Native, Hybrid or Web, What to Choose for Your Mobile App?

June 6th, 2017 Posted by Mobile Technonlogy 3 thoughts on “Native, Hybrid or Web, What to Choose for Your Mobile App?”

Screens are small, apps are big, and life as we know it is on its head again. In a world that’s increasingly social and open, mobile apps play a vital role and have changed the focus from what’s on the Web, to the apps on our mobile device. Mobile apps are no longer an option, they’re an imperative. You need a mobile app, for your business or idea but how to decide between Native, Hybrid or Web App?
Native apps are developed to target one specific platform like Android, iOS or Windows. Hybrid apps are developed to target multiple platforms whereas web apps are mobile-optimized web pages that look like an app.

Native Apps

Such apps are developed for a single mobile operating system exclusively, therefore they are “native” for a particular platform or device. Native apps for iOS are developed in Objective-C or Swift and for Android, they are developed in Java or Kotlin.
These apps are developed according to the rules and regulations of the particular platform. It makes the app easy to understand for users because all native apps for a platform follow the same way of user interaction and same navigation.Native apps look and perform the best.
In a nutshell, native apps provide the best usability, the best features, and the best overall mobile experience. There are some things you only get with native apps:

  • Multi-touch – double taps, pinch-spread, and other compound UI gestures. These can be implemented in hybrid apps also but in native apps, it’s comparatively easy.
  • Fast graphics API – the native platform gives you the fastest graphics, which may not be a big deal if you’re showing a static screen with only a few elements, or a very big deal if you’re using a lot of data and require a fast refresh.
  • Fluid animation – related to the fast graphics API is the ability to have fluid animation. This is especially important in gaming, highly interactive reporting or intensely computational algorithms for transforming photos and sounds.
  • Built-in components – The camera, address book, geolocation, and other features native to the device can be seamlessly integrated into mobile apps.
  • Ease of use – The native platform is what people are accustomed to, and so when you add that familiarity with all of the native features they expect, you have an app that’s just plain easier to use
  • Documentation – This is the most important thing that you can find so many documentation and examples for native apps that is not available for most of other new hybrid platforms.

Since the app is developed within a mature ecosystem following the technical and user experience guidelines of the OS, it not only has the advantage of faster performance but also “feels right”. What feeling right means is that the in-app interaction has a look and feel consistent with most of the other native apps on the device. The end user is thus more likely to learn how to navigate and use the app faster. Native apps look and perform the best.
In short, native apps are exactly that, native to the user’s OS and hence built per those guidelines.

For Native development knowledge of native languages is required like Swift or Objective-C on iOS and Java or Kotlin on Android, knowledge of native development tools is also necessary like XCode and Android Studio.

Recommended when:

  • You have a well-defined product.
  • You need platform-specific functionalities.
  • If you’re targeting a single platform.

Web Apps

At the other end of the scale are mobile-optimised web apps.If you’ve ever seen the ‘mobile version’ of a site, that’s what we’re talking about. It opens in any mobile browser like other websites. It doesn’t need to install in the device. Web apps require minimum device memory as the data is saved on the server. But web apps can not be used in poor internet connection.
While designing web app there is no need for a separate mobile app, it’s just a mobile responsive website so it needs only web development skills.

Recommended when:

  • There is no need of device functionalities.
  • If there is no need of an offline app.

Hybrid apps

They are built using multi-platform web technologies (for example HTML5, CSS, and Javascript). So-called hybrid apps are mainly website applications disguised in a native wrapper. Hybrid apps can be built quickly and are cheaper than those native apps.
All the advantages of hybrid apps stem from the fact that instead of building two apps, you’re building one app and tweaking it a bit so it works on both platforms. Now you only have one codebase to manage. This will probably require half the number of developers two native apps would have required. Or, with the same number of developers, a hybrid app could be published in half the time.

  • Developers for hybrid apps are often less expensive than native developers.
  • Hybrid apps are easier to scale to another platform. Once you’ve built for one platform, you can launch on another like Windows Mobile.
  • You retain the same ability to access device features as with native apps, thanks to solutions like Phonegap that act as a bridge between the native SDK and the WebView in which the app runs.

Example Frameworks for hybrid apps:

Also, there are some frameworks which are somewhere between Native & Hybrid, they provide alternative components that work in a similar way of the native. Those components map the actual real native iOS or Android UI components that get rendered on the app. Some of those frameworks are:

For a Hybrid app, you need the knowledge of Javascript, Web development skills, knowledge of one of the Hybrid framework and knowledge of native development tools is also required in some cases.

Recommended when:

  • The project has a tight budget.
  • Quality and polish are not major factors.
  • Lack of competition, ie. limited or no alternative apps.

At the end, the native approach is best to use for building your app, and the market also suggests as much. In the USA the demand for standard Native developers is still incredibly high. But still, you can choose any alternative approach which is compatible with your requirements.

3 thoughts on “Native, Hybrid or Web, What to Choose for Your Mobile App?”

  1. Fingerprint says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I do have a question however that I think you
    could probably answer. I was wondering, What is difference between Interaction design, Visual Design, Web design, UX design,
    UI design, UI development? I’m really confused about how they
    are differnet. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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  3. Glenna says:

    This is actually useful, thanks.

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