App development – Native, Web or Hybrid?

June 24, 2015 , ,

Many small organizations to large enterprises are becoming serious about developing mobile apps to address their specific business needs. Whether they want to build an app for accessing real-time information, scheduling their daily activities, collaborating with business partners and so on, the emergence of newer mobile platforms have made the organizations wondering about the right path to deliver their applications.

Put it simply, with the evolution of mobile platforms, it becomes difficult for business organizations to decide about the methodologies they should implement for delivering their apps to the right audience. The moment you decide on developing an app, there is another problem that will put you in a quandary: whether you should develop mobile applications for a native platform, build web-based or hybrid applications.

To understand which app you should choose for your mobile app development path, it is imperative for you to carefully access your app’s requirements. In this post, we’ll discuss a few key points that will help you make the right choices for your app development needs. But, let us first have a brief overview of the three different types of mobile app options.

What is a Native app, Web app and Hybrid app?

  • Native apps are ones that are built for specific mobile platforms such as Android, Windows, iOS, etc., with the help of native tools and language. Such type of apps will work only on the platform they have been designed for, and let you fully utilize the device capabilities. These applications can work offline.
  • A web app (also referred as HTML5 app) is one that supports multiple mobile platforms. In essence, it can run across several mobile device OS’s. One important thing about web apps is that they are not exactly apps, instead they are websites that look like native apps. They are, however, implemented in a different manner compared to native apps. Just like any website, a web-based application loads in a mobile browser. Such type of app became popular with the introduction of HTML5 web technology.
  • Lastly, hybrid apps can be called as the combination of both native, as well as, web apps. They’re built using JavaScript, HTML and CSS – the same technologies used for building web apps. But, hybrid apps also contain some native code, so as to make the apps able to access more capabilities of a device.

 

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Development Cost

Building a cross-platform app like a native app often cost more but won’t always prove to be an expensive deal. If you don’t need the capability of a cross-platform app, it would be better to save your valuable time and money and restrict developing for only a specific mobile operating system (OS). In case, you would like to target many different devices, then make sure to weigh the costs involved in the development process.

Developing a hybrid app can help you reduce the cost involved in platform-specific development being the least expensive choice compared to native and hybrid applications. The reason that makes web app development a cost-effective option is because of the fact that it uses a single code base and common skill-set for app development, and therefore you don’t need to invest money for hiring specialized talent.

Coding Portability

One of the biggest issues with the development of native apps happens to be a lack of compatibility to other platforms. So when using a native app on any other platform – rather than the one for which it is designed – you’ll have to rewrite the code. In contrast, web apps require only a single codebase that can run on several platforms. And a hybrid app is no different, as it also let you reuse the code for each mobile platform. In fact, developing a hybrid app will allow you to send one code segment to any other mobile platform without having to re-write the code.

But, the web app is arguably the best option for creating an app that is portable across various platforms. A web application will work on any operating system, except for the case, when browser isn’t running the OS compatible browser. In a nutshell, with a web app, you can reach most of your target audience simply by creating one version of the app. On the other hand, creating a native and hybrid app will make you develop for multiple programs.

Access to Device Capabilities

One problem with web apps is that, even though, they can access some of the basic mobile device APIs (like the camera, GPS for geolocation apps) they seem to have limited hardware access. This is because web apps don’t support Digital Rights Management (DRM), a service that is needed for multimedia capabilities. But, the good news is that with the development of some new standards by the W3C, you can expect more capabilities from the web apps required for accessing device APIs.

However, for the next couple of years, native and hybrid apps will remain the best option if you’re seeking for better access to device APIs. Especially, hybrid app seems to be an ideal choice in this case, since a lot of frameworks have evolved and let you access to a plethora of the low-level hardware features such as the accelerometer and others.

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Mobile User Experience (UX)

You may prefer developing mobile apps having a simple interface, but keep in mind that such apps can still have a demanding user experience (UX) design. Since native applications are designed only for a particular platform, you will only be required to spend time on creating a great UX specific to the device it is being designed for. This will help you in creating a highly engaging and interactive mobile UX.

Perhaps, hybrid apps will feature an average UX design, since you need to focus on designing for more than mobile platform. Same is the case with a web application. So, if you want to score more in terms of UX and usability, then rather than trying to create a cross-platform app building a native app is a viable alternative for you.