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Cross Platform Mobile Applications


There is no doubt that organisations need to support multiple mobile platforms to ensure they reach their desired market. However, the development costs and time associated with developing multiple applications supported by multiple mobile platforms are proving to be a challenge for many organisations.

So what is the solution? How can organisations increase their reach through mobile applications when the dominant mobile platforms keep changing?

The solution – cross platform mobile applications. Native Applications vs. Mobile Website Applications Once an organisation decides to develop a mobile application, they must then decide how the application will be delivered to their target audience – currently there are 2 options: native applications or mobile website applications.

Native applications are distributed through App Stores and live on the mobile device of the customer. These applications are often used in conjunction with a specific mobile device, such as the Apple iPhone.

Mobile website applications, on the other hand, make use of a web browser to access the application. The customer initially downloads an icon to the mobile device and once clicked, the icon links to a website application that essentially looks and feels like a native application. Customers can access the mobile website application as long as they are connected to the internet.

The mobile website application approach is a more viable option for organisations wanting to target a range of devices.

The challenge for business Traditionally, organisations seeking to expand into the mobile application space would need to develop a number of native applications for a range of devices. In this case, organisations would develop a different native application for each mobile platform and make it available on the various App Stores.

The challenge with this model is that development cost and time to market are high and often organisations would have to compromise which device they would target. Additionally, since each operating system is different, updates will need to be made to each application to ensure its compatibility with the chosen devices. This dramatically increases maintenance costs.

Furthermore, since each platform has a specified process in which applications are approved, the organisation will have to go through multiple processes to ensure the successful deployment of their application on each device. This will burn a large amount of the organisation’s resources.

As a result, it is important for an organisation to be informed about all the challenges that may arise if they wish to invest in the development of multiple native applications.

The cross platform mobile application solution As the mobile market expands, organisations look for ways in which they can target more devices without developing multiple applications. Cross platform mobile applications enable developers to build applications that run on multiple mobile platforms.

Organisations have the option of developing cross platform mobile applications using HTML5. HTML5 revolutionises the way mobile applications are built and managed. The dominant mobile devices all support HTML5 without a plug-in.

The main issue that organisations face is that developing cross platform mobile applications which utilise the device’s hardware requires a separate solution for each of the mobile platforms. PhoneGap is a cross platform native development framework that leverages wellknown web technologies, such as HTML5 and Javascript, to enable developers to use a single code solution to deploy the application to all the main mobile platform’s App Stores. This is because PhoneGap packages a HTML5 website application into a native application which allows for the submission to each App Store. As a result organisations will benefit from the use of each device’s hardware features without the need to develop multiple applications.

However, before an organisation embarks on the journey of utilising HTML5, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of HTML5

  • Ability to keep updating, changing and improving application without having to go through a full software release

  • Higher level of graphical capabilities allows look and feel of a native application to be achieved

  • Supports different devices and operating systems – can access application as long as the device supports HTML5

  • Create up to five separate applications for the price of one – decreased development time and cost, and time to market

  • Developers that choose to create HTML5 web applications for desktop can often use the same code when crafting an application for the iPad or other tablets

Disadvantages of HTML5

  • Not all developers have the skills to use the most advanced features of HTML5

  • Technology is limited if the application requires deep integration with the device’s operating system

  • HTML5 is an evolving standard and as such different implementations of HTML5 may have small API differences and varying degrees of support for the latest features

Conclusion Since HTML5 is relatively new, developers often lack the experience required to develop cross platform mobile applications and this can act as a deterrent to organisations. However, engaging with a reputable provider with knowledge in HTML5 will allow the organisation to achieve a competitive advantage in servicing the needs of their market. Organisations benefit from lower development costs, reduced time to market and significantly reduced maintenance costs.

This would result in an increase in customer satisfaction which would consequently lead to an increase in market share.


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