Depending on your business objectives and overall goals, this decision could make or break the success of your mobile strategy. When deciding to build your app as either native or hybrid, there are variety of factors you need to consider. The purpose of this article is not to choose a winner. Instead, we compare the three approaches, outlining the advantages and disadvantages from the standpoint of a company looking to develop a mobile app.
Native Mobile Apps
Native mobile apps are the most common type of app. They are built for specific platforms and are written in languages that the platform accepts, for example, Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps and Java for native Android apps. Native apps are also built using the specific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the given operating systems.
Both Apple and Google provide app developers with their own development tools, interface elements, and SDK. Most companies will invest in native mobile app development because of the myriad of benefits offered in comparison to other types of apps. Here are some of the main benefits:
- Native apps are very fast and responsive because they are built for that specific platform
- They have the best performance
- They are distributed in app stores
- Native allows developers to access the full feature set of their given platform with whatever performance optimizations the native system has
- Internet connection is not required, although it depends on the functionality
- Overall better user experience. To the user, the flow is more natural as they have specific UI standards for each platform
- Difficult languages to learn which means you need experienced developers
- More expensive
- Not the best option for very simple apps
Hybrid Mobile App
Hybrid app development can essentially do everything HTML5 does, except it also incorporates native app features. This is possible when you deploy a wrapper to act as a bridge between platforms to access the native features.
- Cheaper than a native app
- One app for all platforms using technology like Cordova
- No browser needed as opposed to a web app
- Have access to the device's internal APIs, can access storage, camera, etc.
- Faster to develop than native apps because you have a single code base
- Slower than native apps
- Less interactive than native apps
- Customization will take you away from the hybrid model in which you may as well go native
With hybrid, you have to contend with issues that stem from both native systems and hybrid systems, which makes bug fixing more difficult. The performance is also a disadvantage because hybrid apps load in webview. The user experience is often sacrificed with a hybrid app as you cannot customize the app based on the platform.
Another disadvantage is that you can't customize your app the way you would be able to do with a native app. In fact, the more customization you do, the more you're steering toward a native solution so you might as well go native.
Additionally, the more customization you want within your hybrid app, the more expensive, and therefore a native solution will end up being more cost-effective. If you do choose to customize your hybrid app, you'll end up spending a lot more money and time.
Which Approach Is Best?
The decision to build either a native or hybrid mobile app should be based on your business objectives. Before jumping into development, you should consider the following factors:
- How fast you need the app
- The quality of the user experience you want your app to have
- The complexity of the features you need for your app to work
- Your Budget
Whichever approach you choose should, above all, be quick, responsive, and reliable. As users are demanding more from mobile experiences, it's important to keep up with their changing demands. Whichever app you decide to build, remember the following:
- Your API infrastructure should have reliable and easy access to your content and services
- A mobile app is not a replication of your website but an extension of your brand
- Always get an understanding of your users' expectations and behaviors and adapt as the market demands change
Finally, it's important to work with an app development company that specializes in platform specific design and development.