Nowadays, mobile applications have become the most dynamic business tool, offering unmatched efficiency in creating a connection with the customers. A broad variety of services utilize mobile apps to give their users a convenient and beneficial experience. With an expanding market of smartphones these days, many businesses are choosing different ways to include mobile apps in their workflow, to expand their market outreach. Today, mobile users spend around 85% of their time using applications, and barely 15% on the web. Different services like car-pooling, banking, and more, all use mobile apps.
Several reasons build up in favor of mobile apps for business. Mobile notifications communicate directly with customers while keeping them up to date. Most applications are developed either for Android or iOS or both of these, which are the two most popular mobile development platforms. And the use of these mobile apps over websites helps improves customer retention.
A common challenge encountered by businesses on choosing the type of app to be built is whether to create a hybrid app or a native app and which one would serve the best based on its functionalities. This decision depends on your business goals and overall product intentions, and this one of the crucial decisions because it can make or break the accomplishment of your mobile app strategy. Choosing to develop your mobile product as either a native or hybrid app includes a variety of factors that you should consider.
If you are not aware of the differences between the two, there is no need to worry. We will include everything that you need to understand about hybrid apps vs. native apps. This comparative article will consider these two options, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each using each approach. Now, let’s get started.
What is a Native Mobile Application?
Native mobile applications refer to application software that is produced to operate on a particular device or platform. As it is designed to run on a specific mobile device and its operating system, it uses device-specific software and hardware. Native apps come are the mobile apps that are downloaded from the Google Play or App Store.
These apps provide enhanced performance and leverage the most advanced technology, like image processing, and more. There are two mobile operating system platforms Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. For example, developers code iOS apps using Objective-C or Swift whereas, they code Android-native apps using Java. Native mobile apps have a high degree of accuracy and fast execution. Aside from being faster, they also allow users to access all the native user interface layouts and controls.
But, an application formulated for iOS will not function on Android, and vice versa. This indicates that you have to produce individually for each platform, which would need a bigger budget and a larger team size if you wish to launch your application on both, Android and iOS.
The development of native apps in iOS and Android needs different frameworks.
Objective-C is a programming language with various available libraries and has remarkable development experience. This language is also compatible with other programming technologies.
Swift is the latest programming language from Apple and supersedes Objective-C. It also has a more reliable and better performance than Objective-C. Swift has been widely used today, for its sheer power and smoother user experience.
This language is not only limited to use for mobile applications but is also used for web development. It gives developers access to a compelling library, for accessing different Android OS features.
Kotlin is a programming language specially developed to operate with Java for Android. Google supports Kotlin for Android development and offers it as an alternative to Java. Kotlin also minimizes the time required for programming in app development.
Advantages of Native Applications:
a) Native apps tend to be faster and offer a wide range of functionalities since they leverage the potential of the primary mobile device they are developed for.
b) They give fast and responsive software performance and also tend to work better offline, implying there is no internet connectivity needed to run them, you can still access the basic features of your application.
c) Native apps tend to have a recognizable appearance and feel, they offer a user interface that matches the user experiences of the OS. This familiarity adds to a better user experience.
e) They maintain aspect ratios to enhance the quality of images and graphics within the app and come with a push notification functionality.
f) Native apps have some dependencies on platforms such as Ionic and Cordova, and other open-source libraries, which makes them a bit simpler to work with.
g) The quality of these Native apps can be confirmed with the help of ratings within the App Stores.
Disadvantages of Native Applications
a) Releasing the same feature on all platforms at the same time is quite difficult and time-consuming too. This is because native apps need to have multiple code bases as each device includes its version of the app.
b) It involves a higher cost as different skill sets are needed to develop and manage the same application on all different platforms. More developers would be required to create and manage a code base for each platform.
c) A lot of time is consumed on separate development efforts for each platform. It becomes a slow and complicated process during every feature update.
d) Every platform code has its release cycle and updates, which eventually adds to higher cost and development time.
e) Native apps sometimes take longer to download, which could lead to potential users leaving halfway during the download process if it becomes excessively long.
f) There is limited flexibility if compared to hybrid apps.
What is a Hybrid Mobile Application?
A hybrid app merges the components of web and native applications. Hybrid apps can be categorized through the app stores similar to native apps, and they can also include operating system features. Similar to a web app, hybrid apps can also utilize cross-compatible web technologies. Hybrid apps are faster and easier to develop than native apps and need less maintenance. The speed of your hybrid app depends entirely on the speed of the user’s browser. You can build hybrid apps on a single base, which allows you to add new functionalities to multiple versions of your app. While in the case of native apps, you need to replicate each new feature you need to introduce for every platform.
The four most popular frameworks for hybrid app development are as follows:
Cordova is an open-source mobile development framework that facilitates using standard web technologies for cross-platform development. This Cordova Plugin helps to access device features.
