It’s no secret that everyone is designing software with a “mobile first” philosophy, including corporate America. As a matter of fact, the corporate world is trying to use one code base to support all mobile platforms. The good news is that several products and tools are available that allow developers to do just that, or at least get sort of close.
As part of its risk-mitigation process, a large national bank recently asked me to evaluate vendors for its new mobile-banking solution. I found that every vendor used some sort of mobile hybrid solution where most of platforms were built with an HTML 5 hybrid tool. The tool that was used the most was PhoneGap.
PhoneGap is a free, open-source framework that uses standard Web APIs on a number of platforms, like the obvious iOS and Android, and also webOS and Symbian. It’s a distribution of Apache Cordova.
After looking at the banking app’s needs, I saw that PhoneGap served the bank well, except for the iPad version. In that case we chose to create a native Objective-C app so the bank would have more control over the user experience. The bank’s user demographics indicated that customers using iOS devices expected certain features that a cross-platform framework didn’t provide. Eventually, its Android tablet version will be revised as a native project, as well, but for now the PhoneGap solution works. As for BlackBerry and Windows Phone, they weren’t even considered for native development. Only Web apps for them.