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Native & Hybrid Apps: Understanding Your Mobile App Development Options

The native vs. hybrid debate has led to countless arguments among mobile app developers and confounded decision makers across the world. It is the favorite pastime of developers to argue about the pros and cons of current technologies in order to determine whether they are worth the risk and costs of adoption.

In this article, we have broken down the benefits of both hybrid and native mobile application development and discussed when to use each one. However, before we get to that, let's make sure we are on the same page about the two contenders:

  • Native Apps are developed specifically for a particular platform and don't use any HTML content. Since the UI is built with native components, it's easily understandable for users. Native apps are distributed via the Google Play or AppStore.
  • Hybrid Apps are developed to combine both web and native concepts and use a combination of JavaScript, HTML and CSS. While hybrid apps can share code across different platforms, they also need native code to ensure seamless operation on each platform. Hybrid apps are also distributed via Google Play or AppStore.

Native vs. Hybrid Apps: The Showdown

Development Time

The development time for a mobile app relates directly to level of technology required to make it operate on the desired platforms. By going for hybrid app development, you can skip the extra time and effort it takes to develop the same app separately for each platform and quickly make it accessible to your target audience.

Winner: Hybrid

Specific Frameworks

Certain platforms require native apps to access existing frameworks like TouchID, GPS data, push notifications, Bluetooth connections and motion data. Know what that means? When building a non-native app, developers must bridge the gap between the existing native code - which will be specific for each platform - and then manually connect to those frameworks. As a result, you are going to incur additional costs that aren't necessary when developing a native app.

Winner: Native

Multi-platform

Hybrid apps leverage technologies like JavaScript,HTML and CSS, and these are generally run and used by all major operating systems i.e. Windows, iOS and Android. In fact, you can even wrap all the code in multiple application bundles with HTML frameworks, one for each platform the app will be operating on. Iconic or PhoneGap are some of them most popular frameworks used for hybrid mobile application development.

Winner: Hybrid

App Performance

Undoubtedly, apps perform better when they are written in the language that is best suited for their operating system and device. Hybrid apps, more often than not, fall behind when it comes to performance than native apps and the user can feel it. Some of the most common performance challenges faced by hybrid apps include:

  • Reaction events and times have a slight delay
  • Buttons don't respond as quickly as native buttons
  • Animations aren't as smooth as they are on native apps and also have delays
  • Screen transitions are not smooth

Winner: Native

And, that's a tie! While native apps have the upper hand in terms of performance and user experience, hybrid apps too have benefits that cannot be ignored. Therefore, in the end, it all actually comes down to your objectives. Where many businesses are choosing to develop apps with a flexible combination of HTML and native features, native apps still make sense in many cases. For this reason, determine your specific needs before making a choice.

It is important that you make a decision early on in the process so you can select the right mobile application development service for your needs, as not all providers cater to any type of customer.

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