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Native and Hybrid Mobile App Development: What to Choose?

28 July 2023
Native and Hybrid Mobile App Development: What to Choose?

So, you've come up with a great software idea and now the only thing left is to select an appropriate way to realize it. How can you do that? Businesses are constantly competing to create innovative and user-friendly apps that cater to their customers' needs. But it’s the approach to development that can make all the difference between success and failure.

With that goal in mind, the difference between native and hybrid app development becomes a crucial decision. In this article, we'll compare native app vs hybrid app, discuss the distinctions between these two, weigh their pros and cons, and help you make an informed decision for your custom software development project.

Difference Between Native App and Hybrid App

When it comes to mobile apps, there are two main categories: native vs hybrid mobile app. A native app is specifically developed for a particular platform (such as iOS or Android) using the native programming language and tools available on that platform. These apps are built with a specific language, such as Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. Native apps are designed to take advantage of the device-specific features, user interface, and performance.

For example, Instagram is a native app that offers a seamless user experience on both iOS and Android platforms. The app runs smoothly and quickly on both platforms because it was specifically designed for each platform. Additionally, some native apps offer features that are only available when using the app on the platform it was developed for. An example of this is the Face ID feature available on the iOS version of the banking app, Chase Mobile.

On the other hand, a hybrid app is built using web technologies (such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) and then packaged into a native wrapper that can run on multiple platforms. This allows the app to be run on different platforms without having to be entirely redeveloped for each one.

A real-world example of a hybrid app is the banking app, TD Ameritrade. They built one hybrid app that can run on both iOS and Android platforms with a single codebase, allowing them to reduce development costs and streamline updates. Hybrid apps can also save time and resources since developers don't have to create separate codebase for each platform.

Choosing Between Native vs. Hybrid Mobile App Development

One of the critical decisions you'll need to make is whether to build a native or hybrid mobile app. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, which is why you need to understand the difference between the two and decide which approach works best for your project.

When choosing between native and hybrid mobile app development, there are crucial factors to consider, like

  • the target audience and their platform preferences: if the majority of your users are loyal to a particular platform, it makes sense to build a native app for that platform. However, if your user base is split between different platforms, a hybrid solution may be the way to go
  • the nature of the app's functionality: games, for example, are best developed natively to ensure the best performance and visual effects. On the other hand, if your app requires simple functionality such as displaying data, a hybrid app could be the most suitable solution.

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Native App Development Pros and Cons

Native apps are built using the programming languages and tools that are provided by the platform, ensuring that they are designed to function seamlessly and provide a high-quality user experience.

The pros of native app development include:

  • Performance: Native apps are designed with platform-specific programming languages and tools which makes them more efficient and high-performing. As such, they tend to operate more quickly and smoothly than other types of apps.
  • User Experience: Native apps offer users a smooth and immersive experience with advanced features and functionalities, customized to the specific platform and device. Furthermore, native apps are designed to take full advantage of all the built-in features of the device, such as camera, GPS, and other sensors.
  • App Store: Native apps usually have better visibility on app stores and get more trust from users, due to the higher quality, better user experience, and the fact that they are approved and distributed by the official app store.
  • Development Efficiency: Native app development enables the usage of default tools, APIs, and libraries provided by the platform, which makes the development process much more efficient and faster. Additionally, developers can access device-specific functionalities and features directly, without having to build additional layers of abstraction.

The cons of native app development are:

  • Development Cost: Native app development requires specific skills and experience from developers, therefore, they are more expensive to build than other types of applications.
  • Multiple Platforms = Multiple Codes: Native app development requires different coding for each platform, which means developers need to develop and maintain multiple codes. This can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Longer time-to-market: Due to the complexity involved in native app development, the process may take longer than other forms of app development like hybrid or web apps. Consequently, there will be a longer time-to-market.
  • Maintenance: Native apps require ongoing maintenance, which can be costly and time-consuming. Updates must be made to keep up with changing platform requirements, bug fixes, and new functionality features.

Hybrid App Development Pros and Cons

Hybrid app development is a popular way for businesses to create mobile applications that work across multiple platforms. This type of development combines the best of native and web-based development to create a seamless and user-friendly experience for customers.

The pros of hybrid app development include:

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: A key advantage of hybrid app development is that hybrid apps are compatible with multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android. This is especially important for businesses that want to reach a wide audience and don't want to create separate native apps for each platform.
  • Cost-Effective: Hybrid app development is often more cost-effective than native app development since it requires less time and fewer resources to develop. In addition, businesses can save money by creating one app that works on multiple platforms rather than multiple native apps.
  • Easy to Update: Hybrid apps are easy to update since developers can make changes to the app's codebase and push the update to all users simultaneously. This is in contrast to native apps, which often require users to install updates manually.
  • Access to Device Features: Hybrid apps can access device features, such as the camera, GPS, and contacts, which makes them more functional than web-based apps.

The cons of hybrid app development are:

  • Performance Issues: Hybrid apps may experience performance issues, especially if they rely heavily on device features or use complex animations. This is because the app is essentially a web page running inside a native shell, which can cause delays in loading and responsiveness.
  • Limited Offline Functionality: Hybrid apps may not work offline since they are essentially web-based apps. This can be a disadvantage for users who want to use the app without an internet connection.
  • Less Customization: Hybrid apps may have less customization options than native apps since they rely on a single codebase. This means that businesses may have to compromise on certain design or functionality aspects to ensure the app works across all platforms.
  • Security Concerns: Hybrid apps may be more vulnerable to security risks since they rely on web technologies. Businesses need to take extra precautions to ensure that user data is protected.

Final Word

In conclusion, deciding between native and hybrid mobile app development is a critical decision that requires careful consideration of a variety of factors. While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, understanding your target audience, the nature of your app's functionality, and the benefits and drawbacks of each approach will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your business objectives.

Ultimately, whichever approach you choose, it's important to partner with a trusted software development agency that has experience in delivering successful projects on both native and hybrid platforms.

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