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Can I build a mobile app with Glide?
Can I build a mobile app with Glide?

Can I build a mobile app with Glide?

You surely noticed that having a mobile app is becoming more important for your business, organization, or personal project. As you explore different options, you might be wondering if Glide, a no-code platform, can really help you build a mobile app without any coding skills. The good news is, yes, it can!

Glide is a powerful tool designed to help anyone create mobile-like experiences and applications without traditional coding. It builds Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which work just like mobile apps but are accessed through a web browser. 

Understanding Glide

What is Glide?

Glide is a versatile no-code platform that allows users to create mobile and web applications using a variety of data sources. It initially gained popularity for its integration with Google Sheets, but Glide supports other data sources such as Airtable, BigQuery, and SQL. 

Additionally, Glide offers a high-scale data source called Glide Big Tables, which is hosted by Glide itself. This feature enables users to handle significant data volumes with a spreadsheet-based interface. Glide has evolved into a very complete tool suitable for various use cases, even enterprise-level solutions. 

User-friendly interface

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Glide's intuitive drag-and-drop interface is a simple way to design your app. You can customize layouts, add components like text, images, buttons, and forms, and connect everything to your Google Sheets data. This visual approach to app development means you can see changes in real time and make adjustments on the fly. And while Glide is designed to be simple, it also offers powerful features to create sophisticated apps. You can add functionalities like user authentication, push notifications, and integrations with other services.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

Glide builds Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which are web applications that have the look and feel of native mobile apps. PWAs are designed to work on any device with a web browser, so they are a versatile solution for reaching users across different platforms.

Advantages of PWAs

  • Installable on home screens: PWAs can be added to a user's home screen, just like a native app. This allows users to access your app quickly with a single tap, enhancing the user experience.
  • Accessible from any device: Since PWAs are web-based, they can be used on any device with a web browser, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This cross-device compatibility ensures that your app can reach a wider audience without the need for separate versions for different platforms.
  • Simpler update process: When you build a native mobile app through traditional development or even with a no-code platform like FlutterFlow, updating it typically involves republishing the new version to the app stores. You'll have to submit the new build of your app and it will go through the review process of app stores all over again. Some partial updates can be pushed directly to the app without store review, but this depends on the framework and the nature of the updates. PWA, on the other hand. Don’t have app store intervention so they can be updated instantly.
  • Automatic updates for users: Stemming from that last point, PWAs are also always up-to-date for users, they won't need to update the app manually; they automatically get the latest version whenever they access it.
  • Lower development and maintenance costs: Developing a native app for multiple platforms (iOS and Android) can be costly and time-consuming. PWAs provide a cost-effective alternative by allowing you to build and maintain a single application that works across all devices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
FeatureProgressive Web Apps (PWAs)Native apps
AccessVia web browser, cross-platformInstalled via app stores, platform-specific (iOS/Android)
UpdatesAutomatic, instant updatesManual updates through app stores
PerformanceMay be less efficient for resource-intensive tasksOptimized for platform, better performance
Device featuresLimited access (GPS, camera, sensors)Full access to device features and hardware
InstallationAdd to home screen from browserDownload from app stores
DiscoverabilityLimited, mainly via web linksHigher due to app store visibility
CostGenerally lower development and maintenance costsHigher development and maintenance costs
User experienceConsistent across devices, may lack some native app smoothnessHighly polished, tailored to platform

Can Glide replace native mobile apps?

While Glide is a powerful tool for building PWAs, that can deliver mobile-like experiences, it's important to understand its limitations compared to native mobile apps.

Limitations of PWAs

  1. Limited access to device features: PWAs might not have access to all the functionalities of a device. Native apps can leverage device-specific features like the camera, GPS, and advanced notifications more fully than PWAs can.
  2. Performance: Native apps are optimized for specific platforms (iOS or Android), which often results in better performance, especially for resource-intensive applications like games or apps requiring heavy processing.
  3. App store presence: Native apps are distributed through app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store, providing a level of visibility and credibility that PWAs lack. While PWAs can be installed on home screens, they aren't listed in these major app stores, which can impact discoverability.
  4. User experience: While PWAs offer a similar user experience to native apps, there are subtle differences that users might notice, particularly in terms of responsiveness and the smoothness of animations.

