Hybrid Vs. Native Mobile App Development. What is the best for your business?

Introduction

If you have been researching doing a mobile app for your business, chances are that you would have come across the terms Hybrid apps, and Native apps, somewhere along the line. So, what exactly are these, and what which of these could be considered to be better. Well that’s a debate that has been going on in development circles for a while now, however it is more important to understand that is not really a matter of being better, but what is more suitable for your specific requirement. Let’s being by taking a closer look by defining what they are exactly.

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are written in a particular programming language that is specific to the platform being developed for. For example, Swift or Objective C is utilized for development on iOS and Java in the case of Android. These apps are developed within the confines of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for those operating systems. This means that the development will closely adhere to the user experience and technical guidelines of the OS, this includes app gestures, app layouts etc. What this essentially means is that the app will feel more familiar and user friendly to users who have being using other native apps built for their mobile OS.

Unlike hybrid apps, native apps also have a leg up in terms of hardware utilization, as they are able to easily access and utilize the built-in hardware capabilities of a mobile phone, such as the camera, gyroscopes, accelerometers, barometers etc.  This is a very significant performance advantage as they are not dependent on internet connection speeds to communicate with hardware. As a result developers are able to capitalize on the complete feature set of their chosen platform and thereby develop an app that will be able to be optimally fulfil the needs of users.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid mobile apps on the other hand are a combination of elements of native and web applications. In essence a hybrid app is a web application running within a native app, by means of a native app wrapper. This facilitates the communication between the native device platform and the web application. Hybrid apps are built with CSS, HTML, Javascript and runs in WebView. Users won’t really notice the difference when downloading, installing and setting up a hybrid app, as it will be the exact same process as for a native app. In fact, some of the world’s most popular apps Facebook and Instagram are developed using a popular hybrid framework called React Native!

The key advantage of hybrid apps is that is developed upon a single code base. This means that it can be written once and then deployed across multiple platforms with very little additional effort involved. Unlike the case of the Native apps where a separate code base needs to be built and maintained for each supported platform. This significantly cuts down on the development resources that are required to release an app, and as such Hybrid Apps are significantly cheaper to develop and maintain than native apps. It also quite likely that hybrid apps will come faster to market, as there will only be a single development team, and even changes can be rolled out faster.

Drawing distinctions

Straight out the gate Native apps tend to have a significant advantage when it comes to the overall user experience. They tend to run more smoother and are more intuitive to use than hybrid apps. However the main issue with them is that they are very expensive to develop and maintain. There is also an added complexity to the development, and you have to be careful in selecting a development partner that is able to handle native development effectively. Another thing to note is that each releasing the same feature on all operating systems at the same time will be difficult due to the factor of different code bases

Hybrid apps conversely are much cheaper to develop and maintain as only a single code base will have to be developed. Hybrid apps are ideal for simpler apps, especially those whose main function is to communicate some form of information to users. However, these apps will most likely lack the performance required for complex and interactive apps. They also won’t be able to utilize some native device features such as force touch and will have to rely on native plugins to achieve this.  If your app concept relies on these features or requires heavy utilization of the phone’s hardware features, this might not be the way to go.

Summary

So which path should you chose, when embarking on your new Mobile App development project? Well the truth is, there is no cut and dried answer here; as we mentioned at the outset it really depends on your specific requirement. If the app that you are seeking to develop is very graphical intensive such a high definition games, then Native apps will be more suitable as they tend to perform better than hybrid apps. Similarly, if the user experience is a key determinant of the utility of the app, then Native apps night be the way to go.

However, if budgets are a primary concern, as is quite often the case with mobile app development projects, Hybrid Apps will be great vehicle to getting your app into the market, without breaking the bank. With new development frameworks such as React Native increasingly making hybrid apps more efficient and user-friendly, hybrid development is becoming more and more viable for businesses.

The decision finally comes down what the ultimate aims of the application are, what and how it hopes to achieve them. The cost of development, timelines, user experience, use of phone hardware, maintenance, and then technical capabilities of your development team are all important factors in this decision. Make sure you are well informed about all these areas before embarking on your mobile app development project.

Need more advise about your mobile app project? Get in touch with us for non-obligatory quote and advice on the best strategies to go forward.


Technology when done right, is simply an extenstion of one’s self. Together we hold the key to unlocking limtless possibilities.