You might hear someone say, “A native mobile app is the only way to go.”

They’ll discount mobile web apps as too slow. Too limited. And in some cases, they may be right. While there are certainly times when mobile web apps are the best choice, native mobile apps can do a lot more…and do it faster.

Why Are Native Mobile Apps Faster?

A native mobile app is faster because it’s written in languages like C# and compiled directly into the platform’s source – whether that platform is Android or iOS.

Also, desired functions can be programmed more directly – with cleaner, more efficient code – because the capabilities are so much greater than the unwieldy interplay of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS.

And finally, a native mobile app runs on its own within the mobile device’s operating system – while a mobile web app must run within the framework of a browser, which is also utilizing operating system resources.

Why Are Native Apps Better Than Web Apps?

There will be times when a mobile web app makes more sense than a native app. I discussed a few of those in other articles.

With a native app, however, you are no longer constrained by the browser and its technologies. You can do so much more.

Here are just a few of the reasons a native app is usually considered better:

  • Generates traffic from the app stores. A native app will reside in the Apple App Store, in Google Play, in the Amazon App Store, or even in all three. Maintaining a presence in these stores will generate traffic to your app and awareness for your brand.
  • Unleashes the full power of the mobile platform. Whatever the mobile device can do, a native app can tie into. You can access any and all of a smartphone’s features: GPS, compass, camera, local device storage, push notifications, etc.
  • Leverages integration with native features. A native mobile app can also interact with the mobile device’s accelerometer, Bluetooth, NFC, address book, messaging, and more.
  • Usable without an internet connection. Because a native app is downloaded and installed to the mobile device, it doesn’t need an active internet connection to function, like a web app does. Some features may require a data connection to function properly, of course, but this is by design and not a limitation of the technology.
  • UI speed and sensitivity. A native mobile app takes advantage of each platform’s native user interface technology. This allows it to function the way end-users of that platform expect it to function… and will also be lightning-fast.

Picking a Mobile Platform

There are a handful of major mobile platforms, with iOS and Android controlling the lion’s share of the market.

Worldwide, Android was the runaway leader at the end of 2016’s Q3 with 86.8% market share to iOS’s 12.5%, according to IDC research. Competition is much closer in the United States, with Android owning 55.3% market share to iOS’ 43.5% in the latest Kantar Worldpanel data.

This is important to know, as you’ll need to decide which platform your customers are on. Since each platform has its own native source code, you can’t just code your app and then launch it to both (well, you actually can, but we’ll get to that in the next section).

To gain the full benefits of native mobile applications, most developers write their code for one of these two platforms. If you want it to run on both, you’re looking at a whole new programming effort. Sure, there will be lots of shared components, and it’s not exactly starting from scratch… but you’ll still need to make lots of modifications to your code and compile it to a different source.

And that means you need to choose your initial platform wisely. Or does it?

What About Cross-Platform Development?

One way to get around the native platform problem is with cross-platform development.

Beware, though… cross-platform has become a buzzword that’s thrown around pretty loosely these days.

What you need to understand is that there are two very different methods to achieve cross-platform development. And when you’re speaking to a mobile developer, you need to know exactly which one they’re talking about.

The first method – the one many development shops will employ – is literally nothing more than a mobile web app wrapped in a tool such as Cordova or PhoneGap, that makes it show up in the app store. Because it’s written in HTML5 and runs inside a browser under the covers, it is, technically, a cross-platform application.

But it’s not the same as a “real” native mobile app. The user interface will be inconsistent with other mobile apps on the same smartphone. And performance will not be the same as a real native mobile app.

The second method is a much better solution. One that Ascendle uses to deliver the performance of a native mobile app with the efficiency and reach of cross-platform development.

In Don’t Pick the One-Trick Pony, Angelo Firenze reveals how we use Microsoft’s Xamarin to provide true cross-platform development. Our engineers code a single base program in C#. Then Xamarin takes it, translates it, and compiles it cleanly into native source code for both Android and iOS.

From that one program, you end up with two (or more, if you want to reach some of the smaller OS markets, like Windows Phone or Windows tablets) native mobile apps.

Powerful Native Mobile Applications

At Ascendle, we’re using everything we’ve learned through decades of software development experience to deliver the most powerful – and most valuable – native mobile applications.

Scrum project methodology. Distributed teams of experts. Microsoft Cloud toolsets and Azure infrastructure. Xamarin. We’re bringing you the best of the best so that we can build the best native mobile apps for you.

And we can have you launched and on your way in as little as four months. Now how do you like them app(le)s? Contact us.

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