An App for That
Episode #5 of the course How to build an online business by Crew
Heads up: this email is all about building an app. If you’ve realized your business only needs a website, skip today’s lesson. Tomorrow’s lesson is all about websites, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Building an app? Awesome. There are a few different routes you can take to make your online product ready for mobile devices. Which option you choose will largely depend on three main factors:
1. The quality of the experience you want your app to provide
2. The complexity of the features you need for your app to work
3. Your budget
To help you choose which approach is best for your app idea, here’s a summary of the differences between the three main approaches to building an app: native, hybrid, or web.
A native app is written in the programming language specific for a platform, the most popular being Objective-C or Swift for Apple devices and Java for Android devices.
Building a native app provides the most optimal product experience on mobile devices, but a higher budget is needed to build across multiple platforms.
Choosing between iOS and Android
If you’re starting with one platform, it’s likely you’re deciding between Android and Apple iOS. The two companies account for over 90% of the smartphone market share.
In terms of revenue, iOS apps beat out Android pretty swiftly. With 45% greater in-app purchase revenue and a higher likelihood of retail purchases (and the fact that the cost of building can often be lower due to the vast amount of Android devices you’ll need to design for), iOS apps have a clear advantage. In addition to the revenue advantages, studies show that Apple users are more loyal, meaning those with iPhones are more likely to stick with Apple rather than jump ship over to Android.
Alright. So hiring an iOS app developer probably sounds more appealing right now. But while Apple has the premium smartphone market cornered, Android has its own set of benefits. When it comes to mass adoption, Android reigns supreme as the smartphone of choice for users in areas including Asia, Africa, and South America.
Building a hybrid app allows you to use development tools such as PhoneGap or Rubymotion to translate a web app into both iOS and Android apps. Creating a hybrid app makes it easier to build apps for both platforms quickly, but it comes with some pretty serious drawbacks.
The best analogy for hybrid apps is that it’s like using Google Translate rather than learning a language. Translate may work for basic words or phrases, but good luck translating a full novel.
A web app is an app written similarly to a website, but it’s built to feel like an app on mobile devices. They’ll work for products that require minimal native gestures and don’t require access to features from mobile devices like Push Notifications. A web app is typically the most inexpensive option. However, it won’t feel like a native mobile app and cannot be distributed through native app stores like the App Store or Google Play.
Cloning your app
Making a clone of an existing app isn’t a simple process. With all the different design and functionality considerations across platforms, how you choose to build out these elements will have a major impact on how your users feel about your app. When it comes to cloning an app, what you save in budget you lose in quality.
When deciding between which app you should build, it’s important to consider the different factors related to your business.
Look at your current priorities and where you want to be in the future to determine what option works best for you.
Native and hybrid apps typically have better product experiences on mobile devices and can be distributed in app stores, but they are more costly than web apps.
Apple’s not-so-secret recipe to designing successful apps
“The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” by Guy Kawasaki
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