Nov 28, 2023 By Geoff Parent 5 min
By Geoff Parent
Geoff is a writer and guest contributor to sidebar Magazine.
There’s no denying that native mobile apps deliver a far better user experience when compared to viewing a website in a mobile browser. That said, developing native apps for both iOS and Android devices from the ground up can be challenging! Aside from being costly and time-consuming to develop, producing and maintaining apps for both iOS and Android requires double the effort and double the experienced engineers.
If you want to avoid these challenges but are still looking to launch a beautiful, functional native app, try Median! Rather than developing iOS and Android apps from scratch, our online App Studio allows you to convert your existing website to a native app with only minimal web development. This way, you can leverage your website’s existing user interface to launch a powerful native app. Not only can this help you launch your app faster, it will also help to lower the costs associated with development.
From early-stage startups to Fortune 100 companies, Median’s platform has helped thousands of customers build and launch their own native apps. Whether you’re looking to launch an app quickly to test a business idea, or in need of enterprise-level app support and maintenance plans, Median can provide the services you need.
With Median, you can choose how far you want to take your app:
To start building your native app, simply enter your website URL into Median App Studio here! Once you enter your URL, our online build platform will create your app in a few minutes. This initial app converts your website content to a native app, and you can use our browser-based mobile device simulator to preview what it looks like on a mobile device.
Each time you edit and rebuild your app configuration, we will email you a link where you can download your app and an appConfig.json file that contains your app configuration details. Be sure to use a valid email so you receive these important details.
Our online App Studio makes it easy to put a unique, brand-oriented stamp on your app. At this stage, you can add a custom app icon, an app splash screen, and in-app theme colors.
Not only do app icons reflect your brand and hint at the purpose of your app, they can also influence app rankings and visibility within app stores.
The app splash screen is the brief introductory screen that appears as the app loads after the user has clicked the app icon.
Want to use a unique image? Consult our blog post for tips and best practices.
A consistent, branded color theme can help shape your app’s visual identity.
As you add your app icon, splash screen, and edit your theme colors, you can rebuild your app to preview your changes live in our browser-based Apple iPhone/iPad and Android mobile device simulators. You can also request feedback from others by sending them your app’s view-only Public Sharing URL.
Now that you’ve seen your app on browser-based simulators, it’s time to see how it looks and performs on physical devices. It’s at this stage where you’ll understand the true difference that a native app can make! From the easy navigation to the way the app icon, splash screen, and color themes align to create a UI-friendly design — there’s really no comparison between a native app and a mobile website.
There are different steps involved in testing iOS and Android apps. Here’s how to get started:
Want to take your app further before publishing to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store? Consider making the following optimizations!
You can make adjustments to your website to ensure it looks as good as possible when it’s displayed in your native app:
Find out more about how to make these optimizations by referencing this blog post.
Elements like native sidebar menus and bottom tab bars create easy, intuitive navigation through your app. The bottom tab bar is our most popular native navigation menu, as it provides consistent navigation options and allows users to quickly navigate through the different pages of your app. Want to learn how to add native navigation to your app? Our documentation can help.
You can control which in-app links open within your app and which open in the device’s mobile browser. You can also consider configuring deep linking — whereby links to your website from text messages, emails, other websites, etc. open directly within your app on a user’s device rather than their mobile browser. You can learn more about link handling and deep linking in our documentation.
For an enhanced app-like experience, fix the device’s screen rotation so that it will always be in portrait mode. You can also enable swipe gestures to provide users with a quick and easy way to navigate through your app.
Apple and Google are quite clear: If your app doesn't look and perform like an app, it doesn’t belong on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. To help you meet these standards and get approved, consider the following:
You can add Custom CSS to your app to change how certain website UI elements display within your native app. Using CSS you may show, hide, or otherwise alter the styling of certain elements within your app. You can also choose to make the changes on your website rather than app by displaying a different URL (e.g. app.yoursite.com) or different version of your site within your app.
These additional features will supercharge your app and allow your app to take full advantage of native functionality! You can include Push Notifications and Native Plugins when you first publish your app or add them in the future and make them available for your users via an app update.
With the power of push, you can reach your users directly on their mobile devices with updates, announcements, offers and other information. When you use OneSignal, Median’s default push notification provider, you can send native mobile push notifications to all your users for no additional cost. All that’s required is to create a OneSignal account and add your OneSignal App ID to your Median app. If you are using Median’s App Store Publishing Service, our team will set up push notifications on your behalf.
From adding Face ID / Touch ID login, to adding QR/Barcode scanning, to enabling in-app purchases, video chat and social login, these plugins will help your app deliver an immersive, highly integrated experience. To learn more about Median’s native plugins, refer to our blog post and our documentation.
Publishing your app to the Apple App Store and Google Play will allow your users to download and update your app safely and securely. You have two options to get your app live in these app stores:
Regardless of which route you choose, you’ll need either a Google Play Developer Account or an Apple Developer Account. You can start the process of creating these accounts here:
Successfully navigating both Apple and Google’s review and publishing process is a complex, multi-step process. If you’d rather not take that on, leave it to Median to manage the process for you! Since 2014, our highly experienced publishing team has published over 3,500 apps with a 97% approval rate to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We will handle the publishing process from end-to-end, including the preparation of app store listing metadata and screenshots.
If you’re ready to build your own stunning, immersive, highly functional native app, without having to negotiate long, costly development timelines and managing multiple codebases, try Median’s App Studio for free and follow the steps above!
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