Easily Create Web-Based Android Applications

If we mention about websites, surely the first thing that comes to our mind is a page on the internet that we usually access by typing the address or link in search engines such as Google or Yahoo.

To find the page we are looking for, we will need a device in the form of a computer and of course an internet connection. However, since the development of mobile phone technology, which has now reached its advanced version which we usually know as smart phones or smartphones, encroachment or web searches do not have to use a computer, but can only use a smartphone.

Why is that? Because the sophisticated smart phone is also equipped with a browser application (search engine) like a computer device. It can even be said that smartphones are miniatures of computers.

More advanced, the web can be easier to reach with a program called an application for smart phones. With the application, we no longer need to type in the web address we are looking for, because we only need to access the application. Applications related to websites are called web-based applications. And on this occasion we will also discuss about creating a web-based android application. But before that let’s talk about

Create a web-based android app

A web-based application is a specific type of software that allows users to interact with a remote server through a web browser interface. The software has instead undergone enormous development, replacing desktop applications and becoming an important instrument for small and large businesses around the world.

Web-based applications have a number of advantages over traditional desktop applications, especially their portability. With web-based applications, users do not need to install additional software, and developers do not have to create several versions of the same application for different operating systems.

The web application works on any device that can run a supported browser and has an active Internet connection.

By creating a web-based android application, what can we do?

Creating web-based Applications is very useful, as it can be a valuable tool for businesses because they are able to help business managers by:

  • track the performance records of each worker;
  • managing the transportation of passengers or cargo;
  • monitoring financial processes;
  • work with payroll;
  • controlling the workflow of individual staff members and project groups.

All this can be achieved by creating a web-based application that will run on the server. The application can be created in a variety of programming languages and utilizes various technologies and frameworks. The web-based application will run in the client divice browser no matter what operating system is installed. This makes the web-based app one of the most universal cross-platform solutions (including android and iOS smartphones) available today.

Business models that create web-based android apps

You may not know, but most likely you are using web-based android as well as iOS apps in your daily life. Depending on the usage scenario, web-based applications can be very simple or reflect the complexity of desktop software. Some examples are:

  • A system that allows you to book accommodation, tickets and other services online;
  • Online payment systems;
  • Interactive Internet portals (websites that work with user input such as registration information);
  • CRM system for working with large data sets and managing multiple projects.

As you can see, complex web-based applications can work with many data sources and solve many problems. However, this does not mean that there are no simpler web-based applications. Of course there is. Examples:

  • Application for calculating loan repayment
  • Apps that display currency exchange rates
  • Application to generate color palettes
  • Application for creating custom surveys and others.

How to make web based android app?

With WebView

Android offers different ways to present content to users. To provide a consistent user experience with other platforms, it is usually best to build a native application that combines the experience that frame work provides.

However, some applications may need to increase control over the UI. In this case, creating a web-based android application such as a WebView shaped application is a good option for displaying trusted first-party content.

The WebView framework allows you to define viewports and style properties that make your web pages appear at the right size and scale across all screen configurations. You can even define an interface between your Android app and your web page that allows JavaScript on web pages to call APIs in your app providing Android APIs to your web-based apps.

However, you shouldn’t create a web-based Android app just as a means to view your website. Instead, the web pages you embed in your app should be designed specifically for that environment.

Creating a Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Typed Web-Based Android App

Progressive Web Apps are applications created using web technologies that run in a browser and can be added to the home screen. It is not distributed through the original app store.
Progressive Web Applications are sufficiently run in the browser so they can be created with basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Then you can convert it to .apk that can be installed on your Android device or to .app that can be installed on your iOS device.

Creating a Web-Based Android Application with a Hybrid Mobile Apps Type

Some hybrid mobile app platforms include PhoneGap (aka Cordova), Titanium Appcelerator, and Ionic. You don’t need a platform to build hybrid applications, but they are helpful because they are already careful about creating a bridge between the native API and the JavaScript API.

Creating a web-based android app requires detailed planning

Identifying your requirements (or your customers) is one of the most important best practices in app development, be it a mobile app or something else. Carefully research the targeted capabilities to determine if they can be achieved in your mobile web app. It is frustrating, and very unproductive, to realize that one or more important functions on a user’s smartphone are not supported, while you have invested time and resources into designing web-based interfaces and other designated supporting infrastructure.

Another common problem often faced by beginners in creating web-based android applications is to assume that the web-based code for desktop browsers will work “as is” in mobile browsers. You have to know the difference if you don’t want to be let down by your expectations. Html5 tag functionality for “Play” <video>, for example, may not work on mobile browsers. Similarly, CSS transitions and opacity properties cannot be supported (or at least not consistently supported) in most mobile browsers today. You’ll also run into issues with some web API methods on mobile platforms, such as SoundCloud’s music streaming API which requires Adobe Flash is also not supported on most mobile devices.

A common thing for novice developers of mobile web applications is to convince me that web-based code for desktop browsers will work “as is” in mobile browsers.

Create a web-based android application and optimize its performance

“OMG, it’s so slow!”. As a mobile web app developer, that’s probably the last words you’d like to hear from one of your users. You should therefore think carefully about how to reduce and optimize each byte and server transfer to reduce user wait times. It is unrealistic to expect that the transfer will always be carried out over a WiFi network, and you should know that 60% of mobile web users say they expect the sites they visit to be loaded on their phone in 3 seconds or less (from various sources). Similarly, Google found that, for every five seconds of additional load time, user visit traffic can drop by 20% (and it is also noteworthy that search engines see load times as part of their page quality score calculations).

