11 Mobile Terms You Need to Know


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There's a good deal of confusion surrounding mobile terminology. What's the difference between responsive and adaptive? What makes an app hybrid? What does mobile first really mean?

Here are 11 mobile terms that you need to know, and what they really mean.

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11 Mobile Terms You Need to Know

  2. 2. 1 HTML5 HTML5 is the latest version of the HTML language for building websites. In practice, “HTML5” has become the umbrella term for app-like features on websites, even when it requires other languages like JavaScript and CSS. ! These HTML5 features enable web applications to match the capabilities of native applications without plugins (e.g. web apps that can work without a network connection, video playback without Flash, etc.). ! See also: “HTML5”  -­‐  HTML5  Rocks
  3. 3. 2 NATIVE APPS A software application developed to run on a specific mobile operating system, and which is downloaded, purchased, and upgraded through a central distribution portal (such as the App Store). ! Native apps are developed using software and tools that are unique to the target mobile OS. As a result, native apps easily inherit the look-and-feel of the mobile device but are also hard to migrate to other operating systems.
  4. 4. 3 HTML5 APPS HTML5 applications (or “web apps”) are built with web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) but offer the interactivity and experience typically associated with a native application. HTML5 apps are generally considered easier to build than native applications. ! Because they only require a common web browser, HTML5 apps are easy to distribute and require little effort to migrate across platforms and operating systems.
  5. 5. 4 HYBRID APPS An application built by combining HTML5 and native code. Like a native app, hybrid apps are installed on a mobile device and are distributed through a central portal (such as the App Store) but offer the ease of development and cross-platform benefits of an HTML5 app. ! For more information, read Native vs. Hybrid vs. HTML5
  6. 6. 5 mBaaS A mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) bundles the common functionality required to support mobile applications into a single cloud platform. ! mBaaS solutions do not build the app that runs on a mobile device. Instead they accelerate app development by reducing the effort to develop services such as user management and push notifications that are typically needed by mobile apps. ! See also: “The New Lightweight Middleware?” – Forrester Research
  7. 7. 6 MOBILE FIRST Mobile First is a technology-agnostic design principle. Designers first focus on mobile, so that screen and bandwidth constraints force designers to decide what user activities are most important, which in turn, bring clarity to UX trade-offs on more forgiving devices. ! Further, the term Mobile First is sometimes used signify a shift in which mobile becomes more important than the PC in an organization's digital strategy. ! See also: “What does mobile first mean to you? - FastCompany
  8. 8. 7 RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN Responsive web design (RWD) is a client-side developer technique that uses fluid grids, flexible images and CSS media queries to dynamically adapt the front-end of a website to different screen sizes in order to optimize the user experience for that device. Requires net new development or a rewrite of an existing site. ! See also: “Responsive Web Design” – A List Apart
  9. 9. 8 RESPONSIVE Responsive has become a broadly applied term to describe various techniques and technologies in which a unified set of website code produces web pages optimized for variety of devices based on screen size and other device capabilities. ! The application of responsive techniques to web development was inspired by responsive architecture.
  10. 10. 9 ReSS Responsive web design with Server-Side components (ReSS) is a form of responsive that combines RWD client-side techniques with server-side code. ! With ReSS, the overall page is constructed according to RWD principles but individual components within the page can be optimized for a specific device by server side code. ReSS solutions can result in better performance than pure RWD but are more complex to implement. ! See also: “Responsive Design + Server Side Components” – LukeW
  11. 11. 10 ADAPTIVE WEB DESIGN Adaptive Web Design is a method of creating multi-device websites where the server uses a different template for each device (or device class) to display the web page in a (typically fixed width) layout appropriate for that device. Adaptive is similar in goals to RWD, but accomplishes this with multiple server-side templates vs. a single template with client-side media queries. ! See also: “Should Your Website Be Using Adpative Design” – Harvard Buiness Review
  12. 12. RESPONSIVE DELIVERY RD is a form of responsive that proposes a single, unified set of code that dynamically adapts to various endpoints. RD accomplishes this goal by leveraging existing business logic instead of rewriting a site. Software (typically in the cloud) adjusts (in real-time) the front-end of a desktop site into customized experiences for mobile sites and hybrid apps. CDNs, caching and image optimization speed performance. ! See also: “Responsive Delivery” - Moovweb 11
  13. 13. 11 MOBILE TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW HTML5 ! Native Apps ! HTML5 Apps ! Hybrid Apps ! mBaSS ! Mobile First Responsive Web Design ! Responsive ! ReSS ! Adaptive Web Design ! Responsive Delivery