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What to do When There's No App For That

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It finally happened. You have a great idea to streamline a business process or improve customer engagement when you discover that there’s NO app for that. What do you do? How do you build it? The answer is, it depends. It depends on the technical requirements, the target audience, your budget and the platforms and devices you want to target.

Traditionally for modern apps there are three approaches

Native Apps

A Native app is a mobile application developed in a programming language such as C# for Windows, Java for Android or Objective C for IOS to target a specific device. There are frameworks and tools like Xamarin that allow you to develop native apps with a single codebase in a single programming language targeting multiple platforms, but such tools are not required to build a native app.

HTML5 Apps

HTML5 apps are applications delivered from the web that look and feel like native mobile applications. They run in the browser, and can be accessed like any other web page (open browser, type in the URL, etc.). A responsive website is an example of an HTML5 app.

Hybrid Apps

As the name implies hybrid apps are part native app, part HTML5 app. Hybrid apps can be delivered via an app store and are stored on the device much like native apps. However, unlike native apps hybrid apps are served up through a browser (more specifically a browser control in the application) and are developed using web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Recently a new type of app has entered the mobile ecosystem. These apps can be developed without writing any code, and can be made available to users within your organization. As such, I’ll refer to these apps as Organization Apps.

Organization Apps

Organization apps are internal line-of-business applications published to users within your organization. Apps developed with PowerApps  from Microsoft are a great example of this type of app. With PowerApps users within an organization can connect to business systems like SharePoint, OneDrive and MS Dynamics CRM to create powerful web and mobile applications which can be made available to other users within the organization.

Another great example is Composer 2 from AppGyver which allows users to connect to business systems like Oracle and Salesforce to create applications for their enterprise.

With so many options for developing mobile applications it can be tough to decide which approach to take. Here is a simple chart covering just some of the many things that should be considered when making the decision on the development approach.

  Native App HTML5 App Hybrid App Organization App
Cost High Moderate Moderate Low
Connectivity Online/Offline Mainly Online Online/Offline Mainly Online
Distribution App Store Web App Store Internal to Organization
Device Access Yes No Yes No
Development Time High Moderate Moderate Low
Developer Skills C#/Java/C HTML/CSS/JavaScript HTML/CSS/ JavaScript None
Cross Platform No Yes Yes Yes

 

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