Native vs. Hybrid Apps: What’s Best For Me?

by | Feb 23, 2018

apps, hybrid apps, native apps

Hybrid app or native app? That’s one of the first questions mobile app creators will ask themselves when diving into a new app development project. So what’s all the hullabaloo!?

While there are many questions to be asked and answered about hybrid apps vs native apps — the most important to start with might be: what’s the difference?

Perhaps the most important differentiating factor between native and hybrid is that native apps are written specifically for one type of operating system, where hybrid apps are written to be used cross-platforms. That is to say, if you want to launch an app on Android as well as iOS: you’ll have to write two sets of code for the two operating systems. With hybrid you can use the same code on Android and iOS. And, while that may seem simple, there are pros and cons to both.

Native Mobile Apps

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Native is when you write in code specifically for a mobile platform: Java for Android, Swift or Objective-C for iOS. There are a few core advantages of writing native code:

  • You’ll have access to all APIs when you build a native app. That means there will be a smoother and more natural feeling user experience on native than on hybrid. This is because native apps have seamless integration with tools on your phone. These tools include things like the microphone, camera, and accelerometer (the sensor in your phone that measures the tilting motion and orientation of a the phone). Because of the API access, swipe gestures are easier in native apps as well.
  • Native apps also allow push notifications. It is possible to enable push notifications on hybrid apps, but because of the set up of a hybrid app, it is a lot more difficult to do so.
  • There’s no runtime lag. Translation? Faster apps and better performance.
  • Software platform updates are no big deal. You’ll have less trouble with release cycles, and there will be less lagging behind with updates.

There are, as with everything, downsides as well:

  • The costs of app maintenance can be higher for native apps. These higher prices can be due to a number of things, but the largest money-suck is tends to be having to write up your different sets of code for the different operating systems.
  • In the same vein, since you have to develop different sets of code, the time it takes to get your apps up and running tends to be lengthier.

Hybrid Mobile Apps

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Many people do chose the Hybrid framework. To go a little deeper into what that means, hybrid apps are a cross-breed of the native and web apps.

A web app is not really an application, but rather is a web page that’s written in HTML5 and acts as an app. Web apps don’t show up in the app store. Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are “part native app, part web app,” as Neilsen puts it. Hybrid apps, unlike web apps, live in an app store. But like web apps, they rely on HTML – the difference being that the browser lives inside the app. To put it in layman’s terms, a hybrid app is installed like a native app, but acts like a web app on the interior. So what are the ups and downs of building hybrid? Let’s start with the good:

  • With a hybrid framework you have the ability to whip up something quickly to see how it will perform in the app store. This means you can receive some initial feedback or analytical data without having to focus your energy working on two sets of code from the get-go.
  • You may save time when building from scratch. Developing code for Android and iOS can take a lot of time, so when you develop with a hybrid framework, you’ll typically have a quicker time to market.
  • Besides just time – writing one set of code as opposed to multiple for different operating systems can also save you money when you are building your app with a developer from scratch.

And of course, the drawbacks:

  • Different people work with different mobile browsers. This can make things difficult for your app when you’re trying to keep up with app support for all browsers.
  • Since there isn’t the same app-vetting process that you’ll get when releasing a native app, security of hybrid apps can be finicky and less stable than that of native apps.
  • The user experience on a hybrid app often isn’t as smooth as that with native apps. Since hybrid apps tend to rely on third-party frameworks to integrate with your phone’s native features (e.g. camera, accelerometer, microphone), they often lead to less seamless experience.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that both native and hybrid apps both have their pros and cons, but in the end it’s up to you to make sure you’re making the right choice for you and your business. We hope this post helped clear the lingering questions about what’s what. If you want our two-cents, the answer to the question of which framework to use is simple: native all the way.

Here at Hatch, our platform enables anyone to build native apps without having to write a line of code. All of our apps deploy to iOS, Android and the web on native code. And, now that you have a better understanding of what that means, maybe you’ll find it as awesome as we do! We believe that building all of our apps on native code enhances the end-user experience exponentially; that’s why when you build with Hatch you don’t experience more time to delivery, nor do you experience higher costs. If you think you want to build a native app without the drawbacks: come on over and book a time to talk. We don’t bite.

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