Should I Use a Mobile Application Creator?

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Should I Use a Mobile Application Creator?

admin   •   Mobile   •   Jul 30,2013
Should I Use a Mobile Application Creator?

Mobile applications are all the rage these days, and for good reason too. In the past few years results of studies and surveys have repeatedly shown that mobile app usage is growing rapidly. Apple is reporting over 50 billion app downloads and Android at a very close second at 48 billion downloads. Even though it’s hard for us to really comprehend the magnitude of a billion downloads, we can all agree that it’s a very large market. Given this information, you might be thinking about creating a mobile application for your company.

What a Mobile Application Creator can do

A mobile application creator does exactly what it sounds like it does, it creates a mobile application for you. The most common mobile application creators take HTML 5 or Javascript code and add native wrappers so the code can be compiled into a native app. The alternative to using a creator is to build a mobile app from scratch by writing native code in Objective C (for iOS) or Java (for Android). In many cases, this is a legitimate option as it allows your app to take advantage of all the native device functions such as the camera, GPS etc. This approach will clearly cost more and take more time, but depending on the purpose of the application it should at the very least be considered.

What Mobile Application Creators are there?

There are many great tools out there to help you create your mobile application. Depending on the resources at your disposal (time, programming skill) certain options may be more appealing than others.

In this article, we present 3 popular choices. Two of the options, PhoneGap and Titanium, both use the approach of taking your HTML or Javascript code and wrapping it into a mobile container. This is a good approach for front end web developers who want to build native mobile apps, but it may result in slower app performance and reduced availability of native device functions. In some cases, it may also limit your app to working in newer devices only, as we recently discovered with PhoneGap. Given that there are plenty of people out there still using old devices, that may not work for you.

Another good option is Xamarin, which allows developers to build native apps using the C# programming language from Microsoft. Xamarin allows you to create a mobile application for each specific mobile operating system (Android, iOS, Windows) using C# code, but it’s designed well to maximize code reuse among the different device operating systems. Unlike PhoneGap or Titanium who provide you with limited mobile wrappers, Xamarin gives you complete native functionality without having the need to hire an Objective C or Java programmer.

Now knowing more about what a mobile application creator is, what it can do, and some recommended tools, would I recommend using one? If you're of limited experience or need a framework for a quick turn around time then a mobile application creator can assist you, but even then it will require some coding knowledge. This is why it might be better to hire an experienced team to just handle the job for you.

Photo credit: William Hook / Foter / CC BY-SA

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