Situation: you want to develop an app. What do you do? Anyone with an idea of an app is more than welcome to contact us but in reality you will still Google it first. This makes sense, since there are many questions that will rise in your head. One of the first questions is often whether you need a native app or hybrid app?
What's in a name
The literal meaning of the word 'native' is 'inherent'. Although it's not self explanatory, the literal translation is indeed enlightening. Because, all words refer to a defined environment of a closed group. A native app is also a 'closed group' or: platform dependent. There is a big chance that you have either an Android phone or an iPhone. The Android phones (Samsung, among others) have Android OS. The iPhone platform is called iOS. These two platforms work differently. A native app is developed for a specific platform; either for Android or iOS.
The word hybrid you probably know from hybrid cars. Hybrid stands for combining two techniques. For example, hybrid cars can drive powered by electricity and fuel. Does this mean that hybrid apps also use multiple techniques? That's right! A hybrid app is, simply put, a combination of a native app and a mobile site.
Getting acquainted with native
Native apps are for one specific platform. They are developed in a programming language made specifically for a particular platform. The apps for iOS, for example, are written in Objective-C or Swift. Android apps are written in Java, among others. In short, it is important for developers of native apps to master these languages. Basically, if you need a native app for both iOS and Android, then you will have to develop two different apps.
If an app does exactly what users expect, it increases the ease of use. This is exactly what native apps do; they behave as a user would expect. In the case of iOS, users can swipe right to go back to a page. Page titles are left aligned on Android and centered on iOS. It means that your app should behave like most other apps on the phone of the user. The user knows then in advance how to navigate and is more likely to use the app.
If an app does not do what the user expects, most users will make one more attempt. If the second attempt is not sucessfull, the app will loose 80 percent of its potential users. In order to make a well-founded choice between hybrid and native apps you should take all disadvantages and advantages in to account.
Because native apps are written in a language of the platform itself, it has a number of advantages:
- The optimum use of all the functionality that the operating system provides. This includes for instance GPS, camera, microphone and media library.
- Native apps can often be of better use without an Internet connection than hybrid apps.
- Native apps are generally a lot faster. They often have direct access to the hardware. This leads to higher speeds.
- Native apps behave like most other apps on the phone. A big plus for the user's convenience! So, is it important for you to convince your users and make a strong connection with them? Go for native!
The native app also has a point that is considered as a disadvantage:
- The development is often more expensive because of two separate apps for each platform.
Hybrid apps seem to behave like native apps. You download them from the App Stores and they come in all shapes and sizes; from games to social media platforms. There's just one big difference between native apps and hybrid apps: hybrid apps are not written in the native language. They are usually written in a special language (via a framework) that is understandable to both iOS and Android operating systems. When the app is intended for multiple operating systems, it is important that the app is optimized for various platforms in order to avoid disappointment by the user.
Initially hybrid apps were mobile websites in a native shell. This means that the app displays as a full-screen. The disadvantage is that the performance of hybrid apps can be dissapointing. This because they greatly depend on an Internet connection. Often this is still the case, but nowadays hybrid apps are developed in a way that they are not bound to web pages. Hybrid apps can now be programmed so that you will notice less difference.
Benefits of hybrid apps:
- You can write a hybrid app in one language and then release it on multiple platforms: Android, iOS and Windows.
- Development costs are often lower because the code can be read by multiple operating systems.
Cons of hybrid apps:
- Bugs are harder to solve when it comes to hybrid apps.
- The chance that hybrid apps are rejected by app stores is greater than native apps.
- The application performance may decrease, which normally leads to user frustrations.
- If you want to develop the app further you are dependent on a developer with knowledge of the specific framework.
DTT has wise advice
We are always ready to provide you with the best advice. After reading about native and hybrid apps, you obviously wonder what is better, native or hybrid? There are many aspects that play a role in choosing the better solution for realizing your app. The choice for native or hybrid app development is not always easy. The decision to go either native or hybrid is not easy. It’s a decision best made after professional advice and reflecting on your own personal / business needs. Compare it with a mortgage; this is also something you would go to an advisor for. We at DTT like to be your app advisor, when it comes to hybrid or native app development. We have capacity for both development ways, so we can advice you in an independent way.
Your choice is dependent on more than just cost and user friendliness. There are a number of other variables to consider before making this important decision:
- Who are the users? And what is your relationship to them?
- Do you want to develop the app further? If yes: do you have experience in a certain development path?
- Which functionalities does the app have at the moment? And what are you looking to add in the future?
- For what period of time will the app be used?
- How dependent is the app on a good Internet connection?