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Native, Web or Hybrid? Or all of the above? Which is right for your business?

posted 4th Jul 2018

Before you get bombarded with a plethora of terminologies it is necessary for you to know what is Hybrid, Native and Web apps and which of the three is the most appropriate and best for your business.

The first decision that you have to make is what type of app you require. There is no definitive answer as it depends on a lot of factors like completion, budget and your deadline.

This article will help you in giving a good understanding of the type of apps available and to aid your decisions as to what technology is best to build your app with

Native Apps

Native Apps are developed to fulfill for a specified operating system. Thus they come with certain guidelines that enhance the user experience by making it easier to sync up with some of the components of a user’s device such as contact list, camera or GPS.

The majority of apps in your mobile device will fall into this category. They offer the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience to users.

The key ingredient in staying relevant in a saturated market is by bringing your audience back for more and this is where push-notification alerts play a key part. In native apps, this feature is a useful addition.

Like every other app type native apps have their own share of disadvantages as well. For starters, native apps designed for Android will not work for iOS and vice versa. An app will have to be designed from scratch if you switch your platform.

Native apps generally cost more to make than hybrid apps.

Most developers specialize in one platform (Android or iOS), so as to create an app on both platforms will require two separate developers (or teams), which also adds to time and cost.

Web Apps

According to tech experts, a web app “is an application that is accessed via a web browser over a network such as the Internet.”

So how is this different to a website?

The difference is subjective, but most would agree that a website will generally just be informational and a web app provides functionality. For example, Wikipedia is a website; it provides information. Facebook is a web app.

Don’t let the word “app” confuse you, though. Web apps don’t need to be downloaded like mobile apps do.

Web apps load in browsers like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox and they don’t take up any memory or storage on the user’s device.

Hybrid Apps

If a native app and a web app got married and had a kid, it would be a hybrid app.

You install it like a native app, but it’s actually a web app on the inside.

Hybrid apps, like web apps, are built with Javascript, HTML, and CSS and run in something called Webview, a simplified browser within your app.

Say you have an idea for an app and you don’t know if people will like it or not.

Your goal is to put something usable into their hands as quickly as possible. You’re short on resources, so you need to create a simple version of your product that still provides value.

In the startup world, this is called an MVP, or minimum viable product.

Building a web app might be the truly minimal option, but it won’t really allow you to test whether people will download and use an app on their device.

A hybrid app offers a solution to this

All the advantages of hybrid apps stem from the fact that, instead of building two apps, you’re building one app and simply tweaking it a bit so it works on both platforms.

With a hybrid app, you only have one codebase to manage.

As you only have to manage one codebase, you’ll probably require half the number of developers two native apps would have required. Or, with the same number of developers, a hybrid app could be published in half the time.

In addition, developers of hybrid apps are often less expensive than native developers. Hybrid apps are easier to scale to another platform. Once you’ve built for one platform, you can launch on another like Windows Mobile. As with native apps, you retain the same ability to access device features.

This is thanks to solutions like PhoneGap that act like a bridge between the native SDK and the webview in which the app runs. We’ll talk about PhoneGap below.

The one big disadvantage of hybrid apps is performance. Because hybrid apps load in a browser-like component called webview, they are only as good as the webview. Webview is responsible for displaying the UI and for running Javascript code.

In the early days of mobile, Google and Apple didn’t give webview the same engines used by their mobile browsers, Chrome and Safari. Since then, webview has vastly improved but it hasn’t reached native performance yet.

Finally, What’s Best?

There are many different directions in which you can take your app, all of which have their pros and cons.

There will always be some kind of limitation of time or money that will push you to make a certain decision about your app.

What’s important is to spend enough time thinking and calculating before you start building.

Apps are expensive enough that you may only have one go at getting it right. Read as much as you can about the different kinds of apps and the development stages.

If you can, get in touch with people that have gone through the process of building each of these kinds of apps. They will be able to give you the best opinions.

What is clear, though, is that commercial success of smartphones and tablets isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

So in the next few years, you can expect billions of people around the world to be getting their first smartphone.

The opportunity to get your app into the app store and into the hands of millions (or even billions) of people is still growing. Take it!

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