While the debate about Hybrid versus Native app development is traditionally centered around the performance of hybrid apps versus native apps, at Appear we have identified that this debate is actually rooted in individual developer preferences. We believe it is important that organizations identify the technology stack that can enable developers to be productive in the short-term while still supporting their long term organizational strategies.
We are confident that hybrid apps offer unlimited possibilities for our partners to create best-of-breed user experiences. Existing partner apps built using AppearIQ are a great example and can testify to this. However, some developers have a preference for native technologies. As such, we take a pragmatic view of this and intend, as part of our road map in 2015, to support this preference and provide native developers with a secure and efficient communication stack that would help deliver true enterprise ready solutions. This will also allow organizations to combine native and hybrid apps within a single environment.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #1: Performance of Hybrid vs native apps
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #2: Optimized communications improves performance
Beyond the language’s execution performance, an app’s performance can be impacted by data access. Access to data, coming from IT backend systems, is dependent on the speed and availability of network access.
Appear IQ offers HTML5 apps via the Appear container an optimized communication stack that abstracts the network connectivity challenges. It ensures that the right data is securely available on the device whenever apps need it. It also guarantees that data created by apps can be queued on the device until it can be synchronized to IT backend systems. Furthermore, Appear IQ leverages push notification services provided by OS vendors like Apple and Google to efficiently trigger data synchronizations whenever required.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #3: Control of the application lifecycle
Hybrid apps put the developer much more in control of when and how their new app updates are released to end users by avoiding as far as possible reliance on public app stores for the approval and release of updates.
The hybrid approach with the Appear IQ platform combines a native layer (i.e. container) and portable HTML5 web apps. Appear typically releases a new container for developers to adapt a couple of times a year. This is to (for example) take advantage of new capabilities provded by Apple or Google. Web apps may be updated on monthly basis with new features and bug fixes.
Sometimes Apple’s review and approval process can take over a month – and if this is an important new feature that you are waiting to get into the hands of end users for feedback for further improvements you can see the iterative development process could take years – clearly not acceptable in today’s terms. Luckily enough, in 98% of the cases with a hybrid approach only the mobile web apps need to be updated, and as such we bypass App Store approval processes and enable our development partners to remain in full control over their applications.
End users are also untroubled by the updating of the hybrid apps themselves, since they are included in the HTML5 code rather than requiring approval, app download, update and synchronisations.
In other words, with the hybrid approach used by Appear we have a limited exposure to Apple’s approval process while a native approach requires it for every new release.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #4: Cost & time to market – shorter development times
Mobile web development is faster than native iOS development: it is a higher level language, it does not require compilation i.e. a page reload suffices, code can be changed on the fly, in-browser testing is faster than the iOS simulator, etc. Our benchmark indicates that – assuming similar developer skills – the web development process can be 20% faster than native iOS development.
If developing one web-app is faster than developing one iOS app, the cost saving becomes tremendous when comparing with the development of multiple native apps.
In addition, Appear IQ includes a set of ready-made security and communication features which further shorten the development of hybrid apps. Depending on the complexity of the use cases, our benchmark indicates that developers can save up to 50-70% of time when leveraging our authentication and communication capabilities.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #5 : Cost & performance – a high-quality user experience
Apple imposes a way of developing the mobile user experience, and provides a set of UI controls to power them. While these can be extremely powerful, you may identify a user experience that would be even better – but unfortunately that is incompatible with “Apple’s way”. This is what happened when developing the Site Diary application for the construction industry – the timeline feature provides an extremely powerful and intuitive tool for the user, but could not be easily developed using standard iOS controls.
In these cases, with a native approach you may need to develop custom controls or invest in 3rd party ones. Developing custom controls is highly time consuming, and this cost drives up when multiple platforms are involved.
On the other hand, web technologies give you greater flexibility to design and implement your custom user experience – and truly offer the best possible user experience to your customers.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #6 : Cost – supporting multiple OS versions
In addition, with its data access layer, Appear IQ further abstracts and avoids the complexities associated with possible API changes introduced by the OS vendors.
Hybrid Apps Business Case Factor #7 : Cost – Re-use of skills
AppearIQ is the technology behind the MobiCloud Platform, a cloud-based environment in which to develop hybrid, cross-platform applications that leverage context awareness. For more information about MobiCloud and the current MobiCloud Construction App Challenge please see www.mobicloudproject.eu.