With the emerging dependency on smartphones, the app development industry has seen tremendous growth. Technology keeps evolving and with rapid increase in innovations, developers are now gluing their eyes on the app development tools or frameworks, to minimize the app development time and get the work done more effectively.
According to the Statista, the total number of mobile applications in both the App Store and Google Play has crossed 4.1 billion mark, with 75.16% share of Android apps and 21.98% of iOS. The bar keeps increasing as 83% of businesses target to launch an app on Google Play Store, whereas 59% of respondents develop apps for Apple’s App Store.
When you think about building a mobile app, you have to make informed decisions to create an app which is powerful, efficient, as well as cost effective. And the moment you make a decision to invest in a mobile app, you’re faced with the terminologies, which is Hybrid vs Native Applications. What’s the difference between Native Apps and Hybrid Apps and which type would be most appropriate for you or your business?
Many companies face a similar situation — What should we choose? Therefore, it is important for you to know the difference between both platforms so you can select the one which suits and fulfills your business’s purpose.
In a nutshell:
The debate between choosing Native Mobile Apps vs Hybrid Mobile Apps vs Web Apps has still no clear winner because they all have their own benefits. Each Operating Platform (OP) is leading in its own way. Though developing either of them i.e. Native Android or iOS App is a costly deal, whether it is for a well-established enterprise or a startup. Which is why most of the businesses, even Startups and SMEs, choose hybrid mobile apps while developing an application, as it allows them to run the app, with a single codebase set, on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows.
This article aims to aid your decision of choosing the right mobile application platform for your business, by providing you a sound understanding regarding the difference between native apps vs. hybrid apps, their pros and cons. Let’s figure it out!
Native App vs Hybrid App: What’s the Difference?
Native Applications are developed for a specific platform like Android, iOS or Windows. These applications are built using the framework that are compatible with the corresponding platform and are officially supported by the Operating Systems. For Android, it’s primarily Java and Kotlin, whereas for iOS, it’s Apple’s Swift or Objective-C. Native Mobile Apps have a faster and more responsive interface. They do not always require an active internet connection.
Both Native and Hybrid applications can be distributed on App Store and Google Play.
As it was mentioned earlier in the article that both have their own pros and cons, let’s have a brief view of both.
Native app Development: An overview
Native applications need to access all the functionalities of the hardware to work on the device’s OP (Operating Systems). SDK or Software Development Kit is provided to the developers by the platforms, which is a powerful combination of tools. This helps developers to create high-performance apps on a particular platform. The SDK Kit contains a certain set of tools, code samples, libraries, documentation, and guides. There are IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) which have a code editor, a compiler and a debugger, that you can use for writing and testing the software.Apple provides Xcode, whereas Google provides Android Studio.
Benefits of Native Mobile App Development
The coding in native app development is done for various platforms, thus, the app has different versions with utilized programming language, specified to each operating system. The apps are optimized for iOS and Android, keeping all the factors in mind i.e. battery use, memory etc. This makes the app run much more flawlessly with impressive speed.
- Interactive and Intuitive
In Native apps, one specific platform’s functionalities can be tailored to give it a more unique set of elements. They inherit their respective device’s interface and allow users to navigate through the functionalities smoothly. In addition to this, Native Apps can also run in offline mode.
- Accessing the Full Feature Set of Devices
Native apps allows developers to access all the features or functionalities of the Operating system and the hardware of the device, giving them full advantage to execute better user experience. For instance, Camera, microphone, GPS etc. can be accessed. Another huge advantage of Native app development is Push Notifications.
Disadvantages of Native Mobile App Development
- Time-consuming Process
Native apps require more time to build because each platform needs a separate set of coding. Which means, if you are building an app for both iOS and Android, you need more time to work on both simultaneously.
The complexity of developing native apps demands more labor. Due to the tricky programming, it requires more qualified developers as well as time, hence more costly.
- Require frequent updates
Frequent updates and bug fixes need to be uploaded to the app store. If users do not update the app and face any glitches, they might abandon it.
Native app Examples
- Google Maps
Hybrid App development: An Overview
While the basic definition of Hybrid apps was mentioned earlier, let’s dive into the variations and understand how it works.
Though in Hybrid App development, specialized APIs are used, which means third-party tools are necessary to access certain features and that puts a limitation to various capabilities of the application. But Hybrid apps have their own advantages which make them more popular amongst most businesses.
Benefits of Hybrid Mobile App Development
- Work on multiple platforms
Hybrid apps have cross-platform capabilities which means they can run smoothly on both iOS and Android with one codebase.
- Cost Effective
Hybrid apps have lower development costs as compared to Native apps because developers use web technologies and there are ready-made components available.
- Fast Development process
Hybrid apps do not require different codes for different platforms. A single codebase handles both iOS and Android, which takes much less time.
- Easier to update
Due to a single codebase, hybrid apps do not have to work on separate platforms to make changes. Same updates can be applied to all platforms.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Mobile App Development
- Limited Functionalities
The framework of Hybrid apps does not support or provide every feature of native apps. These apps rely on plugins which can be unreliable and have no accessibility over certain parts of the device.
- Slow Performance
Hybrid apps create an additional layer between the source code and targeted mobile platform, which can create performance and debugging issues.
- Poor user-experience
While hybrid apps look like native apps, they still lack the rich experience which native apps can provide. Hybrid apps may also lag 3D graphic elements.
Hybrid app examples
Let’s take a look at some top-notch applications that are Hybrid.
One of the leading social media apps, which allows people to share photos and videos, has very high user engagement every day, is Hybrid. It is powered by HTML5 and has the ability to support offline data. A great example of hybrid app development, which supports rich media and lets the end-user access the features even in offline mode. Not only that, it allows you to send messages, post stories with creative tools i.e. filters, and has IGTV option as well.
