Native, Cross-Platform Or Hybrid? Which Mobile App Is Best For Your Project?

Let’s face it! We are in love with our smartphones. I’m sure many of us these days would find living without a smartphone next to impossible. It wouldn’t be wrong if we say that smartphones are one of the inventions of mankind that have changed how we go about our daily life. Whether it’s our professional life or personal, we find ourselves dependent on our mobile devices for variety of reasons.

Naturally this has led to increase in the competition between different platforms as well as between different app vendors.

As a mobile app development company, one has to determine a platform that is a best suit for the app being developed. Which brings us to a point where we have to decide whether to go for native, cross-platform or hybrid app. Each of these app types have their own advantages and limitations.

So what are those pros & cons? Let’s start with the most commonly known type of app, i.e. Native app.

Native Apps

Native apps are the ones that are developed in the programming language native to the respective device platforms/operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows etc.). Therefore, if an app developer wants his/her app to run on different mobile platform, s/he has to develop the same app from scratch in the native programming language of each targeted platform. For example, Objective-c or Swift for iOS, Java for Android, C#/Visual Basics & XAML for Windows.

Few pros of Native Apps

  • Provides access to all the features offered by the device/operating system.
  • Advantage of utilising advanced features like accessing USB input, memory management, sensors etc.
  • Compared to any other type of apps, native apps are faster and better in terms of performance.
  • Provides with out-of-the-box native user interface, if utilized correctly, app’s user interface updates along with each operating system updates.
  • There is virtually no limitations when it comes to advanced UI customization.

Few cons of Native Apps

  • Separate apps needs to be developed for different platforms (e.g. Android, iOS, Windows)
  • Inability to share codes between different versions of the app developed for different platforms.
  • Slower development progress, especially when there are multiple versions that need to be supported for different platforms.
  • Challenges with testing as two or more completely separate codebases need to be tested.

Cross-Platform Apps

As the name signifies, codes for cross-platform apps can be shared across various target platforms as the apps are developed using intermediate languages like JavaScript, which are not native to any device’s platform. Cross-platform apps should not be confused with hybrid apps, as hybrid apps incorporate a mix of native and web app. Cross-platform apps are developed using platforms/framework like Xamarin, Appcelerator, React Native and NativeScript.

Few pros of Cross-Platform Apps

  • Development can be done faster due to possibility of sharing up to 80% of codes across different versions of app for various platforms.
  • Theoretically it is more cost effective as it is built leveraging one codebase.
  • UI performs as fast as that of native app as it is rendered using ‘native’ controls.
  • Updates are instantly synced across all platforms and devices.

Few cons of Cross-Platform Apps

  • Access to the device and operating system features rely on the framework or plugin support, which means, one may not be able to leverage the unique functionality and tools of the respective native platform
  • Operating systems, screen layouts, functions, etc. are different depending on the platforms, so designing & developing a cross-platform app that offers a good user experience on two or more platforms is unquestionably more challenging.

Hybrid Apps

To put it simply, hybrid apps are website packaged into a native wrapper. The look and feel are similar to that of native apps, but a hybrid app is actually a web app build using CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript fueled by the website of a company. Unlike native apps, where most of the information is downloaded at the time when user first installs the app, hybrid app loads most of the information as the user navigates through the app. For instance, your mobile banking app.

Few pros of Hybrid Apps

  • As it doesn’t need much expertise in any platform specific language, it can be easily developed by someone with knowledge of CSS, HTML5 or JavaScript.
  • Code base is reusable between different mobile platforms, hence it shortens the development period.
  • Comparatively low cost of development.
  • Core of the app can be updated without going through App-store

Few cons of Hybrid Apps

  • Hybrid apps do not provide user experience as good as native apps due to its dependency to pull information from the company’s website.
  • Speed can be impacted, as interaction is via the embedded web-browser control.
  • Access to the device and operating system features are dependent on the framework or plugin support

Even after learning the advantages & disadvantages of each type of apps, it is highly complex decision to make when it comes to choosing the perfect mobile app development approach. It is imperative to remember that each app is different from other. It is not necessary that one type of app development approach (e.g. native) would always be better than others (e.g. cross-platform or hybrid), or vice versa. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for professional consulting for mobile app development. Depending on your objective, purpose and the strategy, a mobile app consulting and development company would suggest the perfect approach and develop app accordingly to ensure success of the same.

Tags: Mobile Apps
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