Owing to the global reach, popularity, and influence of the internet and mobile apps, organizations that can have an official app already have one or are in the process of developing one. When organizations are thinking about undertaking official mobile app development, they are faced with two major choices. Should they opt for developing cross-platform apps which nullify the mobile OS platform barrier or should they develop native apps which have an exceptionally high performance? We’ll answer this tough question in this article. So, kindly stay tuned.
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Before we get to the question, let’s first understand what hybrid and native apps are. Hybrid apps are those mobile apps that can run on any mobile OS (Android or iOS). The structural differences between the mobile OSs do not impede the execution ability of hybrid apps. Hybrid apps are coded in certain programming languages that can be executed by both Android and iOS.
Native apps on the other hand can only be run on the mobile OS they’re designed for i.e., either Android or iOS. Apps designed purely for the Android OS cannot run on iOS and vice versa. Though native apps face mobile OS platform barriers, their speed and robustness cannot be matched by hybrid apps. Thus entrepreneurs have to choose between versatility and performance when developing official apps for their business.
The advantages and disadvantages of developing native and hybrid mobile applications
The benefits and downsides of native and hybrid apps were mentioned briefly in the introduction section of this article. However, now let’s have a detailed study of that.
Advantages of native apps
Native apps give business owners and app developers quite a few significant benefits which make undertaking native app development worthwhile. They are as listed below.
High performance: Since native apps are coded in a programming language that can be understood and executed by the respective mobile OS easily, their execution is swift and hassle-free.
Native apps require a significantly lesser amount of source code than hybrid apps as there is no OS compatibility issue. Hence, their development time and execution time are considerably lesser than hybrid apps.
Secure and reliable: Native apps of Android and iOS are built using Kotlin and Swift coding technologies respectively. They are both highly concise and secure programming languages. Hence, apps that are built using those coding technologies are also highly secure, swift, and reliable.
More familiar layout: Die-hard Android or iOS users will feel more comfortable using native apps than hybrid apps. This is owing to the more familiar layout and functioning of native apps. Giving a good user experience is important to sell your app to more people or clients. Native apps have an edge in this regard.
Easier to add new features: Whenever you add a new feature to native apps, you don’t have to worry about its impact on the layout of the app on the other mobile OS platform as well, you only need to focus on the impact of the new feature on the layout and functioning of the respective native app. This will save you a lot of time to upgrade the app.
Since native app upgrades are implemented in the respective native coding languages like Kotlin or Swift, they will also be executed faster by the respective mobile OSs.
Highly compatible screen display: Native apps will have an aspect ratio (ratio of screen display width to display height) that is compatible with the most widely used Android or iOS smartphones (aspect ratio that is compatible with the popularly used smartphones’ screen sizes). Hence, the screen display and resolution will be optimum and users will have a good experience using the native app.
Achieving the optimum aspect ratio is very hard in the case of designing hybrid apps because the variation in screen sizes of Android and Apple smartphones is high. Only a handful of Android and Apple smartphones have similar screen dimensions.
Disadvantages of native apps
Developing native apps for your business does have a few noteworthy disadvantages which are listed below.
Separate official apps required for Android and iOS platforms: Unless your goal is to only address Android or Apple smartphone users, you must develop two versions of your official app to cater to the needs of more people. Developing two versions of your official app will definitely take more time and money than developing a cross-platform app.
App updates need to be useful and concise: The updates for native apps need to improve the app in significant ways but they also need to be short and occupy the least possible smartphone memory space.
Otherwise, users who don’t have enough phone memory space will either keep using the older version of the native app or will uninstall the app altogether. Maintaining their customer base is something that native app developers need to frequently worry about.
Promoting native apps on social media platforms is tedious and time-consuming: Since most official apps have two versions of themselves (Android and iOS), promoting both the app versions on appropriate social media platforms and groups is tedious and time-consuming and will lead to more marketing costs, which might not suit the budget of small businesses.
Benefits and downsides of developing hybrid apps
Just like native apps, hybrid apps too have their advantages and disadvantages which are listed below.
