mobile app

Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps

If you are in the business of provide software as a service, you most likely will have a mobile app version, or at least thinking about it.

So WHICH tool should I use?

There are so many tools on the market from Native apps (software specific to OS type = Android or IOS) to Cross-platform (code which can work on IOS/Android and in some cases, Windows Phone) options.

Ultimately is depends on a number of factors. Do you have internal developers? If so, they will tend to lean toward languages they already know and in most cases will design in native app tools. There is nothing wrong with native application design. Native application means the code is written specific to IOS or Android. The only downside, is that they will have two independent sets of code – one for each of the major mobile families. For smaller projects, this is mostly likely a feasible approach.

In recent time, Cross Platform tools are getting better. Many purport that 85% or more code can be shared between IOS and Android. The upside is that you can focus on a single core code based, and tweak (generally the User Interface, or UI) for each device. If your application is large (enterprise), considering a Cross-platform tool will save you time & money in the future. In many cases, it requires learning or upskilling code knowledge – for example, recently Microsoft purchased a well respected Cross-platform tool Xamarin which purports to share code across IOS, Android and WindowsRT. However, like any Microsoft based development tool, it is based on the C# (C Sharp) language on top of the .NET framework. Most developers are PHP or Java experts, so this would require learning C# to utilise this tool. The up-side of course, is that Xamarin comes packaged with Microsoft Visual Studio which means you can deploy Windows and Windows mobile application as well…

Alternative Cross-platform solutions (based primary on Java) include: React, PhoneGap and Ionic. And yes, there are many many more…

The way these Cross-platform tools generally work is by creating shared classed (code which can work and be shared across Android & IOS). Developers then use these shared classes and created device specific UI in addition to access device specific features (e.g. GPS, Camera etc).

If you are starting out, you should invest some time exploring and investigating ALL the options, as making the right call NOW will save you time, money and frustration down the track.

Whilst you can gain comfort in either (Native or Cross Platform) tools getting the job done, in my opinion it comes to down the size and complexity of your application, and the size of your development team. For example, React is a Java based Cross-platform tool which is highly regarded. For me personally, it lacks strict coding structural concepts which for complex projects &/or large development teams could easily get messy… However for smaller projects, it would be ideal. Writing your Android app in Android Studio (Native) will produce an awesome Android app – but then you need to replicate your app in an IOS equivalent.

The bottom line, is that mobile apps WILL cost you more, and take longer than simply developing a web-portal which performs the same function. Of course, online web-portals only work when your customers have an internet connection – hence, welcome to mobile apps…

You need to be prepared and accept that fact before embarking on a mobile application. Additionally, with new devices hitting the market frequently, you need to TEST your app on dozens (as a minimum) devices before handing access over to your customers. There are emulators available for testing your application, however nothing beats testing on a real-device. This process alone can become costly and time-consuming.

The above paragraph is not designed to scare you off. Its merely preparing you for the fact, that there are (and always) will be complexities associated with mobile design. Hence, if starting out, spend time in investigating, and more importantly, understanding your options before you start coding.

If you are not sure, confused or in a position where you need to grow your business by producing a mobile application – best advise is speak with a consultant and cover your bases. Yes, we @ ZIS can help, but you may have your own IT advisors – just have the conversation – it will save you time, money & frustration…

Thanks for reading – if you’d like to chat about your exciting idea – connect with ZIS today…