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Mobile App or Mobile Website: Which Should You Choose?

Mobile App or Mobile Website: Which Should You Choose?

Turning your mobile website into an app for a greater reach to users is not an easy task.

However, before you take the leap, you have to thoroughly weigh its benefits and consciously choose to migrate your website to a mobile app.

Previously, mobile websites were more predominant when browsers dominated the launch of many new eCommerce start-ups.

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Browsers made the websites seamlessly fit in all kinds of handheld devices and users found it exciting to buy stuff on the internet using their mobile devices. The availability of the internet and the evolution of HTML to support rich media also enabled this transition.

So, many ventures have started to launch mobile websites to attract their consumers and thereby increase revenues.

With the present era of mobile devices being dominated by the app ecosystems, the prevalent question becomes whether or not mobile websites are indeed mobile and meeting its purpose.

Apps have been making inroads on many users’ lifestyles and its adoption for business is seen as a positive trend.

There are many benefits for businesses to migrate from the traditional browser-based mobile commerce sites to the mobile app ecosystem.

A few of these benefits are listed below to aid you in making a conscious decision to follow the trend.

Faster Access

Mobile apps are written on the handheld devices’ native operating systems, while the websites run on a browser and always depend on an internet connection to work.

So, apps are much faster than the mobile sites. This plays a critical role if you do not want to lose your customers due to a slow connection while waiting for the page to load.

An app can be designed more efficiently so that it performs all the processing offline and only accesses the internet when it is needed to close the transactions.

Available Offline

For a business to succeed, availability is a vital factor. If your website is down for a while or if your users find it too slow, then the revenues will start to dwindle.

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Source: Flickr

The availability of mobile websites greatly depends on the availability of the internet for every little bit of work that it has to perform and for the pages to load.

However, apps work much to the advantage of the users because it can download the required content when there is the internet and can perform all the other processing using the handheld device.

This makes the user feel as though he/she is connected to your business all the time. It is magic that allures your users to ensure a greater reach and greater revenue for your business that has been running on mobile websites.

Personalised Services

A mobile website’s major goal is to educate users and market a product line on the web. However, apps have the ability to offer personalised services.

For example, if a mobile browser-based shopping site rolls out personalised services to users, then databases in the back-end is required for millions of users who access the site and the access to the site must be ensured quickly to cater to the needs of an online shopper.

However, apps keep the personalised information within the client device and perform their intelligence to fetch only the needs of the shopper!

Thus, it is much easier and quicker for apps to roll out personalised and customised services to its users.

Easier to Use

On the one hand, mobile websites typically run on a browser and require the browser to have updated plugins to play the content as per the definitions of the URL pages. The sites also have to fit all the different sizes of the different screens of the handheld devices.

Furthermore, rendering is an important challenge in HTML-based style sheets. On the other hand, apps understand the device in a better way to get the best performance out of it because they are written using the native interface of the underlying hardware.

This is evident in gaming apps where the graphics and the memory are more critical to ensure the best user experience. Mobile websites cannot match apps in the world of gaming.

More Interactive

Apps offer a much more interactive experience to the user than mobile websites do. This is because apps understand the user of the device and roll out personalised services.

By being interactive, the user is provided with a rich experience of shopping or gaming using the app on his/her device. This increases the engagement of the user with the app.

Also, due to the real-time speed and offline processing capability, an app can bring this interactive feature more effectively than mobile websites that run on browsers.

Tools to Aid the Migration

Now that you are convinced and ready to move to a mobile app, take sufficient care to have a smooth process. There are many tools and services available for migrating mobile websites to an app for handheld devices.

There are also SDKs available from the respective native operating systems from the handheld makers that you can effectively use to migrate websites to mobile apps. BuildFire, Onbile and AppMakr are only a few of such tools which do the job in an effortless fashion, keeping the look and feel of the website when converting it into an app.

The app also needs to be designed in such a way that it is easy to navigate. There are many designer tools available, including Como and SwebApps, to design the interface and the outlook.

