Development of mobile applications is all about making informed decisions. Being a stakeholder, you should consider numerous factors to create a powerful and cost-effective solution. The development method is among those factors and many entrepreneurs wonder who’s the winner in the fight of native app vs. hybrid app.
Let’s figure that out! In this article, we talk about pros and cons of native apps vs. hybrid apps and try to find out which development method is more suitable for your case.
Native vs. hybrid app: What's the difference?
The first thing to mention talking about the difference between native and hybrid apps is that the native ones are developed for a specific platform like iOS or Android. Diving deeper into technical peculiarities we should mention that native apps are built with programming languages that are officially supported by the platform. For Android, those languages are Java and Kotlin, while for iOS Objective-C and Swift.
There is kind of a mess when it comes to defining what is a hybrid app, what is a cross-platform app and how these two actually differ. Let us try to explain this.
Indeed, they are quite similar to each other, but one slight difference takes place. During the cross-platform app development, programmers can make use of both web technologies we’ve already discussed and non-web ones (e.g. .NET-oriented). Hybrid app frameworks like Xamarin and Ionic make this possible and provide developers with more power when building apps. For the rest, they are identical and the term ‘hybrid app’ is applicable for both these notions.
So, what do we have? Native apps are created specifically for one platform, while hybrid apps can function across multiple platforms and perform pretty well despite they’re websites at the core.
In fact, you’ll barely distinguish a quality hybrid app from native. The starkest hybrid app examples are Uber, Instagram, and Twitter. Did you know those were hybrids?
Principles of hybrid mobile app development and how hybrid apps actually work
Pros and cons of hybrid apps
Before you make a decision to build the hybrid app, you should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. As we’ve already mentioned, these apps are originally websites packed into native containers. In turn, to access native features, hybrid applications have to use specialized APIs. This way, the capabilities of these applications may be limited because of the necessity to engage third-party tools to access certain features.
Hybrid application development is considered to be a good fit for products focused on content. However, if you need something complex, this may either dramatically increase expenses neither be impossible to implement.
So, here is what you should know if you consider the hybrid app development option.
Advantages of hybrid apps
Let’s first talk about the benefits of hybrid apps and then move to their drawbacks.
Work across multiple platforms
The cross-platform capabilities may become the decisive factor for many stakeholders making a choice between native or hybrid app. Hybrid apps can run both Android and iOS having just one code base.
This means you don’t have to build the app for each platform as in the case with native apps. Mobile developers create the single code base that can function across Android and iOS.
This is a good news for stakeholders whose primary objective is to target as much audience as possible. What’s more, they don’t need to decide on which platform to build first as the broad reach can be reached with one solution.
This benefit of hybrid apps will be definitely helpful for you in case you need a mobile solution increasing the brand awareness.
Faster to build
It’s less time-consuming to create a hybrid app compared to the native one. Developers don’t have to create a new code base for each platform.
In addition, the building and testing processes are easier to some extent and your QA engineer will need less time to make sure the product is bug-free and high-quality.
Easier to change and update
Native and hybrid applications also differ in such aspects as making changes and updating.
Again, due to the single codebase, your team of developers doesn’t have to work with each platform separately in order to, let’s say, change the placement of several elements. It’s enough to make changes once and they’ll be applied to all platforms your hybrid app works across.
Comparing hybrid versus native apps, it's worth mentioning that updates containing bug fixes and enhancements are implemented a way better in hybrid applications. At least from the point of user experience. Users don’t have to download the latest version of your app manually through marketplaces to get rid of an irritating bug that has suddenly appeared some time ago. This is a pretty common situation for the IT industry and hybrid applications are more flexible in this regard.
If any kind of issue happens on a page that’s loaded from a server, developers can fix that and users will get the refreshed version the next time they launch your app.
Cheaper to build
Due to the single codebase, the hybrid application running both iOS and Android can be implemented for nearly the same period of time that’s required to build one native app for one platform. The development time directly influences the final cost of your product.
For example, in Ukraine and some other countries of Eastern Europe, the price for one hour of development ranges between 40-50$. If we take an approximate amount of time required to develop an app of medium complexity (~600 hours) and multiply it by 50$, we'll get a development cost equal to $30K.
Discover the advantages of offshoring software development
That’s the approximate price for one hybrid app working across multiple platforms or for one native app that can function within one platform. What’s more, that’s the price for the concrete region as in North America one hour of development may cost you from $100 up to $250.
Benefits of hybrid apps
Disadvantages of hybrid apps
As it’s time to dive deeper into the native vs. hybrid apps comparison, let’s consider the disadvantages of hybrid apps.
Hybrid apps are websites at their core and they require a constant internet connection to deliver the full range of features to the users. This way, you may face certain difficulties when implementing offline access to a part of their functionality.
