Mobile: Native, Hybrid or Web App For Your Business

With more than  2.7 billion smartphone users across the world in 2020, it’s no surprise that the mobile app industry is expended with no signs of stopping. Nowadays smartphones have become an useful and convenient instrument that offers multiple benefits such as communication through emails and social networking, web surfing, entertainment, GPS and various other productivity apps. 

In fact, studies show that the average American checks their phone every 12 minutes. 10% of people check their phones every four minutes.

We use our phones every day at work, at home, on the street, in bed, while we are eating, in our cars. You might be reading this article from a mobile device right now.

What are people doing on their phones? Well, 90% of mobile time is spent on apps.

According to these facts, many companies considering mobile apps are facing a common challenge — which app development approach to choose? Should we build a native, mobile web, or hybrid app? More importantly, which is the most appropriate app type for you and your business?

Let’s find out what are native, mobile web, and hybrid apps, analyze the differences between them, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. After reading, you will be able to understand which approach will be the right one for your business idea.

Web Apps

A web app is a software program that uses web technologies like HTML5, CSS, JavaScript. It exists entirely within browsers such as Safari and Chrome and is essentially a mobile website. It is therefore not possible to download them from an app store. 

Also, the web app is not connected with the device’s operating system and does not use its storage. Unlike an iOS or Android app, there is no software development kit (SDK) for a developer to work with. There are templates and frameworks for developing web apps like Angular, React, and Vue.js that you can use to get a quick start.

So, here are some pros of web application

  • Developing a web app can be simple and quick. So, web apps are a cost-effective way to put your product in the hands of a lot of users.
  • Web apps can be built for all platforms as long as they can run in an appropriate web browser.
  • The user doesn’t have to manage updates manually. The newest version always loads when a user opens a web app.

And some cons:

  • Searching for an app might be difficult because the user doesn’t find it in any app store. 
  • A browser is required to run a web app. It means that users have to take more steps to use a web app, whether that’s searching for the page or typing in a URL. 
  • Web apps can be slower and lack a lot of benefits. They only work online and they don’t have access to as many phone features like push notifications, contacts, etc.

However, as browsers and web apps become more advanced, PWAs (progressive web apps) offer a wider functionality like:

  • Sending push messages
  • Using some touch screen elements 
  • Using some of the device’s hardware

So, If your startup is on a budget and doesn’t require complex functionalities or access to operating system features, then building a web app can be the most suitable solution. 

Native Apps

A native app is a software application that is built for specific platforms and is written in languages that the platform accepts. For example, Swift and Objective-C for native iOS apps, Java or Kotlin for native Android apps and C# for the most part for Windows Phone apps. Native apps are also built using the specific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the selected operating systems.

Advantages of the native application:

  •  Native apps offer the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience to users.
  • Good integration with the hardware of the device (e.g camera, GPS, phone, touch screen)
  • It comes with the push notification functionality.
  • Great design and user experience possibilities. For example, the implementation of sophisticated UX/UI design and animation.
  • These apps can be downloaded from app stores and installed on mobile devices where they can be placed as a designated icon on the home screen.
  • Native apps are also more suitable for working offline.

Disadvantages:

  • Need more than one codebase. iOS apps will not run on Android and the opposite, so you will have to work with different codebases for every platform you choose to build in.
  • Native apps are usually more expensive in developing, especially for companies that need apps on multiple OS platforms. For both platforms, it will require two separate developers or teams.
  • A lot of time is spent on development. Also, it takes time to update the app for different platforms.
  • Require constant updates to keep with the current OS versions. 
  • Expensive to keep your native app updated
  • Both Apple App Store and Google Play get a 30% commission from every in-app payment.

To sum up, a bigger budget is required if you want to build your app for multiple platforms (i.e. iPhones and Android) and to keep your native app updated. Native apps are not the best option for simple applications.

By offering a great user experience, better performance and accessibility, native apps are able to offer users a more personalized product.

Hybrid apps

Hybrid apps combine the power of native and web apps to reap the benefits of both. Actually they are made so they look and feel like native applications but like web apps, are built with Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Also, there is a shell that is downloadable and loads the code using a webview.

Advantages of the hybrid apps:

  • Hybrid apps don’t need a web browser like web apps.
  • With a hybrid app, you only have one codebase to manage. So, instead of building two apps like with native apps, you’re building one app and it works on both platforms.
  • Hybrid app developers are often less expensive than native application developers. You will probably require half the number of developers two native apps would have required. Or, with the same number of developers, a hybrid app could be published in half the time.
  • Hybrid is a great option for developers that create visually intense applications, for instance, games 
  • Hybrid apps let you retain the same ability to access device features as with native apps.
  • Easy to work with, maintain and upgrade
  • Because of their native infrastructure, hybrid apps can work offline.
  • Hybrid apps are easier to scale to another platform. Once you’ve built for one platform, you can launch on another like Windows Mobile.

The downside:

  • Getting your hybrid app to run appropriately on each platform generally takes substantial work. Sometimes, the total cost might become comparable to that of fully native apps. It all depends on how close you want to get to the “native user experience” or how simple your app is.
  • Hybrid apps can be slower than native apps.
  • Need to customize to a large number of exciting browsers
  • Inability to implement complex features (e.g. in-app analytics, charts, diagrams)
  • These hybrid systems make bug fixing more difficult. 
  • Hybrid apps load in a webview, so performance can be worse than native applications.

Say you have an idea for an app and you don’t know if people will like it or not. If you understand that a web app doesn’t really allow you to test this app, the simple version of the hybrid app will be a good solution for you.

You give to people to download and use the app on their device, although you are short on resources. Usually, a startup project is decided to create a hybrid app that in the startup world, this is called an MVP, or minimum viable product.

Conclusion 

There are many different directions in which you can take your app, all of which have their pros and cons. The choice between web, native, and hybrid development is dependent on a number of factors, including business needs, app requirements, developer skill, budget and timelines. What’s important is to spend enough time thinking and analyzing before you start building because the apps are expensive enough. So, you may only have one go at getting it right. Find out the information as much as you can about the different kinds of apps and the development stages.

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