Understanding Mobile Apps

We all use App (application) on our phones or touchpads but have you ever thought about how they differ?  There are many ways in which we can classify or group App’s but I want to explore how we group App’s in terms of accessing and storing data.

This means that App’s can be grouped into three categories

  1. Native App
  2. Integrated App
  3. Web App

The Native App

Installation: The Native App is downloaded and installed on your device and everything it needs and saves is done so on the device.  For example, alarm clock, phone lock or sending a text message.

Advantages: This means that it does not need to access the internet but as access to all functions and resources (hardware and software) on the device. Can be referred to as Install and forget.

Disadvantages: The biggest issues of this type of App is that it is not updated unless the user manually undertakes this process. This in turn opens the App to security risk as coding practices change to counter hacking risks.

Cost: These App’s are typically created once for a specific purpose but can range from a few hours of coding to a months of coding depending on their job.  There are no ongoing cost unless the development team are planning a new version of the App.

Business Application: Due to the lack of connectivity with remote devices these App are fairly limited in their offering.  Examples are:

  1. Customised themes which support the business brand and housestyle
  2. Give away App to promote user to use, purchase our support the brand such as a calculator or convertor tool.

Quick StartPhoneGAP and RhoMobile

The Integrated App

Installation: This is middle ground as the App is install on the device giving access to all the functions and resources whilst allowing “occasional connection” to the internet to update the software or stored data.  Now the term occasional is a little misleading.  For example, the Facebook App requires almost constant access to the internet allowing for regular updates whereas software used to unlock the phone my check for updates every ten weeks. So we could say that the unlock software is more like a Native App and the Facebook App is more like a Web App.

Advantages: is having the ability to use all the function and resources of the device and been able to synchronise with a remote site.  For example, fitness App’s use the devices global position satellite function (GPS) to track your position and the bluetooth to connect with external devices such as a heart monitor. This data is stored locally during exercise and synchronised to a website after exercise. Once synchronised to the remote location the data is used to provide a vest array of information about the training event.

Disadvantages: The three main issues with this approach is the synchronisation of multiple uses of the same record (data), which version is correct. The second is the security of data during transfer (hacking) but encryption can reduce this risk.  Finally, any changes to the remote server will result in conflict issues with the installed App, especially if the database configuration is changed.

Cost: These App’s are typically developed to support data collection which is centralised (stored) on a remote server (website).  This type of App is the most costly to develop due to the development time, ongoing updates (security, new feature) and customer support. However, they offer the most gains in business savings and support.

Business Application: This type of App offers a significant advantage other the Native and Web App as it can function with or without the internet connection, although some functions may be limited without the internet connection.  Examples are:

  1. Customised themes with dynamic advertising which is updated via remote connection
  2. Banking App’s to increase customer access to their account and completing banking tasks
  3. Business support for sales staff (stock levels, previous sale, key contact name)
  4. Product support and integration such as fitness App’s to support a cycle computer or triathlon watch

Quick StartPhoneGAP and RhoMobile

The Web App

Installation: is little more than a icon and a weblink to the webpage which you want to display. Think of it as a window in which a website is displayed and as such the App requires constant access to the internet to allow usage.  Or you are view a webpage in a web browser without the address bar and toolbars.

Advantages: with this approach it takes less than five minutes to create an App and all function and resources are available via the website not the device reducing issues linked to synchronisation, software updating and data security.

Disadvantages: is that you need to be connected to the internet which is a fight between internet availability (lack of signal or strength) and the cost of internet roaming.

Cost: Due to the nature of these App’s there is little cost in their creation and development.  However, the principle cost are related to the development of the website or application which the App is linked to. The additional saving is gained by not having to created and update the App.

Business Application: This type of App is great for internal use and where an internet/ network connection guaranteed.  Because the user is directly interacting with the system everything is working in real-time so when the warehouse operator indicates there are 100 widgets it feeds directly into the supply chain management system.  Examples are:

  1. Stock levels and rotation or product tracking
  2. Customer live stock checker
  3. Customer surveys
  4. Customer point of sales
  5. Online office applications and storage

Quick StartApps Geyser

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