Native or hybrid mobile app? What’s the difference and which one better suits your business needs? Below we compare the two approaches and discuss why we go hybrid the majority of the time.

What is a native app?
A native app is built to work on a specific mobile operating system (iOS and Android lead the pack by a long shot). A developer must use the development tools and languages for that platform. For example, an Apple iOS app is written in Xcode using Swift or Objective-C languages and only works on Apple products. An Android app is written primarily in Java and will work on devices running the Android operating system.


What is a hybrid app?
A hybrid app is not exclusive to a particular operating system. Written using standard web technology like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, hybrid apps use a third party product to essentially “wrap” the code to make it behave like a native app for a number of different mobile operating systems. Here’s the key: the app is developed once and then deployed to multiple device types. For example, a web application written in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS can be combined with a product such as PhoneGap or Cordova. These products “wrap” the web application and output the app for multiple mobile operating systems. The app is then made available at each store (iTunes, Google Play).


Now that you know the difference between hybrid apps vs native apps, here’s what you need to know to choose the right technology for your app.

When to Choose a Native App
A native app is recommended if you are creating an app that is graphically intense. Things like immersive 3D experiences or gaming perform better using true native programming to pull off fast performance in these environments. If this is not you, then a hybrid app can save you time and money.

Top Benefits of a Hybrid App

1) Users don’t see a difference.

Users won’t be able to tell (nor do they really care) if your app is native or hybrid. They just want a great app. For basic app functionality, a hybrid app provides much of the same user experience they’ve come to know and love in apps.

When hybrid technology was first introduced, the extra layer (or “wrapper”) was a speed concern. However, this is not an issue for most business-related applications as devices have become more powerful and software has been refined in recent years. Similarly, native apps once reigned supreme in compound UI gestures (multiple “touches” to the screen like double taps) but now multi-touch is available for integration into your hybrid mobile app too.

2) Your budget will see the difference.

Hybrid apps save money. You code once, then deploy multiple times with the same files.  Bonus: specialized (expensive) developers aren’t required to build them.

3) You get the app to market faster and across more platforms.

You’ve already saved time by coding only once. Then you save time again in testing. Apps undergo quality assurance testing like a standard website. Initial testing can be performed from a web browser with less compiling and back-and-forth pushing of code. App store distribution and per-platform testing is still required, but you’re saving time before getting to that point in the project.

4) A/B testing and expansion with ease.

Hybrid apps are great for continuous improvement and A/B testing. You can test new features and functionality via the web or as a website on your phone without much time or budget commitment.

At the end of the day, users simply want a great app. The technology you use behind the scenes is of little concern to them. By focusing on experience first and not the technology, you prioritize the user and that always makes for the best laid plan.

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