60% of mobile web users say they expect a site to load on their phone in 3 seconds or less.

As part of this mobile web application development tutorial, here are some tips that can help optimize the performance of your web-based application and minimize its latency.

  • Image Optimization. Image loading times are known to be one of the biggest performance issues affecting page loads on mobile devices. The use of an online image optimizer, can help in overcoming this problem.
  • Code compression. Compressing your JavaScript and CSS files, depending on the amount of code you have, can potentially have a significant impact on performance.
  • Request a data base.
  • Some mobile device browsers do not accept as many cookies as desktop browsers do, which can result in the need to execute more queries than usual. Server-side caching is therefore essential when we are creating web-based applications that support clients that use mobile devices.
  • Remember to use appropriate filters to prevent SQL query injection that could compromise the security of your site and servers.

Choosing the Right JavaScript Mobile Web Application Framework

Since the development of mobile web-based android applications tends to create many of the same common challenges – such as cross-browser compatibility and inconsistent HTML and CSS in mobile browsers – frameworks have been developed (based on HTML5 and CSS3) specifically designed to address these issues and work as perfectly as possible on a wide array of smartphones and tablets. Most of these mobile web app frameworks are lightweight, which helps facilitate fast mobile web browsing without sacrificing the look and feel of your site.

Expanding our view beyond the mobile landscape, if there’s a popular JavaScript framework worth mentioning, it’s jQuery. If you’re familiar with the desktop version, you can try using jQuery Mobile for your mobile web app. The tool has a library of widgets that can convert semantic markup into a gesture-friendly format, making operation easy on touch screens. The latest version consists of a very light codebase packed with many graphic elements that can really improve your UI.

Another alternative is, Sencha Touch. The tool also quickly gained market share. It offers excellent performance overall and helps produce a mobile web user interface that mostly looks and feels like the real thing. Its full-featured widget library is based on Sencha’s ExtJS JavaScript library.

Responsive Frameworks and Web Applications For Mobile

Now more and more responsive frameworks have begun to emerge in recent years, with the two most popular today being Bootstrap and Foundation. In summary, responsive frameworks simplify and streamline the design and implementation of web-based responsive UI, encapsulating the most common UI layouts and paradigms into reusable and performance-optimized frameworks. Most of the concepts are based on CSS and JavaScript, many of these frameworks are open-source, free to download, and easy to customize. Unless you have a very strange set of requirements, it is likely that the use of one of these frameworks will reduce the level of effort to design and implement your web-based application.

In using Bootstrap and Foundation for web-based application building, some of the key differences to consider include:

  • Targeted platform. Although Bootstrap supports mobile, tablet, and desktop devices, it is primarily oriented towards desktop use. However, on the other hand, it is designed for all sizes and types of screens.
  • Browser compatibility. Bootstrap is compatible with IE7 or higher, while Foundation is only compatible with IE9 or higher.
  • Diversity of layouts and components. Bootstrap has a much larger collection of UI elements than those offered by Foundation.Auto-resize. With Foundation, the grid shrinks and stretches according to the current height and width of the browser, whereas Bootstrap only supports a set of predefined grid sizes based on a standard set of screen sizes.

Debugging and Testing Web-Based Applications

Debugging a web-based application can be complicated and somewhat frustrating, especially if you need to find different devices to test, or install SDKs for emulation (which usually gives imperfect results) from the targeted client platform.

In this context, one obvious advantage of web application development (compared to native application development) is that you can use standard browser-based developer tools to debug your application. Based on our personal preference for remote debugging, what I recommend in this application development tip is to use Chrome with its DevTools. Other standard options include Firefox with firebug or Opera Dragonfly tools.

Some of the reasons I prefer Chrome with DevTools include:

  • Mobile emulator in Chrome DevTools. This is probably the only sufficient reason to choose Chrome for debugging mobile web apps. Key features include emulation of its touch function, user agent spoofing, network bandwidth throttling, geolocation replacement, device orientation change, and CSS Media Type Emulation.
  • Interactive editor. Ability to edit JavaScript or CSS on-the-fly.
  • Superior JavaScript debugger. Allows for DOM breakpoints and provides the ability to profile the execution time of your JavaScript code.
  • Built-in JSON and XML viewer. Can be used to avoid the need for any plugin to check the server response.
  • Support for the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) protocol directly via USB. Facilitate easy examples of remote debugging sessions.
  • Dynamic inspection of resources. Allows you to inspect your application’s local data sources, including IndexedDB or SQL Web databases, local and session storage, application cookies and others. You can also quickly check your app’s visual resources, including images, fonts, and style sheets.
  • To test the cross-browsability layout and compatibility of your web application, you can also use some useful online tools, such as BrowserStack. Just enter the URL for your app, select the browser, version, and operating system, and you’ll get an emulated view (and load speed) of your site in that environment.
  • Another useful tool for these purposes is CrossBrowserTesting.

Thus our review today about creating a web-based android application as well as an application for other smart phones that we can share with you. Hope it is useful.

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