There’s more than a million apps both on the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play. Windows Phone Store, although far behind Android and Apple, has over 300,000 apps. Enterprises building apps for internal use, smart businesses trying to make a killing with consumer-facing apps, and entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative apps are driving the demand for mobile app development.
And this need always opens up a debate about whether to build native apps, hybrid apps or HTML5 (web) apps. Before jumping into the pros and cons of the different platforms, let’s take a quick look at what these terms mean:
Native Apps: Mobile apps built using Objective-C (for iOS), Java (for Android), or .NET (for Windows), for a particular platform. The code is written for a specific platform and won’t work for other platforms.
How do these approaches compare? Take a look:
How to Choose the Right Mobile Development Approach
At the end of the day, every business wants to keep the costs down, without compromising on the quality. To choose the right approach, we need to understand the tradeoffs of each:
- Native apps can give the best performance, but you need to build separate apps for separate platforms, and they also cost a lot to build.
- Hybrid apps cost less to build and a single code base works across platforms, but access to native APIs can be limited.
- Web mobile apps are a lot easier to build, but they cannot be distributed on app stores, and cannot access native APIs and device features.
The key is to clearly outline your organizational expectations from the app you are building. The purpose of the app, the budget, the target audience and availability of tech talent will drive your decision.
Choose Native Mobile App Development When You…
- Are targeting just one platform
- Or have enough budget for building and maintaining apps on three different platforms
- Have access to the right tech talent
- Feel that Fast GUI is essential
- Need app store presence – web apps won’t work
- Require Access to all Native APIs and device features
Choose Hybrid Mobile Apps When You…
- Need a cross-platform solution
- Can’t afford to spend much on the development
- Want to reach maximum number of users
- Don’t care about app store distribution
- Want to utilize expertise of your web developers
- Can live without native APIs and device features
- Want to simplify app maintenance and support
Choose Mobile Web Apps When You…
- Want a high-performance cross-platform solution at affordable costs
- Want a single code base to simplify app maintenance and support
- Don't need to distribute apps through app stores
- Want to utilize your specific tech expertise and build an app in a language of your choice
- Don't need to access native APIs and don't need offline capabilities
Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Apps with Native Quality
Gartner predicts that by 2016, more than 50% of apps developed will be hybrid. With the right development team, hybrid apps can bring you the best of both worlds: single code base & low development cost, plus high-performance apps that behave just like native apps.
Xamarin, RhoMobile, Appcelerator Titanium, PhoneGap, Telerik AppBuilder, Appmethod, AppGyver, RAD Studio… the list goes on. Apart from these, there are dozens of other lesser known tools that promise cross-platform app development.
At Cygnet, a large majority of our project two years back were for native apps development. But over the last year, we are seeing a steady rise in the number of clients demanding cross-platform apps via the hybrid development approach.
With high-caliber platforms like Xamarin, Appcelerator Titanium, PhoneGap, seasoned developers can build hybrid apps that offer native performance and UI, with complete access to the native APIs and device features.