Another great example of Hybrid App is Uber. The most popular taxi-booking app, with a simple yet intuitive user interface and easy navigation tool. This user friendly hybrid application runs on m.uber.com which provides a WebView on the app and helps users book cabs hassle-free.
Google, a pioneer of HTML arena, leveraged its power to redefine user experience with Gmail, a hybrid app, with its advanced features. It also lets users access data offline. Along with multiple account support, it provides 15GB free data storage to store messages. Gmail was only powered by HTML earlier but to make it more seamless, it now has native elements as well, which makes it a great hybrid app.
As one of the most popular productivity mobile applications, Evernote is an extremely high-performing hybrid app, with an elegant and intuitive design. This app has a multi-device sync capability and its seamless functionality can be mistaken for a native app.With quick and easily accessible home screen widgets, the app lets you scan or capture anything, sync important notes, share memos and keep your thoughts organized.
Top 3 hybrid app development framework
It is a mobile UI technology powered by Google, that allows you to build fast-performing hybrid apps. Flutter is an open source platform for developers to create highly-interactive cross-platform hybrid apps. It is an extremely flexible platform which provides a lot of libraries, widget, one-time writing code. Its dynamic interface and portable GPU rendering help you work on multiple interfaces. Google Flutter uses Dart, a programming language, which draws its own interface and use native components.
– Allows you to localize the apps and achieve a wider audience.
– Supports a wide range of IDEs i.e. Virtual Studio Code, Xcode and Android Studio.
– Equipped with ARM (Advanced RISC Machines)– Allows developers to access Native Features and SDKs
– Can be implemented on existing apps
– Lets you see the changes made in the codebase
– Uses Native components to make the app look and feel like native
Even though Flutter and React native differ from Hybrid definition (Web View), we had placed it there because of the cross platform development from single code base and development time. Essentially they provide native experience with widgets in flutter and using bridge in ReactNative. But when comparing to Objective C, Swift and Java, they cant be treated as Native technology aswell.
Why is time to Market important?
Building a mobile app is a time-consuming process and how soon you want your app in the market matters. Native apps take quite a lot of time to develop. While, hybrid apps have better TTM (Time to Market). A single codebase which runs everywhere is the reason behind reduced TTM. It also allows you to customize the app by making changes in a single code, which means faster updates.
Hybrid app development is a good option if you want to introduce your app before your competitors. But the standard of UX and performance of the app drops. Though Native apps might seem like a better option on paper but a lot of factors need to be considered before choosing especially in case of a startup.In the world of startups, speed is a very crucial point. How fast you can make your app available in the market determines the success of your business. Which is why Hybrid app development is the best option. Also considering, a startup’s environment can be really sensitive, iterating the product ahead of the rivals is also very important, which makes Rapid app or hybrid app prototyping crucial.
Rapid Prototyping cuts time to market
It means building a detailed model of the application and creating a visual and graphic representation or designing the concept afterwards. The idea needs to be validated early in the app development process.
Some business owners consider prototyping a waste of time and it has a number of benefits. It clarifies the requirements, users’ needs and preferences beforehand, which minimizes the potential risks. With a clear vision of what needs to be built, it also reduces the app development time.Another point which needs to be taken into account is the MVP (Minimum Variable Product)While developing an app, you need to decide which feature you want. When it comes to getting your app in the market as soon as possible with a budget and limited resources, getting your hands on every shiny feature is not possible. Rather, a small set of features which will make an impact in the market need to be picked up and executed accordingly. The features you think will make the most impact must make it to the top of the list of app’s prototype.
Considering all the factors, hybrid app development is recommended for startups and other small businesses. It has better TTM and is sufficient for the business’ purpose laid out.
Preferences of companies in mobile apps
Research shows that Small to mid-range market companies tend to choose Hybrid apps over Native app development due to its cost-effectiveness and more supportability. These can be built with common front-end technology and do not require a highly-advanced platform-specific developer, which means they can even use their existing tech team. Meanwhile, big enterprises are most likely to Native apps. They have the budget and resources to support Native app development and its maintenance or even hire experts who work within the enterprise. Some of the popular native applications by large companies include Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Maps etc.
This is not to say that big companies completely avoid Hybrid app development. It depends on the nature of business. If a company needs to access every functionality of the device, they would go for Native, even if it is a small startup. Some of the Hybrid apps by major companies are Gmail, Amazon App Store etc.
Though Hybrid app development has some flaws, it is still gaining popularity amongst most businesses due to its easy availability and it’s making its way to become the future of app development.
Common main points to be singled out
Hybrid apps are cost effective apps amongst the two.
Hybrid apps take less time to build due to its single codebase.
Native apps have better performance records due to its customized specifications.
Native apps have better UI and are more reliable and secure.
Maintenance of Hybrid apps is easier than of Native apps.
How to Decide which is best for my Product?
If you’re looking for a direct answer, there isn’t one. Each of these mobile app development processes have their own benefits and the ultimate decision solely depends on your business’s unique needs and which one can fulfill them. You need to keep all the factors in mind i.e. Cost, Market / Target Audience, Functionalities, maintenance, resources to be used etc.
Hybrid app is best for –
If you are on a budget with limited time and resources, and do not want to maintain separate codebases, then Hybrid app is a way to go. Hybrid apps are also the best option if you are looking forward to test a market by building an MVP (Minimum Variable Product)
Native app is best for –
If you have surplus time, a big budget to hire specialized developers and want customized features by accessing all the functionalities of the device’s hardware, then Native app development is your go-to.
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