Native vs Hybrid app: How to Make the Right Choice

The modern world has seen a significant dependence on portable technology. Most humans, nowadays, prefer to stick to their mobile phones or tablets for their work. Mobile devices are also becoming more and more capable of handling the most everyday tasks. 

Smartphones of the modern era are instruments of great utility, at the touch of a finger. They provide benefits such as instant access to social networking, web surfing, entertainment, to name a few. Smartphones are fast becoming productivity devices as well. 

According to a recent survey, over 50% of web traffic comes from smartphone users. This means businesses have to find ways to garner the attention of mobile users. The best way to do that would be to develop a mobile application for their business.

Mobile applications have become the cutting-edge of innovation for over decade now. Many organizations are finding ways to incorporate mobile applications into their workflow. To boost their market outreach, they need to tap into the mobile revolution.

A common challenge most companies face while entering the mobile-first world is deciding on the type of app to build. The answer to whether to develop a native app vs a hybrid app would depend on the company’s priorities.

The major factors that would impact this decision are:

  • What the app is trying to achieve.
  • The user experience to be offered by the app.
  • The features to be included in the app.
  • The speed and performance of the app.
  • The budget allocated for the development of the app.
  • The time required to develop the app.
  • Whether to opt for in-house development or not.

Read ahead to find out the main characteristics of native apps and hybrid apps. We will provide a high-level overview to understand the differences between the two. We will also detail the pros and cons of each. This article would help you decide the best approach for your mobile app development.

The Differences Between Native and Hybrid Apps

There is one major difference between native and hybrid apps. Native apps are built for a specific operating system, such as iOS and Android. To develop a native app, the developers need to write separate code for both Android and iOS. Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are built to work across any OS and share the same code base.

This would lead to the understanding that hybrid apps are cheaper and easier to develop. They are also less time-consuming to develop and need less maintenance. Having a single shared codebase allows the developers to add new functionalities to multiple versions of the app. But native apps are more flexible and offer better performance as well as security. They offer a better end-user experience and allow integration with OS-level features. They allow complex integrations with system software and hardware, such as a camera, mic, GPS, Bluetooth, etc.

Thus, the major difference lies in the approach towards the implementation of the app. So, you must set your exact goals and work accordingly. There is no black and white answer as to which implementation would be better. It would depend on the project requirements. Both hybrid and native mobile apps would be perfect for different use cases.

First of all, determine your target audience and what services you are going to provide. For content-oriented apps, the cross-platform framework of hybrid apps will be more reasonable. But if you have a financial company, it is better to build a native app due to its better security.

Native apps are often chosen for their better performance. Although there is constant improvement in the performance of hybrid apps, they would still never run faster than native apps.

Then, you would need to consider the budget allocated for the development of the app. This is one major advantage of hybrid app development. They typically cost less and are also less time consuming to develop. You don’t need to have two separate teams working on two different applications for Android and iOS. For a simple user-oriented application, it would be much better to go for a hybrid mobile app. Only one team can create cross-platform software that will work on both platforms. 

Maintenance is also another area where hybrid apps shine. It is easier to manage one mobile application rather than two, at the same time. Therefore, hybrid apps are much easier to support and maintain.

This might make you think hybrids are better than natives. But there is one final, and perhaps the most important thing to be considered. As a company, you would want the user to have the best possible experience while using your app. With new alternate offerings being developed every other day, user experience has become an important consideration.

A recent survey showed that about 21% of the users abandon an app after just one use. So, if your app is not engaging and responsive, then most users would not prefer sticking around. Native apps offer much better user experience. They offer more flexibility in creating something faster, more responsive, and more secure. So, native apps offer a much greater advantage in this case.

Let us now have some in-depth comparison of native vs hybrid mobile app development.

A Straight Comparison of Hybrid vs Native App Development

A native app is an application developed for a specific mobile operating system. It is developed such that it follows the technical and user experience guidelines of the OS. Hence, it is faster and more secure. 

A native app can also have complex integrations with device-specific hardware and software. It is quick to execute and has a high level of precision. It also enables access to the native user interface panels and designs. 

Let us detail some of the primary characteristics of a Native Application:

  • Native apps are very reliable.
  • Native apps are simple, have better performance and user experience.
  • Native apps can function whether the device has an internet connection or not. 
  • Features of native apps can be utilized in the best way for a particular OS.
  • Native apps can integrate with the device’s file system and use features of the operating system. 

Some of the advantages of Native Applications vs Hybrid Applications are as follows:

  • They offer a wide range of functionalities as they leverage the hardware and software of the primary mobile device.
  • They give quick and responsive software performance.
  • They come with push notification functionality.
  • Native apps offer a UI that better matches the user experiences of the OS.
  • The quality of the native apps can be assured through the ratings in the App Stores.

Some of the disadvantages of Native Applications vs Hybrid Applications are as follows:

  • Native apps involve multiple code bases since each device would be having its version of the app.
  • It is costlier to develop, as more developers would be required to build and maintain the code base for each platform.
  • A lot of time is spent on the development of different platforms in every feature update.

A hybrid app is a website packaged into a native wrapper. It looks and feels like a native app, but outside of the basic frame of the application, it is powered by a company’s website. So, a hybrid app is a web app built using HTML5 and JavaScript, wrapped in a native container.

It is easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to develop. It can be launched simultaneously and be completely accessible across all platforms. A hybrid app allows new versions to be launched without having to manually update the app. It can also handle software bugs better. 

