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Mobile App

Mobile App Development: Native VS Hybrid VS Website

In recent years we had seen an sudden bang that skyrocketed the mobile app development services industry to outer space.

I mean literally!

An app that uses the satellite to track airplanes movement in the airspace. So yeah, because of that the mobile app industry has been advancing at a rapid pace, causing it to become one of the most important arsenal in digital marketing, and people jumping ship to become mobile app developer.

But Is Mobile App Development Easy?

Goodness, mobile app development is super technical, you’ll be need to learn and adapt to new technology, software and whatnot almost single day in order to fulfill clients’ order. Not to mention there are a lot to consider where you are developing a mobile app, for example, native vs hybrid vs website.

Often these three are the most influencing factor when mobile app developer trying to develop an app because it is the factor that will make or break your mobile business.

Okay, your question would be “Why website? What does it have to do with mobile app development?” You see, the website I’m talking about here is a tad bit different. I’ll explain below.

What Are The Differences Between These Apps?

Website App

Web applications or web apps are hosted on a web browser. These web apps look much like the native apps but you are not required to install it on your device, instead, you can access it in webview. This is the less inexpensive option, and it requires less maintenance, and easy to build. However, it is also far slower than the native apps and it can’t take advantage of whatever the device utilities there are.

Native Apps

Meanwhile, native apps are built for specific platforms in languages compatible with the platform like Swift and Objective-C for iOS and Kotlin for native Java apps. The perks of using native apps are that they don’t require an Internet connection, fast and responsive, can easily be distributed in app stores, offer intuitive user input and output. It is better overall in terms of technical but it is costly compared to website based apps.

Hybrid Apps

It is the combination of both; web apps and native apps. And this type of app, hybrid app, consists two parts; the first is the backend code and it’s second part is the native shell, which is downloadable and loads the code using a webview. Hybrid apps are less expensive than native apps, they do not require browser and able to leverage device’s API. There’s a downside to it though, hybrid apps are slower than the native apps and you won’t able to customize the application to individual platform.

How Do They Work and How To Build Them?

Web Apps

So how does a web app is different from a website? A website usually provides users/visitors with more information and details, but the display tend to be cluttered, so this is where web app comes in. A web app will condense all of the information in order to improve functionality. Another perk is that you do not need to download it from app stores like mobile apps because you can load web apps using browsers such Chromes, Safari or Firefox.

You might’ve come across with what seems like a native app downloaded from an app store is actually an app in a webview, written in native language, containing the URL to web app. The coding for web app, the majority of it is handled outside of its native language and this applies differently to some. To some, this is how to meet the native application’s requirements. While to others, it is just another format that’s it.

The Process of Building A Web App

Web apps are normally built using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5 and they run using browser such as Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox etc. In web apps case, there is no software for development kit, but, there are templates that developers can use.

The advantage in developing a web app (should you decide to build one) it is very direct and quick development process. The thing with is, however, that they’re tend to be oversimplified and do not offer as much or the same features as it native counterpart.

When speaking in term of functionality, web apps lack the functionality of native apps have, such as sending push notifications, working offline. But browsers and web apps are becoming more and more advanced to a point where it can use features similar to native apps, this type of web app is progressive web app.

Some of the functions progressive web apps can use:

  • Push notifications
  • Use touch gestures and accelerometer
  • USe some the device’s hardware function such as vibration

But! There is one huuuge downside (like major), you only can use and access progressive web app on Google Chrome, yes just Google Chrome. And, this means iOS users, can’t use it.

The Perks

  • Easy to build
  • Easy to maintain
  • An inexpensive option
  • Can be access by all platform since it runs on browser

The Bad

  • Needs a browser to run. Users have to take an extra effort typing in the URL.
  • Much slower than native apps.
  • Less interactive and intuitive than native apps
  • Unable to leverage features of native apps

Native Apps

This type of mobile app is the most common and they are built for specific platform and written in the languages the platform that they built for (Swift, Objective-C for iOS. Kotlin, and Java for Android).

There are development tools, interface elements and SDK provided by Google and Apple for the developers use. Most of companies lean toward native mobile apps as they have more benefit to offer albeit the cost.

The Perks:

  • Fast and responsive because built for specific platform
  • Best performance
  • Interactive, intuitive and smoother
  • Provide full features access to developers
  • Internet connection not required, for some apps
  • Better user experience for users.

The Bad:

  • Difficult language to learn, requires experienced developers
  • More costly
  • Not suggested if you what have in mind is just a simple app

Oh? There’s Another Option For Developers?

If a mobile app development company decides to build and develop a native means they will be building for one specific platform, either iOS or Android, for example. However there is new technology for developers to work with.

Xamarin and React Native, these two platforms can be classified and considered as the different type of native mobile app development.

With Xamarin, since it has C#-shared codebase, with Xamarin tools developers can write for native Android, iOS and Windows App. And developers can use it with native user interfaces and shared code across multiple platforms.

And there’s the React Native, built and developed by Facebook, the social media giant, with it developers have the ability to build iOS and Android apps with one code base. When you are building a mobile app using React Native, it is just like building an app using C-Objective or Java. So it is the otherwise with React Native.

But What Defines Native Apps?

Yeah, I have explained it all well and good what are the differences between the three, but seriously though, how to define native apps? This you must know if you are planning to jump into mobile app development industry.

Alright, the term “native” is referring to ecosystem that Google or Apple chooses when they are building and developing apps for operating systems. But in Xamarin’s case, it is very complex as it could be classified either as native or hybrid, due to it’s shared codebase nature, making it usable across multiple platforms or on one specific platform. Xamarin builds native iOS, Android, or Windows Apps in C# in either Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio.The hybrid apps Xamarin created for multiple operating system sharing C# codebase, language, IDE, and APIs.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps will be able to do everything HTML5 does in addition the ability  to incorporate native app features. This is made possible and doable when you use wrapper to act as a bridge between platforms to access native features.

The Perks:

  • Cheaper
  • Easier and Faster to be build
  • Accessible multiple platform
  • No browser needed
  • Access to device’s APIs,able to access camera, storage

The Bad:

  • Slower than native
  • Expensive than web app because you require a wrapper. You’ll be dependent on a third party platform.
  • Less attractive than native apps

The big problem with hybrid apps is that you have to deal with issues arise from both native system and hybrid, which doubling the problems you have to bug-fix.

And performance wise, it is also not as good as native apps since it loads in web-view and the user experience is sacrificed because you won’t be able to customize it. Plus, if you insist on having more customization option might as well opt for native app.

So Which One Is The Most Ideal?

The answer to this; depends on what are you plans. So the things you need to take into accounts are:

  • Your budget
  • How soon you need the app
  • The complexity and the amount of features in the app
  • User experience quality

Though, if you ask me, whatever route you want to take just make sure it is fast, reliable, and responsive. Because users in this day and age, they are always on the go and need it fast. And when comes down to user experience, you should keep with the trends and demands. So whatever app type you are going to build just remember to:

  • Reliable and easy to access API infrastructure
  • It is an extension, not replication
  • Survey the market and your target audience to get a better understanding

And finally, finally find a mobile app development company that is specialize in one or two platform. So that your app will see a smooth building progress.

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