When it comes to native vs hybrid app development, the debate over which is more profitable has been rolling on for quite some time. If you’re now looking to build a mobile application yourself, the debate is more relevant than ever. On one side of the argument, we have an app that can be used across all platforms and this is a tempting notion. However, the final result of speed, appearance, functionality, and even user experience can be limited. With this in mind, we’ve created the ultimate guide in which we’re going to answer the question “What is the difference between native app or hybrid app development?” and what is a better choice for you.
Native App Development
To start, let’s look at native mobile app development. As the name suggests, this option will see your app have a native programming language for each platform; for example, Objective-C or Swift will work for iOS and Java is for Android. Breaking down each code language, a certain set of frameworks and technologies exist. At first, the idea came around when companies wanted to develop apps and have them embedded into the device and this can be seen with the gallery, alarm clock, browser, music player, photos, and more.
Benefits of Native App Development
- User Experience – Firstly, those who have stuck with Android through the years will feel a little uncomfortable on iOS devices. Therefore, with a native app, users will act on intuition and they should understand functionality a little easier.
- Speed and Performance – Considering the application has been optimized for iOS or Android platform, this will show in the performance levels. With native app development, everything is considered including the memory and battery of the smartphone. Not only is it easier to implement gestures, the code works faster, new functions will integrate quicker, and the tracking of geographical location also remains simple.
- Data Protection – With native mobile app development, this is the only way to really ensure data protection because it’s all connected to mathematics; the task requires full efficiency of hardware resources.
- Flexibility – When looking for reasons why native apps are better, we should also consider the benefits the app receives with full access to the camera, databases, geolocation, and other functions of the smartphone. With hybrid development, there are certain limitations when constructing the interface because it will be used on multiple platforms. Without these restrictions, absolutely everything the technology offers can be implemented.
- Personalization – With so many different Android devices on the market, native mobile app development is the only real way of adjusting the layout for each of them.
- Testing Convenience – Another difference between native and hybrid app development comes with the testing phase; i.e. it’s immediately apparent if the app uses more memory than first expected.
- Support from Application Stores – If you want to build native apps, users can download your product through their own stores whether it’s Google Play or the App Store. If you have your smartphone nearby, look on the store now and we guarantee the ‘Featured’ section doesn’t have one app that has been designed with hybrid development. Of course, there might be a couple of games but the interface for these apps isn’t systemic.
- Latest Technology – As soon as smartphones and operating systems update, the hardware and software functionality is provided for implementation purposes. If you choose to go with hybrid app development, you’ll be forced to wait for the release of the new OS to implement functionality. Unfortunately, it can be impossible to predict support for new features.
Drawbacks Of Native App Development
- Cost of app development – With significant development required for each platform, the process will require more staff and therefore more money.
- Speed of app Development – Once again, everything has to be unique for each platform so it will also take longer to complete the app.
- Support – Finally, to build on the speed and cost of app development, there are also twice as many bugs and errors to fix for two (or perhaps even more) platforms as opposed to one.
*of course all these cons are tightly connected to the number of devices you plan to develop your app for
Hybrid App Development
For the main difference between native app and hybrid app development, it comes through the development process of the app. With hybrid, we have a case where everything is developed at once as opposed to doing it all separately. At all times, the programming languages are standard just as you would see when developing a website; using CSS or HTML. When you hire an app developer, they’ll tell you the different ways of achieving a hybrid mobile app; for example, it can be done manually by writing C++ code as well as a wrapper for various platforms.
Benefits of Hybrid App Development
- Support – Firstly, the cycle of development is much simpler and fixes can be performed right away. What’s more, all updates occur on the server side of things as opposed to updating through the store.
- Increased Speed/Decreased cost of app development – For those on a budget, app development occurs only once and you don’t need nearly as many programmers. For example, the designer only needs to do one set of graphics and this simpler development keeps costs and development duration down.
