What is Each Mobile Technology Best For?

Daniel Maycock is one of Slalom’s acknowledged thought leaders in the realm of new and emerging technology.

Native Mobile Applications
Native mobile applications are best suited for applications requiring significant depth on a particular platform and/or device. Areas like gaming for example, which require significant UI development, can’t easily be developed and rendered unless a specific form factor is selected. Even with the advancements in web technology, utilizing the device-specific video rendering capabilities is often required on more complex mobile applications. Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms can often utilize hardware such as the onboard accelerometer on a given device, but fine-tuning that feedback for applications requiring sensitive responses would require having an application developed for the specific device. This is particular frustrating for some developers, because the majority of mobile operating systems exist on different types of hardware with varying technologies and screen sizes. A great deal of expertise is also required to build complex native applications, which often drives up the cost of development. For building a flagship application however, being device-specific can give the application a leading edge in both quality & interactivity.

Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP)
MEAP environments are great for applications requiring the ability to interact, manipulate, and view data internally or externally to a company. It’s also great for companies with very little internal software development expertise, and/or the lack of funds to hire outside developers for all but the biggest software initiatives. In 80% of most enterprise application requirements, a MEAP environment will allow the user to quickly develop and turn around an application with roughly 4-5 days of training, and deploy to any platform within a company. Externally facing applications are starting to appear, utilizing MEAP technologies, but all point to a central host on which they were initially developed and deployed. Due to being device-agnostic however, there are functions that are left off, which only native applications can build for, and also have simplistic development environments, which may drive off more experienced software developers purely out of boredom.

Mobile Websites
Mobile websites should be something built into every website (or at least considerations of how your site looks on a mobile device), regardless of the audience or purpose.  More and more people are viewing web content on mobile devices, so having at least some form of mobile-friendly web content is a must. However, sometimes a mobile website alone will be all one needs to properly share their content with other users. Utilizing other tools, such as native apps or MEAPs, will enhance and give further depth to the content, but for a great number of situations, simply taking the existing content and making it mobile friendly will save both time and money for a company or individual. Considering when more is necessary, is the conundrum companies often face, and should be thought through thoroughly before pulling the trigger on a major mobile initiative.

Mobile Widgets
Mobile widgets should be utilized on a case by case basis, as the majority of the function can either be met by a mobile-friendly version of an existing website, or a technology like a MEAP. Widgets, for example, may be utilized when a company wants to expand into a device-specific platform but doesn’t want to purchase a MEAP environment or spend the added effort in developing a native application. However, a standard mobile website won’t due, given the added UI enhancements available in a widget platform. In this case, a widget would do the trick perfectly, but should be considered alongside more mainstream options.

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About Daniel Maycock
Driven & passionate IT thought leader with several years experience working with companies to help solve their most difficult technology issues. Focus is around successful adoption of emerging technologies, such as Mobile & Cloud technologies, and providing the tools & expertise to help companies successfully adopt these technologies where they make the most business sense.

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