Who’s afraid of native mobile application development? I can safely say a lot of enterprises. Native mobile application development has been branded as expensive, laborious and one that might require re-skilling for different platforms like Android, iOS or Windows, even as it is known to offer the best user experience and has the best access to device features. Besides, native mobile applications typically result in higher performance, while mobile applications that need to access hardware, work best when developed on native platforms. Native mobile applications are also most suited for instances when you have a set of specific users or have set behavior patterns.
Despite its many benefits, developers and even enterprises have gravitated towards web applications (HTML5) or hybrid because they’re cost effective; they save time and are easier and faster to develop. But most appealing is the fact that once developed on web, these mobile applications can be deployed onto various devices. But truth be told, web applications are not necessarily always successful and many enterprises are often left to deal with failed applications.
However, recent trends are showing that native mobile applications are slowly but surely shedding this image (of being hard to develop) and enterprises and developers are looking at them with renewed interest. In a recent research by IDC and Appcelerator, many in the developer community showed dissatisfaction with the level of experience of web applications and were not too happy with performance either. They were also unhappy with aspects like monetization, fragmentation and security. However, they did show satisfaction with the cross-development capabilities of HTML5, and features like immediate updates.
While enterprises should adopt a strategy that helps them best decide on the most apt platform based on application need and user set, they definitely need to cast aside fears surrounding native development for mobile applications, especially around lack of skill or level of difficulty and cost. Developers can adopt cross-platform skills and expertise fairly easily because at the heart of all native mobile applications lies a common development paradigm; Module-View-Controller (MVC). MVC is a common design pattern that runs across platforms. Once mastered, it can easily be applied across platforms. Other features that run across platforms include memory management, device orientation, and interaction with voice call. Additionally, for developers, native platforms provide several tools for screen design, unit test framework and ability to simulate hardware features on development machines. Technology apart, it’s the knowledge gained and the experience derived from mobile application development that can help developers create application across multiple platforms.
Development costs can be a deterrent for CIOs, but CIOs must also remember to find the right balance and not trade it off for developing poor mobile applications that find few takers. In the end, the true measure of success for mobility is the number of satisfied consumers, using engaging and user-friendly applications. And these can be developed on native platforms with higher rate of success.