Benefits of developing hybrid apps
Lower app development cost and time: Hybrid apps can run on Android as well as iOS platforms. Hence business owners can be satisfied with developing only one official app. This implies that app development cost and time will be around 30% lesser compared to native apps.
Promotion on relevant social media platforms and groups will also be easier and quicker if an organization has only one official app.
Work across multiple platforms: When you’re designing native apps, you’ll always have a tough choice between designing apps for Android or Apple smartphones. The Android OS has a much larger user base but Apple smartphone users are a lot richer, more educated, spend more money on iOS apps, and are more loyal to iOS apps than Android smartphone users.
Hence, business owners have to choose between acquiring a larger user base or acquiring relatively lesser users who will spend more on purchasing their apps. This tradeoff is absent in the case of developing hybrid apps.
Companies will not be restricted by people, geographical boundaries, or mobile OS platform barriers if their official app is a cross-platform mobile app. They can sell their official app to anyone, anywhere in the world, using any kind of smartphone if they have a hybrid official app. This enables businesses to have a far greater reach and make far more online revenue and profits.
Cost effective to build and easy to upgrade: Since hybrid apps require coding only once for both the mobile OS platforms (Android and iOS), their development time is far lower than native apps that need to be coded separately for their respective mobile OS platforms.
Even the addition of new features or upgradation of the app can be done only once for hybrid apps but needs to be done separately for native apps. In other words, hybrid apps are far easier and cost-effective to maintain than native apps.
Hybrid apps can be made available on various cloud platforms: Some hybrid mobile app development platforms like React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, PhoneGap, etcetera can be made available on various cloud platforms as they have a built-in Exchange Integration Code (EIC). This means app developers can develop various kinds of hybrid apps from various cloud platforms which is highly convenient for them.
Downsides of developing hybrid apps
Performance of hybrid apps is a shade lower than native apps: Hybrid apps generally perform a shade lower than native apps. This difference in performance will not be noticeable if you’re running only simple applications but if you’re running complex and graphics-heavy applications like games on your smartphone then this difference in performance will become noticeable.
It may impact user experience negatively and in rare scenarios may even lead to uninstallation of the app.
Some desired features may become unimplementable: Since hybrid apps are not 100% compatible with any smartphone’s internal working mechanism, some of your desired features, especially the highly complex ones, may become unimplementable.
So, you must always check the feasibility of all your desired features before choosing to develop a hybrid official app. This limitation is not present in native apps as they are 100% compatible with their respective smartphones’ internal architectures.
Upgrading hybrid apps is difficult and time consuming: If you need to install an update for your hybrid official app, its feasibility must be checked from your end first and then you need approvals from the respective app stores (Play Store and The App Store). This process is tedious and time-consuming which can delay the release of the app update which can impact its user base negatively.
3D graphics support is not up to the mark: If you’re developing an app (will most probably be a gaming app) that requires 3D graphical elements, then hybrid apps cannot support that functionality satisfactorily.
You can incorporate third party 3D graphics plugins such as Unity 3D in your hybrid app to support 3D elements but their visual display and appeal might not be upto your expectations. Native apps, especially iOS apps perform much better in this regard.
Native or hybrid apps? Which one should you opt for?
Unfortunately or fortunately, there is no binary answer to that question. It all depends on what type of features and functionalities you want in your official app. If your official app needs only simple functionalities and features like in the case of on-demand delivery apps, you can opt for developing a hybrid official app.
On the contrary, if you plan on developing an official app with complex features and 3D graphical elements then you’d be better advised to go for native app development especially, iOS app development as the Swift programming language used to develop native iOS apps is very robust and Apple’s smartphones have a robust and efficient working mechanism that can support 3D graphical elements and other complex app features.
Now that you have understood the benefits and pitfalls of native and hybrid applications, you might be thinking of developing an official app for your business to take it to the next level. No matter what your choice is (to develop a native or hybrid official app), we can certainly help you realize your business ambitions.
We have quite a few years of proven experience in the mobile app development domain and our top-notch mobile app will certainly take your business to the next level. Our app development portfolio and pleased client reviews speak volumes about our experience, technical expertise, and professionalism. So, you’ll certainly get value for your money if you get in touch with us.