Native vs Hybrid vs Web App – What is Best for Your Business?

iphone mobile device

What is Native, Hybrid & Web App Development?

These are the frameworks and toolsets that developers would use to develop a mobile app. It’s important to consider each thoroughly, as they all have pros and cons. Balancing customer experience and your business objectives and goals will play a big role in that decision making process. 

Considerations like:- 

  • How quickly you need to launch?
  • Do you need the app to be fully native, i.e. the experience to feel exactly like their operating system?
  • Have you considered user experience?
  • What are the essential features?

The “Three” Options

  1. Web app
  2. Native
  3. Hybrid

In this blog post, we’ll take a brief look at each of these, exploring some of their pros and cons, but you can enjoy a more comprehensive exploration in our downloadable guide: Native Vs Hybrid Apps.

1. Web App Development

What is a web application?

According to Stackpath, “A web application is a computer program that utilizes web browsers and web technology to perform tasks over the Internet.” 

Typical languages for building a web application are JavaScript, CSS and HTML5. It’s generally a straightforward build so it’s great if you need a quick and simple solution with a wide reach. Server-side scripts handle the storage and client-side scripts present the information to users no matter where they are and what device they are using, this info could be surfaced as content management systems or online forms.

But is a web app the right choice for my business? I hear you ask. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for it.

Pros of Web Apps

They’re less expensive than the other options we’ll explore. Web apps can run on all platforms which means easy maintenance thanks to the common codebase. They also don’t require approval from the app marketplace so can be released immediately.

Cons of Web Apps

However, web apps rely on a browser, this means you’re restricted when it comes to speed, metrics, features and hardware. 

For users it isn’t as simple a process to access it, there are several steps to access the web app, i.e. type in a URL, wait for it load which may have an impact on user experience.

2. Native App Development

On a top level, native app development is developed specifically for a mobile operating system using Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. 

Pros of Native Apps

The big plus of native app development is being able to access OS guidelines, full feature sets and built-in capabilities giving native apps the best performance and user experience. This in turn improves usability as the user is already more familiar with the layout and actions.

Before reaching the app store, the native app must be approved by the operating system, improving QA and security.

Cons of Native Apps

On the other side, it’s not easy developing native apps, they use difficult programming languages which require experienced developers. They’re more costly upfront compared to web or hybrid apps and they are not the best option for simple applications.

2.2 But What About Progressive Web Apps?

Here’s an interesting segway – Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). What are they? Well they are a blend of both hybrid and web apps. They deliver an app-like experience to users, but this more advanced version of a web app means that features can be improved until the experience becomes more similar experience to a native app, features like push notifications, offline working, touch gestures and access to device hardware.

There are still some improvements to be made with PWAs, currently Apple’s platform is more limited, it doesn’t support push notifications, background sync or the web manifest file. But as we all know the world of development moves rapidly so soon this shouldn’t be a concern.

Hybrid App Development

As the word ‘hybrid’ suggests they are a mix of web app with a native shell. They work across multiple platforms and have native features. It can be installed on a device and is largely built in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Pros of Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps don’t need a web browser like web apps, instead they have access to a device’s internal APIs and device hardware. But similar to web apps, only one codebase is needed.

Cons of Hybrid App Development

Now for the negatives, hybrid apps are much slower than native apps, their performance can also suffer as they load in webview, combined with reduced customisation, user experience is often sacrificed.

The more customisation the app requires the higher the costs can be, costs that could be saved with native app development.

As it is a hybrid there will be issues that stem from both native systems and hybrid systems, which makes bug fixing more difficult.

Other Options

But within native app development there have been some new approaches…

Two platforms, in particular, Xamarin and React Native have both been heralded as another option within native app development.

Conclusion

So there you have it our guide to the Native Vs Hybrid discussion, as you have hopefully picked up, choosing between native, hybrid or web app development really depends on the individual business. Each development approach has its own positives and negatives some of which will be deal breakers for you, but with a constantly evolving landscape who knows what the next big thing will be. Right, now focus on that balance between business and providing your users with the best user experience possible.

You can read much more about it in our downloadable eBook, Native Vs Hybrid Apps, take a look.

If you’ve any questions on any of these please do reach out to us, we have a talented team of developers and designers who love complex problems and finding custom solutions to fix them.