When it comes to app development, the hardest decision is often the first one: When do you go native? When do you go hybrid? And the reason for this is simple: the mobile application is nowadays viewed as one of the most dynamic business tools, and evaluating how these decisions will reverberate in the future is vital for your company as they may spell the difference between success and failure for you and your projects.
Mobile applications have, without a doubt, become the new standard for building up a connection with customers
In today’s world, having mobile applications enables companies to provide their users with convenient and up-to-date experiences for not only software products but any other service in general, such as banking, rideshare, and delivery of goods, to mention a few. Therefore, each company is eventually facing the question: Which is better: native or hybrid? We will attempt to answer that question here, but since both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses we suggest focusing on which is better for your specific business needs rather than which is better overall. The bottom line is that there is no right answer that applies to everyone.
Different companies have different objectives, budgets, time restrictions, marketing strategies, and business life cycles stages
Before we start the argument on the subject, we need to make sure we clearly understand the differences between cross-platform frameworks and native development.
Native Applications: a Native App refers to an application built completely using technologies native to a particular operating system; this could be Android, iOS, Windows, or BlackBerry OS. For Android, native apps are usually built using Java, while for iOS a native app can be built using Objective-C or more recently Swift.
From a usability perspective, a native application does not necessarily differ from its cross-platform counterpart, but it is definitely worth noting that native applications developed for a specific mobile operating system usually have a more user-friendly interface. This happens because, during the development of native applications, UI/UX specialists and programmers can more effectively craft the interface and experience because they know what UI approaches tend to be more proper on a specific operating system. For instance, the “back” button on iOS devices is different than the one on Android devices, therefore when developing a native app these types of considerations must be taken into account to give users a better experience.
Advantages of Native mobile application development:
- Overall functionality: There is no need for plugins or extra tools since the application will already have all the necessary features and different databases.
- Better performance: Native applications are faster since they are built with a framework that is native to the operating system.
- Customer experience: They can work offline and they will definitely have high-performance capabilities.
- Data protection: This is the main advantage that companies are interested in providing to their customers, especially in the applications with sensitive data such as the enterprise and fintech sectors.
- Comprehension: Since the developers are already aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of using the technologies, they will quickly find the right approach to get desirable results.
Disadvantages of Native mobile application development:
- Distributed codebase: Even to this day, there are various features that are not available on both operating systems causing a lack of compatibility.
- Time and money-consuming: Distribution of users among two different platforms doubles the amount of work and testing needed to keep both applications running smoothly. Instead of building one product for its user base, a company must run two parallel product builds and work to keep them in sync.
Hybrid Applications: a Hybrid App is an application developed using web technologies. The result is a web application that serves not as a web page, but as a standalone application. This basically means that almost any mobile operating system can handle support the product so if the application is already running on a specific mobile operating system then there won’t be any difficulty for it to run on another.
Advantages of Hybrid mobile application development:
- Single code base: These apps are often preferred by companies and developers since they perform on both platforms, therefore there will not be a need for building two separate codebases for iOS and Android.
- Faster to build -and test-: The team will reach the expected results faster since they don’t deal with each platform separately. For this reason, testing times get reduced.
- Lower cost and faster delivery times: Yes, you have the need to hire one team with some expertise in both, but only good expertise in web development will be good enough. Your expenses will be the same as developing one app, instead of the fact that this will run on two different operating systems. Also, since you don’t need to have two groups of developers for iOS and Android, but instead one relatively small team of professionals the outcome reflects on faster delivery times.
- Easy to maintain: All required changes and updates will be maintained simultaneously on both platforms, which is not only convenient for developers but also for users themselves.
Disadvantages of Hybrid mobile application development:
- Bounded efficiency: Cross-platform frameworks depend on plugins to be connected with the device features, which means that sometimes developers have to create them manually to approach the particular function of the device.
- Hardware Integration: At the time to integrate a mobile App with a hardware divide, native Apps are usually more reliable and create easier integrations for the development team.
So, when do you go Native? When do you go Hybrid? And which is better?
It is clear how the main differences between native and hybrid app development lie in approaches to their implementations, and because of this reason, the native vs. hybrid app choice will definitely affect the final outcome of each software development project. However, there is no one perfect solution: it all depends on the project itself.
Some things to consider when trying to figure out if going Native or Hybrid on your project development process are the following:
Determine your audience and what services are you going to provide: A content-oriented application could rely on cross-platform development, however, if your company is a data-sensitive institution then it is better to go for a native application due to its better security.
Consider the better performance: Many developers still choose to go with native application development due to their better performance, although cross-platform frameworks are constantly improving to keep up with the pace.
Take into account your budget: Remember hybrid mobile app development will take less time and money; for many budget purposes, going with a hybrid framework with a much-experienced team can be much better.
Do not forget about maintenance: Consider that it might be much easier to maintain a single codebase mobile app than two different ones, therefore the hybrid ones are much easier to maintain and support.
- All companies are oriented for the best UI/UX: Keep in mind that native apps might perform a little faster as they are originally created for a certain platform, but also that a hybrid framework is often chosen for its versatility.
Finally, there won’t be a final and correct answer for “Which is better: native or hybrid”, but the aforementioned pros and cons of both app development frameworks can help you orient your own criteria to be able to answer what fits your company better.