Mobile Considerations - Native Mobile Apps

The first post in a series on the developments taking place within mobile technology.


Mobile apps are embedded within consumers’ daily habits, enabling interactive experiences and delivering new services. For businesses, the development and ongoing support of an application can be significant; consideration must be given to the app’s specific use case and alignment to customer needs.

What are Native Mobile Apps?

These are applications developed for mobile devices downloaded from an app store and installed by a user.

For many organisations, the default assumption is that an app is required to deliver a rich, digitally enabled customer experience. Native mobile apps do offer a variety of unique functionality, such as augmented reality and push notifications, but there are also alternatives to many of these features that can be quicker to deploy or cheaper to maintain, e.g. PWAs or mobile web.

If an organisation decides to develop an app, at a minimum they must support the two major mobile platforms, iOS and Android.

There are a multitude of tools that allow for a “write once, deploy everywhere” approach but these often create poor user experiences. Recently consumers are showing signs of app fatigue; many interact with only a handful of core applications and are increasingly reticent to download apps with little ongoing purpose or value.

Native mobile applications are ideal when high-performance computing is required (e.g. games) or when the user will interact on a frequent basis (e.g. daily). Additionally, a native app can be extended to support smartwatches if required.

An app is an excellent framework within which to innovate and test ideas with customers, refining at pace to deliver a customer-centric product.

Benefits of Native Mobile Applications

  • Able to send push notifications to users
  • Access to device sensors, such as Bluetooth and continuous GPS
  • Extremely rich experiences can be created, particularly offline

Delivery Challenges

  • High degree of friction during user installation
  • Can be costly to maintain
  • Updates require App Store review

Case Study – British Airways

Most major airlines offer a mobile application that allow customers to book flights, check-in and view flight information. In some cases these applications extend onto wearable devices, like the Apple Watch, offering glance-able information to users throughout their journey.

British Airways have consistently refined and iterated on their mobile app’s user experience. The new ‘My Timeline’ feature has been in testing for months with a small number of users to ensure it aligns to a real user need. This feature follows the customer’s journey from booking a flight through to departure and onwards. Throughout the experience, customers are offered additional services and products.

The native app also allows them to develop for the Apple Watch, where they offer customers boarding information and notifications.

User Benefits

  • Customers receive a personalised experience throughout their journey.
  • British Airways have a direct relationship with the customer throughout the journey, navigating them through any issues and promoting additional services.
Written on July 9, 2018