How & why Verdens Gangs transitioned its VG+ mobile app

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Colin

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General challenges to consider when choosing a HTML or the hybrid app approach:

  • Weigh the costs of tweaking the HTML for each browser. The advantages of using a cross-platform language may soon be eroded if you need to customise your code for each browser version or operating system.
  • Page rendering of Web content is not as seamless when turning the iPad from landscape to portrait. With VG+, we have chosen to only support landscape view on the iPad and portrait view on smartphones.
  • Applications reliant on hardware access are better off choosing native (games, camera, location etc). We have a limited need for creating native components in VG+. By choosing a hybrid approach, we could implement the best of both native and Web.
  • A native feeling differentiates premium products from Web products. If a premium app feels “Webish” or there is a lag in loading content, customers associate this experience with the Web. This is a bad association to establish when trying to convince the user to pay for a premium digital product as opposed to free content on a Web page.
  • HTML apps tend not to feel as polished as native apps. Also, they generally don’t look like native apps.
  • The Webview used in apps is slower than Safari. Nitro JavaScript Engine is not available in UIWebView.
  • Apps/mobile content need to be fast. Natively rendered content have a tendency to render quicker than HTML content.
  • The traditional problems with Web development are associated with supporting old browser versions. The same problem has begun to develop on mobile platforms as new versions of browsers and different versions of webkit are released per operating system

Conclusion: I think the most important advice I can give is to try use the right tool for the job. The right technology for VG+ at this time was to develop hybrid apps. We have developed both native and hybrid apps for different VG products based on different project requirements.

In our case, a hybrid solution was the right solution for this product. The hybrid approach has allowed us to selectively choose the right technology (HTML or native) for different features and to achieve the performance and user experience we and our users demand from a subscription product.

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Apps, Digital Design, Digital Journalism, Interactives, Mobile Tablet Patterns, Publishing, UI UX

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