit from several of the reasons above it might be worth considering creating a native app for your company or service.