Porting Apps for Mobile environments
Bubble provides a surprisingly powerful platform for no-code app development. With it, you can build multi-page web apps with little hassle or technical expertise required. One shortcoming it has; however, is that it can’t create native mobile applications on its own.
With mobile apps all the rage nowadays, you and many other app developers must be eager to jump into the lucrative and expansive mobile market. Users will prefer using their smartphones to access their favorite applications and digital workspaces. Using Bubble to develop a mobile app, though, will seem unintuitive choice at first.
Since Bubble is a web app development platform, and not a native mobile app development platform, you’ll be restricted to building applications that can be accessed via web browsers. Users will be unable to directly install your application to their devices, and your app won’t be able to make use of mobile sensors. Not to mention your users will have to use clunky browser navigation to get around, and that a web app can never be as smooth as a natively installed mobile app.
Bubble does provide some help here, though. Since all that’s needed to access Bubble apps is a web browser, users will be able to jump into their mobile web browser of choice and open your app there. Though not as convenient as pressing an app icon on their home screen, if your primary target is PC-based users anyway, this alone might be a preferable and lightweight solution.
Adapting your Web App for Mobile Users
Bubble also provides tools to allow you to accommodate mobile web browsers. Bubble has a responsive editor, meaning it allows you to adjust the appearance of your content on screens of different sizes. You can also select a mobile version of your webpage to redirect users to when they’re using a mobile device.
You can even use customization settings to change the look of your app on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. Bubble even provides a set of elements designed specifically with mobile devices in mind to integrate into your app, among a myriad of other solutions to make your users’ mobile experience on your web app as smooth as possible.
To take advantage of these tools Bubble provides, you can also change your app’s overall design. You could design a single page app to make transitions smoother, or optimize assets to reduce your app’s size, allowing it to run more smoothly on more compact devices. You can also make use of responsive design and test your app’s appearance and accessibility on different screen sizes using Bubble’s responsive editor, as mentioned above.
There will; however, be times when you’ll actually need a mobile app. Your target audience might be the kind of people who tend to be on the go and prefer convenience and accessibility, or they might not have their own personal computer systems. Your app’s use cases might be more adapted to a mobile solution. Or you might just prefer to have a native app around for your loyal users to turn to.
Wrapping your Bubble App
While the idea of mobile app development may conjure the image of lines upon lines of spaghetti code, there are many alternatives to the long and costly process of building your own app outright. These come in the form of Bubble App wrappers, which ‘wrap’ your web application inside of a native mobile app. Bubble themselves don’t provide this functionality out of the box, but like plug-ins, third-party resources are readily available to help you along.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of wrappers that you might make use of:
- Native Mobile Apps, which are the current standard for mobile apps and are designed for specific operating systems. They tend to be capable of using the full power provided by the systems they were designed for, at the cost of you needing to develop one app for Android, another for Apple, and for each operating system you plan to cater to.
- Progressive Web Apps, which are an up and coming framework developed by Google with Android in mind. They are OS-agnostic, are generally accepted on all mobile operating systems, and are known to be lightweight and high security. Having been developed for Android; however, they lose out on access to the Apple user base.
Creating a separate frontend
Aside from using a wrapper, there is also one last option that is a bit more technical, but also makes full use of Bubble’s most advanced functionalities to give you a lot of leeway in designing your mobile app.
Bubble is what is called a full-stack development solution. This means that Bubble allows you to develop the frontend and the backend of your application.
The frontend includes the design of your user interface, its visual elements, and the user’s experience using your app. The backend includes the server and database that work behind the scenes to deliver information and services to your user. Like mentioned above, Bubble allows you to build both of these using its tools.
The separation of the frontend and backend as two distinct parts implies that they can be separated and swapped out. This is like changing the faceplate on a machine – they’re still the same machine, just with different appearances and interfaces.
Bubble indeed gives you the tools to use different frontends in conjunction with the backend that you make. By making use of your Bubble app’s API and a third party frontend platform that supports Bubble like Bravo, you can allow your Bubble backend to communicate with the third party frontend. This allows your frontend to receive user input and interactions, transmit this information to your backend. Then, the backend can process the information and perform the needed operations before transmitting the information back to the frontend for display.
Though we’ve presented you with a lot of possible approaches for redeveloping your Bubble app to work with mobile devices, always keep in mind that these tools work best in specific use cases.
If you need more help with porting your app, Bubble app APIs, plugins, or with developing your app in general, Bubblehelpers is here to help with its excellent Bubble App support and maintenance services.