Native vs. Hybrid Apps: What’s the Better Choice?

Submitted by Candace Saunde… on 05/15/2019 - 11:00:am

It’s time—you’ve decided that building a mobile app for your business is the next best step. You know you want it to be housed in the app store, so your potential customers can find it, and you want it to work on both iOS and Android devices. This leaves you with two options: native vs. hybrid apps.

So, which one do you choose?

Native apps are known for offering optimum functionality, as these apps are designed specifically for the operating system of the device it lives on. In contrast, hybrid apps are known for offering cross-platform functionality and can save your business a pretty penny in terms of development costs.

To make choosing your ideal app type a bit easier, let’s compare the benefits and drawbacks of each. Let the games begin!

Native Apps: The Ultimate User Experience

Native apps are, as in the name, native to the operating system (iOS or Android) they are designed for. In this way, to acquire a native app that will work on either an iPhone or an Android phone, you’ll have to build two: one native iOS app and another separate Android app.

Because native apps are designed for each platform, they feel like they were meant for each and every device. In addition, they generally offer better performance with rendering and animations. Nevertheless, there are still some drawbacks to this app type.

The Benefits

  • Fantastic user experience - Native apps cost a pretty penny for good reason: They offer the optimum user experience. They’re fast, smooth, and offer all-around functionality in terms of features. In turn, your users will likely be happiest using this app type.

  • Tailored to each OS - One aspect of offering a great user experience is building an app that functions well on each user's device. As such, a native app can be tailored to each operating system it lives on.

  • Support for graphic-intensive apps - Thinking of creating a gaming app? A native app is often the only way to go in this department, especially if you want to serve up a high speed, high performing, application that can keep up with your users’ gaming habits.

  • Offline support - When there’s poor to no network connection available, native apps can be designed to continue functioning. Not only does this allow users to enjoy their apps without an Internet connection, but it fosters quicker loading speeds and saves battery life.

The Drawbacks

  • No cross-platform functionality - While the lack of cross-platform functionality allows native apps to provide the ideal user experience, it also increases the cost of sharing and creating an app for both iOS and Android fans.

  • Longer development - Since native apps are often more complex in their design, and require two apps to function across platforms, you’ll be waiting a bit longer to roll out your native app to users.

  • Higher cost - You guessed it: The more development time, the more you’ll be spending on your app. Plus, if you have to build an app for iOS and another for Android, the cost of development automatically doubles.

  • Slower updates - With a separate native app built for each operating system, you’ll have to wait for your developer to write separate updates for each app. Moreover, testing requires heavy emulator loading time, slowing down the update process further.

Hybrid Apps: One App for Two Platforms

Just like the name ‘native app,’ the name ‘hybrid app’ is indicative of the fact that hybrid apps are, essentially, a crossbreed of native apps and websites. In this way, hybrid apps offer a blend of features between the two.

Possibly the most notable feature of this app type is that it’s designed to function on both your iOS and Android devices. Because of this, you can build just one app for two platforms. Of course, however, there are some drawbacks that come along with this cross-platform functionality.

The Benefits

  • Cross-platform functionality - Okay, you’ve probably heard it enough by now, but the hybrid app’s ability to function on both platform is its greatest benefit, and we’ll dive more into why.

  • Save money - Because you only need to build one app to function across platforms, you can save money—recall in comparison, with a native app, you have two build a separate app for each platform.

  • Shorter development time - Because your developer will only need to write one code for your app to run on either operating system, developing a hybrid app requires exponentially less time to build than a native app.

  • Roll out updates more quickly - When you only have to update one app, your developer will require half of the time to write those updates. Plus, hybrid apps can be tested quickly, further expediting the update process.

The Drawbacks

  • Platform inconsistencies - Now that we’ve highlighted the upsides of cross-platform functionality, here’s the downside: You can’t tailor your app as well to the iOS or Android systems. In this way, there may be a few areas where your app doesn’t function as well as it should.

  • Limited graphic-intensive support - While there certainly a few high-performing hybrid apps out there, building one is much more challenging than building a high-performing native app.

  • No offline support - Most mobile users are connected to the Internet in some way or another, but what if they are in an area with poor connection? Hybrid apps can’t help you there—users can only use these apps when they have some kind of network connection.

What Will You Choose?

There’s really no right or wrong answer for which app type you should choose. However, based on these pros and cons of these app types, there’s likely one app type that’s a better fit for your business.

If your mobile app idea calls for graphic-intensive support, there’s really nowhere else to turn but to native apps. In contrast, if native apps are out of your budget, you may want to consider building a hybrid app. (Pssst— if you need an app that feels native but don’t have the budget for it, take a look at what progressive web apps have to offer!)

Still not sure what app type is right for you? We can help—contact us.