Current technology offers many tools that can empower your marketing department. However, as the industry is advancing at a break-neck pace, it is not always easy to decide on specifics. For example, you are probably aware that custom apps can benefit your business, but you might be struggling to decide whether your new application should be a Windows 8 or Chrome app. Here are some points to consider about each of these web solutions.
Chrome apps have access to Chrome APIs and services not available to traditional web sites. Apps can interact with network and hardware devices, media tools, and much more for streaming and editing videos and music. Like a native app, a Chrome app does not live within the browser, so when the app is open, the browser interface elements, such as the address bar, disappear so that the focus is specifically app-task related.
Chrome app pages load locally, allowing less dependence on the network. Users have total control over the lifecycle of the app, including a complete uninstall. If necessary to improve performance, the system can close the app anytime it needs. Offline launching of apps is effortless, but users must store data locally when offline, and then sync to the server once online.
Windows 8 apps can typically be ported to Windows Phone 8, but they are not compatible with Windows Phone 7. Windows 8 apps can use PhoneGap for cross-platform development between Windows PC and Smartphone devices.
Developers must follow programming rules and be mindful of issues such as Portable Class Library and architecture to ensure portability. Not doing so can result in an app that might not function as a desktop/Windows Phone 8/Windows Phone OS application.
A Chrome app can best be described as a modified web app that uses the same tools, frameworks and code. There is a one-time fee of $5 that must be paid before the first app can be published. You will need to verify your ownership of the site prior to publishing an app.
Windows 8 apps require developers to have Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2013 or Visual Studio 2012. If using the Windows Store, fees for a developer account must be paid. The current fees are $19 for an individual account or $99 for a company account.
Deployment and Distribution
Publishing Chrome Web apps is a highly automated process requiring only a few steps. You also have the option to publish to test accounts to make sure payments and installations work as they should. The test app must be unpublished before you go live with the app. You will need to publish any supporting pages or new websites required by the app before publishing your app.
To publish an app, all you need to do is click the link marked "Publish" beside the desired app on your dashboard. Alternatively, you can use the app's dashboard edit page to publish it. Your app has immediate visibility to the world, but there will be a slight delay before it appears in the store's search.
You can use the developer dashboard to select supported regions and make your app international. If you opt for Chrome Web Store Payments, you can set a different price for each supported region.
Like Chrome, the Windows Store is highly automated, and there is little to do. However, the store makes every app public, so anyone can view or download your app. Currently, there is no functionality for private apps except Windows Phone 8 applications.
If you choose to forego the Windows Store, apps can be installed using a process called side-loading. Devices installing apps through side-loading must have Windows 8 Enterprise or Windows 8 Pro. You can use Windows Intune, which requires purchasing a minimum of 100 licenses at $30 each. Otherwise, the devices must be in the same domain where the app was packaged.
Updates are not automatic. Each user must install updates, which are deployed in the same manner as the app. If there are multiple users on a machine, each must perform his or her own update.
If you are still unsure whether to use Chrome or Windows 8 for your application, we invite you to contact us for information on our web consulting services. Our highly experienced, professional team can help you with all of your IT needs.