Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Types of No-Code Applications

There's a wide range of applications that can be built using no-code platforms, but they all fall into the following categories: web apps, mobile web apps, native apps, hybrid apps, and progressive web apps. So, how do you decide which type of app to build? It depends primarily on your target audience and the features you need. In order to give you an idea of how the different categories compare, here a few basic facts about each type of app:

Web Apps

  • Web apps are intended primarily for use on desktop computers. They're normally constructed using a combination of HTML, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript elements and often work in conjunction with an online database.
  • The app (and its data) are stored on a web server so you need a browser and an active network connection to access the application. To provide offline access you have to use an SQL-based database API to store data locally and an offline application HTTP cache to make the application available even when the user isn't online. 
  • Web apps can be accessed from a mobile device just by directing the device's browser to the app's URL. How the app appears on a particular device and operating system (Android or iOS) depends on how "responsive" the app is - that is, whether it automatically adjusts for different screen sizes and layouts. In some cases a website may provide two versions of a web app - one for desktop viewing and one specially designed for viewing on a mobile device.
  • You don't need to worry about whether or not you have the latest version of a web app, since they reside on a web server and everyone accessing the application is automatically using the latest (and only) version of the program.
  • If you access a web app from a mobile device, the app isn't going to load and operate as quickly and efficiently as a true mobile version that's installed directly on the device. 
  • Web apps don't have to be approved by an app store, so you can launch them faster than mobile apps. However, your app may be harder for potential customers to find since it's not on display in a store.
Native Mobile Apps
  • Native apps are built for a specific operating system (Android, iOS or Windows) and are optimized to run as efficiently as possible on that operating system. No-code platforms such as AppyPie, Adalo, GoodBarber, Thunkable, and others let you build mobile apps for Android or Apple and get them into Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Because they're installed directly from an app store onto a particular mobile device, mobile apps can access any of that device's built-in functions: GPS, accelerometer, camera, etc.).
  • Native apps can work offline since the app lives on the mobile device and doesn't need to connect to a network in order to function.
  • Users can feel secure using native apps since the apps have to be checked and approved by the Apple or Google app store before they're made available for download. 
  • There is a cost involved in doing business through the app stores.  Google Play Store has a one-time charge of $25 to upload your apps to the store, and they take 30% of whatever price a customer pays for your app as a commission. To use the Apple App Store you have to pay a $99 fee each year, and Apple also takes a commission of 30% of the price the customer pays to buy your app. Note: Apple recently announced that they're cutting their commission rate to 15% for small developers.
Hybrid Apps
  • Hybrid apps are basically web apps enclosed in a wrapper that allows them to be installed on mobile devices through an app store, the same as native apps. You can create hybrid mobile apps on no-code and low-code platforms like Appery, AppyPie, and Mendix. 
  • Unlike native apps, hybrid apps can run on both Android and Apple operating systems, so you only need to create one version that can be uploaded into both Android and Apple stores.
  • Since hybrid apps are actually web apps they generally run slightly slower on mobile devices than native apps.
  • While there are a few no-code/low-code platforms that allow you to build hybrid apps, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the becoming the alternative to native mobile apps on many no-code platforms.
Progressive Web Apps
  • PWAs, like web apps, are built using elements like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. More and more no-code development platforms are providing users with the ability to create PWAs.
  • Progressive web apps look like native apps but, like regular web applications, they live on web servers rather than being installed directly on a mobile device. PWAs can be installed on your device's home screen by linking the app's icon to its web address.
  • Again, like regular web apps, PWAs require a network connection in order to reach the website where they're stored. However, unlike regular web apps, PWAs can operate offline by using a technology called "Service Workers". Service Workers caches data from the website, saves it on your device and displays an icon marking the location where the data is stored.
  • Although PWAs share many of the characteristics of a native app, they can only make use of those functions on the mobile device that are supported by web browsers (such as video or audio recording).

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