Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Gregor Petri, Jnan Dash

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Wearables

Mobile IoT: Article

Mobile Web Apps vs. Native Apps

Contrary to popular belief, the discussion doesn't need to produce a winner and a loser

Web Apps vs. Native Apps is a topic that still excites readers to this day, as if it were anticipated that one side will win and the other will lose.

Contrary to popular belief, the discussion doesn't need to produce a winner and a loser. Instead of classifying apps as web apps or as native apps, why not just call them mobile apps? I believe "mobile app" is a great name. Under this name there are simply two variations of mobile app that can be created: web app and native app. A web app is an HTML5, JavaScript, CSS app running in a mobile browser. Now, you might wonder, why not just call this a mobile site? This is a fair point, and I believe the term "mobile site" can also be used. However, it is common to distinguish a mobile web app by one important extra feature, that it is invoking some remote services, usually a REST API (instead of just loading a static mobile web site). The second variation is the native app, one that is downloaded and installed on the mobile device.

It's important to note that a third variation of mobile app can also be created: a hybrid app. A hybrid mobile app takes an HTML mobile app and inserts it inside a native wrapper. While the inside of this app is made with HTML, JavaScript and CSS, the outside is a native shell. This kind of app is also downloaded and installed on a device. Although there are differences in how hybrid apps are implemented compared to native apps, most consumers can't tell native apps apart from hybrid apps. Hybrid apps are distributed in the app stores, just like native apps.

There are a number of important factors to consider when deciding whether to go with a mobile web app or a mobile native app.

Skills
Building native apps requires strong knowledge of Objective C (iOS), Java (Android), and C# (Windows Phone). Finding developers with the necessary experience is still not easy. On the other hand, we have been building web applications for the past 20 years. Even though building a mobile web app requires more specialized skills, the foundation is still HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Finding strong developers should be easier in this case.

Platforms
With native development, the number of apps you need to build directly relates to the number of platforms you need to support. Today, most companies must support at least iOS, Android, and probably Windows 8/Phone, followed distantly by BlackBerry. A mobile web app can be opened on any device with a browser, phone, tablet, or anything in between. Even though the notion of "build once, run anywhere" sounds very nice, differences in mobile browsers and their support for the latest HTML5 features will require extensive testing and possibly coming up with workarounds(unless, of course, it's OK for your app not to support all the browsers.)

Features and Performance
Without a doubt, native apps have full access to the underlying mobile platform. Native apps are usually very fast and polished, making them great for high performance apps or games. Mobile web apps, on the other hand, have limited (but growing) access to device features and APIs. With JavaScript engines in the browsers getting faster, mobile web apps perform well but still fall behind native app performance.

The extra jolt of performance that dominates natively developed apps is not always necessary. Many business applications do not necessarily require such high levels of performance. In these cases, web and hybrid apps are more cost-effective, efficient, and dynamic due to API adaptability. On the other hand, games that require more advanced performance features should utilize native development.

Publishing to App Stores and Updating Apps
Regardless of the platform, native and hybrid apps are published to an app store. Apple has the strictest rules for accepting apps into its store. It requires the app to run fast and follow some basic UI principles. It could take anywhere from one to two weeks for Apple to either accept or reject an app.

Apple's stringency in App Store acceptance is contended by Google's somewhat more lenient rules, which don't necessarily adhere to the same rigid standards, and therefore accept apps more readily into its Google Play marketplace. Windows, on the other hand, takes a more "middle-of-the-road" approach when it comes to app acceptance. For whichever platform, any updates to native apps would fall under the same rules and regulations.

A mobile web app doesn't need to be published to any store, because it is simply accessed by its URL in the browser or an app icon/bookmark on the phone home screen. App updates are very simple as well. Just push any changes, and the next time the app is opened, the user will get all the new features.

Summary
A native mobile app can produce the best user experience - fast and fluid, can give you the best access to device features, and can be discovered in the app stores. On the other hand, building a native app on every major platform requires more socialized skills, a longer time-to-market, and a bigger budget to build and maintain. For this reason many apps get built as web apps or hybrid apps.

A mobile web app can produce a good user experience that is consistent across a broader range of platforms. As browser and JavaScript engines get faster with every release, the user experience gets better and better and the apps run faster and faster. Once created, this kind of app can be run on any platform, device, phone, or tablet with a browser. On the other hand, browsers on different platforms do not uniformly support all the latest HTML features and API, which can make developing and testing challenging.

A hybrid app offers many of the advantages of both approaches: discoverability in the app stores, access to the most common device APIs, and broad device coverage while not requiring the specialized skills, bigger budgets and longer time-to-market that are more typical of fully native apps.

More Stories By Max Katz

Max Katz heads Developer Relations for Appery.io, a cloud-based mobile app platform. He loves trying out new and cool REST APIs in mobile apps. Max is the author of two books “Practical RichFaces” (Apress 2008, 2011), DZone MVB (Most Valuable Blogger), and is a frequent speaker at developer conferences. You can find out what Max is up to on his blog: http://maxkatz.org and Twitter: @maxkatz.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...