As enterprises take the ‘mobile-first’ strategy more seriously than ever, they face the classic dilemma of choosing the right way to move ahead with mobile apps development- to go hybrid or native. And the good and the bad news is, there’s no right answer.

Hybrid mobile apps and native mobile apps serve entirely different purposes, especially from the development side. And when it comes to zeroing on one, it is all about choosing what suits your requirements the most.

For the enterprises as well as the product developers who are stuck in the confusion of when to choose what, this article will help you in making a choice.

For the novices, let us start by understanding what hybrid and native mobile apps are, before understanding the difference between them.

What is a native mobile app?
A native mobile app is an app developed exclusively for one platform – it could be Android, iOS, or Windows mobile. These apps can be downloaded and installed on mobile devices from the app stores. The native mobile apps for Android are written in Java, and the native mobile apps for iOS are written in Swift or Objective-C.

What is a hybrid mobile app?
The hybrid mobile apps are a combination of native mobile apps and web apps. They are basically websites packed into a mobile app wrapper. They are available in the application store (like native apps) but render using the HTML within the device’s browser (like web apps). The hybrid mobile apps have to be downloaded on the device, but they operate like a web app, running on webview- a simplified browser within the app. The hybrid mobile apps are generally written in Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

Hybrid Mobile Apps vs Native Mobile Apps: When to choose what:

Choose hybrid mobile apps when:

  • You want simple coding & development
    A hybrid app is built using HTML and CSS, which makes the development fairly easy and fast. For enterprises with an existing development team of web developers who are familiar with HTML and CSS platforms, building a hybrid mobile app is fairly easy and cost-effective, since the need to hire a team of mobile app developers is nullified.
    You want quick development
    Enterprises today are compelled to go ‘mobile’, and for the businesses that are just starting out with an idea and are not completely sure of the market acceptance, investing in full-fledged mobile app development is costly as well as overwhelming. If they want to test the waters before they dive in with an MVP, hybrid mobile apps are the right choice.

In fact, for any business that wants quick development for faster time-to-market, hybrid mobile apps are the way to go.

  • You want an app that works on several platforms
    Hybrid mobile apps enable cross-platform development, so when businesses want to invest in developing one app instead of multiple apps for multiple platforms, hybrid is the way to go. And with software that enables the bridging between the native SDK and the webview, leveraging the device capabilities for the hybrid app is also now possible.
  • You want to streamline support and maintenance
    Since a hybrid mobile app makes use of a single code base, the changes can be made quickly, and maintenance becomes easy. These are also easier to scale, and once you have the code base ready, an app that was earlier made available for one platform can be quickly extended to another. Moreover, providing streamlined support for hybrid apps is relatively easy, since a patch fix can be used across multiple platforms and device types.
  • You want to be cost-effective
    Hybrid mobile apps ensure a lower cost of development because of code reusability across different platforms. Since the hybrid mobile apps are built on popular web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, finding developers for the same is easy and cheap. With the same number of developers, you can simultaneously build an app for different platforms, making it highly cost-effective, unlike for the native web apps where you need to onboard separate development teams for each platform.

Choose native mobile apps when:

  • You want fast performance and quick response time
    Native mobile apps are designed to provide quick response time and great performance. The native mobile app elements are pre-loaded and can make full use of the device’s native features. Hence, if your business demands an app that is fast, reliable, and highly responsive, native mobile apps are undoubtedly the way to go.
  • You want an app designed for heightened user experience
    The primary objective that makes businesses invest in mobile app development is most likely to offer a heightened user experience. According to a study, 79% of the total mobile apps downloaded are deleted after the first or second failed use. Clearly, there is most likely only one shot for the apps (and in-turn the businesses) to make a long-lasting impression on the users.

Some apps are specially built and designed by keeping UX in focus, for example, the gaming apps, which form around 25% of all the apps available in the App Store. Native apps can leverage graphics, gestures, as well as device capabilities such as camera, notifications, GPS, microphone, and audio to make the UX/UI more engaging and useful for the users. A native mobile app is built on a mature ecosystem based on tech as well as UX best practices, which means that you don’t need to compromise on the UX/UI, ever.

  • You want an app that supports all device types
    Native apps inherently support diverse device types, which is a major advantage for businesses that want to go big. Apart from the device versions currently up and running in the market, the native mobile apps also provide support for lower end/older and outdated versions with SDK level provisions.
  • You want the app to be available for offline use Internet penetration is not uniform across the globe, and while it is increasing exponentially, there are still a few geographies where users do not have access to uninterrupted internet. Even in the United States, where internet penetration is high, 15% of the app usage is offline, at any given time. The SDK of native mobile apps offers extensive support for offline use, which is extremely useful for essential applications such as maps, helping the users when they are stuck in no-network zones such as tunnels, subways, or even emergencies in the middle of a forest!
  • You are open to investing more costs
    Native mobile apps come with all the above-mentioned features and capabilities, which require a large investment- be it for onboarding separate development teams for different platforms, designing a user experience that grabs eyeballs, or offering consistent support and upgrades. But if your business is forward-looking and doesn’t mind the extra capital investment, there’s no way you should look beyond native mobile apps.

To summarize…
As the mobile app usage sees an upsurge, it is natural for enterprises to go the ‘mobile’ way. By analyzing the technical as well as the business requirements and cross-referring it with the pros and cons of native mobile apps and hybrid mobile apps, enterprises can make a development decision that is right for them.