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Mobile applications have become a kingpin of innovation for a decade now. With an expanding market of smartphones, many organizations are adopting ways to incorporate mobile apps in their workflow, to boost their market outreach.

In the world of mobile applications, not all apps are created equal. A common challenge faced by companies on deciding on the type of app to be built. Whether to build a native app or a hybrid app and which one would be the best for the company based on its functionalities.

Native Application

Native applications are smartphone apps specifically designed for a particular operating system—iOS or Android. What distinguishes native apps from hybrid apps is that they are developed for specific devices. Native applications are designed in code that is primarily used for the mobile device and its operating system. For instance, developers code Android-native apps using Java, whereas, they code iOS apps using Swift or Objective-C. Native apps are built using an operating system’s SDKs and can also directly interact with all of the device features, such as the microphone, camera, GPS, device storage, etc.

Advantages of Native Application

  • Native apps tend to have a recognizable look and feel to them. They are essentially a nuanced version of the operating system’s default applications. This familiarity can add to over user experience.
  • They tend to work better offline, meaning there is no internet connectivity required to run them (for the most part.) If one of your users is stuck in the middle of nowhere, such as on a plane or the subway. They can still access the basic features of your application.
  • Graphic-heavy applications, high definition games, and intensive animation applications will likely perform quite well as native applications. This is because native code is still faster than HTML and JavaScript.
  • Native SDKs can access device features without working through the complexity of native plugins. New device features will be available out of the box along with the SDKs, which simplifies the development management process.
  • The quality of the Native apps can be assured through the ratings in the App Stores.

Disadvantages of Native Application

  • Native apps involve multiple code bases, since each device would be having its version of the app, i.e., the coding would be different in the case of Android, and different in the case of iOS.
  • It involves a higher cost, as more developers would be required to build and handle a code base for each platform.
  • Different skill sets are required to develop, maintain, and manage the same application on each different platform, which ultimately adds to the cost of keeping up the application.
  • Native apps tend to take longer to download, which could lead to potential users bailing halfway through the download process if it takes too long. Users will also need to open the app store, search for the app, open it, agree to terms and conditions, and then finally download– which could lead to them jumping ship if your app is not useful enough for the trouble.
  • A lot of time is spent on multiple fabrications for different platforms in every feature update. Each platform code will need to have its release cycle and updates. This ultimately adds to development time and cost.

Hybrid Application

A hybrid application is a program that combines the elements of both, native and web applications, where the application is coded using web technology languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are then condensed in a native application. Thus, it works just like a web app and is installed on a device like a native app. For the most part, they are web pages wrapped in a mobile app using WebView. Hybrid apps, with the help of internal application program interfaces (APIs), retain complete access to the mobile device’s features. They are built using cross-platform frameworks like React, Ionic, Sencha and Xamarin.

Advantages of Hybrid Applications

  • Hybrid apps can have identical and consistent user experiences across platforms (for better or worse), regardless of whether or not the user moves between different operating systems, devices, or browsers. This can be better for efficiency, but worse in that it doesn’t take into account how users behave in different environments.
  • The development and maintenance (which includes updations and making changes) of hybrid applications is faster since developers have to create only one codebase.
  • The single code base in the hybrid apps makes them cost-effective since it requires lesser time to develop and does not require more developers as in the case of Native apps.
  • Hybrid apps (as mentioned above) are based on web technologies. Because of this, some can be run on any browser, just like any other website can due to Progressive Web Application (PWA) technologies.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Applications

  • Due to the nature of hybrid apps, the appearance of the app can vary between users. This depends on the version of the software they’re using and the operating system they are using as well. This will require excessive testing to avoid.
  • Since Hybrid apps have a foundation similar to that of Web apps, they need an uninterrupted network connection to work to their full potential.
  • Hybrid apps can access all of the native device features, such as media and TouchID. However, they are dependant on native plugins. Sometimes, an entirely new device feature may not be readily available as a native plugin. A good developer can write their own, but this adds more complications and headaches to the development process.
  • Hybrid applications don’t offer a user experience as great as native apps do since the interface for both, Android and iOS are compromised. In case too much focus is given to Android, the user experience for iOS users will be compromised, and vice versa.
  • The contradiction in the case of developing a Hybrid app is, Native app developers are required to create a Hybrid application because the development of a Hybrid app does not fix a range of functional issues that are fundamental for Native app development.

Conclusion

Hybrid apps are developed across all platforms and are perfect for developing minimum viable products with limited budgets and timeframes, while native apps are developed for specific operating systems and are suitable for products that require flawless performance and custom features.

It’s the difference between having an individual app for an individual smartphone operating system, or an app that is consistent across all platforms and works identically well across them.

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