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Important considerations for mobile applications development

By Eddie Urso, Program Manager, Federal Healthcare, USPS HP Enterprise Services

 

Mobile Application Development Choices: It seems like there are as many choices for an app development framework these days as there are coffee choices at Starbucks. Windows, Kony, Enyo, HTML5, iOS, Phonegap — and the list goes on.

 

Let’s start at the basics. A definition and the pros and cons of each.

 

Native app development are apps coded in a specific programming language, such as iOS for Apple and Java for Android operating systems. These apps need to be installed directly onto the device, which is typically acquired via an online store or marketplace.

 

healthcare.jpgPros

  • True native mobile experience
  • Faster performance
  • High-quality user interfaces
  • Full device feature set
  • High reliability
  • Some apps allow use without network connection

 

Cons

  • Separate code base for each device
  • Different development skill sets required
  • Higher cost across device platforms
  • App store or marketplace approval process

 

Mobile web app run in a browser and is typically written in HTML5. They’re typically accessed through the device’s web browser by default, and have an option of installing it on your home screen by creating a bookmark to that page. If written well, most users won’t be able to tell the difference between a native and web app.

 

Pros

  • Common
  • No need to access app store or marketplace to download
  • Faster development across devices
  • Low cost to develop and maintain apps

Cons

  • Support of multiple browsers and versions
  • Non-centralized location for apps
  • Unable to access to the full device feature set
  • Performance of the user interface

 

So, how does one decide on whether to develop in native or web? Before I answer that question, let’s first visit the LinkedIn app launch and what’s happening in the one of the largest healthcare providers, the Veterans Affairs.

 

LinkedIn originally launched their app as a web app written in HTML5, then decided to go native. Visit the link below to read the full article. I’ve pulled out 2 two of the main reasons cited in the article.

 

Why LinkedIn dumped HTML5 and went native for its mobile apps
 

Reason #1: LinkedIn realized that their users were spending more time in the app then they assumed which was causing the app to run out of memory.

 

Reason #2: Utilization of native animations — the spinners and the way they work — getting that smoothness. (A spinner provides a quick way to select one value from a set. Touching the spinner displays a dropdown menu with all other available values, from which the user can select a new one). Basically, LinkedIn wanted the user to have a certain experience when using their app.

 

These are just the highlights, but read the full article to really understand the lessons learned.

 

Since I work on the Military Health/Veterans Affairs (MHVA) account, I can tell you a little bit of what’s happening with the VA’s most recent solicitation for mobile development work.

 

The Veterans Health Administration consists of 152 medical centers, nearly 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics, community living centers, Vet Centers and Domiciliaries. Together these health care facilities and the more than 53,000 independent licensed health care practitioners who work within them provide comprehensive care to more than 8.3 million veterans each year.

 

Last year the VA launched the “Clinic-in-Hand” pilot program as part of the mobile health initiative. One thousand family caregivers of veterans were given Apple iPads pre-configured with ten mobile apps written in iOS to help provide veteran care and communicate with the veterans’ physicians. As of today, the program is still being piloted. At some point the Apps will be made available via the VA’s app store for download on any smartphone or tablet.

 

Sometime in August of 2013, the VA released another solicitation requesting the development and modernization of 13 new mobile apps written in HTML5 with Phonegap (an open-source mobile framework that helps developers build a common codebase for their apps so the apps work across devices and systems) and the conversion of the iOS apps to HTML5 which were created as part of the pilot program.

 

A second pilot by the VA is on the way, which will give 10,000 providers iPads to use a suite of 30 apps. The apps were developed internally by the VA in iOS and are again going to expand by converting them to HTML5 so the apps can be used on multiple devices.

 

This is very interesting. What has the VA already learned? I can tell you that from the solicitation, the VA used the terms “agnostic platform” and “multi-platform.” Have they learned enough about these two pilots that they’ll shift from iOS development to HTML5, or will they continue to develop the same app in multiple frameworks? There’s still a lot to be learned and tested out there and we should take note of how some of these organizations are moving forward from their lessons learned.

 

So if hear someone quickly answer that they would develop an app in native or web, you should ask them why. I know when I get asked that question, my first response is, “It depends.”

 

How Do You Choose?

Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What is your organization budget?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Does your mobile app need to utilize the devices features, such as the camera, location, etc.?
  • What is the current IT development skillset, if developing in-house?
  • What about performance?
  • What about browser support?
  • Will you be targeted all mobile devices or just certain devices?

What do you think?

 

eddie.jpgAbout the author

Edward Urso is a program manager on the Military Health/Veterans Affairs (MHVA) Account. Over the course of 15 years with HP, thirteen have been on the MHVA account, serving in multiple lead roles on various projects. Two were in the commercial healthcare sector as a Program Manager. In his current role, Edward is responsible for Mobile Applications Development on the account.

 

Edward holds a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s degree in enterprise management from the school of engineering at Southern Methodist University and is Project Management Institute (PMI) certified as a Project Manager.

 

Comments
Matt G | ‎03-10-2014 05:11 AM

Very good article on the pros and cons of Native App development and Mobile Web app. It is also crucial for the app to be easy to use, without much hang time. Many successful applications have this trait of simplicity. 

mobilepundits | ‎03-11-2014 10:55 AM

Including too many functions, complex UI's, using number of platforms these are some common problems that developers repeat while developing mobile apps. Here you share a valuable considerations that are important to keep in account in the creation of mobile apps.

innomobileapps | ‎03-13-2014 10:39 AM

Great post! Thanks for this, we are releasing TxTMint – Enterprise Messaging Platform app for organisations and this article helped me a lot!

tarquinhall | ‎03-28-2014 01:21 PM

It's a realy Good article given here about considerations for mobile applications development. This Article really very useful for us.

Bitzkrieg | ‎04-10-2014 01:03 PM

Android application development and mobile application development are flourishing day by day.

Sergio D | ‎05-16-2014 05:28 PM

HTML5 should and must be the future development of mobile apps, custom development costs for different platforms and operating systems is too high and costly

Mobile app development | ‎05-22-2014 11:47 AM

Mobile application developers make best use of combination of various elements that are essential in formulating Mobile App Development and solutions. They know well How to make an App that can meet the business needs and expectations of their employers. 

Tablet Baratas | ‎07-11-2014 09:55 AM

Great article. I will share it in my social circles. Now I am planning to develop some mobile apps from my company.

 

Thank you.

Mobile App Development | ‎08-05-2014 11:15 AM

Great post. I am new to Mobile Application Development and this article helped me a lot. Thanks for sharing such great stuff.

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