As a business owner, you might have considered mobile app development as a lucrative opportunity to grow your business. Mobile Apps have continued to grow in popularity over the past two decades as smartphones have got more powerful and accessible.
With a daily average screen time of around 4 hours (for regular users) and the industry’s revenue estimated to reach around $935 billion by 2023, mobile app development is surely an attractive business investment for most businesses.
But with great opportunity comes greater competition. Companies and brands have flocked to get a slice of the pie and profits, and as a result, the mobile app market has got ruthlessly competitive.
For businesses to do well in today’s app markets, their mobile apps need to solve customer problems in unique ways while providing a seamless and fluid user experience. Apps need to be highly functional and engaging, all the while still being under budget.
It can get somewhat challenging to pull this off in a single stroke, as you might have guessed. There are multiple factors that play a role in how your app turns out to be. From the cost of development to how capable your mobile app is, all of it ultimately comes down to a few critical development choices that you make much earlier in the development process or even before it.
One such critical decision is to choose between building a native app or a hybrid one. This is arguably the most important choice you’ll make in your app development journey, and it’ll surely impact every single aspect of your mobile app.
Choosing between building native apps vs hybrid apps can be a difficult choice to make and ultimately depends on your budget and the type of app you need. But given how important this choice can be to your app development success, it might be worth asking where these approaches differ and which one is the best for you.
Building a native app: pros and cons
Native apps can be best understood as platform or OS specific applications. They are native because they are coded in the language best suited to the operating system in question. What is the advantage of building a native app, you’ll ask? Well, there are quite a few:
Advantages of building a Native App
Because Native apps are programmed specifically for each platform, they enjoy greater functionality and offer a robust experience. They get to make full use of the operating system’s functionality and the hardware capabilities of the device; this allows them to offer a seamless experience and feel much more user-friendly than apps built with a hybrid approach.
Native apps do not rely on forced integrations between shells and multiple platforms to be able to work; this gives them a significant boost in speed and performance compared to hybrid solutions. As a result, they use significantly fewer resources while delivering better performance.
And finally, being so intimately and directly connected to the device and OS allows native apps to take advantage of the hardware and software features like push notifications, camera, GPS, SMS, etc. This is exactly what every app developer needs:
- Lightning-fast functionality.
- A natural feel to the app that provides a smooth and engaging user experience.
- The ability to jam-pack your app with every feature imaginable.
- Being able to utilize the device’s hardware without restrictions.
However, all this speed, functionality, and effectiveness does come with a cost.
The problems of relying on Native apps
This is the biggest drawback for native apps since most businesses simply cannot afford the time and costs required to build two separate apps. It also becomes challenging to maintain your app and roll out regular updates, since again, you need to do twice the amount of hard work to achieve the same results.
Maintaining a consistent brand identity across multiple platforms, especially when trying to develop apps for them from scratch, also becomes challenging.
So in order to address the issue with native apps, developers rely on an alternate approach: Building hybrid apps.
What are Hybrid apps: pros and cons
Hybrid apps are basically on the other side of the spectrum compared to Native apps. Hybrid apps are essentially web apps or responsive websites in a native wrapper that makes them compatible with multiple platforms.
Advantages to hybrid apps
The biggest advantage to hybrid apps is that they are based on a single codebase, meaning you only have to build them once for multiple platforms. This makes hybrid apps significantly cheaper and easier to develop. Since you only have to focus on a single development project, the development process is considerably faster, and hybrid apps are quicker to hit the market.
Hybrid apps can also take advantage of some specific device features using plugins, but the integration isn’t as seamless and robust as native apps. Hybrid apps also have an edge in maintenance and updates since web technologies are considerably easier to maintain, and the developers only need to roll out updates for a single app.
All things considered, hybrid apps are cheap (initially at least), early to market, and easy to develop cross-platform solutions with modest capabilities.
Challenges of building hybrid apps
But the speed and cross-platform flexibility come at a steep price. The performance and user experience, two of the most critical factors within app development, suffer significantly when it comes to hybrid apps. Even in terms of features and functionality, hybrid apps don’t even get close to native apps.
Both hybrid and native apps fill a specific niche in the mobile app market. If you are looking for a robust application that is feature-heavy and relies on the devices’ hardware, then native apps are the go-to choice for your business.
If you are looking for a lightweight, easy to develop solution that needs to be quick to the market, then it might be worth considering a hybrid app.
The native vs. hybrid debate is far from being settled, though. Some believe that hybrid apps are the future of mobile technology, while others recommend that businesses better rely on native solutions at all costs.
While hybrid apps have gained popularity trying to address the areas where native apps fall short, there are other ways to address flaws within the native methodology. For instance, businesses could stick to a single platform, either iOS or Android, at first and later develop apps for other platforms once they have a footing in a single ecosystem. This can simplify the development process and cut short the app’s time to market.
Outsourcing to mobile app development companies India or elsewhere in Asia has also emerged as a popular way to reduce the development cost for native apps.
On the other hand, as new technologies, programming languages, and platforms begin to emerge, hybrid apps seem to have a promising future. The cross-platform flexibility they provide is still continuing to gain popularity and could soon become the best way to build apps.
Both the native and hybrid approach have their pros and cons. And ultimately, the choice depends on your business’s specific needs, your budget, and the type of app your wish to build.
However, you can be sure that building a mobile app is currently one of the best ways to expand and grow your business, leaving no reason not to invest in a mobile application today. For companies looking to outsource their mobile app development projects, Goodfirms has curated a list of some of the best app development companies that can do the job for you.
Regardless of how you choose to develop your app, at some point, you’ll have to choose between the two above-discussed methodologies.
Native Vs. Hybrid, what approach do you plan to adopt for your next mobile app?