Suitable use cases for Glide

Despite these limitations, Glide is an excellent choice for creating simpler mobile-like apps, especially for business and internal use cases. Here are a few scenarios:

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  1. Business tools: Glide is ideal for creating tools that streamline business processes. Examples include inventory management systems, project tracking apps, and employee directories. These applications benefit from Glide's ability to integrate with the data sources you might already use in your organization.
  2. Customer portals: Businesses can use Glide to build customer-facing portals that provide easy access to information and services. For example, a customer portal might allow users to view their account details, track orders, or contact customer support.
  3. Event management: Organizations can use Glide to manage events, handle registrations, and communicate with attendees. An event management app built with Glide can provide schedules, maps, and real-time updates, enhancing the event experience.
  4. Educational tools: Glide is also useful for creating educational apps, such as study guides, flashcards, and course management systems. These tools can be accessed by students and educators on any device, making learning more accessible.

The benefits of building with Glide

When considering the best platform for creating your mobile-like app, Glide offers several compelling advantages. Here's a closer look at why you might choose Glide for your next project:

Fast development

One of Glide's standout features is its ability to facilitate rapid development. With Glide, you can build functional apps in a matter of weeks. The platform's intuitive drag-and-drop interface eliminates the need for coding, allowing you to focus on designing and deploying your app quickly. Businesses that need to respond quickly to changing needs or opportunities can benefit from the quickness of the no-code approach.

Robust functionality

Despite its simplicity, Glide is a robust platform capable of handling complex applications. It offers a wide range of features that can meet diverse needs, from simple data display to more intricate workflows. Glide supports user authentication, enabling you to create secure, personalized experiences for your users. Additionally, you can integrate third-party services and APIs to extend your app's functionality.

Handling large data sets with Glide Big Tables

Glide's Big Tables feature significantly enhances its capability to manage large volumes of data. This makes it an ideal choice for applications that require extensive data handling, such as:

  • Inventory Management Systems: Track thousands of items, manage stock levels, and generate detailed reports without performance issues.
  • CRM systems: Maintain extensive customer records, track interactions, and manage sales pipelines efficiently.
  • Data collection and snalysis: Collect and analyze large sets of data from various sources, ensuring your app remains responsive and efficient.

With Glide Big Tables, you can build apps that process and display large amounts of data seamlessly, providing a smooth user experience even with substantial datasets.

Cost-effective solution

Developing a native mobile app can be expensive and time-consuming. It requires a specialized team and ongoing maintenance. Glide offers a cost-effective alternative by enabling you to build and deploy powerful apps without significant investment in development resources. That’s why its a great option for small businesses, startups, and individuals who need to manage their budgets carefully while still delivering high-quality applications.

Easy updates and maintenance

Like we mentioned before, maintaining and updating an app built with Glide is straightforward. Since PWAs are served from the web, any updates you make are instantly available to all users without requiring them to download a new version. Your app is always up-to-date and reduces the effort needed to manage and distribute updates.

Final words

In summary, Glide offers a powerful and accessible platform for creating mobile-like experiences and applications without the need for traditional coding. Glide is an excellent choice, its versatility and ability to integrate with multiple data sources make it an attractive option, especially if you're looking to start with a small project and then scale it significantly as your needs grow over time.

While Glide is fantastic for many use cases, if you require a fully native mobile app with access to all device functionalities and app store presence an alternative like FlutterFlow, or traditional app development might be worth exploring. You’ll get more advanced features and customization, albeit with a more complex development and update process.

Whichever path you choose, understanding your specific needs and the strengths of each platform will guide you to the best solution for building your app.

Getting the most out of Glide requires expertise and experience. As a leading Glide agency, we have helped numerous clients unlock Glide's true power.

Take the first step! Schedule a free call and let's discuss your requirements in detail.

Created on 

June 9, 2024

. Last updated on 

July 10, 2024

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Thinh Dinh

Thinh Dinh

 - 

Senior Developer

Thinh is a Senior Glide Developer at LowCode Agency, having joined the team in 2020. He transitioned from a background in Logistics & Supply Chain Management to pursue his passion for technology.

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