Everyone is going ‘Mobile’ these days and why not? You can have everything on your fingertips even when you’re on the go! It is the most convenient way to reach out to the world. Knowing that there are a larger number of Mobile phone users than Desktop users, businesses are focussing more on providing a better mobile interface to reach a wider audience. Drupal is not only great to build web applications but also to create effective and compelling mobile applications as well.
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to exploit the ‘smartness’ of your phone. One – Open your web browser and browse for what you’re looking for. Two – Open your Mobile App and get exactly what you want – faster! The latter is a Native app and this is what we’re going to focus on in this article
Why would you need a Mobile App for your business?
Native mobile apps are mobile applications that you download from an App store (iOS) or Play store (Android). On the other hand, Web apps are applications that you can access from an internet-enabled phone via a web browser. You don’t need to download them onto your phone. Generally, Web apps are preferred when you want to reach out to broaden your user base and display your content. Although, accessibility is easier with Web apps, as users do not HAVE to download anything on their phone, native mobile apps are more popularly used and preferred. So, why and when would you need a native mobile app for your business?
- If you’re looking to create a super-fast and great performing application.
- If your app needs to access the mobile phone’s features and functions like the file system, Camera, GPS, Compass, etc.
- If you’re app idea is a game.
- If you’re app idea is to execute some important routine tasks.
- If you need your app to be able to work offline too. (via caching techniques)
- When you want to provide your users with updates and notifications every now and then.
How can Drupal help you build a great Mobile App?
Drupal is an extremely flexible and agile Content management framework that can easily and powerfully blend with your requirements at lower costs. The ever-growing community of Drupal developers are constantly working towards creating a more robust and secure Drupal framework for you. With Drupal, you can not only create compelling enterprise-class websites but also light, fast and effective native mobile apps.
How does it work? In a nutshell, Drupal acts as the backend that contains all your business logic, user management, functionalities, modules and content while your native mobile app acts like a front end that uses the Services module to communicate with Drupal.
Before you start developing a Drupal mobile app, it helps to know which platform you want to build the app for. Let’s say you want to build an app for iOS, you will need to have a technical team with Objective C skills. And if you want to build on an Android system, you will need technical expertise in Java. For an iOS mobile app, you will obviously need a Mac for your iOS development and connect to your Drupal website using HTTP networking libraries like AFNetworking or ASIHTTPRequest. Similarly, for developing Android mobile apps, there are various libraries for native Android applications that communicate with Drupal web services like DrupalCloud and XMLRPC.
You also can choose between some cross-platform (both iOS and Android) mobile application development tools like Titanium, DrupalGap, PhoneGap, etc. that allow rapid development of Drupal mobile apps.