The fight between Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android has been going on for long. Both operating systems have their own fan following and loyal base that advocates for it. Although both operating systems are excellent when it comes to performance, it all boils down to what users are comfortable with.
While IOS is limited to the Apple universe only, Android is sort of an open platform that is used by various brands such as HTC, Lenovo, Samsung, and various others. Consequently, Android commands 76.24% of the market share, while IOS controls 22.48%.
While consumers don’t lose out much by choosing one platform over the other since both have similar features and there are millions of apps for both, 2.7 million Android apps and 2.2 million IOS apps, to be specific, the competition between the two operating systems put apps developers in a dilemma of choosing which platform they want to work for. Android may seem like the obvious choice considering that it controls the majority of the market, but that is not always viable.
This predicament has given rise to the never-ending debate about hybrid versus native apps. There are apps for the web as well, but for the purpose of this guide, we will restrict ourselves to apps developed for phones, tablets, and phablets.
What Are Native and Hybrid Apps?
A native app as the name suggests is developed only for one platform, which means that a native app developed for IOS won’t work on Google’s Android and vice versa. Native app is coded in the platform’s native language. IOS native’s language is Objective C or Swift, Android apps are coded in Java or Kotlin, and Windows apps employ C#.
Developing hybrid apps seems to be the answer to the developer’s dilemma; they can develop just one app and it will work with all platforms. However, there are various other factors that need to be considered before developers can make this choice. It mostly depends upon the type of business and its requirements.
We will pit both types of apps against each other on various factors, so you can decide the best choice for you.
Cost is one crucial factor that determines the feasibility of a project. There is a significant difference between the costs of both types of apps primarily because when you develop a native app, you would not want to lose your current customers, who use a different platform. Hence, you would want to develop an app for all platforms, the repeated effort also means extra cost. With hybrid, you have to develop only once. It also means that you can deploy a hybrid app faster than a native app.
There is no fixed price for developing an app; it depends on various factors such as its functionality. There are data-driven apps, gaming apps, custom utility apps, etc. You can develop a basic app such as a calculator for a few thousand dollars only. If you need more functions and extraordinary designs, then you will have to shell out more money.
Ballpark’s cost of developing a native app for one platform is around $21,000 while you can build a hybrid app for both IOS and Android for $22,000. If you build a native for both platforms then it will cost you $32,000.
While cost is definitely important, it is not the only factor when it comes to deciding what type of app the users want. Always remember, users are not concerned about what happens behind the scenes, what matters to them is how smoothly the app works once they download. Hence, user experience is a crucial factor that can make or break the app’s success.
User experience is the biggest tradeoff when it comes to hybrid apps because you need to maintain a balance between Android and IOS since both operating systems style guidelines are vastly different. If you lean towards IOS more, then user experience for Android users would get worse and vice versa. So no matter how brilliant your design is it is difficult to cater to both.
The security of an app is as useful for the business as it is for the customers. Nobody wants cybercriminals to have a feast on other people’s expense, right? Cyberattacks brought down Yahoo, and the tech giant was compelled to accept a $300 million discount from its acquirer. Hence, security is of the utmost significance.
This does not mean that native apps are ironclad and cannot be messed with. Attacks with native apps are common for any platform, just the tools and techniques differ. An Android app can store sensitive data in the phone’s storage, which can be easily hacked. Similar issues face IOS if the phone is jailbroken.
Apart from cost and security, there are other functionality factors such as speed, updates, and features. Native apps have better functionality because they have full access to all smartphone features such as cameras, location, and databases. This makes it easier for the app to connect hardware features and different databases without any need for extra tools or plugins.
Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are limited because they are used on multiple platforms. Hybrid apps are also slower as compared to native apps. Since they are essentially a website that are mimicking an app’s behavior, they always need to be connected to the internet for all features to work. Also, it takes time for all the features to upload.
There is a difference in hybrid and native app maintenance as well. When it comes to updating or fixing these apps, hybrid apps are a better option from the perspective of customers as well as developers, because there is only one platform that developers have to work with and customers don’t have to go and download the latest version manually from the store in case there is a bug. Bugs are very common and it is very easy to fix them in hybrid apps. If any issue happens in a page that is loaded from the server, all developers need to do is fix that and users will have the fixed version once they load the app.
Regardless of what type of app you choose, your ultimate goal is to get it published on the store. Native apps have a higher chance of getting accepted quickly since they use native platform resources. It does not mean that hybrid apps do not get accepted easily. It is just that Apple has quite stringent policies when it comes to speed and UI; hence, it takes a bit longer for your app to get approved.
In 2017, Apple updated its guidelines in an attempt to clean up the App Store. It implemented a ban on all apps that were developed on commercialized templates or app generation services. Therefore, it can take up around 3 days to even a week for an app to get approved on the IOS platform.
Google, on the other hand, has adopted a lenient strategy in publishing apps.
Are Native Apps the Answer?
After evaluating both types of apps based on the aforementioned factors, you may have concluded that native apps score better on most of those factors, so it would be better to opt for native apps only. However, this is not the case. The availability of high-speed internet has increased content consumption on mobile and hence, the trend is shifting from desktop to mobile. It only makes sense for businesses to develop more apps for smartphones. Subsequently, it has given rise to cross-platform apps.
The advantage of cross platforms is that 80 percent of the code is shared, and the user interface is extracted through native controls so the app is quite similar to a native app.
Cross-platform apps are developed through React Native, Xamarin, Adobe Phone Gap and Flutter.
Xamarin: This cross-platform tool is developed by Microsoft, and developers can use C# to develop apps. C# is shared by both platforms, therefore, most of the code overlaps. Apps developed with Xamarin run on a phone’s hardware instead of a web view.
Phone Gap: Owned by Adobe, Phone Gap allows developers to develop apps with a native look without writing the code twice. It also solves the issue faced by hybrid apps by providing a unified approach with web technology. Through Phone Gap, you can also access platform-specific codes using plugins.
Flutter: Flutter was released by Google in 2017 and it has been gaining a lot of popularity since then, which is why it deserves a mention. A special feature of Flutter is the Hot Reload, which injects changes in source code while it is running, eliminating the need for recording the entire app.
Famous Apps That Are Not Native
Twitter: It may come as a surprise to you but Twitter is a pure hybrid app. With the amount of traffic, Twitter receives it only shows that performance is no longer an issue with hybrid apps.
Apple App Store: It is very ironic that the creator of the native platform is itself a supporter of a hybrid app. The app results that you see are loaded seamlessly from the web.
Uber: Yes, you read that right. Uber is a hybrid and it runs on m.uber.com. Despite the fact that it is hybrid, the app is super-fast. The fact that Uber rapidly needs to connect people with drivers, it proves that if developed correctly, hybrid apps can give an amazing performance as well.
Instagram: While Facebook itself is a native app, the photo-sharing app that everyone has fallen in love with, is a hybrid. Being a hybrid, Instagram leverages HTML 5 features that allows people to see data as well; such as the signature short videos, even when the device is offline or seeing an error message.
What Do You Choose?
There is no absolute right or wrong answer when it comes to what type of an app you should develop; the choice varies according to your requirements. The right protocol while deciding the type of app should be: first decide who your target audience is and what your business goals are. For example, if your app is mostly about content, then hybrid would be the right choice for you. In case, you are a financial institution, it would be better to opt for a native app because of better security features.
So first, draw an outline for what you need and then dive into the development process.
Abdul Sami Hameed is one of the profound writers and a Digital marketing expert with knowledge and expertise as website development, organic marketing, and community marketing. He also has a flair for creating tutorials about subjects related to his expertise and share his experiences with people. You can email him at [email protected]