App technology architecture, or rather development architecture, pertains to the foundation of web and mobile apps, and other technical solutions. The development architecture will make a difference in how your client’s desired audience is going to be reached and how the client will navigate the solution landscape that is constantly changing but becoming more prevalent every day.
There are three types of development architecture–native, cross-platform, mobile web–which we explore more in-depth below.
Native architecture means that the app is created in its own native code to run on a specific device and operating systems such as the Kindle Fire, iPad, Windows phone, or Android tablet.
Benefits: Native apps tend to have the best user experience because they are optimized for the devices’ capabilities, hardware, and software. For certain devices, access to some features may also require that the app is written in the native environment, and these features will run better native than in apps built in multi-platform frameworks. The latest devices may also have technology that only native apps can support.
Disadvantages: Native development can get extremely costly because the app has to be built all over again for each platform. The benefits in user experience are often overshadowed by the sheer cost to do this, as well as the additional work involved in keeping the app up to date every time a new OS release or device model comes out. Cost aside, making entirely new apps for different platforms requires different programming language skill sets. Not all app developers and programmers will be adept in each language to the point that they can single-handedly develop the same app for multiple platforms natively.
Cross-platform architecture means that the app is built once using a cross-platform framework (such as PhoneGap or IBM Worklight) so that it can run on any number of devices and operating systems.
Disadvantages: What cross-platform development offers in reach, it loses in user experience. Most apps pushed through frameworks are likely to have a similar experience to web apps than the superior experience native apps have to offer. While the developer also has to build the app just once, sometimes more effort has to be extended to making adjustments for each platform just to discover that some functions will not be supported on another platform. Building plug-ins to address this will require extra resources. While native apps can also leverage new functionalities that come with new device models and OS updates, multi-platform frameworks need more time to support them.
Utilizing HTML5 or frameworks like jQuery, mobile web apps run over the device’s internet connection from a central server. Unlike native and cross-platform development where the apps need to be downloaded or bought from each operating system’s app store, mobile web apps can be accessed by any device that has internet access and a working browser.
Benefits: Mobile web has the widest possible reach of all development architecture because it doesn’t matter what the user’s device or platform is. Relative to cross-platform development, fewer device-specific adjustments are needed.
Disadvantages: Mobile web apps always require an internet connection to work, while the apps downloaded from an app store might not. Most of all, they can’t make use of the device’s hardware and software the way that downloaded apps can. HTML5 is beginning to address these limitations to make web apps feel more native, but advances in this technology are still a work in progress.
If you have questions about the different app technology architecture and need help deciding which type will work best for your project, contact us at Dot Com development, and we’ll clear up any confusion.