The Ultimate Guide To Native, Hybrid, and Web Applications Development
Mobile devices are the new portals through which we interact with the world around us. These devices include smartphones, tablets, phablets, PDA – Personal digital assistants, and smartwatches. One thing to note about them is that they operate by use of software or programs designed to execute specific commands – mobile apps.
As a regular mobile device user, you have interacted with most of these apps, and you are aware of how easy it is to become dependent on them. For instance, without a PDF viewer app such as Adobe Reader, it’s hard to view a document on your smartphone or tablet.
However, these apps have different functionalities and capabilities, depending on their framework and type. Therefore, let’s look at the classification of these apps and their examples.
Types and Categories of Apps
Mobile apps are developed to function with either a specific Operating System or with multiple. Hence, the two sub-groups; native apps and hybrid apps. In this case, native apps are designed to function with systems or devices. In contrast, a hybrid can work with a wide range of devices and Operating Systems.
a). Native Mobile Apps
iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry OS are the standard mobile Operating Systems today. Mobile device manufactures have continually come up with devices that run on these platforms. On the other hand, mobile app developers have also been crafting apps that work on these specific devices. These apps are the native types – they are native to the device. Simply put, an Android app will not work with an iOS device.
Native apps are programmed with specific languages. For instance, Android apps are developed using Kotlin and Java, while Objective – C and Swift for iOS.
The pros and cons of native apps include;
- Highly responsive.
- Can work while offline.
- They are available to the public easily on the app stores.
- Require regular maintenance.
- Take time to design and develop.
Examples of Native Mobile Apps
The majority of the apps commonly used today, such as Twitter and Instagram, are native. Even though you will find similarities in them on different mobile devices, they were built separately.
b). Hybrid Mobile Apps
Unlike native apps, a hybrid can work in any OS. They have a framework that allows cross-platform development using Software Development Kits, SDKs. They are somewhat like natives but also quite different.
They are the best options if you are looking to offer a product or service via an app while having limited resources. This is one of the advantages of hybrid apps.
- Easy management since it’s a one codebase app for multiple platforms.
- Inexpensive compared to native apps.
- Access to device features is available as with the native app.
- Poor performance.
- Slower than natives.
- Poor UX/UI design.
Examples of Hybrid Mobile Apps
Since there are multiple hybrid app development platforms such as Cordova and PhoneGap, there exists a considerable number of hybrid apps in the market today. They include MarketWatch, Untappd, Offcourse Golf, and many others.
2. Web Apps
Web apps never used to possess the features found in native apps such as offline access and the ability to send push notifications, and businesses realized that this was a massive drawback to their return on investments. Owing to that, many developers have started building Progressive Web Apps.
Progressive Web Apps, PWAs
PWAs are web apps that mimic the functionality of native apps to a certain extent. They are built using modern and advanced APIs, thus enabling flexibility and features seen in native apps. The great news is that even an existing web app can be transformed to a PWA.
From this development, you will experience some advantages and disadvantages such as;
- Reliability. Experiencing somewhat similar experience of native apps with an app that you don’t need to install in your device, and inexpensively.
- Responsive. Work with multiple devices across many networks.
- Fast. Loads in less time compared to a website due to code minimization in them.
- Limited access to specific hardware components of devices such as Near-field Communications, NFCs.
- Offline access is not fully granted like in native apps
- Might not work fully with certain mobile devices
Examples of PWAs
- Google Maps.
- Twitter Lite.
Which Option Should You Go With?
The chances are that you are reading this because you are looking for an app that will fit your enterprise offering. If that’s the case, you need to consider a few things before you make the choice on which to go for. They should include;
1. Your Business Objectives/Model
A business has numerous objectives. Say, for instance, economic and social goals. If you are trying to impact your customers positively while still making a profit, you will need to go for a product that’s both inexpensive and effective. An excellent choice would be a PWA designed as a Minimal Viable Product, MVP.
2. Future Plans
A business needs to consider where they will be in several years before they design a mobile app. This approach will help them come up with a product that they can scale with at ease. Here, a hybrid app should be your option since it allows cross-platform development.
3. Your Budget
As we have seen, the development of some mobile apps is expensive compared to others. And the more expensive the app, the harder it becomes for businesses willing to get quality apps for their enterprises. However, if you have an initial fixed budget, you can start with a web app that can be later improved to a PWA and still offer service comparable to native apps.
To sum up, it’s worth pointing out that mobile apps will replace other software with time. This is true since mobile device usage has dominated the market. This dominance has forced the development of these apps on a large scale to meet the demand, thus the increased diversity. Earlier on, there were only native apps that were developed by tech giants like Google and Apple. Spectacular native apps built from scratch were expensive, and the inclusion of the common frameworks on open source facilitated the burst of mobile app developers, providing you a similar experience with multiple options under a reasonable budget.