The Pros and Cons of Native vs Hybrid Mobile App Development

Aug 13, 2017

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Executives responsible for making decisions in ventures of all sizes have several questions to answer. Should they develop their app for the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store first? Or should they make a web platform first and plan the framework of their apps around that. Would there be any way to do both?

What makes this different from the status quo of native applications? Is there any one method that is inherently better than the other? In a financial sense or otherwise? You don’t need to look any further for some answers.

Native:

Ever since there was even an App store to begin with, Native application development has been the standard in mobile. Native applications are written specifically for mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android.

Pros:

  • Due to all of the app’s elements being included in a single native package, native applications tend to have fast graphics with fluid animations built in.
  • Native applications can access exclusive native APIs in the phone’s operating system such as push notifications, camera, and in-app purchases, which would otherwise be prohibited, or provided in a cumbersome manner on a mobile web application.
  • If you’re developing a native application for iPhone, they have many resources, development tools, and reading material to help you out.
  • Apple definitely wants to push their brand whenever possible, so they have provided UI components from their UI libraries to make development a little less painful.

Cons:

  • If you intend to also publish your app to a different app store, your application will need to be rewritten in order to be a native app on another mobile OS. This usually delays features for the next platform in development. For example Snapchat implemented features such as reverse video a lot later on Android than on the Snapchat app for iOS. This is not to do with any one platform being better than another. However, Snapchat was released on iOS first, so it usually receives new features first.
  • It is a time consuming process to create a native app for both iOS and Android, so it will cost you.
  • Native platforms define their own rules and frameworks and inherit little from other disciplines, requiring more investment. For many businesses with existing development (ie. web, desktop app, etc) personnel, they would be unable to utilize these existing resources towards a native mobile application.
  • Native applications typically require you to define phones and tablets separately, or define individual layouts. While this step is available and repeated on the web with CSS media queries, it’s usually a single layout and multiple stylesheets. The effort for native is non-transferable between iOS, Android and others since each operating system is locked into proprietary tooling.

 

Hybrid:

Hybrid application development can do everything HTML5 does except it also has some features of Native applications. They do this by deploying a native harness or wrapper to act as a bridge between platforms and access native features. This wrapper can either be created manually or generated by a program.

Pros:

  • Hybrid mobile apps don’t have that “mobile web” browser look because they can include native hardware features.
  • The content of a hybrid app is portable and just requires a native harness to run it.
  • Since software like Ionic or React provides frameworks to make a webpage act like a native application, they can be distributed on the App Store.
  • Developers have the option to package the app locally or through a server, which provides access both online and offline.

 

Cons:

  • Since hybrid applications are relatively new in the mobile development space, automatic generation may not work on all devices, which can get especially complicated when trying to accommodate to different Android phones.
  • Since hybrid app development is still new there is not as much support for any troubleshooting for unprecedented problems that may occur.
  • Several vendors have started offering build-platforms for hybrid frameworks, simplifying the build knowledge that was previously required for multi-platform. Just be prepared to pay for it.
  • If the App Store is able to recognize that your application is not truly native, it may be denied from the App Store.
  • If your app can’t be published on the App Store, then that would reduce your monetization and distribution potential since purchase price or in-app purchases are native features.
  • Since most hybrid apps are written in HTML5, they rely on the system’s browser to support the wrapper for running the application, which presents a supplantable resource that external parties could exploit beyond the normal security afforded to a native application. This heavily hitches behavior to a system component that could be replaced on customized/rooted devices, creating very difficult situations to isolate and support for errors or exploits.
  • When a new iOS version is released, hybrid developers would have to rely on a third party before they are able to design hybrid applications on the new OS.
  • Lack of the pure UI assets of iOS or Android may result in a slower performance of the app in general. It may not look like a mobile website, but it may feel like it at certain points.
  • Phonegap, Cordova and others generate native by-products, meaning you still have to support and manage the individual packages in the app-stores. Keeping versions in sync across platforms while addressing individual bugs can be more difficult than a pure native approach.

So which one is better?
There is no absolute better, it depends on what is best for you and your company and venture. Weighing this with the pros and cons, native development sounds like the right choice. But you’re smarter than that, and you realize that a method that works for one app may not apply to another. Some may remain skeptical about hybrid development summed up by Java’s “Write once, debug everywhere” phrase.

It all depends on what type of app you’re trying to build.
At Sapience InterGlobe, the choice varies from client to client. We make sure that the client uses the app development method that’s best for them and their budget. With Twilio’s Owl Air app, they use a variety of native features such as Voiceover IP and touch identification as you can see above, which is more difficult to translate to hybrid development.

MOBILE GAMES – If you’re building a mobile game, native development usually works best. If you REALLY want to make it a cross platform release you can use game engine programs like Unity or Buildbox to build your games.

ENTERPRISE APPLICATIONS – For enterprise applications where having one codebase is critical and where sexy interfaces are not as important, then cross-platform apps may be the right choice because you want to make the app accessible to ALL platforms.

Takeaways

Most of the flaws in hybrid are usually due to its adolescence in the mobile development space. With the large room for growth in hybrid mobile development, its critics may eventually view it as the better choice in the future. Perhaps a developer wanted iOS App Store distribution to be guaranteed, so they opt for native app development. And that’s perfectly fine. Just remember, if you plan to have your app on both platforms, it will take more resources to make a version for iOS and Android since they both require separate builds.

Whether it’s hybrid or native, our development team can do it all. Contact info@sapienceglobal.com for inquiries. Also, if you found this post helpful, it would mean a lot if you like/share our post on Medium!

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