Dec 7, 2021

How to Choose the Type of Mobile App Development: Native Apps vs Web Apps vs Hybrid Apps

According to various studies, on average, more than 80 applications are installed on each smartphone worldwide. If you've decided your business also needs an application that will work on your audience’s phones, you first need to study the types of possible applications and understand if native versus hybrid mobile development or web development will suit your goals and needs.

In this article, we will describe the basic differences in application types so you can decide where to start and where to go.

Types of Mobile App Development

To understand which type of mobile application you should consider, answer a couple of questions.

  1. What is your budget, and how soon do you want to launch the app?
  2. What features should the application demonstrate?
  3. What business priorities will the future application cover?

The information that follows these answers will be a starting point when choosing a development type, such as a native mobile app versus mobile web app development.

Native Apps

Native apps are among the most popular, and many companies prefer this type due to the ability to create rich functionality and provide a better user experience. Apps are fast, secure, and have access to built-in smartphone features like cameras, microphones, contact lists, NFC, Bluetooth, and more.

At the same time, native applications are more expensive to develop because they are developed for each type of operating system. For Android, you need a development team working with Java or Kotlin, and for iOS, you need Swift or Objective-C professionals. As a result, you will need to build two separate applications. On the other hand, you will get full device compatibility, and these apps receive full support from the app stores and are fairly easy for the user to find.

Web Apps (PWAs)

Basically, web apps are websites that look like mobile apps. All that is needed to open such applications is a web browser, and they run on any type of OS and mobile device. They are simpler in functionality and do not offer the same performance as native applications. Therefore, development is obviously easier and much cheaper. And you don't need to hire special developers, as PWAs can be created using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular, React, and other technologies.

Of course, progressive web applications can sometimes be less intuitive than the user interfaces of native ones. On the other hand, one web application is compatible with multiple platforms, the user does not need to download updates themselves, and the company does not face the approval process in the app stores and can release its product at any time and in any format. In addition, PWAs get SEO benefits, since they are technically websites, which means they are perfect for promotions.

For all the benefits of PWAs, it's important to remember that they are limited in functionality and hardware access. Be prepared that iOS will not support all the same features as Android. Also, Face ID and Touch ID, Siri, in-app payments, and other specific functions are not yet available for iOS devices.


Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps are a mix of native and web apps. The hybrid application is installed on the device in the same way as the native one, but it acts as a web application from a technical point of view. During development, an application goes through two stages: first, back-end coding takes place using HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, and then it is covered with a native shell for uploading to Google Play or the App Store.

Among the obvious advantages of hybrid applications, it is worth mentioning that the user does not need a browser to access them. The apps have access to the internal API and device hardware, and when developing such applications, one codebase is enough.

On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. Applications that are too complex will not work correctly, and increasing functionality will slow down the application's performance. At the same time, over-customization can be more expensive than developing your own applications. Hybrid apps don't work offline.

Hybrid App vs. Native App Development vs. PWA Development: Pros and Cons

After a short overview, we have collected the main pros and cons in a table to make it easier for you to compare and note the significant difference.

Hybrid vs. Native Development vs. PWA Development

 Native AppsPWAsHybrid Apps
  • Excellent performance
  • Access to device or platform in-built features
  • Native user interface
  • Multiple platform compatibility 
  • Less expensive
  • Instant updates
  • SEO benefits
  • Quick to market
  • Access to internal features
  • Distribution to multiple platforms
  • Expensive development
  • The need for two different development teams
  • Basic performance
  • Limited hardware access
  • Low performance (compared to native apps)
  • Integration with third-party services

When to Use: Native Apps vs. Web Apps vs. Hybrid Apps

Based on budget only, the choice between native versus hybrid app development or web app versus native app development would be as follows.

If you have a large budget and your business is mature, it is probably best to create your own application that has high performance and an excellent user experience.

For small businesses or startups with extremely limited financial resources, web applications are great.

In the middle case, when it is still difficult to talk about almost unlimited resources for pouring into development, but you want to get as close as possible to native apps, make a choice in favor of hybrid applications.

Web App vs. Native App vs. Hybrid App Development

 When to Use
Web Apps
  • You want one app for multiple platforms.
  • You want to get a lot of traffic.
  • You want to provide a great e-commerce experience.
Native Apps
  • Your application is complex with many features and high performance.
  • You want to use hardware options.
  • You want to give the best user experience.
  • You want games or content with lots of animations.
Hybrid Apps
  • To reach a wide audience that uses the product on both mobile devices and websites
  • For projects based on content
  • For MVPs

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right solution for your mobile application depends on many factors. You need to consider your budget, timeline, audience, and product. You need to understand how many features you want to integrate and what hardware features or operating system options you need. To deal with all this and choose between native mobile app versus web app development, you can contact us and get advice from our experts.

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