Native apps are considered the best approach to app development for a number of reasons. At first, the capital required to build a native app may seem a bit steep, but long term, your user experience will be better, therefore engagement duration higher. According to a recent set of aggregated mobile analytics, engagement duration is 10 times higher in a native application than a web app. For example, a web app user would spend 45 seconds on the site, while a native app user would spend closer to 5 minutes. Obviously, these may not apply to every application out there, but generally speaking, native app engagement is stronger.
Building brand loyalty is important and native apps can be a great approach if you want to nurture your client base via technology. The metric you end up studying when building your brand is increased engagement time, so for enterprises with adequate capital, this is the best approach.
Why is engagement higher in a native app? When you develop an app natively, you are designing for the best possible experience on the operating system. So on Android, you’re building nativey for Android, and on IOS, you’re building using native IOS controls. This gives the user a pretty seamless experience – one in which they already have familiarity. Text inputs, dropdowns, keyboard controls, alert boxes – all of these function as the user expects. Not only do they function as expected, but they are fast, because they are native to the operating system.
If you have to build custom features or a complex feature set, you’re only limited by the operating system of the device and the corresponding SDK. Conversely, in a web app, your developers will be limited to what the browser can do functionally. The W3C governs the set of standards for browsers and often consensus has to be reached before a new feature can reliably be supported in the most common browsers – and therefore web apps. As a simple example, consider streaming video. Despite widespread HTML5 support in the browser, streaming video is still best experienced inside of a native app.
Why are native apps so much more expensive? When you develop natively, you’re building a separate app for each platform – Android and IOS. That doesn’t mean you’re paying twice as much, as there are some synergies when building for both platforms, but you are technically building two different native apps. Building two applications requires more time, more testing, more deployment logistics. Often times different services are used for different platforms – I.E. push notifications and other device specific services. All this boils down to more up-front investment. Some companies choose to build one platform first, deploy and build the second platform later if the application meets expectations or has quantifiable momentum. This aids capital requirements and cash flow – especially if your initial release has a revenue stream.
There is a one last approach we’ll cover in our fourth articles in the series – Hybrid apps.
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Ryan Myers is a business blog author and writer. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. His favorite topics to write about are blogging for small businesses and becoming an entrepreneur.