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Native Mobile Apps

Native Mobile Applications

In a nutshell, native apps provide the best usability, the best features, and the best overall mobile experience. There are some things you only get with native apps:

  • Multi touch – double taps, pinch-spread, and other compound UI gestures
  • Fast graphics API – the native platform gives you the fastest graphics, which may not be a big deal if you’re showing a static screen with only a few elements, or a very big deal if you’re using a lot of data and require a fast refresh.
  • Fluid animation – related to the fast graphics API is the ability to have fluid animation. This is especially important in gaming, highly interactive reporting, or intensely computational algorithms for transforming photos and sounds.
  • Built-in components – The camera, address book, geolocation, and other features native to the device can be seamlessly integrated into mobile apps. Another important built-in components is encrypted storage, but more about that later.
  • Ease of use – The native platform is what people are accustomed to, and so when you add that familiarity with all of the native features they expect, you have an app that’s just plain easier to use.
  • Documentation – There are over 2500 books alone for iOS and Android development, with many more articles, blog posts, and detailed technical threads on sites like StackOverflow.

Native apps are usually developed using an integrated development environment (IDE). IDEs provide tools for building debugging, project management, version control, and other tools professional developers need. While iOS and Android apps are developed using different IDEs and languages, there’s a lot of parity in the development environments, and there’s not much reason to delve into the differences. Simply put, you use the tools required by the device.

You need these tools because native apps are more difficult to develop. Likewise, the level of experience required is higher than other development scenarios, you don’t just cut and paste Objective-C and expect it to work. Indeed, the technological know-how of your development team is an important consideration. If you’re a professional developer, you don’t have to be sold on proven APIs and frameworks, painless special effects through established components, or the benefits of having your code all in one place. Let’s face it, today a skilled native iOS or Android developer is a rock star, and can make rock star demands.

While we’ve touched on native apps from a development perspective, there’s also the more important perspective: the end user. When you’re looking for an app, you’ll find it in the store. When you start the app, it fires up immediately. When you use the app, you get fast performance, consistent platform look and feel. When your app needs an update, it tells you so. Native apps give you everything you’d expect from the company that built your device, as if it were simply meant to be.