- Unified Application Logic – Regardless of platform, the embedded logic will keep working in the same way. With fewer errors in the written and debugged logic, there’s no need to double or triple the workload just to find the problems that exist for each platform. On the flip side, we should also mention a decrease in user experience (though this is for the next section).
Drawbacks of Choosing Hybrid App Development
- Increased Speed/Decreased cost of app development – Immediately, you’re probably questioning whether this is a mistake since the same idea was in the list of benefits. However, history tells us that building a hybrid mobile app leads to numerous bugs. Over time, these errors have to be fixed and adaptation time increases with the UI displayed in various ways.
- User Experience – Sadly, compared to native mobile app development, user experience is harder to maintain because the interface needs to meet in the middle between Android and iOS users. If you were to lean too heavily towards iOS, the experience would worsen for Android users (and vice versa!).
- Productivity Decrease – For most app developers, they have problems with clicks, animation, and scrolling which all render the app useless when broken. Although developed in HTML, it will take months to perfect. If you were to ask 100 app developers which is slower between native and hybrid development, the majority (if not all) would say hybrid. Despite the opportunities to be faster, like C++ code for Android NDK users, there is always a balance to uphold and iOS users won’t see the same benefit.
- Required Native App Developers – Finally, hybrid app development still doesn’t solve the standard solutions for native app development. In order to solve most functional problems, you may need native developers on-board with the project.
Native vs Hybrid App Development
Now you have the inside scoop on the benefits and drawbacks of each, which should you choose for an upcoming project? For us to answer this question, we want to discuss two different examples.
Sketch – With many different UI and UX designers, Sketch (graphic editor) is now extremely popular. However, it’s only available on OS X and the question of whether it will be released for other platforms has been on the lips of professionals for quite some time. In fact, they’ve even answered the question directly in their FAQs section of the website.
2048 – If you’re like most, you’ve probably played this puzzle game and it is better developed as a hybrid app. Originally using web technologies, the game can now be launched using Electron for Windows, Linux, and Mac, PhoneGap for mobile, and even Facebook. Without much effort, the application will start up directly and the only difference between platforms is the packagers and icons for each platform. As soon as these small changes have been made, it’s actually incredibly hard to distinguish this from a native solution.
As you can see, these are two extremes and the majority of applications today tend to fall somewhere in between on the scale. In order to choose an approach for your project, you need to ask yourself some important questions such as;
- Will a certain percentage of users be scared away from the app if there’s a strange button or a top menu that doesn’t quite work on OS X?
- Are these users paying customers?
- Can I maintain the application across two different platforms?
Over time, A/B testing is the only real way to get accurate results but we highly recommend considering all the technical characteristics of your platform as opposed to the consumable component. When people ask why native apps are better for mobile app developers, one of the most likely answers would be because, in some cases, there’s a risk of overpaying with hybrid app development. Depending on the size and the time required for development, the overall cost of app development can increase exponentially. This being said, some apps (mostly games) will suit the hybrid approach just as we saw with 2048.
Once you analyze the information above, you’re likely to reach a number of needs for your project which may include;
Your choice is a native mobile application if:
- The application needs to be able to work offline as well as online
- You want the most responsive application possible
- You would like wide functionality with your application
- You need to accept some degree of low responsiveness
- The application needs free access to services and resources on the device
Your choice is a hybrid mobile application if:
- Content needs to be downloaded constantly which requires a connection
- The app doesn’t require calculations or complex animation
- The app should also make use of whatever hardware the device offers
- You’ll need to test ideas within the market as soon as possible
- You already have a website and want to build an app for the lowest price in a short time
All things considered, gaming apps seem to suit the hybrid approach because there is only a handful of features that need to be adjusted for each platform. For everything else, the difference between a native app and hybrid app development is noticeable. So, who is the winner in “Native vs Hybrid” battle? When you hire an app developer or contact a mobile development agency, they’re likely to suggest the first and we agree.
When you build native mobile apps, it might take a little more investment (in time and money) but the end product is well worthwhile. Suddenly, you’re offering a personalized service for customers of all markets and this will allow you to build a solid reputation in the industry!