It can be confusing. Trying to understand the mobile app landscape is not for the feint hearted. Then to make a marketing decision on which option to adopt requires a certain degree of technical knowledge. I will attempt to explain below how they all differ and which option is the best for you. Note that this is not and won’t be an exhaustive technical comparison, there are plenty of those out there. This article will only cover IPhone/IPod/IPad and Android apps. To answer the question, which do i need? the simple answer is… one of them. As to which one, the simple answer is, it depends. Let me explain…. The rise of apps is well known, the technical hurdle in bringing an app to market is, for many… is not so well know.
Native apps are apps built using development tools and software provided by the main companies, e.g. Apple, Google. For a while, it was the only way you could create apps. Google provides the Android SDK (Software Development Kit) which is what you need to code and build a native Android App. Java is the programming knowledge required to build Android apps using their SDK. Apple provides Xcode, the software required to build native IPhone/IPod and IPad apps. Xcode makes use of Objective-C programming language.
If, as a company, you wanted to create an IPhone and Android app, you would have to build it twice, once using the Android SDK and then again using Xcode. This is not only a lengthy process, but is also costly, which for many puts their ideas for mobile platform domination on the back burner.
The Solution - Hybrid Apps
The only real solution would be a way of using readily available web development resources, and have one app built which could become available to both the Android and IPhone (aka Hybrid Apps). For a few years, this area has seen a lot of activity. Many such products and services have sprung up allowing web developers to create one app and have it work for both platforms. The two big players are www.phonegap.com (who were bought out by Adobe) and Appcelerator.
The End of Native?
Mobile Web Sites
So.. which is for me?
As you can see, it isn’t simple. It is all down to your requirements and budget.