Native Vs Hybrid Apps: Key points to help you Decide the best way forward

Published Aug 28, 2017Last updated Sep 13, 2017
Native Vs Hybrid Apps: Key points to help you Decide the best way forward

You might be thinking about developing a mobile application, but confused how to go about it or from where to start due to the various technologies available to develop apps? Which is best for your business - a native app or a hybrid app? Let’s find out.

Your choice of a native or a hybrid app will depend on several contrasting factors including your budget, targeted audience and your deadline. The very moment you decide to invest in a mobile app, you immediately come across loads of terminology. Terminologies like knowing difference between iOS and Android? Knowing what native, hybrid and web apps are? And very importantly, finding out which app is most suitable for you?

So, in this post we’ll go over the differences between the two terms, which one to use, and make you aware of some of the benefits of each.

What is Native Mobile App?

A native mobile application is a smartphone application program that has been created for use with particular platform or device like for iOS, Android, Blackberry and so on. Native apps are encoded in a specific programming language, such as Objective C for iOS or Java for Android operating systems. Native mobile apps are fast and more efficient in performance. They also have access to the mobile device inbuilt features, like its camera, address book, GPS, accelerometer, the compass, the list of contacts etc. These are very well supported by the platform owners with specific libraries and support.

Native app is expensive to build because it is generally designed to run on a particular operating system or specific device such as IOS and Android.

Most video games for mobile devices are native mobile apps.
Examples of Native Apps: Majority of the well-known apps out there like Facebook app, Twitter app, and Waze, are totally native.

What is Hybrid Mobile App?

A hybrid app is created for use on multiple platforms (Android, iPhone and Windows Phone smartphones.) They are web applications (or web pages) in the native browser, examples are UIWebView in iOS and WebView in Android (not Safari or Chrome).
Hybrid apps are developed using HTML5, CSS and Javascript, and then embedded in a native application using platforms like Cordova. The very unique benefits of this application is that development is faster, simpler, it supports multiple operating systems at minimal cost than developing multiple native apps, and the application is more flexible to maintain. You can change platforms anytime you need; Cordova allows you to build your application for more than one platform just by one adding the right line of code. Hybrid apps also have access to phone hardware (native functions) such as the camera, microphone, location and Bluetooth, Cordova has a large repository of plugins you can easily access that. Check the plugins library of Phonegap here.

The major challenge with hybrid apps is that they still depend on the native browser, which simply means they are not as fast as native apps.

Key Features of Native and Hybrids Mobile Apps

Features Native Apps Native Apps
Device access Full Full
Performance High/Fast Medium/Good
Development Language Objective C for iOS or Java for Android HTMLS, CSS and JavaScript
Development Cost Expensive Reasonable
Development Time High Medium
Maintenance High Medium
Speed Very Fast Good
Cross Platform Support No Yes
User Interface Good Good
UI/UX HIGH Moderate
Advance Graphics Moderate High
Security High Low
Code Portability Low High
Complexity More complex to code Less complex to code
User experience Better user experience Less user experience than native apps
Graphics Better graphics Lesser graphics than native apps
Portability Harder to port to other systems Easier to port to other systems
Integration The camera, address book, geolocation, and other features native to the device can be seamlessly integrated into native apps. Some device features may be harder to integrate into hybrid apps.
Gesture Support Yes Yes

Pros of Native Apps

Full integration of Device
Native Apps are the apps which comes up with lot of functionalities offered by the mobile devices, for example, camera, GPS, calendar, microphone and many more. Native Apps help the users to build the experience which is fully enjoyable and provide great exposure.

Excellent performance
If you are looking for some high speed application or game, then native app is the way to choose. Native apps get designed or developed for some specific operating systems and they provide great performance.

Look and Feel of Native applications
The trendy look and feel of Native applications is eye-catching and inspiring, which allow users to connect easily and quickly to the icons and button.

Better UX standards
All the native apps, follow the specific UX/UI standards for creating Android or iOS applications, which allow the users to easily understand the interface and navigation of the apps.

More secure and safe
All the native apps of android or iOS are only accessible through the app stores. Before all the apps get approved to be featured in the stores, they are fully tested and reviewed by the app store approval team. This provides a certificate of reliability and assurance.