It is important for businesses to embrace the change in the ecosystem to sustain the competition. Wiser decisions about migrating mobile websites to app-based ones will certainly yield benefits as described above and help to march ahead of the competition.

So, which one do you prefer? Mobile website or mobile app? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

A Closer Look at the Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development

A Closer Look at the Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development

The difference in the syntax and structure of programming languages is no longer the talk of the town.

With every app enclosing thousands of lines of code, all that developers now talk about is their choice of app development frameworks, application program interfaces (APIs) and the cross compilation they provide.

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App frameworks have become the norm and people cannot call themselves programmers if they are not well-versed in at least one particular development framework.

They offer a lot of benefits over the previous and newly outdated development approaches. These frameworks have reduced the learning curve so much that even absolute beginners can start developing apps with little training.

Adding complex functionality is no longer a genius’s work, but an effective way of writing API calls and developing apps for various platforms does not require you to be an expert in all platforms.

So, everyone with a great idea can now easily, quickly and effectively implement it with the help of app frameworks.

Therefore, you too can easily create your own mobile apps which might have seemed a difficult task a few years ago. Here is an overview of the cross-platform mobile app development frameworks to get you started.

Mobile App Development Frameworks

The mobile app development has become a million dollar industry with hundreds of mobile apps hitting the market daily. The growing demand and the need for high-performance apps have pushed the app development industry to a new level and frameworks help developers scale to the growing demands.

But, before we can delve into mobile frameworks, we first need to understand the difference between native apps and cross-platform apps.

There are many mobile platforms, for example, iOS, Android and Blackberry, and all of these require apps tailored to their own platform constraints.

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Native app development is the original methodology where an app is developed specifically for a single platform using the relevant framework, syntax, and APIs.

However, this type of app development may prove to be costly and time consuming when a relatively simpler app has to be developed for more than one platform. In these cases, a cross-platform framework can be used to develop a cross-platform app that works on different platforms with a single code base.

Cross-Platform Frameworks

Cross-platform frameworks provide a feasible way for developers to develop cross-platform apps easily. These tools can generally be classified as web-based frameworks and converters.

Web-based frameworks focus on the client-side technologies, such as HTML5/HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Other frameworks, such as Unity, Corona and Titanium, are called converters and use a particular programming language and then convert it into an executable native code for the target device.

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Source: Flickr

There is no single best fit of a cross-platform framework that suits all your needs. While frameworks like Corona are suitable for game development, others frameworks like PhoneGap are much more suitable for developing hybrid HTML5 apps.

Developers will mostly use more than one tool as the market is more niche than it is mature. With so many frameworks in the market today, your decision of choosing one out of the many heavily impacts the app you are developing.

Here is an overview of some of the major cross-platform app frameworks for you to choose from.

PhoneGap or Apache Cordova

PhoneGap was recently acquired by Nitobi and has been rechristened and distributed under the name Apache Cordova. It lets you write mobile apps using HTML, JavaScript and CSS which can easily be ported to various platforms.

It is a little difficult to fully exploit the native features using PhoneGap. It has numerous plugins that help you add the native device features in a modular way. Furthermore, it is an open source framework and is thus available free of cost.

Titanium

Appcelerator’s Titanium allows you to develop cross-platform apps by providing a unified JavaScript API with native platform-specific features. It abstracts the native software development kits and allows you to write JavaScript apps above.

Thus, it is capable of giving a higher user interface (UI) performance compared to hybrid apps. It also provides value-added services, such as backend as a service (BaaS), app analytics, and marketplace services.

Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR has described itself as a cross-operating-system runtime that lets developers combine HTML, JavaScript, Adobe Flash and flex technologies. Adobe Air can be used to develop apps with interactive UI elements, such as animation and other graphics.

However, a major disadvantage of this tool is that you can only use Flash and ActionScript to write apps.

Sencha

Sencha Touch is an HTML5 mobile app development framework that can help you develop apps that have the look and feel of a native app. It can be used along with PhoneGap or Sencha’s native packager to utilise the device-level APIs.