Ionic is the app platform for web developers to design remarkable web, mobile, and desktop apps all with open web standards and one shared codebase. It also uses Cordova.
3) React Native
React Native is an open-source, cross-platform compatible software designed by Facebook. It provides high performance, simple UI, and short development times.
Xamarin is an open-sourced framework that is maintained and verified by Microsoft. Xamarin is easy to maintain and is suitable for simple apps. It is normally the option for business-driven projects.
Advantages of Hybrid Applications:
a) As hybrid apps use a single code base for all platforms, so developers simply need to write code once and run it wherever necessary. Unlike the native apps which are maintained separately and coded independently for every platform.
b) You should also keep in mind that hybrid apps can also provide the equivalent hardware-based performance acceleration similar to the native apps.
c) Hybrid apps save money and time when producing different versions of the same app, as they have a kind of “one for all” build.
d) Hybrid apps can have consistent and identical user experiences over different platforms, despite whether or not the user moves between different devices, browsers, or operating systems.
e) Hybrid apps can have both offline and online access. If you simply have a website, you’re missing out on a target audience that may sometimes operate without any access to internet services.
f) Hybrid apps are based on web technologies. This is the reason that some of them can run on any browser.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Applications:
a) The performance of hybrid apps is the same as native apps for most applications, but for high graphics-oriented apps, 3D, HD games, and other performance-centric apps, the hybrid approach might not go well.
b) Because of the nature of these hybrid apps, the appearance of these apps can vary among different users. This depends on the version of the software and the operating system they’re using.
c) Hybrid apps can access all of the native device features, such as touch ID and media. However, these apps still depend on native plugins. So, a completely new device feature might not be immediately available as a native plugin.
d) Hybrid apps do have dependencies on different frameworks and libraries like Ionic, Cordova, which have to be in sync with the latest platform version releases and changes.
e) You may have to develop different branches of features and user flows, as different platforms also have different hardware choices, which increases development costs and time.
What are the main differences between Hybrid Apps and Native Apps?
There are a variety of factors that decide that in which direction you should go, whether native or hybrid. It depends on how your users plan to use the finalized product. But some clear differences between the two may guide you in your decision.
The main difference: Hybrid apps are designed to work across any operating system and use the same codebase whereas Native apps are developed for a particular operating system – either Android or iOS. If you need a Native App, then developers need to compose a separate code for both the Android app and the iOS app.
This may initially make designing a native app more expensive, so you need to watch beyond the price and consider the type of functionality you require for your app. Native apps are more flexible in this area, even if they take more time to build.
Also, read: Mobile App Development for Small Businesses
Hybrid or Native?
At some stage, you will have to choose what kind of app you need to develop – Hybrid App vs. Native App, but how do you do finally decide? Let’s begin by asking some questions to make you know what would be best for you, your business, and your customers:
1) Your accurate timeline?
Timeline is one of the first things that decide when you want to introduce the app into the market. If you are from one of them that want to be the first one to release this type of app and conquer your competition? If yes, then a hybrid app is your best choice. If you have a longer time like, eight months or more, then a native app is an excellent choice.
2) Your Budget?
Money is another very important factor. How much money can you invest in your app? If you’re having a limited budget, then choose the hybrid app, it can be made at a lower cost; but, if you have a huge budget to work around, then consider a native app.
3) Whether your app needs regular updates?
Every app release update, yet how many do you think your app may require? If you expect to have regular bug fixes and updates, you should prefer a hybrid app, which needs less maintenance.
4) Having an internet connection become a necessity?
Hybrid apps require the internet to work; native apps do not. Furthermore, hybrid apps need a consistent internet connection, they take longer to load—this is something to have in mind from a UX viewpoint.
Also, read: What is HIPAA Compliance?
The conflict between native apps and hybrid apps is never going to stop because, naturally, there’s a place for both. Not every advantage may fit your requirements and not every limitation may bother you. Finally, to make the most suitable decision for yourself, you need to include the benefits that each one offers and evaluate them as per your goals.
Each approach has its clear and distinguished advantages and disadvantages, however, at the end of the day, a native approach will have the most significant benefits for a company’s bottom line.
But, in the long run, the biggest defamation of hybrid apps is that a business would be expected to spend more time fixing the app because of the performance-driven issues or the user complaints about UI components.
Moreover, native apps have the extra advantage of functions that are specific to the OS on which the app is built, for example, GPS, camera, address book, and more.
The decision to choose hybrid or native is based on the goals and priority of the business. Nature, use case, and environment of the application can influence your decision. Whatever path you take, just don’t spend too much time struggling over your decision. Whether you prefer hybrid or native, you will get challenges, and there are going to be amazing wins! We hope that this article helps you with the best solution to pick the right approach and the right type of app for you and your business.