For Dummies: Web, hybrid and native explained

Only 10 years have passed since the dawn of the smart phone era yet today our beloved clever devices are an inseparable part of our lives. No wonder mobile app market is growing insanely fast and is set to reach 80 billion in revenue by 2020.

More ideas are being turned into apps every day. However, if you are not a tech person, it’s very easy to get lost in all the possibilities to kick-start your project. The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of app you want to create — web, hybrid or native.

If those terms sound weird or you don’t fully understand their meaning –you are not alone. I’ve seen people in high management positions with just a basic idea of all the tech stuff in the development process. Yet that didn’t stop them from pulling off successful mobile projects and delivering high quality apps simply by having the right approach.

When you have your first clash with the world of mobile development you can get dizzy. I’ve put together some basic stuff about the three tech paths to creating an app which will hopefully shed some light.

Web

A web app can easily be accessed from the phone’s web browser no matter its operating system. Thus, it works on all platforms — iOS, Android, Windows or any other. Web apps are most commonly built using HTML5, JavaScript or CSS3. Those are coding languages typically used in the creation of websites and you can easily find developers that will build your web app quite fast. So if you choose that approach you’ll get rapid development and an app that runs on all platforms easily.

If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because in most cases it is. A web app can hardly be called an app at all. Basically it’s a website made to fit your mobile phone. What this means is that it has no access to the device’s native features such as the camera and is unable to display push notifications. Web apps are easy to create and run, yet they have significant downsides that can prove crucial for their overall success.

https://www.upwork.com/hiring/mobile/should-you-build-a-hybrid-mobile-app/

Hybrid

Hybrid apps are basically web apps in disguise. They are still built with frequently used web development languages such as JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML and can run on iOS and Android all the same. They are different from web apps because they have a native “frame” that gives them access to some of the native features of the particular platform. For example, if you install a hybrid app on an Iphone 7 it will be able to use the camera, the calendar and also show you push notifications.

This creates an overall feel of how a fully native app would work — perfectly in sync with the iOS system. Yet that’s not quite the case. The native “camouflage” works well only for very basic apps. The more complex it is, the more your hybrid app will lose its native feel.The symptom is that users feel that “this is more like a web site”. At the end of the day you risk making them unhappy about the quality.

Native

Those apps speak the same language as your phone which makes them the top choice if you want to deliver the best user experience possible. Native apps are created exclusively for each different platform. This is one of their downsides — if you want them to run on both iOS and Android you basically need to build 2 different applications with the same look and same functionalities.

This would also mean that in most cases they need a common backend infrastructure. Ultimately, this makes your entire project more expensive than if you go for hybrid or web. It gets tough here — do you have to sacrifice quality for the sake of saving time and money? Not necessarily. Technology is constantly improving which is true for mobile app development as well.

You have alternative solutions to build a fully native app using web developers in the process. Some people go with technologies like React Native and similar ones, which are good, yet developers using these are quite expensive. Others prefer to use low-code platforms, which allow utilizing good developers and empowering them with good tools.

Appzio is such example. We use our server-driven platform to deliver fully native experiences as we solve the main issue with native development- time. Appzio allows the creation of native apps in a matter of weeks or even days if the app project is not too complex. Ultimately this results in lower final price due to less working hours and no compromise with the native app quality.

You can read more about it here.

Conclusion

Bottom line is all three approaches can result in good looking final products. However, if you are aiming to provide top quality user experience for your clients not all would work the same. Good news is that with recent technological advancement it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice quality for the sake of lowering the price. So no matter the complexity of your project you can afford to deliver the best user experience possible now.

Do not wait for others to release your dream app! Start today.