When Does an App Make Sense?
Despite the many inherent benefits of the mobile web, apps are still very popular, and there are a number of specific use scenarios where an app will be your best choice. Generally speaking, if you need one of the following, an app makes sense:
Interactivity/Gaming – for interactive games (think Angry Birds) an app is almost always going to be your best choice, at least for the foreseeable future.
Regular Usage/Personalization – If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis (think EverNote) then an app provides a great way to do that.
Complex Calculations or Reporting – If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think banking or investment) an app will help you do that very effectively.
Native Functionality or Processing Required – mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.
No connection Required – If you need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a network/wireless connection then an app makes sense.
As with any project, when developing an app you want to ensure that your are getting an optimal return on your investment. What you want to avoid at all costs is the needless and expensive exercise of building an app to do something basic that can be achieved with a mobile website.