In this post we will provide a quick overview of the 4 options currently available for developing a mobile GIS applications. The most appropriate approach should be determined by your project requirements.
What are my Mobile GIS Options?
Mobile Web GIS Apps
One of the key advantages of mobile web apps are that they are both cross-platform and cross-device.
Pros: Cross-platform, cross-device, apps easier to build and extend, offline functionality.
Cons: Handling large datasets, performance good but not like native, accessing device sensors.
Hybrid GIS Apps
There are a number of frameworks which will convert a mobile web app to a hybrid app. This is a mobile application which is installable, and can be distributed in the various app stores. Different to web apps, a hybrid app has access to device sensors and can leverage native code. Cordova/Phonegap is a popular choice, using a headless browser and wrapper to generate a hybrid app. From a single code base a hybrid app can be generated for any of the popular mobile platforms.
Pros: Cross-platform, cross-device, native-like apps built from one code base, access to device sensors.
Cons: Handling large datasets, performance good but not like native.
Native GIS Apps
Native mobile apps are installable apps written in the native language of a mobile platform: Java for Android, Objective-C for iOS and .NET for Windows. Native apps have full access to all device sensors, provide high performance and are capable of handling large datasets. For GIS, Esri have a rich set of mobile SDK’s for each of the popular mobile platforms. These SDK’s support offline, and related tables.
Pros: Large datasets, performance, accessing device sensors.
Cons: Platform specific, higher level developer skills required, a different version of the same app is required for each platform.
Generated Native GIS Apps
Pros: Cross-platform, cross-device, native apps built from one code base,
Cons: Often proprietary, may require experience with less well known scripting languages.
Contact us for more information on 801-733-0723.