L O A D I N G

These days there is a mobile app for everything: gaming, dating, loans, insurance claims, music. There is even an app that tells you where you’ve parked your car in a pirate voice. If it can be imagined, it’s probably already out there ready to be downloaded.

If you are considering releasing an app targeted at prospects or clients, or to help streamline creative tasks or drive advertising campaigns, the process starts with choosing the right type of app. Typically, there are two flavors to choose from: native apps and hybrid apps. Which you choose will largely depend on your specific requirements, so let’s take a look at each of these varieties to help you make that decision.

Native and Hybrid Apps: An Overview

Native apps are built to only run on a specific mobile platform (typically Android or iOS) using the language and development tools that are compatible with the respective platform. iOS apps are built with Objective-C (the iOS standard), a high performance language that helps developers to get the best from the iPhone’s functionality. Developers of Android apps tend to favor Java, although some apps can be written in C and C++ using the Android Native Development Kit (NDK).

Before we come to hybrid apps, there is actually another app variety that we need to tell you about, and that is HTML5 apps. HTML5 apps can be run on multiple devices, including mobiles, desktops and tablets, and use common web technology such as HTML5, CSS or JavaScript. These apps are delivered through the browser.

Hybrid apps, as their name suggests, use a combination of HTML5 and native app technologies to launch the app on a mobile phone. Examples of this would be Facebook or Twitter, which present a familiar user interface but which update their data from a central source.

Under the Hood: The Pros and Cons of Native and Hybrid Apps

From start-ups to corporate powerhouses, a mobile app can become a very effective business tool and one that you can capitalize on for many years to come. Choosing between a native or hybrid app is not always an easy task, but with a little basic understanding about the pros and cons of each, you will be in a better place to make that decision.

Native App Pros:

  • Excellent performance — Designed to run on a specific operating system, native apps offer more refinement and speed over hybrid apps. This makes them the ideal choice for games and high-performance applications.
  • Better user experience (UX) — iOs and Android users need intuitive apps that match the characteristics of their operating system. Native apps allow you to develop using specific UI standards that make it easy for your users to find their way around your app instantly.
  • Internet connection is not always necessary — Some native apps work perfectly fine without an internet connection. This will depend on the functionality of your app.
  • Target audience — Native apps allow you to reach out to your target audience easily, as these apps can be made available to users through their respective app store.
  • Boost your app’s power with built-in capabilities — Need your native app to take photos? Need it to offer location tracking? No problem. Native apps can be developed to tap into the functionality already present on the mobile device, such as GPS, camera, calendar or microphone.
  • More expensive — Native apps require multiple code bases to be developed and maintained, and this can push costs up.
  • More developers — If you are developing native apps for different mobile platforms you will need more developers with specific knowledge of each.

Native App Cons:

  • More expensive — Native apps require multiple code bases to be developed and maintained, and this can push costs up.
  • More developers — If you are developing native apps for different mobile platforms you will need more developers with specific knowledge of each.

 

Hybrid App Pros:

  • Reduced costs and development time — Hybrid apps cost less in time and money to develop, and this can be their primary advantage over native apps.
  • Lower development requirements — In most cases, one development language can be used to create an app that is compatible with iOs and Android platforms.
  • Access to device data — Like their native counterparts, hybrid apps can access data such as address book information and push notifications.
  • UX — Native apps offer a much more intuitive and familiar user experience. Hybrid apps just can’t match native apps in this way without sacrificing app performance. UX is critical for user engagement, and a clunky or dysfunctional interface could put your potential clients off.
  • Efficiency — One of the big bugbears with hybrid apps is that they can be quite sluggish compared to native apps. For this reason, they are not the best choice for apps that demand high performance.
  • Reliance on the Web View — One of the biggest hurdles for these types of apps is that they rely heavily on the Web View of smart devices. The reality is that not all web views are alike and the older the device the more problems this approach will yield.  With thousands of devices and older devices implementing web views in different ways this can damage or destroy and experience. Another thing to consider is deprecated devices performance of web views is incredibly bad in most cases.

Hybrid App Cons:

  • UX — Native apps offer a much more intuitive and familiar user experience. Hybrid apps just can’t match native apps in this way without sacrificing app performance. UX is critical for user engagement, and a clunky or dysfunctional interface could put your potential clients off.
  • Efficiency — One of the big bugbears with hybrid apps is that they can be quite sluggish compared to native apps. For this reason, they are not the best choice for apps that demand high performance.
  • Reliance on the Web View — One of the biggest hurdles for these types of apps is that they rely heavily on the Web View of smart devices. The reality is that not all web views are alike and the older the device the more problems this approach will yield.  With thousands of devices and older devices implementing web views in different ways this can damage or destroy and experience. Another thing to consider is deprecated devices performance of web views is incredibly bad in most cases.

The Proverbial Gray Area: Cross Platform Native Frameworks

Xamarin, Aportable, and the like – So what if I told you there are frameworks that you can build an app for with one set of code that compile to native code in the end for your final app on Android and iOS?  Well with products like Xamarin which allows developers to develop applications within the Microsoft .NET environment with C# and then compile them down to native code for iOS and Android this gray area is becoming more and more of a solid option.   On the other hand, Aportable allows iOS Developers to do the reverse and develop in XCode and then compile to Android.

  • The Catch: So the catch with products like this is usually overhead.  The apps you build have to carry with them a lot of overhead that also eats up space on the device.  The more API’s you integrate into your app the more space it takes up.  Apps built with Xamarin as an example that may be 3mb of space in native code can take up less than 200k.  In an age where storage space on devices gets eater up daily with selfies, this could be a problem for some users.  One other thing to keep in mind, if you want access to the latest platform API’s you may have to wait as the product will take time to implement them.

The Secret to App Success

We hope we haven’t blinded you too much with science. We just can’t help ourselves sometimes! Technical specifications aside, app success can really be summed up in two words: user experience. If you can get that right, then you should have a winning app on your hands that delivers value for many years to come.

Each approach has its pros and cons, but it is ultimately native apps that outweigh hybrid apps in terms of looks, performance, distribution and integration. However, those benefits do come at a higher price. That said, if you only need a fairly simple app that won’t become much more complex in the future (such as a ticket booking system), you could easily get away with a hybrid model.

It all comes down to what you want your app to do and how much you can afford to spend. No matter which route you decide to take, we can help you to deliver a killer app that offers an excellent return on investment. Our digital production team is standing by to give you expert advice on choosing the right app for your brand.

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  • Tuesday May 23, 2017