Hybrid vs Native Apps

5 March 2017

With mobile becoming a more mainstream marketing tool for businesses a lot of them are looking to push their brand mobile with some form of mobile app. Making a mobile app for your business is a big investment and so you want to make sure that you make the right app first time. But what type of app should you choose? A Native app or a Hybrid app could be what your business is looking for so its important to define what your business needs.

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Identifying what type of app you want/need depends on what you want the app to do, how you want to build the app and hope you want to deploy your app.

Here I have identified some of the key questions that you should be asking before you begin to produce a mobile app for your business:

  • What features do you want the app to include?
  • How quickly do you want to deploy the app?
  • How much are you willing to spend on the app?
  • How often do you want to update the app?
  • Are you striving for user experience (UX) perfection?

Before I begin to answer the questions above its important to understand what native and hybrid apps actually are.

Native Apps

Native apps are designed and built for specific platforms, such as iOS and Android, using that platforms native language. iOS is usually built in Swift or Objective-C where as Android is build using JavaScript. Apps that are built natively offer better UX and UI ,due to hardware and feature integration capabilities, than those build in a hybrid format but do take longer to develop and cost more.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps are designed and built to be deployed across multiple platforms. To produce a hybrid app a developer would use web code, such as HTML5, alongside native SDKs. Because hybrid apps are build and deployed across multiple platforms they are naturally cheaper and take less time to develop than their native counterparts. However this does come at the cost of some features and integration with hardware that I will discuss later.

Now that there is a definition between native and hybrid apps you can begin to answer the questions that I asked above.

What features do you want the app to include?

If you want to include a lot of native phone capabilities then a native app is definitely what you should be looking to create, although hybrid apps can include some features from almost every platform there are a lot of unsupported features. The main reason for this is that a lot of the code used in hybrid apps is open source and therefore not supplied by the platform creator themselves. Some examples of native features are the Camera, Contacts, Hardware Device Buttons and Messaging features.

How quickly do you want to deploy the app?

There are a multitude of factors that effect how long it takes an app to be deployed such as the number of features included as well as how much you’re willing to spend. If you have a complex app that includes a large number of native features in addition to having a large budget and no time limit then you should be developing a native app. On the other hand if you are looking at an app that offer users some features or one specific feature in a short amount of time then a hybrid app will give you everything that you would need for a lower cost.

How much are you willing to spend?

Native apps offer a better UX and UI as well as including a wider variety of native platform features but this comes at a cost, literally. Because each platform would require its own version of the app you would have to spend far more than you would with a hybrid app. Hybrid apps although offering less features can be developed for multiple platforms at the same time therefore if you have a wide target audience but a smaller budget then a hybrid app would be a much more cost & time effective investment.

How often do you want to update the app?

The more updates you anticipate the app having the more users would have to visit the app store and manually update. At least this would be the case for native apps which are usually designed with large but spaced out updates in mind. Hybrid apps however are built with the idea that frequent updates would be applied to the app, because of the web aspect of the app almost all of the new content and features would be updated directly from the web. Something that is useful to keep in mind though is the fact that if a hybrid app was to have an update to how the app actually works then it would require user interaction.

Are you striving for UX perfection?

I don’t mean this literally as it would be next to impossible for every user to have a perfect experience with the app but if this is a priority that your app has then native is a perfect fit. Although hybrid UX is not bad it can never match that of a native app simply because of how integrated native apps are with the platform they are on, a good design and development team can make a hybrid app have good UX but again it would never be that of a native app produced with the same skill set.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of aspects to consider before making your mobile app. However if you can identify the main features of both your target audience as well as the app itself then you should be able to make an informed decision on what format is best for your business.

Native

Pros

  • More device/platform specific features
  • Fluent and smooth interaction
  • High graphical capabilities
  • Great UX & UI

Cons

  • Expensive to develop
  • Long development time

Hybrid

Pros

  • Fast development time
  • Coded for multiple platform simultaneously
  • Good UX & UI
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Less platform specific features
  • Lower graphical capabilities
  • Less fluent & more choppy interaction