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Mobile or Web-Mobile: Developing for iOS, Android or Both?

If you are planning to create an app that needs to run on mobile devices your first decision is which mobile platforms to support. This will depend largely on the type of app you are creating and who you are creating it for. So what’s your best solution?

If your app is a commercial app that will be available to the general public via an app store or through ad-based revenue, iOS is the platform of choice. It is well-documented that iOS users spend more money on apps in app stores as well view more ads. But you can still make money selling apps to Android users, right? Maybe. The cost of developing apps for Android is 2x to 3x higher than iOS for a multitude of reasons not the least of which are the number of devices and OS versions upon which you must test. So from a commercial software perspective, it could easily be argued that there is more profit in developing for iOS than for Android. There are of course exceptions to this rule. For example, if your app’s success depends on social networking (like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat), then you really need to support all the popular platforms. However, that’s a tiny fraction of applications. If profit is your motive, you might want to consider ignoring Android entirely, at least for now.

But while commercial apps are the most visible, they are not the only kind of apps created for mobile devices. More and more apps are being created for internal use inside companies which can make the platform decision far more challenging. In this day of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the mobile landscape where you work is likely to be far different from the profit-centered commercial landscape. Your company may need to support multiple Android devices as well as various iOS releases to help your employees get their jobs done while on the move.

This is where web-mobile apps become a great solution. Web-mobile apps can run on just about any reasonably new mobile device and are easy to deploy to the user since they are accessed via the browser. Most workplace apps connect to some kind of server (usually a database) anyway so requiring connectivity is usually not a problem. However, developing web and web-mobile apps with traditional tools (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP and AJAX) can be extremely time-consuming even for those that have the word “developer” or “engineer” in their job title. Xojo’s web framework abstracts you from all these details so you can drag and drop to create your interface and focus your code on what makes your application unique. This makes developing apps at least 5x faster than with the traditional tools, plus you can get up to speed a lot faster. If you don’t have lots of free time to learn 5 different technologies, Xojo is a tool you need to seriously consider.

A common downside to web and web-mobile apps is the difficulty of deploying the app. I’m not talking about the difficult of deploying to the end users- that’s actually really easy since they can just go to a URL in their mobile browser. But web apps run on a server and that usually comes with a whole new set of challenges. You need to learn how to set-up and configure a web server. And you need to consider security, which can be more challenging and time-consuming than developing the app itself. We have all seen the headlines about companies like Sony, Target and Adobe being hacked. And those are just the ones that make the headlines, lots of small companies get hacked everyday. So server security is extremely important though often ignored because of the complexity involved.

Xojo Cloud solves this problem for you. First, because Xojo makes the development tool and the deployment platform we have tightly integrated the two to provide zero configuration and one-click deployment. Secondly, because all Xojo Cloud servers are identical, they provide industrial-strength security that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for individual businesses.

If you are creating commercial mobile software, you are probably better off focusing your effort on iOS rather than Android. However, if you are creating apps for internal use at your company, web-mobile apps are likely the way to go. Xojo (which supports the desktop as well) and Xojo Cloud provide a great solution. If you need to develop native iOS apps, start learning Xojo now because support for iOS is coming later this year. (Xojo iOS is here!)

Are you planning on building commercial apps or apps for internal use at your company? Add a coment and let me know.