Native Vs Hybrid Applications; What’s Right For You?

As mobile applications become more and more popular Indiespring are working with our clients to build compelling and exciting mobile applications for their customers. In modern mobile application development we have two main approaches we can take with one of the early technical decisions being selecting which path to walk.

 

Native Applications

The first option is to produce a full native application for each platform you wish to target. So if you’re hoping to target Apple and Android devices you will actually be creating 2 completely separate applications. Each will be built from the ground up for their respective platforms. That sounds like more work, and it is. And it leads to the biggest problem with native applications; an increased cost.

 

Not only is the process of building and coding a native application more time consuming than using web technologies in a native application but it needs to be done completely separately for each mobile platform you are targeting. That means it can easily be 2-3x the cost of building a hybrid application.

 

There are many benefits though.

Native applications are the premium way to build an application. They are faster and more polished than hybrid applications. No matter the technological gains and claims from the web community, building in a native manner allows you to piggyback on the OS’s library of user interface elements, animations, hardware-level access and so forth to build applications that look, feel and respond just as users expect them to. If you’ve ever used an application on your phone and the interactions don’t feel quite right chances are you’re using a hybrid app which is trying to mimic a native one.

 

Native applications also get wider access to cutting edge phone features such as near field communication, Apple Pay, Touch ID, Siri and whatever new features Apple and Google are working on now. It’s true that hybrid apps can access some of these features. However they always lag behind the native frameworks which are made available  to developers before or as they are released to consumers.

 

Lastly…

Native applications can handle being offline (in an area with no internet connectivity) far more easily than hybrid apps. These usually require an internet connection to operate.

 

So native apps are faster, more polished and have access to more features than hybrid apps. But they are very expensive. So what’s the alternative?

 

Hybrid Applications

Hybrid apps offer a quicker route to a mobile application. They are effectively built in web technologies so they will work on any mobile platform but only need to be built once. This vastly reduces the cost of the mobile applications development and means you can target multiple platforms with one codebase.

 

So they are much cheaper to build than native applications but have very few other benefits. They make the most sense when:

 

  1. Budget is limited. Usually, in this case, hybrid applications are your only option
  2. The app doesn’t need to work when no internet access is available. Whilst it is possible to make hybrid apps work well offline often it is easier at that point to build the app natively.
  3. The app doesn’t need to make use of newer device features not available to hybrid applications.

 

We have built many native and mobile apps and in our experience it comes down to how central the mobile application is to your digital experience. If the app is your product or service then you should invest in a premium native application. If it’s an extension of your product/service and there is limited budget a hybrid application can suffice. Either way, our work is always to a great standard and we’re happy to help you.