There are many approaches to developing mobile applications. It is important to understand not only the technical differences between Hybrid and Native apps, but also how such an app will affect your business, your development team and your clients. There are many articles on Hybrid vs Native Mobile App Development that cover issues such as UX, technologies, ROI and many other business and tech aspects. In this article, we will address the most important points. Both Hybrid and Native apps pose a multitude of risks and opportunities, and an understanding of what is valuable for your enterprise is the key to your decision.
Native apps are developed using platform-specific technologies (such as Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android). The platform’s full potential can be leveraged when the app is developed natively.
Pros and cons of Native Mobile app
Better Performance. Native applications that are developed with non-standard languages and tools but use a native abstraction layer will run as fast or nearly as fast as a standard native app depending on how efficient the abstraction layer is upon which it was built. Even non-standard native apps will almost always exceed web-based app performance, because the latter must execute within a web browser, which adds another level of execution indirection. This will drive great user experience and larger app capabilities (especially around phone hardware). Studies show that a two-second-delay can be a huge distraction for a user. Facebook and LinkedIn used to develop hybrid apps using HTML5, but have had to move to native apps due to performance issues such as this one.
UX. One of the benefits of native vs hybrid mobile apps is the UX. Native apps look and feel like default apps, and users understand how to use and navigate the app instantly. Even the older iOS apps are outdated in comparison to the new native apps. Mobile apps that try to reproduce that old look often appear worse because of the Uncanny Valley effect.
App Stores Promotion. Moreover, do not forget that one of the difference between native and hybrid apps is that native apps are much easier to promote through the application stores.
Resources and Money. It takes two separate teams with two separate code bases to develop and maintain an app for both Android and iOS. This leads to significant expenses during development and even higher expenses in the long run for maintenance. So when money and low ROI projections becomes a talking point in the discussion, native is a clear winner in the native app versus hybrid app battle.
Hybrid Mobile Apps
All modern mobile applications can be easily divided into three main types: native, hybrid and web apps. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Native apps allow you to use all the possible features of the device; on the other hand, a web app can reduce cost and development time. To combine the best parts of both types, you can use a common code and develop native-like app for various platforms. These applications are called hybrid.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Mobile App
Lower Requirements. Hybrid apps make it possible to embed HTML5 apps inside a thin native container, combining elements of native and HTML5 apps. Developer augments web code with native SDK so that it can be easily deployed across multiple platforms.
Cost. It is usually the cheaper solution. Once it is developed, a hybrid app runs on both Android and iOS with no additional cost. With a hybrid application, unless a company adds a completely new feature that dramatically changes the user experience, the user does not need to update the app in the app store. If the update in question is on a page that is loaded from the server, the user will instantly see the update as they navigate through your app. Very often it is a deciding argument in the Hybrid to Native app comparison.
The application development is faster and simpler, and the application maintenance is easier.
For example, one of our clients wanted to implement a completely new user experience and modern Graphical User Interface for their Supplier Lifecycle Management system. It had to display important information from their existing lifecycle management system. The application had to provide easy access to the most up-to-date supplier and material group information for purchasers. We were also tasked with integrating responsive design and improving usability, accessibility and performance of the application. A hybrid application was developed for iOS using HTML5. The client then requested to migrate the application to their own mobile application platform. Because it was a hybrid app, it was much easier to migrate the application.
Feature Access. If your app is heavy on native phone capability and this is your primary USP, then native app development will work best. While building a Hybrid Mobile App, depending on the framework you adopt (there are several in the market), you may or may not have access to native features. Some of these native features can be the Camera, Contacts, SMS, Hardware Device Buttons, Map, Push Notifications. However, it does not mean that these features can be accessed only in a native app. Some of these features can be used in a hybrid app by pulling the native components separately.
Considering all of the above, one must not overlook platforms such as Xamarin, Codename One and Rem Objects, which are a common ground between both native and hybrid application development. We have talked about Xamarin on our corporate blog. Basically, Xamarin lets developers build native apps for Apple, Android, and Windows devices with a single language, C#, and a single IDE, either Visual Studio or Xamarin Studio.
Unfortunately, the one limitation of the Xamarin platform is building Xamarin mobile solutions that are heavily loaded with complex graphics and animations.
The bottom line is, consider what your core business is first. A native approach is the more likely solution in many cases. If your business is a media site/content delivery platform, a hybrid approach might help you in some ways, but a native approach is suggested in terms of experience, adaptability, and support for integration and long-term goals. And don’t forget that platforms such as Xamarin provide you with a great alternative.