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August 13, 2021

Native vs. Hybrid App: Advantages and Disadvantages

Choosing to invest in the development of a native or hybrid mobile application is not as simple as it might seem at first. Before opting for one or the other, you must analyze multiple variables such as the target audience, the core of your business, the user experience, and the features you want to implement in the mobile application, among others.

That’s why in this article we are going to cover the main differences that exist between developing a native or a hybrid app, as well as discuss when it makes more sense to invest in one or the other from the point of view of your business.

Hybrid App

What they are

Hybrid apps can be used on different operating systems, smartphones, or tablets. Therefore, they are not exclusive to a commercial brand or a specific device model: the framework with which they are designed can be used for different gadgets.

Hybrid App Advantages

The main advantage of a hybrid app is that we can deploy on multiple devices and operating systems (iOS, Android, Web…) using the same code. This feature has made them more affordable compared to a native app, in addition to providing a much lower time to market.

When should you invest in a hybrid app?

You should be looking into developing a hybrid app whenever your business is not in a very mature stage yet or you want to test an idea. For example, if you are releasing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) it would be the most appropriate option as long as there are no technical restrictions since you will be able to launch an application that works across multiple platforms and validate your product as soon as possible.

In case you are developing a game or functionality that requires extensive use of the device’s capabilities, it’s probably going to be better to go native by opting for an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) on a single platform, as it’s very common to do that when you first launch in order to test the product.

We also recommend a hybrid application if the core of your business does not rely on the application, but it is an added value for the user instead, or when the nature of the application does not demand much capacity or performance from the phone. This is because the main disadvantage of choosing a hybrid app is that it works on intermediate frameworks to the operating system, slowing down its performance.

There are many options for the development of hybrid mobile applications among which we highlight:

  • Frameworks such as React Native (JavaScript) for those companies that can’t afford or are not interested in having specialized profiles per device among their staff.
  • Xamarin is an option for companies that already have C# developers.

Native App

What they are

Native applications are those that work on a single operating system. You must create another version to move them to another operating system. For example, native apps on iOS are programmed in Swift or Objective-C, while Android apps are programmed in Java. Hybrids use HTML, JavaScript, or CSS, among others.

Native App Advantages

The main advantage of native applications is that they guarantee the best user experience and performance, since we can take advantage of all the device capabilities, they provide functionalities that are exclusive to the operating system itself and their runtime and response speed is superior to the hybrid app.

You should keep in mind that in this case, you are going to need at least two versions of the code: one for iOS and another one for Android. This means a larger investment than the one required for the development of a hybrid app, which includes the development and maintenance of two source codes and developers specialized in each platform or operating system.

But working natively provides many advantages such as:

  • Working directly with technologies built by the operating system, and in Apple’s case, even the hardware, using the Xcode and Android Studio environments.
  • Having access to the latest platform updates, extensive documentation, and publications that are going to help you resolve any issues.
  • Achieving a better performance and look and feel of the application.
  • Users penalize with their scores the applications that do not take advantage of the performance of their devices and that do not have the look&feel of the platform, so working with native frameworks will potentially give us more advantage in user scores.
  • Better management of 3D content or development of an application with Augmented Reality, as the performance is crucial in that situation.
  • Better device and external hardware integration.
  • In case you want to do Edge Computing, as Artificial Intelligence runs directly on the device instead of in the Cloud.

When should you invest in a native app?

We recommend developing native applications when the business core revolves around the mobile application and you must ensure that the user experience, speed, and functionalities are the best on the market.

Another situation in which we suggest choosing a native app is in companies that already have a large number of users and in which we know that the most used form of interaction is through a mobile application. Again, with a native app, we can ensure the best performance and user experience possible.

And lastly, when the nature of the application requires high performance to provide the user with the necessary functionalities such as Augmented Reality, 3D elements, or Artificial Intelligence.

Hybrid vs. native application

When it comes to deciding which type of mobile application is best suited for your business you will see that the corresponding advantages or disadvantages may have more relevance depending on the case and the type of business.

Benefits of hybrid applications Advantages of native applications
Recommended for testing an MVP if there are no technical limitations and on different devices and operating systems Recommended for testing the features of a particular operating system
Ideal if the core business goes beyond the app to an added value for the user Ideal if your company already has many users using the app, because it offers the best performance and user experience
Preferable if the app does not need many phone resources to run Preferable for apps with 3D and augmented reality content
More cost-effective to design and launch To integrate with external hardware, because these apps are more fluid, or to run artificial intelligence on the device instead of in the cloud
  You work directly with the tools designed by the developers of the operating system
  Better platform performance and look & feel
  They score more points from users in the app stores

Only by analyzing in-depth parameters such as the target audience, core business, functionalities, performance, application maintenance, and others, you can ensure that you are choosing the type of application more appropriate for your needs.

At Plain Concepts, we have been developing business applications for more than a decade, and we have several experts and professionals that can help you make this decision by analyzing your case and recommending the best option, from creating a new app to transforming and modernizing the existing one according to your unique needs. Count on us to get the best out of your applications.

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María Soto
María Soto
Marketing Team Lead