If you're thinking of hiring an agency to develop a mobile app for your business, you need to first understand that there are different ways to implement software development. So one of the important questions before the start of development is which way to go. Unfortunately, it is not easy to make this decision. As usual, there is no clear answer to this question here either. Which type of app is more advantageous for you personally depends on your individual requirements: What should the app be able to do? How much time can be invested in development? And what budget do you have to stick to?
We try to break down the differences between native and hybrid apps to ultimately help you decide which type of app works better with your personal project. So, let's jump right into the matter: Native vs. Hybrid app development.
A few details to get started
You do not have to be a genius to figure out that Android and iOS platforms should be your target. So,in this article, we will focus exclusively on them. As you might have guessed, app development requires a relatively specific and individualized approach for both variants.
The mobile world of smartphones and tablets is becoming more important. Accordingly, the technical requirements are getting higher and the mobile operating systems more complex. App developers today need to be prepared to work not only with traditional and long-established smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets but also with countless new so-called wearables (which means mobile devices that are small enough to fit on the body to be worn).
The multi-platform or cross-platform app development (which means running the same app with only one source code on different operating systems) also poses several challenges but also gives developers the chance to create even more impressive new products.
Native apps are applications for smartphones and tablets designed specifically for a specific mobile operating system. App development companies use the programming languages Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps and Java for Android app.
Benefits of Native apps
Great performance - Native apps are designed specifically and exclusively for a specific operating system (and its specific needs and characteristics), which makes these apps faster and more sophisticated than their hybrid counterparts. This type of app is, therefore, the perfect choice when the desired app has to deliver a particularly high performance, as is the case for example with mobile games but also with many other complex apps that mainly access hardware components.
Better user experience (UX) - both Android and iOS apps have individual functions and features that are natural to the user community. But what exactly does that mean? It could be described as follows: Long-time Android users will probably not have the slightest difficulty finding their way around in any unknown app as long as this new app follows the usual operating system-specific UI standards. The same is, of course, synonymous for longtime iOS users.
Easy access to the built-in technical elements of a device - with native apps, it is particularly easy to get the most out of all the functions of the smartphone or tablet, such as the camera, the microphone, the calendar, the locating function, etc.
The target group - native apps can be found easier and faster by the users in the specific app stores which will help you reach your potential customers better.
Native apps - the disadvantages:
Higher costs - the cost of maintaining multiple apps with different source codes is logically higher than just keeping one codebase up-to-date.
Multiple developers - Typically, you need multiple developers to build multiple apps for different operating systems, as both platforms require specific expertise. As a result, app developers mostly only specialize in one of the two operating systems.
A hybrid app is a web app that hides behind a case that looks like a native app, but in truth only does so. Hybrid apps are always cross-platform and can be instantly distributed in the app stores of different operating systems without having to develop extra specific versions for Android or iOS. Most hybrid apps are developed using technologies that are multi-platform compatible from the start and are then remodeled into native apps.
Thanks to these specific requirements, the development time of hybrid apps is usually a bit shorter. The development is basically simpler and whenever you want to offer an existing app for another operating system, you no longer need to start from scratch.
Benefits of hybrid app development:
Lower costs - the relatively lower costs of developing a hybrid app are probably the biggest benefit of this solution. It is not necessary to develop two separate app versions for Android and iOS. Instead, it's enough to develop a single app running on both platforms.
Lower requirements - a single programming language can be used on all existing platforms. There's no need to learn extra iOS or Android-specific languages.
Hybrid apps - the disadvantages:
Missing native features - both Android and iOS have unique features that are only available to native apps. A good example of this would be RenderScript (Android), a powerful calculation method that makes it possible to speed up your app when more computing power is required. Difficulties of this kind, which are mainly caused by the chosen programming technology are usually difficult to predict and often only appear after a considerable lead time. In the worst case, this can make your entire app project totter.
Efficiency - Hybrid apps tend to be slower and less sophisticated than their native competitors, so trying to design high performing apps and mobile games as hybrid apps usually end in an extremely frustrating experience.