Native vs Hybrid App Development: Know What Matters, in Less Than 10 Minutes
This article aims to help developers and entrepreneurs who are hoping to develop a mobile app choose between Native or Hybrid app development.
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The quick proliferation of smart devices, mostly phones, has been due to the app stores. Both Apple and Google offer millions of applications or apps that allow you to access information instantly, order online, book a flight, watch movies, and do much more.
As the owner of a business, you have to sooner or later decide on launching an app. It may be that you wish to tap into a new market or because your rivals have moved ahead in this direction and you are trying to catch up.
There are two approaches to building an app – native and hybrid. The dilemma between native and hybrid confuses those who are making an app for the first time.
We share information to help you decide between native and hybrid app development below.
What Is a Native Application?
There are at present two operating systems in the world of smart devices – iOS and Android. Windows Mobile, RIM Blackberry, Symbian have been defunct for several years.
A native app is built for the specific operating system. This means your development team has to code twice, once for Apple devices and again for Android.
Not only do they have to be developed twice, but bug fixing and newer versions also need a separate team of developers.
iOS-based apps are coded in Objective C and Swift, while Android apps use Java.
At this moment, native apps are the most prevalent. The most common examples include Airbnb, Skype, Walmart, and Pinterest.
The main advantage is that they are fast because they have been built for a particular operating system. They can also use all the functionalities such as GPS, camera, microphone without any difficulty.
The user interface is quick, and scrolling is smooth. Tapping on buttons gives an instant response, and it uses very little CPU power.
The principal disadvantage is that the other operating system can't use them. This means increased cost of development and maintenance. A large budget and more number of developers are required for native apps.
If you have limited resources, native apps are not for you.
Advantages of Native Apps
Native apps offer many positives. Let's shed light on this aspect first.
- The app is built using the SDK (software development kit) provided by Apple and Google, which makes the app reliable. Since the developers code the app for a specific platform, it can work swiftly. The reason is not only the design but the language. In brief, native apps are exceptionally well integrated with the environment they are installed in.
- They seldom crash and work well on outdated OS versions. At any time, there are at least four OS versions present in the market, and a native app can work well on devices that are perhaps 3 years old. At the time of writing, there are Android devices in use, which date back to 2016. Marshmallow, Oreo, and Nougat are in use by 18% of them. This backward compatibility is the result of native apps.
- Native apps have familiar and straightforward navigation. The developers follow the trend that the market is following at the moment. A newly designed menu often upsets users since a learning curve is involved. Since most apps from the same app store share an identical design element, the users can focus more on enjoying the app functionality instead of getting bogged down in finding how to use it in the first place.
- Native apps offer superior security features. Many apps need the user to log in using an email address and password. Others also need a credit card number, address, and sensitive personal information. Data protection is of utmost importance, and native apps can perform well due to better hardware access.
- Most of these apps can be used offline without much effort. Of course, apps that require a data refresh, such as shopping apps, cannot be used offline.
Disadvantages of Native Apps
However, native apps are not without weaknesses.
- To develop a native app for both Apple and Google Play Store, you need a lot of resources. If you are a developer, then native apps are the obvious choice. If you have to hire personnel, it is quite expensive.
- If you want to launch both versions simultaneously, you would need two teams of developers. Otherwise, there would be a time lag of a few months.
What Is a Hybrid Application?
A hybrid application has a much simpler architecture. It launches the app in a browser included in the native wrapper. You could think of it as a web app, such as a mobile site m.facebook.com, downloaded from an app store.
It can be used across platforms without too many changes to its code. This makes hybrid apps easy to develop and launch. The best example of hybrid apps is Gmail and Instagram.
It is a new trend, but it is catching on fast.
Advantages of Hybrid Apps
- They are lightweight and occupy fewer megabytes of install space. This is because the app runs through a browser and website approach.
- Time to market is less since the app for both iOS and Android is developed simultaneously. You could tap into all types of mobile users and increase your user base significantly.
- Bug fixes are more straightforward since the user only has the launchpad for the app. The real app runs on your servers in the backend.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Apps
- They cannot access the built-in features of a smart device readily. For this, new plugins are required. This makes it harder to access the camera and GPS. Plugins have to be custom-built, and experienced developers are needed.
- Hybrid apps are unable to work offline. They need constant connectivity with the backend. Think of hybrid apps as cloud-based apps that demand a continuous flow of information from central servers.
- The user experience is not as rich as native apps. They work well for content-based apps that need little navigation.
Which Is Better?
There is no clear answer to which is the perfect route. Both offer advantages that are unique. However, they provide a significantly different user experience.
Before you launch an app, you have to answer two questions:
- Do you wish to provide an application that runs fast and is well integrated with the operating system? This would, however, cost you significantly more. If your answer is an unreserved yes, then without a doubt, go for native - a hybrid won't suffice.
- Do you wish to test the waters first? Design and launch an app to find the response. In the parlance of business, this is known as a Minimum Viable Product – invest as little as possible to get a project underway. If you like this approach, go for a hybrid.
If you have a limited budget but want a native app, you may choose to delay launching on a particular app store. Very few in south Asia and Africa use Apple devices because they are expensive. But, this also reduces the number of users who subscribe to your premium services.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the resources you can spare for app development that decides your choice.
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