Native vs Web vs Hybrid apps: what should you choose?

mobile app development Native vs Web vs Hybrid apps: what should you choose?

Nowadays almost everyone starts thinking about developing an application. There are numerous startups trying to get their ideas out their, and more and more businesses choose to automate some tedious processes or promote their goods and services and connect with their customers online.

However, the ever-growing popularity of apps has resulted in occurrence of various types of those: native mobile apps, hybrid apps, web apps – creating another challenge: what type of mobile app shall you choose? Well, that’s exactly the question this article is going to answer… to help you make an informed decision taking into account all pros and cons of each app type.

First of all, let’s cover the basics…

What is a Native app?
Native mobile app is an application which is exclusive or only available on one specific platform and no other, e.g. an app that is only available on an iPhone or Android phone.

What is a Web app?
A web application is the type of app that is only available, again, on just one device, – this time on a computer/within a web browser. This essentially means that it is a site optimized for mobile.

What is a Hybrid app?
A Hybrid app, if you haven’t guessed already, is a combination of both. Hybrid apps are usually built using Javascript and HTML5 for web applications, and then are also “condensed” down into a mobile application.

Now, let’s compare different aspects of all these app types.

Cost

If you are not careful, cost can really get in the way and eat into other budgets like marketing, so it’s better to get some opinions from a range of experts on how big of a budget you should have for what you’re trying to achieve.

Native app development will surprisingly demand the  highest cost out of the three if developing for multiple platforms. Big companies might not have a lot of trouble bringing out native apps for both iOS and Android, and sometimes even Windows phone. However, for smaller companies  it can be the killer regarding costs.

Hybrid apps usually require about 20-30% higher development cost when compared to that of a native app for one platform. For example, a hybrid app can cost 20% more than an Android only native app development.

Web app development typically require the lowest cost due to a single codebase system and the fact that designs require a common skillset. Applications are a lot cheaper to develop on a web browser than on a native platform, and it might be a factor to consider if you have a small budget but urgently need a business app.

Performance

Performance section is all about user experience of the final app. Once you’ve put tons of time and efforts into launching and marketing your app, you want it to perform well, right?

As for native apps, their code has direct access to the platform’s functionality and this results in much better performance as compared to other types of applications. For example, the code can take advantage of built-in animations to improve user experience.

When done right, hybrid apps can be a great way to convert web apps into native ones. However, for complex applications, the abstraction layers often prevent lots of generally native-like performance features. This can, in turn, hurt the reputation of the app and cause more problems than native app developing within a certain platform.

Web app performance is largely based on factors we cannot control, such as the type of user’s browser, their network connection etc. Unfairly, businesses can develop bad reputations from apps that perform perfectly for some users and terribly for others, with poor network communications or outdated browsers.

Distribution

Once you’ve created your app, distribution is the most important aspect of getting it out there. It’s basically  the way you are going to bring your idea to success and, hopefully, make some money on the way.

Native and hybrid apps are together on this one as they are going to be shared upon the same platform.

Some pros of having an app on the app marketplace is that you have a chance of receiving organic traffic from within the app store itself. You can even get featured on the homepage if your app performs really well.

However (yes, there always seems to be “however”), there are many different requirements and restrictions when getting your app onto the app store that often hold lots of people and businesses back from advertising and creating the app the way they want.

Web apps have a powerful advantage of being free to launch pretty much all on your own terms and having no restrictions on how you advertise (within reason, of course), the downside being that there are no inside app-store benefits.

Code Reusability

Code reusability is an important factor to consider – if it is possible to use the same set of code to host your apps on two separate platforms, you’ve already saved a lot of money.

This is where native app development faces a downfall, because when the code is specific and tailored for that one native platform it can not be reused for another one. The native platform is, in turn, a lot more flexible with access to a range of features, hardware with wearable devices for example.

Hybrid apps, once coded, often feature tools that will enable a single codebase to be transferred to major mobile platforms such as iOS/Android. Hybrids apps show their true value for game platforms like 2DX or Unity, for example.

As far as web apps are concerned, once the code has been written, most browsers follow the same general rules. You only have to worry about all major browser compatibility and performance. So it’s not just an advantage, but an “expected” advantage.

App Monetization

Monetization can be considered the most important aspect to most businesses, once the app has been developed. So you need to know how easily an app can be monetized.

Native and hybrid apps provide a wide range of monetization opportunities. As already mentioned above, you have a chance to receive lots of organic traffic from within the app store from the start. Then there’s being featured on the homepage as well as paid in-ad and advertising features. This is something you do not receive with web apps. Your app can also be advertised online and set to only show up on mobile devices like, for example, with Facebook paid advertising campaigns and Google Adwords where limitations and restrictions are minimal.

However, you must remember that app stores do take a percentage of earnings.

Web applications, unfortunately,  are not subject to any “free” monetization methods, so it’s much more up to you, but if you have prepared a plan of paid-for advertising through some other resources this shouldn’t be a problem. Also, no store commissions or set-up costs will be charged either, so it can be viewed as another advantage.

Summary

After reviewing the features of these application types, let’s make a short summary and underline the most important points to consider once again. As for the cost, if money is not a problem, hybrid or native cross platform apps can reap great results. However, if you are budget conscious and feel like your idea could go down well online, a web browser based app is a lower cost and less complicated choice.

You have guaranteed performance from native apps, on the one hand, and a cheaper and quicker way to get more for your money with a hybrid or web app, on the other. The latter, however, could leave you in trouble, sometimes due to reasons that don’t depend on you.

It is important to determine whether you want your app to be featured on app markets or feel that having more freedom of advertising is better for you. If the latter is closer to you, then web apps might be what you need.

And last but not least, don’t forget to decide in advance whether you will host the application on just one platform or on multiple ones. For the first case, the native application is the best choice. Otherwise, especially if you have tight budget, web or hybrid app might be better due to having reusable code.

Here are some additional clues based on our experience:

Web app development is a good choice for something very simple like news sites or other info resources. They are a good fit if you have no budget for a  mobile app.

Hybrid apps are preferred for web based apps without deep hardware or system integration or  business process automation when employees or customers already use company  services. However, it does not fit as technology for public usage apps, for example, messengers or social networks.

And finally, native app development is the obvious choice for branded apps that expect excellent work and where positive user feedback is an essential part of the project success.

All in all, just keep thinking about who you audience are and what is the purpose of your app.

We hope we’ve managed to give you a much better understanding of different app types, and now you can make an informed and grounded decision.

Native vs Web vs Hybrid apps: what should you choose?
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