Mobile apps are the right choice

Mobile apps are the right choice

Android and iOS are installed on the smartphones and tablets of the world. Usually an app has to be created for both systems. However, Android and iOS are very different from a user and a developer perspective. Cross-platform programming offers a way out. There are now several options for developers.

The use of mobile devices has been on the rise for years. Mobile devices are increasingly being used around the world instead of desktop systems. This trend applies both to the end user (consumer) as well as to corporate purposes (enterprise). From a technical point of view, it is important to differentiate, i.e. you have to differentiate between different types of apps. One differentiates specifically

  • native apps
  • Web apps and
  • hybrid apps.

The advantage of native apps is that they are optimized for the respective operating system. The user interface fits completely into the requirements of the platform and the user guidance is compatible with the system environment. Another important advantage is that native apps have no restrictions when accessing specific device hardware on the smartphone or tablet. All sensors of these devices can be addressed directly via the system’s APIs. The deployment of native apps is usually done via the app stores. If a native app is installed, it can be run in offline mode without internet access.

On the other hand, there are web apps. These are special web applications that are adapted for use on mobile devices. However, access to the system hardware is limited. Simple functions such as the location service can be used. It is displayed in the system’s browser and can only take into account the specifics of the individual platform to a limited extent. Web apps cannot be made available through app stores. They run on the server and therefore need a constant internet connection. Offline use is also possible with Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Hybrid apps act between the web app and the native app. They run in a WebView container, that is to say in an internal browser. This means that they act like a native app for the operating system. The user interface (UI) must be generic, to cope with all systems.

Development for mobile systems

Let’s take a look at the technical approaches to creating an app for the mobile systems. A selection from different technology areas is taken into account. Of course, there are other options for programming an app for Android and iOS. For example, you can also use low-code tools and mainly work with the help of graphic designers. Fortunately, there is a considerable variety of approaches. This has the advantage that you can, so to speak, pick the right variant for your project. In addition to the technical goals, other reasons for the selection are also in focus, for example:

  • Knowledge of programming languages ​​and technologies: If you only program a mobile app occasionally, it is helpful if you can take a familiar approach to it in order to minimize the learning curve.
  • Costs for licenses: Development environments and frameworks to be used also have to be licensed in some cases. For a non-commercial or only limited commercial solution, the tools are usually available free of charge. For further use, license fees usually have to be paid.
  • Experiences: Have you already had positive or negative experiences with an approach? These can be reasons to change or keep a known technology.

It should also be noted that not all projects can be implemented with every approach. Although the goal of the procedures presented here is a native app, there are still differences when working with Java (Android) or Swift (iOS) and the direct APIs of the respective platform. This can be expressed, for example, in the fact that selected hardware is not addressed or that a specific design specification cannot be implemented for technical reasons. In this case, only the direct route that the manufacturers of the Google and Apple operating systems have envisaged remains. However, the more sophisticated the procedures, the less often these massive problems should occur.

With mobile apps we mean those for Android and iOS. Cross-platform approaches that focus on these two systems are usually more specialized than approaches that also enable the creation of apps for desktop systems at the same time. This is primarily due to the fact that the hardware requirements on a mobile device (touch, small screen, etc.) are completely different from those on a desktop computer.


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