Iterating at Light Speed with Cordova/PhoneGap
I have a love & hate relationship with hybrid web apps. I have some experience in building apps using Cordova/PhoneGap, and I covered some of the pros and cons in a previous post about Well.ca’s virtual store app. Despite the numerous deficiencies when building a mobile app using web technology, it turned out to be one of the right decisions we made for my start-up AvidTap.
It’s not that we don’t have expertise to build native apps or don’t want to. I also happen to have experience building native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. However, at the company’s infancy there’s such limited resources that we don’t want to delay getting to our MVP. Both Facebook and LinkedIn tried HTML5 and reverted back to making native apps, and I think for getting the absolute best experience that’s the right thing to do. However, for AvidTap at this stage hybrid is a better choice.
Rapid Iteration with Over-The-Air Updates
For our app, I built an update system that allows AvidTap push out delta updates to any user. The update system allows the server to inform clients when there is a new version and allows us to actually do A/B testing in the app. We’re constantly working on the app and pushing out tweaks 2 to 3 times a week.
Being able to do OTA updates means that we can test out our hypothesis rapidly. If we have a question that needs to be answered, we can quickly implement and gather the information we need to make decisions on. Being able to push out OTA update also means that we can fix issues faster. As an example, we recently deployed AvidTap along with our patent-pending box at Superfood Eateries. Once we put the product out there and saw people using it, we quickly realized that the code selection list UI we implemented was confusing even though it was meant to help. We were able to quickly push out an update that fixed the usability in a day.