You’ve got a good app idea, now let’s develop it! But how? Native ? Web app? or Hybrid app? Let’s break down the pros and cons of each type of app

When it comes to developing a mobile app from scratch, there are so many options that it can sometimes get confusing to know where to start. Web app? Native? or Hybrid? 

These are the 3 most common mobile app types : each offers it’s own set of advantages and drawbacks, and they all make sense in their specific context. This article will teach you exactly what you must know to make an informed decision that makes sense for your specific business.

Which type of mobile app should you develop?

Depending on your type of business, your goals, and the state of your industry, the type of mobile app you chose to develop could be the deciding factor between a successful app launch campaign, or a total waste of money. Deciding to build your mobile product as either a web, native or hybrid app involves a variety of factors for consideration. Keep on reading to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Developing a web app (PWA)

Is a web app any different from a website ? They are similar, but a web app condenses the content of the regular website to improve the mobile functionality. Web apps are not for sale on the app store, they actually run on mobile browsers like Chrome or Safari.

If your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of users, a web app could be a good choice for your business. Web apps are most definitely a cost-effective way to build an app, but keep in mind, mobile phone users have incredibly high user experience and functionality standards that web apps sometimes can simply not deliver. 

The majority of mobile users simply want fast loading times and a smooth app experience, so a web app can be frustrating to some people because of issues with performance and usability issues like load times, small images, and network availability.

How Do You Build a Web App?

Web apps are built just like websites, using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. Web apps are usually much more simple and quick to build, but they are also very basic and lack many of the exciting features that makes a native app so useful. 

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are basically a hybrid between regular web pages and native apps. Overall, most web apps lack the functionalities of native apps, such as sending push notifications, camera integration, location or working offline. 

However nowadays web apps are becoming more and more advanced. PWAs are now leveraging some features of native apps like:  

  • Access to device hardware like vibration
  • Sending push notifications
  • Improved touch gestures

Despite these new features and improvements,  PWAs are as of right now only compatible with Google Chrome which means iPhone can’t access these types of apps. 

Depending objectives as a business and your monetization strategy, excluding iOS users can be a huge disadvantage because it is a known fact in the mobile app development community that iOS users are generally more eager to spend money on apps and on in-app purchases then their android using counterpart.

What are the advantages of building a web app

  • Web apps have a lower barrier to entry, and are easier to build, and maintain since they use a common code base across all mobile platforms
  • They can run on any platform as long as they are used in an appropriate web browser
  • Compared to native apps, web apps are less expensive to develop and maintain
  • Web apps don’t have to adhere to any standard operating system protocols and don’t require approval from the app marketplace; they can be released at any time and in any format
  • Web apps don’t have to be updated manually, unlike native apps which have to be updated through the app store/playstore.

Disadvantages of Web Apps

  •  Web apps have much less app exclusive features, as they cannot leverage the devices features and hardware like native apps do (camera, bluetooth, location etc.)
  • Since a web browser is required to run a web app. Users have to take more steps to use a web app, whether that’s searching for the page or typing in a URL. Either way,if the user has to make more effort to use the app, he will most likely use it less often or end up using a competitor’s native app.
  • Data is much more difficult to collect: the usage patterns and performance metrics used to create a product roadmap are hard to collect compared to native apps.
  • Web apps are much more difficult to market and launch successfully, since they are not available on the app store.
  • Web apps are usually slower and much less responsive and harder to use than native apps which are much offer a more refined and intuitive experience.

Developing a Native App

Most apps you find will be Native apps, which means they we’re built for a specific platform, written in a code language made for that specific platform. Native iOS apps are written using Swift and Objective-C, while Native Android apps are usually written using Java or Kotlin. 

Both Google and Apple provide their own development tools, SDK and interface elements to help app developers leverage the features of their latest mobile devices. 

While some lower budget businesses use web apps, most companies will invest in native mobile app development because of the multitude of benefits and cutting edge marketing features offered by iOS and Android platforms.

