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The difference between Native & Hybrid mobile apps and how to choose between them
You may have heard these terms: Native Mobile Applications and Hybrid Mobile Applications. The names give a little away. Native applications are your traditional mobile applications that are created individually for each mobile operating system. Android, iOS and other operating systems have their own tools and coding languages developers need to know to create apps for them.
If I wanted to created a native application for Android and iOS, I would need two teams of developers with two different skillsets to create the same application for each OS. If I were to make a Hybrid Application however, I need only one team that is well-versed in the Hybrid languages and the final product is one app that will work seamlessly on Android and iOS. It’s basically half the work and cost. Of course each option has its pros and cons.
Some examples of popular native apps are What’s App and Airbnb – these apps are created in native format in order to take full advantage of the platform available and give the user a familiar and seamless experience. Hybrid apps can’t take advantage of OS-specific features like Siri integration on iOS or certain gestures that are available only on iPhones.
Hybrid mobile apps are half native and half web app. Web apps are basically responsive websites made to look like mobile apps. These have the most minimal features of an app. Like native mobile apps, hybrid apps are available from the app store and have many features supported by the devices they are being used on.
Deciding which to choose
Having proper credentials and documents make native applications superior to hybrid applications when considering performance. They run very fast and have a look consistent with other apps in the same platform compared to the hybrid ones.
Access to device features
Native applications can access all the device features directly through the necessary API’s. Hybrid apps are also allowed to use some of such device features, but not all. Such as notifications and camera.
With native application development, knowledge about programming languages like Java and C#, and an idea about the Application Programming Interface (API) burden the developers who have no previous programming skills. Also the developer must have three different set of skills for providing the same services and features over the three different platforms. So companies should either engage developers with these skills or train its employees to learn these skills. For hybrid application development, the web developers can themselves develop the mobile app significantly reducing time and cost. You would need basic HTML knowledge to start learning Hybrid languages and get started.
Many powerful tools are available for development, debugging, profiling, and quick access to documentation directly inside the IDE of native applications. Hybrid applications have the advantage of a code base which is shared among multiple platforms and the developing tools are open source and free of cost.
Native applications have a significantly higher development cost because separate codes need to be written, using different teams. Hybrid applications are way more cost effective because you need 1 or 2 people (depending on the scope of work) with the same skill set.
When you need to make a change in a native application, it needs to be uploaded in each app store as a new version. Then the respective app stores needs to approve that version and goes out to users as an update. With hybrid applications, this maintenance is as easy as maintaining a webpage.
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