Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps: Which One Should You Build?

native vs hybrid apps

Are you faced with a task to build a mobile app for your company… and you are split between whether you should build a native app or hybrid app?

So you are asking yourself… Should I build a native or hybrid app? What are the pros and cons of building native apps vs hybrid mobile apps?

So in this article we are going to look at native vs hybrid mobile app development, but if you want to dive deeper into this topic check out my other article on Android vs iOS development.

But first, let’s answer the question what is a hybrid mobile app?

What is a hybrid mobile application?

A hybrid mobile app is essentially a web app that is given a lightweight native app “container” that allows it to leverage certain native platform features and device hardware.

So a hybrid mobile app can access device hardware like a device’s camera, the calendar, push notifications and functionality that a web application cannot access.

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Hybrid apps are built using web technologies like JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS, which gives them cross-platform functionality.

Hybrid apps are also available via app stores and can be installed on your device, just like a native app.

What is a native mobile application?

A native mobile application is an app which has been developed to perform some specific tasks on a particular platform.

You build native apps using software development Kits (SDK) for a certain software framework, hardware platform or operating system.

For example an Android app that is built using Java Development Kit on Java platform.

What are the pros and cons of hybrid apps?

As we already saw earlier, a hybrid application is essentially a website packaged in a native container…

…and so even though you have access to native device APIs, the features you can include in your hybrid app will be limited.

Pros of Hybrid Apps

  • A hybrid app is cheaper to create than a native app because a hybrid app developer will charge a less hourly rate than say a native iOS developer.
  • It will take you less time to build because they are typically much faster to build and deploy provided you’re not trying to build a lot of custom features.
  • You can build a near native app feel and experience. Most hybrid app development frameworks have plugins that enable you to access device features like the camera, contacts e.t.c which enables you to offer a more native-feeling app experience.
  • You only have to create one codebase. So you build a hybrid app just once and then release the code on both Android and iOS.
  • Hybrid apps are much easier to maintain because it’s generally simpler to update web technology than native app technology.

Cons of Hybrid Apps

  • Hybrid apps are essentially websites so they cannot function offline because each element has to download.
  • Hybrid apps cannot have full native functionality. These apps rely on plugins which sometimes cannot incorporate all of the built-in features a user’s device offers.
  • Besides the limitations in terms of access to a native device features, a hyrid app is also generally slower which does not deliver a great user experience.

What are the frameworks for building hybrid apps?

Building hybrid mobile apps makes life easier for developers as you are able to write once and build mobile applications that run on the main platforms with no extra effort.

Your application will run on Android and iOS and the code can be reused for progressive web applications as well.

When building a hybrid mobile app it is very crucial that you choose a high-quality & advanced mobile app framework to build hybrid your apps.

So, let’s have a look at 5 of the most popular frameworks for building hybrid mobile apps in 2021.

1. Xamarin

Xamarin is one of the most popular hybrid mobile app development frameworks.

With Xamarin you can use a C# codebase to write native apps for Android, iOS, and Windows apps.

Check out my article on the best Udemy courses for Xamarin to get started learning Xamarin.

It enables you to create mobile apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms like Windows and MacOS.

2. PhoneGap

The Adobe PhoneGap framework is an open source distribution of the Cordova framework.

It is also the most popular cross-platform framework for developing hybrid mobile apps.

With PhoneGap, you can reuse your existing web development skills to quickly build hybrid mobile applications for multiple platforms with a single codebase.

3. Ionic Framework

The Ionic Framework is a complete open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development.

Built on top of Angular.js and Apache Cordova, the Ionic framework provides tools and services for developing hybrid mobile apps using Web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass.

There top rated Ionic tutorials on Udemy will help you build a strong foundation in the Ionic framework.

Apps can be built with these Web technologies and then distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by leveraging Cordova.

4. Mobile Angular UI

Mobile Angular UI is a hybrid mobile framework for the fans of Bootstrap and Angular.

With Mobile Angular UI, you’ll get the best of both Bootstrap 3 and the Angular framework to build HTML5 mobile applications.

Angular UI is more like an extension to Bootstrap 3 but without any dependencies, so all you need is to use some AngularJS directives to create awesome mobile user experiences.

Mobile Angular UI is available as open source and free to use under MIT license.

5. React Native

With React Native, you can build mobile apps using only JavaScript.

It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components because it uses the same fundamental UI building blocks as regular iOS and Android apps.

Start building amazing React Native apps today by taking these React Native tutorials online.

Other hybrid mobile app development frameworks include: Kendo UI, Framework7, Titanium Appcelerator, Mobile Angular UI, Onsen UI, Sencha Exj JS, Quasar and NativeScript.

What are the pros and cons of native apps?

If flawless, fast performance is crucial to the success of your app then a native app is the way to go.

Mobile games, for instance, are almost universally native because speed and graphics performance are so vital for a great app experience.

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Native apps are built for a specific platform such as iOS, Android, or Windows.

Pros of native apps…

  • Native mobile apps will almost always deliver a better user experience compared to hybrid apps. This is because they are relatively faster and have a robust feature set.
  • You can use native apps offline. This is because the content and images are stored on the device, so nothing needs to be downloaded when the user accesses the app.
  • For applications that need a lot of graphics and animations like gaming apps, native apps provide fast graphics, fluid animation, and smooth transitions.
  • Because native apps have access to built in security features like touchID, they offer greater security. It is also much easier to implement a two-factor authentication.
  • Developing native apps is easier because you have access to a lot of documentation and support. There are lots of documentation and online resources dedicated to iOS and Android development.
  • Identifying and fixing a problem in a native app takes shorter time because there are better testing and debugging tools for native app development.

Cons of native apps…

  • Native apps are more expensive to build and deploy because you must develop multiple versions of your app for each platform.
  • Native apps are built using more technical languages, which means you need more experienced iOS or Android developers.
  • Generally it will take you longer to build and deploy native apps vs a hybrid app.
  • Maintaining native apps require more time and resources because, say you build for Android and iOS, that means 2 separate codebases to maintain. As a native app developer, you also have to continue to provide support for older operating system versions as users are always slow to upgrade.

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So, which one should you choose when building a mobile app as a junior software developer?

Should you build a hybrid or native app?

There are many different directions you can take when building your mobile application.

But in order to make the right choice you need to understand the differences between the two… their advantages and their drawbacks.

You will also need to put into account what your current business needs are before you make a final decision.

Why should you choose native app development?

If you’ve got a few months and very limited resources, then a hybrid app may help you get a basic app in the hands of your users fast.

Also, if you are looking for a minimum viable product (MVP) to launch and test the market, then hybrid apps is the way to go.

Of course if your idea proves viable, then you will have to develop a native app that is more robust and feature rich using Swift programming or the Kotlin language.

This way you get to invest more $$$ into your app after you know it will be a success intead of risking it upfront.

Alternatively, if you want to incorporate a lot of custom features or if speed and reliability is crucial to the success of your app, then build a native mobile app.

No really!

Why should you spend time and money building a hybrid app that performs poorly and frustrates your users.

Developing a native mobile app in this case will more cost-effective option in the long run.

Have you had to choose between building hybrid and native apps before?

What were your reasons for or against hybrid/native apps?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lerma Gray

Lerma is our expert in online education with over a decade of experience. Specializing in e-learning and e-courses. She has reviewed several online training courses and enjoys reviewing e-learning platforms for individuals and organizations.

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