Within this article, we’ll state and analyze the main advantages and disadvantages of building a Native Mobile Application versus a Hybrid one.
Some say that there is no right or wrong in business, you either succeed or learn something new. Doing proper research could eventually save you a lot of time and money. When you are under pressure, sometimes from the investors (if you are a startup), from the competition or simply running out of time, you don’t have days or weeks to run extensive research and you just go with the first option presented to you.
This is why we strive to be as transparent as possible in order for you to make a good decision. First, let’s start with some basic definitions.
What is a Native Application?
A Native Application (mobile app in our case) is a software program that is developed for use on a particular platform or device. As you may already know, such application will only run on a specific environment. For example, a native app built using Swift (or Objective C) will only run on iOS Devices. In most cases, there is also a sister app built on Kotlin (or Java) which is made specifically for Android. The business logic is the same, but the UI will use platform specific components with which users are most familiar with.
Why would you like to build two separate application for two different platforms? The answer is a bit more complex.
What is a Hybrid Application?
A hybrid application is in short words, an application that can be distributed on more than one environment (for example, on both iOS and Android) using mostly the same code base. There are many types of hybrid applications and it very much depends on the programming language that is used.
Native or Hybrid, which one is for me?
Let’s start with costs.
A recent independent study shows that over 68% of people that are going with a hybrid app believe that the development is much cheaper because you write the code once and it works on both platforms.
In some certain situations, going with a hybrid option might mean a reduction in costs, but while the application itself becomes more complex there is a high chance that a hybrid app will be much harder to maintain and even more expensive. One of the reasons is that when developing a hybrid app, you may get stuck while implementing some features because of the framework’s limitations. In order to build what you want or need, you can no longer use only the framework’s components and you will be forced to create bridges between the hybrid framework and the native one.
Another reason is that you will face many bugs and problems along the road, constantly having inconsistencies on different devices and design flaws. Therefore, building a hybrid app does not always mean that you will get something viable anytime sooner or cheaper than a native application.
While developing hybrid apps you quickly see progress on basic functionalities like authentication or displaying basic data, the development speed slows down dramatically when trying to build features that are specific to your app and there are no pre-defined blocks available. Why is this happening? Being a new technology, some tools that you find ready to use on native are not yet developed for hybrid and need to be developed separately which also adds cost and time to the final product.
The advantage of having such an application is that in some certain cases when you don’t need a complex app, it will behave exactly the same as a native app with a reduction in costs.
Is Native much better?
When it comes to native, the developers can focus much more on tailoring the app’s functionality to that specific platform. Each environment has its own design language, unique elements, and set gestures that are very specific. This means that users will feel more familiar with the app while navigating through the menu and its functionalities. The overall experience will be better and the UI will look much more natural comparing it to a non-native app.
Another reason not to develop a hybrid or cross-platform app is that both app stores, the Google Play and the iOS App Store prefer featuring native apps on the main page. Looking back at different statistics for the past 3 or 4 years, if you look at the featured apps, the vast majority are native apps and this might be one of the factors that will sway you away from cross-platform options.
It very much depends on what you are looking for. If you want to build a simple app that should just do the job and have it deployed as soon as possible go for hybrid. If you are looking for a long-term and more complex project, spend a little more on development and go for native to get the best results.
If you represent a startup that is looking for funding, it will be better for you to go to the investors with the advantages of having a native app. They do not care that the costs are a little higher as soon as the app will be top-notch so the chances of success are higher.
Having no funds for development and marketing is difficult but there are still some companies that could offer you an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for free in exchange for an equity partnership. With a solid and appealing MVP, you can then search for the right investors.
I also recommend you to search for small teams and companies to help you with the development. There are companies that offer native or hybrid services for decent prices and when you compare them to corporations you will notice a big difference. This way you will get the most out of the funds.
Last but not least, if you are a developer wondering in what direction you should go, the best way to figure out is by practical-testing, there are many tutorials online, courses, e-books, and articles. Just spend a few weeks on both and go with the one you feel more comfortable with, never be afraid to make a change, after all, you spend almost a third of your life working.
At Zipper Studios, using the latest Native Technologies, we create and power immersive mobile experiences to engage and inspire. Our work emphasis on dynamic, immersive and scalable mobile applications for all kind of businesses.