Cons of Native Apps

Higher development and maintenance expenses
Native apps are quite complex since they have a different codebase for each platform and to maintain them, it requires a lot of time and effort since separate teams have to maintained to work and support each version.

No guarantee that apps will get accepted
Once the applications are created, then it is required to get approval from the play store/app store. And it is a quite long and tedious process because all the applications have to get approved from the store to get featured. Also, there might be a possibility that the application might get rejected and not added to the App store databases.

Pros of Hybrid Apps

Unified Development
The principle advantage of hybrid apps arises from the fact that you are saving the stress of building two apps; you are building one app and tweaking it slightly so it works on both platforms that means hybrid apps are the apps that offer unified development. It allows the organizations/companies to save huge amount of money. The developers can develop a single hybrid framework and the common codebase can be used flawlessly for different platforms.

Only one Codebase to deal with
Hybrid apps are easier to maintain as you have to manage only one codebase. While developing hybrid apps, you require fewer developers as compared to the native apps, which ensures smooth and efficient productivity.

Fastest Development Speed
Hybrid apps can be developed easily without much efforts in a short period of time. It requires less maintenance as compared to native apps. Hybrid apps are flexible; they are easier to transform into another platform. By building one app on a platform, you can easily launch it on another.

Efficient Scaling
Hybrid apps are known as cross-platform applications which are easy to scale on different platforms and on different operating devices. It allows the development team to reuse the code without making much changes in the application.

Offline Support
Hybrid apps support offline work, but while working offline data cannot be updated. In hybrid apps users can easily load the application and access the previous loaded data.

Hybrid apps cost less
One of the unique qualities of Hybrid app is that it uses web technology for app content, and this makes building of hybrid app much easier. Web technology knowledge outweighs native app’s coding, so this provides more leverage for resources and you can save time and money.

Hybrid components are interactive
Visuals and interactive programs like games and 3D animation are present in hybrid apps; but these programs still work much better on full native apps. Businesses are not likely to have a more graphical and platform specific needs like games or animated apps, which is the main reason why hybrid apps are ideal for business professional services apps. Fortunately, more innovations are being introduced into hybrid apps on a daily basis and they have been catching up with their native cousins.

Cons of Hybrid Apps

Slow performance
Hybrid apps are a bit slower because they are based on the web technology and normally hybrid apps utilize the mobile platform’s such as kendo, onsen, ionic, Cordova and many more. And all these platforms’ take considerable more time according to the application, which can result in loss of performance. It is one of the biggest flaws because if the user will not get an impressive experience, then the likelihood of the application becoming popular goes down.

Poor UX
One of the serious disadvantage of a hybrid app is that they never offer a user the full native experience. And in the app domain, the user very rarely gives the apps a fifth or sixth chance. So, the UX has to be up there with the best and flawless. The hybrid apps still have some way to go before they catch up with their native cousins on the UX front.

Now the question arises which one you should choose?

To make the right choice it is important to understand the differences of each option, so that you can go in the right direction. Native apps and hybrid applications each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and your ultimate decision depends almost entirely on your business needs.
Usually, Hybrid apps attracts more because of their easy availability approach, cost savings and their compatibility with more technologies and platforms. All these things are very appealing but if we look at a longer term, then the hybrid apps can become a pain sometimes since they would need more time to fix the UX and performance issues which the users might report.

Whereas, if we look at the Native apps, then these apps fully satisfy the users in terms of performance and with their seamless use of the platform’s inbuilt functions. It offers the best in class security for a mobile application, i.e., highly user interface design, best performance and access to the native API’s. However, native apps demand bigger investment in the beginning but if we look for long run then it allows you to save your time and money in future by offering a better user experience and following the platform and industry standards.
At the end, each organization has their own approach for designing an application, so it fully depends on you on which path to choose and follow.

After considering your options, it's important to work with app developers that can give shape to your idea in an efficient and cost effective manner. Subcontracting your app development is a good way to build your business without having to employ permanent in-house staff. Working with a professional outsourcing development team will enable you to navigate the uncharted territory of mobile app development smoothly. At GrayCell, we can help you choose the right app for your idea.

This is a syndicated article from Open Source For You. See the original article here.

Discover and read more posts from Ashok Sharma
get started