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Mobile Apps: Native vs Hybrid

Mobile Apps: Native vs Hybrid

There are lots of decisions to make when deciding to build a mobile app, and one of the first decisions you’ll make is deciding which technology to use. In this post, we’ll explain the differences between Native and Hybrid mobile apps and help you decide which approach is best for your product and preferences.

First, let’s examine what the terms “Native” and “Hybrid” mean.

Native Application: an application written for a specific operating system in its native language.  For iOS, you would build a mobile app using Swift or Objective-C, and for Android, Java or Kotlin. Developing natively means that if you want your app on both iOS & Android, you’ll be building and maintaining two separate apps.

Hybrid Application: an application built to run on two or more operating systems.  These are usually built using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript, but the main idea is that the same app will run on both iOS & Android.

So which is better?  There isn’t an easy answer, and it’s probably no surprise that deciding which to use depends on what your goals and budget are.

Let’s look at some specific issues and compare the two.

Native

Pros

  • Faster & more responsive. Animations and transitions come in at a buttery smooth 60 frames-per-second.

  • Native access to all of a mobile device’s capabilities and immediate access to new features.

  • Better user interface. Android and iOS users are used to seeing buttons, switches, lists, navigation, etc looking a certain way on their OS of choice. The practical effect here is that your app will feel familiar to users, and learning how to use it will come more naturally. This leads to a...

  • Better user experience. This is what keeps a user coming back to your product.

Cons

  • Additional skills required. You’ll need developers skilled in two separate native languages.

  • More expensive. After all, you’re developing and rolling out features twice every time.

Hybrid

Pros

  • Faster development time, which means...

  • Less expensive. You’ll develop your app in around half the time which means you’re paying less and you have a faster rollout.

  • Fewer skills required. Hybrid platforms such as Cordova require the same skills as a front-end web designer.

Cons

  • Works and feels like a web page does on mobile, i.e. clunky & unresponsive.  

  • The HTML, CSS & Javascript need to work and look perfect on ALL native browsers for Android. Each different Android manufacturer has their own built-in default browser (Sony, Samsung, LG, etc), and every browser has their quirks and needs attention to get CSS to look right.  

  • Users may not be able to articulate it, but they can tell when an app isn't native. It feels janky, and scrolling and taps aren't as responsive, and the user will “feel” that something is not quite right.

So which is better? There’s no easy answer. It depends on your goals and budget. Consider these aspects of your app when you’re making your decision.

UI/UX - How important are these to you and your users?  If you answered “Very”, go Native and don’t look back.

Cost - Developing an app on a budget? Consider a Hybrid solution.

Performance - Native apps will run faster and use fewer resources than their Hybrid counterparts. Decide if this is important to the success of your app.

Development Time - If you need to get an app out sooner rather than later, then add another point for Hybrid.  

At the end of the day, the decision should be based on a practical assessment of your needs.   liquidfish specializes in custom software and custom design, so if you’re looking for a motivated team to help craft your mobile app, contact us!

RYAN ROBINSONOctober 26, 2018