Comparison between the Cross-platform Frameworks

Here is a comparison table of some of my favorite app frameworks on some important factors.

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There are many more frameworks on the market waiting to be explored and exploited. If we have missed your favorite, leave some suggestions and feedback in the comments.

 

Got a Brilliant Mobile App Idea? Here is How to Get Started

Got a Brilliant Mobile App Idea? Here is How to Get Started

“I have an idea for a brilliant app, but how to get started?” This is a common question people who plan to launch a mobile app ask us.

Thousands of people think that they have a great app idea. If you’re one of them, then pull up your socks, because you got a great competition ahead.

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“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”

- Scott Belsky, Founder, Behance.

But, don’t worry. Read on, if you need help fleshing out your idea to actually build a business around it.

Here we will walk you through the step-by-step instructions to make your dream project a reality.

So, by not wasting any time, and words, here we go.

Validate Your Idea

This is the first and most important step for every idea and not specific to any technology.

It’s good that you have a killer idea, but it’s not about what you think. Instead, you have to figure out what your ideal users or customers think about your app.

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You need to find out:

  • What pain points your app is going to solve?
  • Is the problem which your app will solve indeed a problem?
  • Do you have a competitor? If yes, why would your users prefer your app?

You also need to ensure that your app idea is unique or fills a gap which no other app is doing.

The best way to start validating your idea is to ask your friends and family. Ask people you can trust to give you valuable and eye-opener inputs.

This will not only help you conclude if your idea is worth something, but it will also show you how to make the idea worthwhile.

Decide the Type of App You Need to Build

Once you have validated your idea, you’ll have a clear idea of what you need to work on. The most important and immediate next step is deciding on what type of app it should be.

  • Do you want your app to be specific to any mobile platform like Android, iOS, Windows or Blackberry?
  • How can your users access it? Can they access it from an app store, such as iTunes or the Google Play Store?
  • Do you want a native mobile app or a web app that is optimised for smartphone usage?

Don’t get confused with too many choices. Just pick one and go for it. You can always tweak your strategy if need be.

Research and Read about App Development

This step may overlap with the second step.

If you’re non-technical, then you can find it challenging to decide on the type of app you need.

In that case, you may need to first acquire some knowledge about the basics of mobile app development. This will help you simplify your decision. Without this knowledge, you will not know what you need to know.

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But, if you are aware of the basics, then this step will come after choosing the type of app.

In either case, you need to have a good understanding of mobile app development to ensure you’re on the right path.

Here are a couple of tutorials which can help you get started:

But, don’t just stick to these tutorials. Read interesting and informative articles or blogs as well.

This will help you to keep abreast of the latest updates. Some popular blogs you can explore are ZdNet, The Next Web, CIO and Forbes.

Identify and Meet the Technical Requirements

You don’t need to buy an advanced PC with the latest configurations for mobile app development. However, it’s better to go for this.

For Android or web apps, you can create the app with Linux, Windows or a Mac.

But, for iOS app development, Mac is the only option.

Also, you need to have access to a smart device (iOS, Android or Windows) depending on the type of app platform you plan to design for.

If you plan to write the code yourself, then you also need an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Here are a couple of free developer tools for different mobile platforms which you can explore:

The biggest benefit of IDEs is that it offers a virtual smartphone to test your app for both Android and iOS.

Keep a Budget Ready

You don’t need to invest in the developer tools, but it will cost you money to register and publish apps in different app stores.

If you plan to publish on the Google Play store, then you have to pay a one-time fee of $25 at the time of registration. For Apple and Microsoft, it is an annual fee of around $100.

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Also take note that you need to share around 30% revenue of every sale your app makes with the app platform companies.

We hope by now that you have a clear idea of how to move from the ideation stage to the execution stage.

Although you can develop an app on your own, we advise that you get help from a specialist. If you make any deadly mistakes during the development process, all your efforts would be in the vain.

