Mobile Apps

Hybrid, Native or Web?

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Web Apps

The thing with web apps is that they resides in web browsers. This can be either a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

As web browsers are ubiquitous, this means that whatever is created for web browsers can run almost everywhere, from mobile devices to desktops.

However, the fact that the app is controlled by web browsers also has its own disadvantages.

For example, developer seldom have full control over how a web app could look or feel. Different versions of web browsers and web browsers running on different platforms could interpret the code differently. As a result of that, the web app may not consistently look good or work well across all web browsers.

Additionally, because web apps do not run directly on the devices; hardware as they are only interpreted by web browsers, the performance is often slow or sluggish, and can never be as good as ‘native’ apps that are meant to run directly on the devices’ hardware.

Native Mobile Apps

Native apps imply that the apps written run directly on the mobile devices (hence the word ‘Native’). This means that developers generally have full control over the function and performance of the app, allowing developers to build really powerful apps and look and feel good.

However, because there are a wide variety of hardware, the app may sometimes function differently on different devices. At the same time, iOS and Android are two completely different operating systems, so in order to deliver apps for both iOS and Android, two different sets of code has to be written. This drives up cost and development time as we typically require double the amount of mobile app development man power.

What are Hybrids?

Now that we understand the advantages and disadvantages of web vs native mobile apps, is there anything out in the market that gives us the best of both worlds?

Recently, new technologies such as Xamarin and React Native has been developed that tries to marries the advantages of both Web and Native app while avoiding most of the disadvantages.

Xamarin is created by Microsoft and it lets developers build one app that runs on many platforms in C#. With a C#-shared codebase, developers can use Xamarin tools to write native Android, iOS, and Windows apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms.

React Native is built by Facebook and lets developers build real, native iOS and Android apps with one codebase. With React Native, you build a mobile app that is the same as an app built using Objective-C or Java. With React Native, however, you use JavaScript and React.

Hybrid Mobile App

In general, Hybrid apps has the following characteristics: Native-like performance, while allowing the same set of code to run on multiple platforms.

Theoretically, this means that we can cut our development time and cost down while still having good performance.

But in reality, it is not so.

Hybrid technologies are still relatively new and they have their limitations. They are also always playing catch up with the technologies available to their native counterparts, so Hybrid technologies will never be as advance or as mature as native technologies.

At the same time, because developers familiar with hybrid technologies are rarer, development costs are not necessarily lower. Also, due to the lack of maturity of hybrid technologies, apps created with such technologies may cost more to maintain and enhance.

Finally, despite its promises, Hybrid apps can never have the level of performance and flexibility that only native apps can enjoy. 

So which mobile app development approach is best?

This decision lies mostly with your business objectives. Do you simply want something cheap and fast? Or do you prefer to build for the longer term and have something that will generate large ROI for years to come?

There is no right or wrong to the matter. Think of the points below when deciding which mobile app development technology you would like to adopt.

  • How fast you need the app
  • The quality of the user experience you want your app to have
  • The complexity of the features you need for your app to work
  • Your Budget

Whichever approach you pick, if you want to impress your users, careful design and user experience (UX) planning is the most crucial to your success. This is a topic we will discuss in another post. At the same time, it is also very important to pick the right mobile app development company to start your mobile app development journey otherwise you may not get the right kind of mileage or returns from your investments.

You may check out our recent article on picking the right mobile app development company here.

Mobile Apps

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Mobile App?

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If you are looking to develop a mobile app, then app development costs is an important topic to you. Note that all the costs I’ve mentioned below are in Singapore dollars as the context of our discussion is Singapore.

Here are some of the items that affects the cost.

  • Features, complexity of each of those features, and the number of different features in the app can drive up the cost
  • Apps with back-end servers will almost always cost more.
  • Simple apps for one platform will start around $10,000.
  • More complex apps cost six figures. Some even over $1,000,000.
  • Costs will also vary based on who builds it – some companies can get things done cheaply, but without quality. Some companies can invest their best talents in building your app, but don’t come cheap.
  • High end agencies that spend time on research and study as well as building a killer user experience will cost more, as they don’t only write codes.

What kind of app development firms do you prefer?

The first thing you may consider is vendor selection. Not all the vendors are the same. If you go for a higher end vendor, the prices will be higher but in most cases quality will also go up.

At the same time, there are many companies in Singapore who are actually just a front for off-shore development shops. They can charge you half the price others quote you for building a mobile app, but they just offshore it to a cheap overseas sweatshop and earn perhaps a margin of 70%.

Compare that to getting a higher end mobile app developer to do the job. Maybe their price is higher, but they actually don’t profit that much off your project in most case. This means that a larger percent of your cash goes into doing the actual work, rather than lining a salesman’s pocket.

What about the price range? Typically, most development houses charge by something we call the “man-days”. Basically, they take a look at your requirements, estimate the number of days it takes for them to build what you need, and multiple that number by their “man-day rate”. 

For example, if the man-day rate is $800 and they estimate they need to spend a total of 100 man-days spread out across iOS, Android, CMS, Backend development and design, then the project costs $80,000.

