Why native Android apps?
When we design apps, one of the first things to consider is the ‘why’. Why should people use this, and how will it bring value to them. In this article we’ll however take a step back and look at why even make an app in the first place versus creating a good old-fashioned website. Then we’ll look at why we would want to build it natively, when it is possible to make it cross platform with other languages or web based with e.g. HTML5. And finally we’ll take a look at why we would want to pick Android as the OS to build for.
We develop native Android apps. We wrote this article as a reminder to ourselves on why we are Android developers and why we care about giving a native Android app experience to users and provide the functionality we do for this platform. When people come to us with ideas we often challenge them on which platform to build for, as we think it is healthy to consider the ‘why’ before starting any new project.
Why an app?
Firstly why even make an app. Here’s an extensive list of the reasons we find the most significant for justifying an app:
Offline presence, availability and functionality.
Apps published on app stores will give more exposure through the more than 6 million unique searches each month on Google Play
Customer loyalty - be more tightly connected with your customers by being present on their personal phone.
Unique functionality that cannot be integrated into websites.
Payments deeply integrated into the interaction flow and functionality.
After deciding on developing an app, one has to choose whether to make it native or build it using other cross platform languages and tools. Here are a couple of very good reasons for why native can make a lot of sense. Especially the point on user experience is something not to underestimate since users will have expectations for your app.
- Better and faster performance.
- The native feel and user experience of the platform, that the users would expect and desire.
- Access to all available functionality through native API’s (e.g. interfacing with bluetooth devices).
Lastly one has to decide which OS to build for - or at least which platform to start with. Here are some impressive statistics showing why Android is a very interesting platform now and in the future with increasing growth in all aspects:
- Over 1 billion active Android users per month “The Verge - Android user statistics”.
- 81% of smartphone market share in 2014.
- 62% of tablet market share in 2014 (from 46% in 2013!) “The Verge - Android tablet market share”.
- Over 50 billion app downloads on Google Play.
- Expanding hardware platforms with new API’s, e.g. Android wear for smartwatches, and Android TV.