The Pros and Cons of Native vs Hybrid App Development

Hybrid-v-Native-App-DevelopmentOne of the first questions you’ll need to answer when deciding to build a mobile app is whether to build a Native or Hybrid app. In this article, we’ll aim to define what both of those terms mean, as well as what is the right choice for you.

Native App Development

Native apps are mobile applications developed specially within the architecture of the smartphone operating system (for example, Java on Android or Objective-C and Swift on iOS). As the app strictly follows the specs of the OS itself (in terms of OS-defined user interaction and interface), it has the strong benefit of better performance, as well as feeling much more aligned with the smartphone’s native identity. As a consequence, the user is much more likely to intuitively know how to use the app and understand its functionality. Another major benefit of native applications is the ability for them to utilize the smartphone’s built-in features (camera, microphone, GPS, etc.). Example of native apps are a smartphone’s default text messaging, camera app or music player — these were all built exactly per the guidelines of the OS it was intended for.

Hybrid App Development

Fundamentally, hybrid applications differ in that they are websites contained in a native wrapper for the OS. They behave and look similar to native apps, but apart from the basic structure of the application (usually only control and navigational components), they are regular websites ported over to be used on a mobile device natively. To detail this further, hybrid apps are web applications developed with HTML5 and JavaScript, then wrapped in a native container. The app loads or queries the majority of the content of the pages as the user navigates in the application (as a comparison, native apps downloads most of their content upon first being installed on the device). Common exmaples of hybrid apps include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Quite often, at the time a business sets out to build a mobile app, they are either trying to stay on top of their competitors, or they are trying to stake out a previously untapped commercial opportunity. Regardless of the circumstances, the basic approach is to get the application developed and released ASAP. As with most project planning, it is common wisdom that ASAP typically means making compromises and spending little time on careful decision making. A company can have a functioning and successful app with either hybrid or native approaches, but there are some points that should be considered before making a choice between the two.

Native V Hybrid: Which option is best for me?

Firstly, if a business is able and willing to wait six months or more before the app is launched, building a native application is the most prudent choice. Native apps unquestionably deliver the best possible performance, security, and overall user experience.

On the other hand, if the desired launch date is less than six months away, building a hybrid app could be a better option. Hybrid apps can be built using a single source code, applicable to multiple mobile platforms, which significantly cuts down on development costs and time.

To reiterate the importance of this difference, the end user market will expect your app to be great and deliver a successful experience. They are not paying attention to whether your app is Native or Hybrid. All they will expect is for it to work as advertised, in an intuitive and responsive way.

While getting an app released ASAP may get your brand out there, but it is by no means a guarantee of a successful and sought-after app. As the prominence of mobile apps gains over traditional usage via desktop and laptop computers, the significance of speed and user experience only continue to grow with regard to building a successful mobile application.

To summarize, if you are looking for the absolute best possible speed and user experience for your mobile application, go with the Native framework. If short-term deliverability takes precedent over speed and user experience, go with building a Hybrid app.


Nick Morera - blog author

Author Bio

While always deeply interested in technology since childhood, Nicholas has been involved in web development in a professional capacity since 2012, as both a front-end developer and project manager.

He is most adept at HTML, CSS & JavaScript, but is interested in the entire spectrum of computer science. Some of his tech interests include full-stack JavaScript development, Unix-based operating systems, open-source web projects, and computer-assisted composition.

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