Why so native?

I thought I’d take this time to talk to you about our feelings behind native applications and what we like/dislike about them.

GTX World has been creating iPhone apps for just over a year now and during this time we have all learnt a lot, not just about Objective C but about the foundations of iOS (the system powering iPhones, iPods, iPads and Apple TVs) and what makes native iOS applications just so good!

The first step into the Apple Developer pond was quite a big one; Objective C is certainly rather confusing with all its square brackets and long-winded methods. Over time, however, we have grown to love the language. It’s so nice to be able to deal with objects rather than just Classes and code. Objects help make for easier data management and display. Objective C is made simple thanks to Xcode. The IDE is fantastic for programming with automatic code completion and suggestion. It learns what you use most regularly and apples its knowledge to make life easy!

Sorry for the praise of Apple and Objective C here..I think it’s time to get closer to the topic! When we started off making apps, we tried to stick to our experience of HTML and CSS and replicating the iPhone interface using iWebKit, but it’s clear that this, despite being great, isn’t the best way! iPhone apps are fairly similar when you look at them, which makes them nice and easy for the user to learn. This is a great reason to use native apps, especially on iOS platform, because the standard libraries can create all of the complex designs, looks and feels to the app. Because of these libraries, it is much easier to link to certain aspects and functionalities of the devices, something that even HTML5 has restrictions with! If it wasn’t for native applications you wouldn’t be able to upload all of those photos to Facebook directly from your device or be able to send email from an app directly from your pre-configured mail account. It makes the user’s life MUCH simpler!

It’s hard to argue with the idea that iOS is beautiful – beautiful to look at (stare at even), to touch and utilise – and this is all because of the standards and frameworks it has. It’s something that has taken Google a couple of years to achieve (but we’re glad their finally implementing design standards). Now-a-days it’s not just about how well a piece of software works, it’s about how pleasant it is to use too and native apps really allow for it. The built in animations and transitions can give *almost* any app a professional feel without too much difficulty for the developer, something web apps can’t offer easily.

Where a lot of our work combines the iOS application and a server connection, native apps are a great way to improve the speed of the application as well as reduce the amount of data being transferred. We can store designs and layouts on the device so all that the connection does is send plain text (and maybe so me image data) to and from the device. It gives the application a much nicer “feel” and a much more interactive response as well as reducing our server load – win win really! Our iMobsters Property Calculator app is a great example of the switch from in-app websites to API processing.

A for these reasons we love creating native apps; it is definitely the way of the future!


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