Developing Mobile Web Applications: When, Why, and How
Developing Mobile Web Applications: When, Why, and How

There are 6.8 billion people on the planet, 5.1 billion of whom own a cell phone. And today, an ever-growing percentage of these devices are smartphones.

According to a recent Pew Research Center Study, the number of users accessing the Internet on their smartphones has more than doubled in the past 5 years, as has the number of users downloading and using mobile apps. Of those who use the Internet or email on their phones, more than a third go online primarily through their handheld devices.

Indeed, mobile computing is becoming increasingly ubiquitous… and it’s awesome. Visit here: Web app development.

As a mobile device user, few things are as frustrating and difficult to fat-finger-navigate as a poorly designed mobile web app, or even a native app.And as a mobile app developer, few things can be as intensely irritating as striving to support as wide a range of mobile clients as possible, each of which has its own frustrating set of idiosyncrasies.

Whether you choose to develop a mobile web, native, or hybrid app, the quest to support multiple mobile browsers, more exotic devices, and coming to grips with various platforms can be quite a gut wrenching experience indeed.

Of course, not every developer today needs to worry about supporting mobile clients. But the increasingly omnipresent nature of mobile devices and applications strongly suggests that those who don’t need to support mobile clients today will more than likely need to do so in the not-too-distant future. So if you’re not already thinking about mobile app development, you probably should be.

Mobile Web App vs. Native App vs. Hybrid App

As is true with most technology selections, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the type of mobile app to develop. There are numerous web app best practices to consider, not all of which are technical. Who is your target audience? Are they more likely to prefer a mobile web or a native app?

What’s the difference between native and hybrid apps? What development resources do you have and which mobile technologies are they most familiar with? What is the licensing and sales model that you’re envisioning for your product?

Generally speaking (although there are always exceptions), the mobile web app route is faster and cheaper than the native mobile app route, especially when the objective is to support a wide range of devices. Conversely, there may be capabilities native to the mobile device (such as the movement sensor and so on) that are essential to your app, but which are only accessible via a native app (which would therefore make the mobile web app choice a non-starter for you).

And beyond the old web apps vs. native apps question, a hybrid mobile app may be the right answer for you, depending on your requirements and resource constraints. Hybrid apps, like native apps, run on the device itself (as opposed to inside a browser), but are written with web technologies (HTML5, CSS and JavaScript) and typically underpinned by a hybrid app framework.

More specifically, hybrid apps run inside a native container, and leverage the device’s browser engine (but not the browser) to render the HTML and process the JavaScript locally. A web-to-native abstraction layer enables access to device capabilities that are not accessible in mobile web applications, such as the accelerometer, camera, and local storage.

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