Thus, consult with a mobile development company that has extensive experience in delivering projects like yours. This will also give you a clear picture of whether you’re on the right path or whether you need to make a change.

So, when do you plan to develop your app? Which platform do you plan to go for?

If you have any questions or need advice, drop us a note below and we will get back to you soon.

Choosing A Mobile Development Company– Best Things to Do

Smartphones have changed our world. A decade or two ago, mobiles were just portable landlines – used primarily for calls and the occasional text. Today, it is an unforgettable part of our lives, something that helps us do everything from waking up in the morning to remembering appointments to playing games to burning calories to listening to music to keeping a track of pregnancy cycles. All of this is made possible by mobile applications.

What does your organization do to leverage ahead? Statistics suggest that 32% of UK customers make a purchase on their phone. Add to that the fact that  you can find an application for almost any task you might want to do – from learning a foreign language to waking up a stranger across the world with a song. Mobile users are expected to reach more than 43 million in the UK by 2017 and people are increasingly using their phones to access everything from search engines to shopping websites. Mobile solutions are needed for everything.

Developing App For Your Business

You need have an app for your business. Whether it be to improve organizational productivity or market your own app, you need a good app strategy.  You have two options – you either hire a freelancer or a company.

The best decision would be outsourcing to a company. Why? A freelancer may be great in a specific area but won’t have as much experience as a gamut of experts that a company has. A good company will also have acquired its reputation and grown by working for different kinds of businesses.

The Steps Involved

So once you have decided to outsource your app building to a company, which one do you choose? It is extremely important to choose the right company. The basic rule for investing in something is that your investment should get a return, and not everyone can do that. Do your basic research on the company.

  • Ask them for a portfolio. More importantly, ask for the links of published apps.
  • If a company has developed hundreds of apps but none of them have been published in the app store/playstore, what use is that?
  • You can also ask for a customer portfolio to get an idea of the past and present projects and clients.
  • Finding similar projects and clients who were given successful results by the company can provide you some confidence.

You should also discuss about their process development update – how well do they communicate while in the process of building an app? It is important for them to listen to you carefully so that the end product you get is in line with your expectations. Keeping you in the loop achieves this. And of course, in the midst of all this, do not forget to ask about the charges that will be levied. A good company will be forthright about what it will cost, and will not levy hidden charges or confuse you in fine print.

Finalizing the Company

So now that you know what to ask the company that you outsource to, how do you finalize the company itself? There are a number of important tips that can help you choose the right company.

First of all, the company you choose should have a vast and diverse experience. This is important because this shows that they have already encountered developmental problems that may occur in the process of developing your app; and overcome them. Vast experience also means they have learned from beginners’ mistakes, and will build a good product. Finally, a vast experience also shows that they have got good feedback and word of mouth for clients to keep coming to them. If so many clients have liked them, they must be doing something right.

Now once you have looked over the entire experience, narrow down to experience with the kind of app you are looking to get designed. Now don’t be too narrow here. Let’s say you are from a fashion house and looking to get an app designed that is based on dressing models in your new collection and having them sashay down the runway. You should not look for experience with ‘fashion apps’ in the company’s portfolio, rather you should look at their quality of gameplay. If they have done that well in the past, chances are they will do it well for you too. Of course, this also depends on what kind of app you are getting – if it is a general one or a highly specific one.

Cost is an important consideration, yes, but we wary of prices that are low. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes companies with lower prices have inexperienced or junior engineers working for them. The price should be just right, neither exorbitant nor cheap.

You must make sure that the company that you pick has specific experience in mobile app  development and specialises in everything mobile. Just any software developer can’t do your job. Developing for mobiles and developing for, say, the PC, are different ball game altogether.

The company you choose should not only offer development but also innovation. Once you convey your idea and expectations from the app, the company should be able to build on that framework and communicate with you. Simply developing on what you said without putting in their own experience and ideas into it shows an uninspired approach.