Advantages of Native Apps

  • Native apps deliver the most features, and the best performance of all three app development approaches.
  • Native apps are available on the App Store and the Google Play Store, which is a great free advertising opportunity for your app. 
  • Native apps are more intuitive, more interactive than web apps, and they run more smoothly in terms of user input and output.
  • Native development allows developers to access the full feature set of the operating systems. These features keep expanding with every update and every new phone released on the market.
  • The user experience of native apps is much more optimized compared to web apps or hybrid apps. Native apps look and feel better because they are built with the mobile operating system’s specific UI guidelines and standards.
  • A native app must be approved by its respective operating system (iOS or Android) which acts as a quality control, offers better security, and better device compatibility.

Disadvantages of Native Apps

  •  Developing a native app requires knowledge and experience in programming which usually means working with a team of experienced developers.
  • Native apps usually cost more upfront to develop than web or hybrid web apps.
  • For an app with very basic/simple features, a native app is not cost effective.

Is it worth it to invest in a native app?

While the initial cost of developing a native mobile app may be higher than developing a web or hybrid web app, a high quality native app will save your business money over time. By offering a great user experience, better performance and accessibility, native apps are able to offer users a more personalized and feature-rich product.

These multiple advantages of native apps will result in higher conversion rates and will increase long-term customer loyalty.

Is there a way to develop an native app for both platforms at the same time? (iOS and Android)

Yes, many companies like Xamarin and React Native are building software that lets developers develop ‘’Hybrid apps’’ for both Android and iOS at the same time.

Hybrid App Development

A Hybrid app is basically a web app that incorporates additional native features for enhanced functionality.

Advantages of Hybrid App Development

  • Hybrid apps don’t need a web browser to run like web apps.
  • Hybrid apps have access to a device’s internal APIs and device hardware.
  • Only one codebase is needed for hybrid apps.

Disadvantages of Hybrid App Development

  • Hybrid apps are usually much slower than native apps.
  • With hybrid app development, you’re dependent on a third-party platform to deploy the app’s wrapper which sometimes limits the functionalities.
  • The more customization the app requires the more a hybrid app will cost. Usually a feature-rich app is more cost effective to build on as a Native App.
  • With hybrid app development, bug fixing is more complex since the developper has to deal with issues that stem from both native systems and hybrid systems. Performance is also a disadvantage because hybrid apps load in a webview, which is usually slower.
  • The user experience is often sacrificed with a hybrid app as you cannot customize the app based on the platform’s particular features.

 Hybrid apps are much less customizable than their native counterparts. The more customization you do, the more you should be steering toward a native solution. If customization is important to you, developing a native mobile app will be much more cost-effective.

Conclusion: Should you choose a Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid: Which Approach is best for your business?

Should you build a native, web or hybrid app? Well it depends on your business objectives. Here’s a few questions to help guide you through this decision:

  •  How fast do you need the app developed and launched? Native and hybrid apps usually take more time to develop then web apps.
  • What is your target clientele? Which type of user experience do you want to offer them? 
  • What types of features will your app need? The complexity of features you need for your app to work is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing the platform you want to develop on. 

Final words

Many businesses try to cut corners and save money when it comes to getting on board with new technologies, but having worked on many mobile app development projects i can assure you that user experience should be the primary factor (instead of cost being the primary factor) that helps you decide whether to build a web, native or hybrid app.

The choice between native, web or hybrid app development depends on many factors, including your company’s needs and goals, the app requirements, the developer’s technical skill, and the project timeline. 

Basically, each type of app offers it’s own set of advantages  and challenges and it’s important to know the pros and cons of each system before jumping into development.

When it comes to Native and Hybrid app development, we can help you. Need help developing your idea into an app? Our experts at Yamm Software can help you develop your idea and build a clear road-map to launching a successful, fully functional mobile app for your business. We offer solutions customized to your needs, your budgets, and your goals!

Sign up now for a free 30min consultation call with one of our project managers and get started designing and developing your mobile app idea!

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