Also, comparing hybrid vs. native apps, we should say that it takes more time for hybrid applications to load all their elements and, respectively, they may work slower.
That’s the reason why the hybrid approach suits well for content-oriented apps. They are quite simple and not overloaded with complex functions to work fast enough.
Due to the nature of hybrid mobile apps' architecture, they rely on plugins to access the built-in features of a device. The disadvantage of such a method is that those plugins can be out of date or unreliable. Moreover, developers may need to create plugins on their own in case there are no ready-made solutions allowing to access a certain part of the device functionality you need.
Poor user experience
It’s something that must be at a high level regardless of what you choose: a native or hybrid app. Unfortunately, the user experience isn’t the strong side of hybrid applications since the interface for both iOS and Android platforms should meet somewhere in the middle. In case you focus too heavily on Android, the experience will be worse for iOS users and vice versa.
Need for native app developers
The paradox is, you are likely to need native app developers to build a hybrid application. That’s because the hybrid app development approach still can’t solve a variety of functional problems that are basic for native development. So, you may need a native developer as a part of your team to create a quality product.
Disadvantages of hybrid apps
Pros and cons of native apps
Native apps are created specifically for an operating system. They stick to the guidelines intended to enhance and align the user experience within the operating system. Let’s take a closer look at advantages and disadvantages of native apps.
Advantages of native apps
It’s always better to start with the positive sides, so let’s first consider the benefits of native apps.
Rich user experience
This is an undeniable advantage of native apps. Mobile developers and UX designers can focus their efforts on tailoring the app’s functionality to one platform that has it's own design language, unique elements, and set gestures.
All this allows to achieve the sense of unity and allow users to more intuitively navigate through the interface as well as better understand the functionality of your application.
In addition, native applications can make full use of offline mode capabilities while everything isn’t as easy with hybrid apps. Developers can face tons of problems during the implementation of offline mode.
Considering hybrid vs. native app development, we should touch upon the performance question.
The application that was created and optimized for a specific platform can demonstrate an unbelievably high level of a performance. Developers deal with the battery and memory consumption to reach decent results.
However, native apps perform fast not only because of optimization but the code itself. It works faster as it’s written in the programming language natively supported by the platform. What’s more, this allows integrating new features a way faster.
Create a native app is the only way to guarantee your users a reliable data protection. It’s all about mathematics. The full power of hardware should be engaged to process tasks and hybrid applications can’t make the most of hardware.
If you’re looking for reasons why native apps are better, we should stress that they have the full access to databases, hardware features of a device. Moreover, their functionality isn’t limited to plugins or any other third-party tools.
Native applications have no limitations related to the creation of interface as they don’t have to consider the peculiarities of several operating systems to meet the requirements of each one.
Fragmentation makes it hard to adjust the layout for different devices. This is especially true for Android-based devices. Native development is the only way to keep the design at a high level and deliver a great experience to all users of your product.
Advantages of native apps
Disadvantages of native apps
Finally, let's consider the weaknesses of native app development.
Cost of development
The process of developing the native app is complex and requires the participation of more qualified staff. That’s why, you can expect considerable spending.
Time of development
This kind of app requires more time to be built. If you need apps for both platforms and need them fast, you better think about simultaneous development.
Disadvantages of native apps
When to choose a native or hybrid app
They are perfect for simple and content-oriented projects. You can also consider this variant in case you’re on a tight budget or you need to create an app for both platforms within a limited timeframe. Besides, hybrid apps suit best for MVP as you can test your product across multiple platforms without considerable spending.
Read more about MVP and how it can help you successfully launch your product or watch our short video below
Why Should You Start Your Business from MVP?
If custom features, performance, good design, and reliability really matter for your project, then this development method is the right option for you.
Still not sure what to choose?
We offer a free consultation on tech peculiarities of the project and project cost estimation.
It’s an app developed for a specific platform using programming languages and technologies specific to that platform.
It’s an app that is basically a website packed into a native container and can work across multiple platforms.
Both the native and hybrid app have their strengths that suitable for various situations and business goals. Hybrid apps are faster and cheaper to build. Moreover, these apps can run across multiple platforms. Meantime, native apps can deliver rich user experience with full-fledge functionality, high performance, and high personalization abilities.
It always depends on your goals and needs. Hybrid apps are must-have if you're tight on budget, and you need an app in a strict timeframe. Besides, it's the right choice if you want to launch MVP. If custom features, good design, and reliability are top priorities for you, it would be wise to choose a Native app.
The most significant difference between native and hybrid app is their scope. Native apps build exclusively for the chosen platform with strict tech stacks, while hybrid apps build to use on various platforms and suit perfectly for MVP.
The easiest way to check is app native or hybrid is to long-tap on any label or title text. If you see a Copy popup, this means that the app is hybrid (CSS text not disabled).
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