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Tell me why I should build a mobile app

This is more of a question then a statement but I’m looking for feedback on building mobile apps for web applications.


Lets say I have this idea called “NERDSNTIGERS” and it’s a great idea which benefits from usual technologies such as oAuth login and standard database. Some cool functionality but not required comes from having geo-locational access. It would be great for users to be able to use this utility from anywhere, at anytime via access through their iPads, iPhones, iToys, Android or Windows mobile platforms. The web-app itself will let users upload and rate pictures of nerds riding tigers. Having a mobile app will let my users upload photos they have just taken and sometimes auto detect where they took the photo e.g. Africa. So now I’m looking for the best method to deploy this app keeping in mind cost, functionality and management.

Native Apps

I have found tools that let you write code and then deploy to many platforms at once such as Airplay SDK. Problems I foresee with such libraries is that you may be stuck in their building process and will lose out on possible potential. I also predict some painful headaches as I don’t believe that custom functionality will work on all deployed platforms with ease. Also the UI will look strange for users expecting a standard application UI. If anyone has used Airplay SDK I would greatly appreciate any feedback, good or bad. Correct me if I’m wrong but developing native applications for each platform is just down right too costly for even a semi-mature start-up(3-4 years). Also if you wish to update a feature, you will have to rebuild for all the different platforms. Also you have to watch your features comply with locked app databases such as Apple.

Browser Based Mobile Interface

As of now I can’t think of any reasons why I would build a mobile app when I can build a BBMI(Browser Based Mobile Interface). These are my reasons in no particular order;

Usage Tracking Tracking users of your app is straight forward where as you can simply place google analytics or getClicky straight into your BBMI and it’s taken care of.

The BBMI will be available on ALL platforms with a decent browser.

Instead of having to write code for each platform, you would just write code in one language and commit the changes to the site. Mobile users don’t have to confirm updates on their phone and you don’t have to rebuild for each platform.

Changing the theme of the app is as simple as changing the Stylesheet and Javascript. Instead of tinkering with complex UI libraries.

Your features will be standard across all phones. If you try to implement a feature on an iPhone you might run into trouble when you find out that Android doesn’t support it.

You’ll have a single development environment for your website and BBMI(Browser Based Mobile Interface) and can easily integrate the two.

What do you think?

So I need to know
1) What limitations does building a BBMI have compared to a native app?
2) If you do support non-web apps, how do you develop cross platform?
3) What problems can you expect to run into when developing cross platform native apps?
4) Can you show me any BBMI or tell me the names of native apps you have written for mobiles? I’d love to see them
5) Can you find a picture of a nerd riding a tiger?  If so I will give you some points

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posted on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by admin in Rants

6 Responses to “Tell me why I should build a mobile app”

  1. Yanito Candra says:

    BBMI has limited API. Sencha Touch is a framework i know. This time no exelent solution for build native and cross platform mobile application. Choose between BBMI or native is depend on your application functionality.

  2. Thomas Davis says:

    Thats pretty much a perfect response. Could you quickly explain what "black art" is?

  3. [...] I actually just made a post on the difference between mobile apps and mobile websites. http://thomasalwyndavis.com/2010/10/…-a-mobile-app/ For now I will definitely be just making browsed based mobile interfaces for different websites. [...]

  4. Freek Huisema says:

    There are no tigers in Africa, except in zoos.

  5. dave says:

    if the answer is a combination of native and web, you should be looking at PhoneGap – http://www.phonegap.com/

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thomas davis