Are you considering or have you implemented a self-service or remote inspection solution? You will be dealing with the selection of a platform that works best for you: native app, web app or progressive web app. Let's get into the differences of each and how they may impact the success of your remote inspection roll out.
The bottom line is that each solution can work well for you. Let’s get into how to decide what may be the BEST use case for you.
We have gathered some good web articles to help provide information on the app environment and the Pro’s and Con’s
Read more to see what choices ViewSpection has made and what the outcomes have been like.
What Are the Choices?
A native app is one that is installed directly onto the smartphone and can work, in most cases, with no internet connectivity depending on the nature of the app. Native apps are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). They are developed specifically for one platform, and can take full advantage of the device features — they can work much faster by harnessing the power of the processor and can access specific hardware like GPS. In some smartphones the app can control devices and act as a controller itself. They can also incorporate gestures (either standard operating-system gestures or new, app-defined gestures). And native apps can use the device’s notification system.
Web apps are not real applications; they are websites that, in many ways, look and feel like native applications, but are not implemented as such. They are run by a browser and typically written in HTML. Users first access them as they would access any web page: they navigate to a special URL and then have the option of “installing” them on their home screen by creating a bookmark to that page. Today, as more and more sites use HTML5, the distinction between web apps and regular web pages has become blurred. Web apps require internet access and its operation speeds are dependent on the quality of cell signal or the speed of the wi-fi broadband you are connected to.
Unlike standard web apps (and more like native mobile apps), progressive web apps are able to work offline, and load extremely quickly. This is primarily down to advancements in the sophistication of the modern browser: thanks to the Application Cache feature, websites can now store large volumes of data offline. Progressive web apps can therefore be used without an internet connection, giving them some typical native mobile app functionalities, such as push notifications, native video and audio capture, and native video playback.
How to Decide?
Here is some good pro/con guidance on how to decide what approach works best for you.
- Faster than web apps.
- Greater functionality as they have access to system resources.
- Can work offline.
- Safe and secure — native apps must first be approved by the app store.
- Easier to build due to the availability of developer tools, interface elements and SDKs.
- More expensive to build than web apps.
- Compatibility with different platforms (i.e., iOS and Android) usually means designing and building the app from scratch.
- Expensive to maintain and update.
- It may prove difficult to get a native app approved by the app store.
- Do not need to be downloaded or installed — web apps function in-browse
- Easy to maintain — they have a common codebase regardless of mobile platform
- Will update themselves
- Do not work offline
- Slower than mobile apps, and less advanced in terms of features
- May not be as discoverable as mobile apps as they are not listed in a specific database, such as the app store
- Quality and security is not always guaranteed — web apps don’t need to be approved by the app store
- Better Engagement. All-rounder: The progressive principles used for creating PWAs enable it to work on all browsers and all screen sizes.
- Imitates native apps: PWAs can be used just like your native apps.
- Up to date data
- Secure: Follows the HTTPS protocol, so the information cannot be displayed or altered.
- No Installation process: PWAs can directly be downloaded on your mobile devices. You don’t have to visit the app stores
- Linkable: Shareable via URL without any need for installations
- Connectivity independent: These apps are accessible offline and on low-quality networks, as well.
- Drains battery power: Given that they are written in complex codes, the phones have to work harder to interpret the code. That’s why PWAs consume more battery than native apps.
- Unable to access various device features: PWAs fail to access several features on your device, which makes it lag behind native apps. PWAs do not have access to the device’s NFC and also the device’s Bluetooth, advanced camera controls, and so much more.
How ViewSpection's App Choices Have Evolved
Native App First
We started with native apps. We actually would do the first iteration in Android and then do iOS. Back then, we did not realize that our carrier customers were almost all iOS users.
Our first app was a static app that was hard coded and needed our developers to implement changes for customers. It soon became apparent that a static app would not meet the needs for a unique app requirement from a large customer base. Native apps are expensive and time consuming to build. If we built an app for each customer, the maintenance hours would become overwhelming.
While still a native app, our next iteration was a low code/no code solution that allowed us to build out report structures that were easily configurable for any customer.
While we had to invest quite a bit of time in building out the configurable platform, we could now build a new app in 5 hours that would have taken hundreds of hours previously.
Progressive Web App
Recently we added a progressive web app version to the suite of ViewSpection apps. We continue to utilize all of the apps we have built out.
The PWA though has simplified our customer support efforts as no app download is needed. We are still early in the roll out to users, but usability has been seamless.
We are planning to leverage the simple URL installation to remove the need for data entry to initiate an invitation to a policyholder.
We plan to continue to utilize the native app for vendor loss control users. Policyholders seem to be best served by the PWA and its reduction in friction and process.
The best part of the PWA is that it leverages the same backend we have built out and we only had to install a new framework to support the PWA functionality.
As referred to above, building out the PWA was much less time intensive than a native app with virtually the same end functionality.