Native app vs hybrid app – which solution is better?

06.04.2021 Kornel Kosoń
how can you which is better: native or hybrid app?

We spend more and more time on our mobiles nowadays. We do more things that we used to do elsewhere. Shopping, paying bills, checking the bus or train schedule, banking, happen almost solely on our smartphones. Our phones can be used anywhere and do not require additional external equipment. All this caused huge growth of mobile technologies and the emergence of Mobile First Design. It’s a design strategy of app development that prioritizes smartphones. Its goal is to be operational on devices with low resolution and small screens, so that the needs of mobile users are better fulfilled. Two of the most used types of applications made with MFD are the native apps and hybrid apps. What is native application and what characteristics does it have? How does it differ from the hybrid app? And most importantly, which one is better for your next mobile project? Let’s find out!

Native app – what is it? 

The most important thing about the native apps is that they are designed for only one platform (Android or iOS). Therefore, they are developed in a particular coding language. For Android devices this will be JAVA or Kotlin. When it comes to iOS, the native apps are developed in languages such as, Swift or Objective-C. These languages allow for the building of application on the given operating system present on a device. 

It’s worth mentioning that the native apps provide solutions and experiences adjusted for a particular operating system. This makes them especially intuitive and smooth in use. 

Native app – how does it work?

The native app is constructed with the sole aim to be adjusted for mobile use. Due to that it offers specific user interface, which is great for small devices and guarantees positive UX on such equipment. 

When wishing to use a native app, most of the time we will find it on Google Store or App Store from where we can download it. We not only download an app but also various additional data that’s needed for the app to function properly. It’s worth mentioning that for some of them to work, you don’t need to have access to the Internet connection. That’s because they function using different resources, such as tools present in your smartphone. Due to this feature, the native apps can load much faster than other types of applications and don’t use as much resources as them. Their exceptional speed is achieved by the design dedicated for one operating system. 

Native app – pros and cons

The native apps as all programs have their strong and weak sides. Before you decide on choosing them as the basis for your next project, it is worth to get a better view of what you can encounter. Therefore, you will not be surprised by some problems and won’t miss any possibilities that this kind of app offers. 

Native app – pros

Let’s start with the pros, because there are some that really deserve highlighting. One of the most important advantages of native apps is that it utilizes the built-in smartphones functions. These include: GPS localization, fingerprint reader, microphone, calendar and many other. This of course, must be preceded by accepting a couple of permissions that pops up when the user is using the app for the first time. 

What’s more, the utilization of of the built-in functions make the native apps even faster, more efficient and reliable. At the same time, they are not draining the phone’s resources and have a full access to a device’s wide range of functions. 

To sum up, the pros of using native apps include:

  • fast speed of loading and operations.
  • high functioning efficiency.
  • reliable operation when in offline mode.
  • access to the built-in functions of a device.
  • design dedicated specially for mobile devices size.
  • ease of operations due to consistency between app and a given OS user interface.
  • high level of UX.
  • designed with simple coding and modern programming languages.
  • ease of testing and fixes implementation.

Native app – cons

An advantage can become a drawback in some scenarios. The same goes for a couple features of the native apps. That’s why, when you look at their functionalities, you should consider what your business needs the most. 

The disadvantages of the native apps are as follows:

  • prolonged development time, especially when designing two version of an app for different operating systems.
  • high cost of execution; this is often caused by the need for a team of specialists who can develop an app for two systems, which requires fluency in two programming languages.
  • high costs of maintenance and growth of the application.
  • the implementation of new functions must be performed for each OS separately.

When should you use native applications?

There are situations when development of native apps is obviously a better move for one’s company. This includes a scenario when you need an app that has to work for one particular platform. In this case, you won’t suffer from high costs of development. Also, you will guarantee a fully dedicated and adjusted solutions for your customers. 

Going with the native app is also a good choice when the consumers will use it for the first time. If your consumers have not heard or come across your new brand yet, it is important to greet them with the most efficient solution possible. This is guaranteed by the native applications. 

It is also recommended to use the native solutions when you need access to built-in functions of a smartphone. Therefore, if your planned project will need camera or GPS to function properly, it is necessary that you decide on the native app. 

The native app will also be a top choice if you require a smooth operating, high efficiency and access to wide range of various functions and further growth of an app. These kinds of features are often needed in developing mobile games and programs that utilize animations. 

A good example of a mobile native app that you probably have used of is calculator, notepad, alarm, calendar and all the other in-system apps that come with the device itself. An example of more advanced app is game of Pokemon Go. 

Hybrid app – what is it?

What are hybrid mobile apps? The basic principle behind them is creation of one app that can work on multiple operating systems. This leads to parts of their structure being shared by two or more platforms. On the other hand, other functions are dedicated for just one particular type of system. The hybrid apps are mostly developed with the use of JavaScript, HTML and CSS. What’s more the hybrid apps can be developed in two different ways. 

The first uses JavaScript and a suitable framework, which makes the native functions compatible with the use of appropriate plugins. This however can cause lower efficiency of operating. 

The second possibility is to use the established platforms, such as, React Native. These platforms contain native components and use the shared UX (the things visible for the end-user). From there you can choose which programming language you want the native components to be in. This way of development of the hybrid app  doesn’t cause lowered efficiency. It also embeds the features of the native app within the hybrid app. 

Pros and cons of the hybrid mobile app

Among the most prominent advantages of the hybrid apps are:

  • lower cost of app development (one coding language for multiple platforms).
  • quick time of creation and implementation of an app.
  • ease of the app maintenance.
  • speed of implementing additional functions thanks to the use of single source code.

On the other hand, we have the cons:

  • could be slower and the native apps, as a large number of functions can slow it down.
  • restricted opportunities for app growth.
  • access to built-in features is dependent on the framework used to build an app.

What type of application should you choose?

This depends on your business goals. If you want to quickly put your app up on the market you should use the hybrid solution. It will ensure that your app is going to work on both operating systems (Android and iOS). What’s more it will increase the pool of users that are going to have access to it. 

However, if what’re you looking for is dedicated and very individualized technological approach for a particular platform, you should use the native app. It guarantees perfect adjustment and effective utilization of all functions available on the devices. 

In case you lack the means for a more advanced solution and only require a simple app, it is better to go with the hybrid solution. That’s because it will not drain your budget as much as the creation of the native app. 

On the other hand, if you have the means and prioritize usability, speed of functioning, aesthetics and numerous opportunities of growth, you should definitely go with the native app. Only the native technology will let you develop a solution that is tailored for specific needs. This is true especially for cases of really advanced and complex apps and games on mobile devices. 

And if you’re still in doubt about which type of application you should use in your project contact us! We will surely help you decide which solution is right for you. 

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