Let us detail some of the primary characteristics of a Hybrid Application: 

  • Hybrid apps require integration with web-based services.
  • Hybrid apps include an embedded browser for enhanced access to dynamic website content.
  • Hybrid apps can be developed at a faster pace and involve lesser development and maintenance costs.
  • Hybrid apps are simple and can be managed with less effort.
  • Hybrid apps have a cross-platform UI.
  • Hybrid apps have a single code base for all the platforms, making them easier to manage.

Some of the advantages of Hybrid Applications vs Native Applications are as follows: 

  • They can work across various platforms, i.e., they can operate on both Android & iOS, since they have a single code base. Also, the consistent user interface enables them to function on most of the devices.
  • The development and maintenance, including updates, of hybrid applications, is faster. This is because the developers have to create only one codebase.
  • The single code base in the hybrid apps makes them cost-effective. They need lesser time and manpower to develop.

Some of the disadvantages of Hybrid Applications vs Native Applications are as follows: 

  • Hybrid apps have a foundation like that of Web apps. So, they need an uninterrupted network connection to work to their full potential.
  • Hybrid mobile apps have to rely on plugins to access the inbuilt features of mobile devices. This is due to their design architecture.
  • Hybrid applications don’t offer a user experience as great as native apps. since the interface for both the Android and the iOS version is similar and not unique. If too much focus is given on Android, then the user experience for iOS will be compromised, and vice versa.
  • The development of hybrid apps does not fix a range of functional issues that are fundamental for native app development.

Let us now look at some of the popular programming technologies used for both native and hybrid app development.

Technologies Used in Native Development of Mobile Applications

As it has been already cleared, different languages are used to develop a native app for Android and iOS. Here, we detail the ones that are mainly used for both the platforms.

Technologies for native iOS app development:

  • Objective-C is a programming language known for its great development experience and available libraries. It is also backed by a vast pool of experts. Objective-C is a mature framework and offers compatibility with other programming languages. But new languages appear that may not have the ability to support all the latest features.
  • Swift is a relatively new programming framework introduced by Apple. It has quickly become the preferred alternative for building the iOS native applications. It is known for its quicker performance and an easier learning curve. It is constantly under development, so it may lack some components. But it is said to replace Objective-C in the future.

There are several popular native iOS applications. For example, the Firefox Browser, WordPress CMS, Artsy Auctions App for Arts, 2048 Game, etc.

Technologies for native Android app development:

  • Java is the programming language that is primarily used for Android mobile app development. Much of desktop and web development is also based on Java. The developers have access to a powerful library and a special system of tools. It helps to simplify the programming process. But, apps on Java need more memory and perform slower when compared to other frameworks.
  • Kotlin is a programming language specifically developed to work with Java and Java Virtual Machine. Hence, its usage is approved by Google for the development of Android apps. Kotlin has one main advantage over regular Java. Its type interface allows working with shorter syntax. This reduces the time needed to make an application. Now, it is being included as an alternative to the standard Java compiler for Android Studio.

There are many popular native Android applications. For instance, the Google Now Launcher, LastPass Password Manager, Pocket Casts Podcasts, Swiftkey Keyboard, etc.

Technologies Used for Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development

As we know, hybrid apps are web apps wrapped into a native wrapper. Hence, they can be developed using a combination of technologies.

Here are the four most popular frameworks used for hybrid application development: 

  • Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit created by Google. It allows app development for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows and the web from a single code base. It has most of the native components in the framework itself. So, there isn’t always a need for a bridge to communicate with the native components. It can also write graphics directly to the hardware using the Skia engine. It allows the changes to be seen instantly. So, the developers have a better chance to add features, fix bugs, and test the code in real-time.
  • React Native is an open-source technology created by Facebook, for cross-platform compatibility. The simplified UIs have considerably increased performance, such as the reloading times. React Native is mostly used because of the short development time. The software engineers also have access to ready-to-apply units. But the framework might lack certain components. It is regularly updated by both Facebook and the community.
  • Xamarin is an open framework supported and maintained by Microsoft. It enables the accessibility of the code across the various platforms. It has helped improve the development speed and also simplify maintenance. The developers can use the logic in common, but the UI regulations will stay specific to each platform. Xamarin is suitable for simple apps and is usually chosen for business-directed projects.
  • Ionic is a framework that produces mobile applications with standard web technologies. For example, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Angular, to name a few. The developers also have access to a lot of simple UI components. Developing time is also as good as other mentioned frameworks. But the maintenance might be more difficult. Ionic offers a lot of plugins, so bug fixes may require extra manual work.

There are several popular cross-platform applications. For example, Bloomberg News, AirBnB Rental Service, UberEats Food Delivery, Instagram Social Network, Discord Voice Chat, etc.

Which Approach Do You Choose?

As we have discussed above, native and hybrid apps have their pros and cons. Deciding on what kind of app to choose depends mainly on the demands of the organization and the end-user. So, it is advisable to discuss this with an expert application developer. They would understand your requirements and give shape to your ideas in the best manner possible. 

Whichever option you choose, always go with the one that will best serve the end-user. Do not try to cut corners on pricing, or sacrifice usability. Because, in the end, the idea doesn’t matter if the app is not user friendly. So, you should always keep the needs and preferences of the end-users in mind. Balance that with the end-goal of the app and you will be able to build an impressive piece of tech for your business.

Are you looking to improve the outreach of your company? Do you have an amazing idea for an app that would benefit your company? Then contact the OSSystem right now! We will help you walk you through every step of the process. We are professionals in this field and we are willing to offer our expertise in helping you realize and develop your application. 

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