Why India continues to be the preferred destination to outsource

Outsourcing was considered a taboo in its early days, but slowly it is proven as one of the most significant business models.

The rosy days of the global economy are gone and so, while, lowering financial liabilities, organisations have to sustain the quality of service and employ a workforce that is economically affordable and efficiently skilled.

Many countries like China, Malaysia, Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia, and Thailand are rapidly growing as preferred destinations for global outsourcing, but India leads the race by a wide margin since the inception of outsourcing.

So, let’s see why and how India managed to remain in the spotlight.

Cost Effectiveness

Every business strives to be as cost effective as possible, and one of the best ways to cut down on operational costs is to reduce manpower expenses. India qualifies well on this metric and hence attracts foreign companies to invest here, as resource wages are comparatively lower as compared to other countries.

With low labour costs, immense human resources and excellent infrastructure, offshore companies can invest and expect their projects to be completed with high quality and minimum expenses within strict deadlines.

Skilled, Professional Manpower

Currently, India has about 2.75 million software developers in the national workforce. By 2018, this count will reach 5.2 million, a whopping 90% increase.

India’s software development growth-rate is attributed to half the population being under 25 years of age and current economic policies. India is a budding hub of developers and coders, promising to provide world-class services to outsourcing companies.

Apple Inc., the leading technology giant, is looking into setting up a company-owned, technology development centre in India. If this happens, Indian software development prowess will get a huge endorsement. It will be an inspiration for more companies to enter Indian shores for business.

Lack of Language Barriers

In India, English is a compulsory language at school and college levels. A large number of Indians can understand and communicate in English easily.

IT firms have recognised that communication skills of individuals and organisations should comply with international standards. The BPO industry is training its employees to improve interaction skills with offshore customers for business success with special, communications and language training.

Innovating the Business Model Itself

Traditional strategies to maintain profit margins in businesses are losing effectiveness due to soaring competition. A well-designed business model can circumvent the shortcomings of those strategies.

Development based on any traditional business model can fail to protect your margins because of globalisation and price transparency. Indian companies have realised that time spent putting together a solid business model is time well spent.

According to a report by KPMG, the Indian IT services industry is expected to rise from £5 billion in 2000, to  £56 billion in 2010. After contributing significantly to India’s economy over a decade, it has been speculated that new business models will emerge to deal with a rapidly changing marketplace and customer needs.

Innovative Tools for Managing Innovative Teams

Companies are hiring highly qualified and competent people across the globe. Members of geographically diverse offshore teams are working in tandem by using online project management tools, video conferencing, and other media for real-time communication and collaboration.

 A Stable Government and Attractive IT Policy

The Indian IT market currently focuses on providing low-cost solutions to the global IT sector. India’s reputation, as both a source and a destination for IT and ITES workforce, has helped it improve its relations with a number of global economies.

The stable Indian government is offering safe harbour (SH) provisions for various software development services, ITES and knowledge process outsourcing services . The government is initiating several programmes to fulfil India’s vision of good e-governance and digitalisation.

The Indian government’s call “Make in India” is already attracting lots of interest among foreign companies to invest here. It’s been predicted by aircraft manufacturer Airbus  that the Indian outsourcing industry will reach £1 billion with the recent positive impetus.

Conclusion

Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM says, “The future looks positive as the Indian IT-BPM industry is evolving dramatically in terms of scale, complexity, and innovation. Going forward, enabling a radical transformation of key sectors in India using ICT to increase access, enhance efficiency, and enable innovation in the sector are going to be some of our priority focus areas. The rapidly accelerating trend of innovation and entrepreneurship in the ICT sector impacts several domains and provides clear indicators that the journey has begun.” [image]

Some places in India where talent is being reared, are a striking contrast to the mediocrity of their surroundings. With the astounding growth of Indian IT and ITES industry, rapidly changing economic scenario, development of SEZs, and availability of the skilled human resource, the global offshore business will grow significantly in the years to come.

Have you outsourced to India yet or plan to do so? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!