Today we will compare the three main types of mobile apps that one can choose from for their mobile app development project. The most commonly used approaches are native, web, and hybrid.
This decision is not the one that can be made merely based on the preferences of the users or needs of the business; however, it is significantly impacted by multiple factors including the objectives and requirements of your client. We will look into each option in detail and help you understand which type might be the best for your business.
Web App Development
The web is like a condensed version of the website. It can be opened using a browser like Google Chrome, Safari, etc. and does not take up any space on the user’s device since it doesn’t require to be downloaded like native mobile apps.
A web app is an appropriate development path if you want to provide a wide range of users with mobile-friendly content. Additionally, it is also a cost-effective method to place the product in the hands of a wide range of users. However, due to high expectations of functionality and user experience, web apps can sometimes fall below the standard and frustrate users with issues like load times, network availability, or small images, etc.
Building a Web App
Progressive Web Apps
It is the next stage in the evolution of Web Apps; a hybrid between standard webpages and native apps. PWAs can provide features that are similar to native apps, such as sending push notifications, improved touch gestures, and access to device hardware. However, progressive web apps only work with Google Chrome and hence, can’t be used by iOS users.
Web App Advantages
- Easy to maintain due to using a joint code base
- As long as a compatible browser is available, they can be created for all platforms
- Less expensive as compared to other options available
- Can be released in any format, at any time, since they do not need approval from the app marketplace or operating system protocols
- Updates do not need to be managed manually by users
- The small scope of leveraging device hardware and features.
- A browser is required, and users need to go through different steps to use a web app.
- Performance metrics and usage patterns are more difficult to collect.
- Poor discoverability unless marketed well.
- Slower, less responsive.
- Less interactive.
- Branding opportunities are fewer.
Native App Development
Native apps are among the most common types of apps used these days. They are built via the specific Integrated Development Environment for the selected operating system and are built using the language that the specified platform accepts.
Although the initial cost is higher, it is made up for long-term customer loyalty and higher conversion rates, achieved via providing an excellent user experience, better accessibility and performance, and more personalized experience.
Best performance out of all three types
- Receive complete support from the app store and distribution through them helps discoverability.
- Interactive, smoother, and intuitive in terms of input and output.
- Developers can access the full feature set for the operating system that they selected.
- The user experience is much superior due to the OS’s specific UI standards and guidelines.
- The operating system must approve it and this ensures security, quality, and device compatibility.
- They use difficult programming languages and therefore need experienced developers
- More costly as compared to web apps
- Not the most suitable option for simple applications
Other Types of App Development Approaches
While a native app is built for one operating system specifically, employing new technology, there are two platforms, Xamarin and React Native, that can be viewed as the other types of native app development.
Xamarin App Development
It enables developers to build one app capable of running on multiple platforms through C#. Using the C#-shared database for developing the app, Xamarin tools can become handy for the developers to write native Windows, Android, and iOS apps with native user interfaces.
React Native App Development
React Native, and Xamarin technology are quite complicated and can be classified as both, hybrid and native.
Hybrid App Development
A wrapper is deployed to act as a bridge between platforms and provide a web app with additional native app features, making it a hybrid app. It consists of;
- A native shell; downloadable and loads the code via a web-view
- Do not require a web browser.
- Single codebase required.
- Need to have access to the device, hardware, and internal APIs.
- Slower than native apps.
- App’s wrapper deployment is dependent on a third-party.
- Can be more costly than native app development.
Hybrid app development means having to face issues of both native and hybrid systems, making fixing bugs harder. Due to loading in web-view, performance issues are also to be expected.
Customizability is a significant disadvantage of hybrid apps and if you require more customization, going with native app development is likely a better option, and more cost-effective.
The best out of the three?
Before deciding which approach to take, it is essential to consider when you need the app, the target user experience quality, and the complexity of features you require.
The approach that you decide should be responsive, quick, and reliable. Keep these in mind;
- A mobile app is an extension or your brand, not a replication of the website
- Keep updated with market expectations and adapt
- The API infrastructure must have easy and reliable access to your services and content
Should the Overall Cost Matter?
While keeping the overall cost into consideration is essential, it should never be the sole or primary determinant of your decision. The user experience should be the top-most determinant.
Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type, the bottom line is to know that every kind of app development approach is suitable for specific business types and needs. All you need to do is figure out which type is most suitable for your business needs. This can be achieved by considering requirements, developer skills, timelines, business needs, etc.