The ‘big boys’ in Singapore, such as big consultancy firms like KPMG and Accenture, charges anywhere between $ 1,500 to $ 2,200 per man day. They also do not typically work on your project unless it is a high 6 figures or 7 figure project. Typically, these firms are enabled by government organisations or other big MNCs.

The higher-end development houses in Singapore such as Originally USCodigo, Rainmaker-Labs and Buuuk  charges anywhere between $700 to $ 1,000 per man day. Their rates a good trade-off between affordability and quality. Like the big boys, their typical clients can include big MNC firms and government organisations. At the same time, most of the higher-end development houses in Singapore also occasionally design and develop mobile apps for SMEs and startups.

The low-end development houses in Singapore typically charges between $ 500 to $ 800. I will not be listing them here as they can be easily found when searching via Google. They invest strongly in search engine hacks and optimization to be featured prominently in order to earn new businesses.

While they are only slightly cheaper than the higher end companies, their quality is a lot less as they typically earn from project quantity – close as many sales as possible to make profit. This means they may not pay as much attention and level of detail to your project due to the low costs.

Additionally, such companies are typically a front for off-shore development firms, simply outsourcing the project to be built by the cheapest off-shore company that charges typically between $ 80- $300 per man day.

Cheap Now May Be Expensive Later

Unless a development shop is a scam, money buys quality. When investing in something like mobile apps, it is important to pay attention to quality as quality of the app represents your brand and reputation. At the same time, you want your investment to continue to work for many years to come.

What happened to many mobile app projects in Singapore is that many projects fail as the apps don’t work very well. Either the users hate them due to poor design and usability, or the features flat out don’t work and crashes all the time.

Instead of going for the lowest bidding and risking your reputation and the success of the project on lower end company, sometimes it may be crucial to compare invest a little bit more upfront (painful now), and enjoy a well built mobile app and great returns on investment in future (happy forever), rather than enjoy a cheap deal now (happy now), and face issues with the development company or mobile app and possibly have to scrape the whole thing later (painful forever).

If you are an employee in an organisation sourcing for a mobile app development firm, it is worth nothing that if you source for the cheapest development company, your bosses may be happy that you “saved” some money but they definitely will not thank you if the project fail later. 

On the other hand, if you can select a reliable and trusted mobile app developer from the start and justify the costs to your boss, you will enjoy the fruits of your decisions if the project is a success. I’ve also heard many cases where executives get promoted very quickly because they have successfully rolled out mobile app projects for their organisations.

How To Estimate The Cost?

If you select a higher end developer in Singapore, here are some baselines which you can reference in terms of mobile app development costs.

To build an app that shows the latest 4D numbers on iOS & Android – $ 20,000

To build an app similar to Carousell – $250,000 to $ 600,000

To build an app similar to Parking @SG – $ 50,000 – $ 100,000

To help you understand the ballpark better, there are various online mobile app price estimates tools. However, most of them are developed for the US market and have much higher prices as compared to when engaging Singapore mobile app development companies.

However, from Google search, I have found a mobile app price estimate calculator developed by Originally US, one of the higher end mobile app developer mentioned above. You can try this tool out here: How Much To Build An App.

Cover Image from PEXELS.

Business Insights

A/B Testing For Mobile Apps

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A/B testing, otherwise called split testing or form testing, is an evaluation apparatus that means to choose which variant ought to be utilized to accomplish a venture’s objectives all the more successfully. Usually utilized for websites, A/B testing has been gaining traction in the reign of mobile application design.

In the A/B testing we often put a first version, version A, as the control and version B as the variant. When we conduct the test, we give a set portion the users access to the first version, while the remaining test participants are given version B. This helps to see if the changes have a measurable impact.

Nowadays, A/B testing is fundamental. Almost everyone can conduct an A/B testing to understand if the changes made to the application has a positive impact on the users. However, it does not mean that it is easy to get it done right. In order to see the most success from A/B testing, one has to consider the following:

  1. Statistics and data is your best friend. A/B testing is similar to conducting an experiment. You do not want to conduct the test without proper data tracking and statistical analysis. Without being able to measure the results quantitatively, the A/B testing is as good as nought.
  2. Use the results. This may seem redundant, but many times, developers or project owners simply ignore the results of the A/B testing because the result is different from expected. It is important to bear in mind that unless there is a fundamental error in how the testing was conducted, the results from the test should not be ignored.
  3. Have the strategy ready first. When conducting A/B testing, one should already have a specific objective in mind. The project owner or developer should already know what he or she wants to test, before planning the test. Otherwise, it will be hard to make sense of the test outcome
  4. Unless we are testing for design preferences, we should not change the design when doing A/B testing. This is to make sure that the test result is consistent and not skewed by differences in preference in design of the participants.
  5. Patience is important because sometimes it takes a while before A/B testing results can be gathered. A/B testing is not a short term exercise but a long term strategy that can go a long way in improving your mobile apps.

How has A/B testing helped you or your organisation deliver higher quality mobile applications? Share with us below!