Selecting a Front-End Mobile Solution

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Dan Nichols, Director of Web Engineering at Mutual Mobile, takes a look at the four most popular solutions for reaching mobile audiences.

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  • Web apps are more discoverable than native apps? Findable only through the app store? You can give someone a link directly to the app store listing and it will open in via the app store app on their phone where they can immediately download it. Not to mention a desktop internet listing for the app. These are true for both iPhone and Android, I believe. The app store certainly has some searchability and discoverability issues, but at least you're in a pond of a few hundred thousand rather than the infinite sea that is the web. Nine times out of ten, if you search a brand's name in the app store you're only going to get a few limited listings. Searching the brand's name and 'app' could give you thousands of hits on a Google search. I see your point, but I think if mobile web were truly so discoverable, you wouldn't see so many brands dropping big bucks to write software to be on the app store when they could just create a web app.
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  • Selecting a Front-End Mobile Solution

    1. 1. Selecting a Front-End Solution
    2. 2. What are the possibilities?Let’s look at the four most popular solutions for reaching mobile audiences
    3. 3. Hybrid App Native App Mobile Web Responsive Web (PhoneGap)Platform’s native language and SDK HTML/CSS/JS with PhoneGap SDK HTML/CSS/JS HTML/CSS/JS (i.e., Objective-C and iOS SDK) Installed from an App Store Installed from an App Store Hosted on your servers Hosted on your servers Accessed from home screen Accessed from home screen Accessed from browser Accessed from browser One mobile platform Several popular mobile platforms Most mobile devices Most devices
    4. 4. How do we evaluate a solution? We use 11 different criteria to determine which development solution best meets your project’s needs
    5. 5. Performance Native App App is optimized for a specific platform Hybrid App App is optimized for mobile devices Mobile Web App is optimized for mobile devicesResponsive Web App is optimized for a broad range of devices
    6. 6. Graphics and Animation App takes full advantage of GPU and is able to leverage other Native App capabilities, like 3D graphics and native UI libraries Graphics capabilities vary with platform, but generally able to create Hybrid App smooth animations Graphics capabilities vary with platform, but generally able to create Mobile Web smooth animations Greatest variation in capabilities; not all platforms may be able to runResponsive Web animations and fallbacks must be used for most graphical features
    7. 7. Audio and Video Only one rendition of each media file is needed for playback and the Native App device’s native media recording capabilities can be fully utilized Multiple renditions of each media file may be needed for playback; Hybrid App recording capabilities can be accessed through an abstraction layer Multiple renditions of each media file may be needed for playback; Mobile Web cannot rely on access to recording Multiple renditions and players are needed for playback; cannot rely onResponsive Web access to recording
    8. 8. Platform Integration All hardware features can be accessed; notifications fully supported; Native App connections can be made with most core programs (contacts, calendar, messages, etc.) A limited number of hardware features can be accessed; notifications Hybrid App and some core programs can be accessed through an abstraction layer A very limited number of hardware features can be accessed; no access Mobile Web to notifications or core programs Unreliable access to hardware features; no access to notifications orResponsive Web core programs
    9. 9. Offline Capabilities Many local storage options; able to store large amount of data; able to Native App access app without connectivity Many local storage options; able to store large amount of data; able to Hybrid App access app without connectivity Several local storage options; able to store moderate amount of data; Mobile Web able to be accessed without connectivity if user has saved to home screen Limited local storage options; able to store small amount of data; offlineResponsive Web access support varies between platforms
    10. 10. Reach Restricted to a single device platform and compiled for a minimum Native App version of that platform Restricted to several popular platforms and compiled for minimum Hybrid App versions of those platforms Mobile Web Accessible from most mobile device browsersResponsive Web Accessible from any device with a browser
    11. 11. Discoverability Native App Findable through App Store only Hybrid App Findable through App Store only Findable through any external link; external links may point users to Mobile Web inappropriate rendition (i.e., sending mobile user to desktop) Findable through any external link; external links always lead to a siteResponsive Web that renders appropriately for the device
    12. 12. Social Social API integration through libraries; difficult to share content that Native App exists only within the app Social API integration through libraries; difficult to share content that Hybrid App exists only within the app Social API integration through public REST APIs; shared content may Mobile Web not be appropriate to be viewed on all devices Social API integration through public REST APIs; shared content isResponsive Web appropriate to be viewed on any device
    13. 13. Development Time Each platform’s app must be developed separately, though services may Native App be shared Hybrid App All code is shared between mobile platforms Mobile Web All code is shared between mobile platformsResponsive Web All code is shared between all platforms
    14. 14. Updates and Maintenance Updates must be installed by user and multiple versions of app must Native App coexist; updates may release at different times for different platforms Updates must be installed by user and multiple versions of app must Hybrid App coexist; code base is shared, but updates may release at different times for different platforms Updates are simultaneous across mobile user base but are distinct Mobile Web efforts from updates to other experiences Updates are simultaneous across user base and uniform betweenResponsive Web experiences
    15. 15. Third Party Dependencies App must go through approval process, is hosted by an App Store, and Native App may be promoted, demoted or removed at the platform owner’s discretion App must go through approval process, is hosted by an App Store, and Hybrid App may be promoted, demoted or removed at the platform owner’s discretion Mobile Web App is hosted and released independently of platform ownerResponsive Web App is hosted and released independently of platform owner
    16. 16. Choosing the solutionBy weighting these criteria according to importance, we can identify the right solution for your project
    17. 17. Native Hybrid Mobile Web Responsive Web Performance 4 2 2 1 Graphics/Animation 4 2 2 1 Audio/Video 4 3 2 1 Platform Integration 4 3 2 1 Offline Capabilities 4 4 2 1 Reach 1 2 3 4 Discoverability 1 1 3 4 Social 2 2 3 4 Development Time 1 3 3 4 Updates/Maintenance 0 1 3 43rd Party Dependencies 0 0 4 4
    18. 18. Questions?Follow-up questions can also be directed to dan.nichols@mutualmobile.com Learn more about how we think at mutualmobile.com/resources

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