Developing mobile apps is the 'in' thing in the world of software development and computing right now. With the unparalleled growth of smart-phones and pocket computers likes tablets, developing a mobile software is far more profitable than creating one for a computer.

The popularity of smart-phones lies in the fact that at the time of sale, they have integrated apps and embedded codes that allows the user to access many of the features and websites at a single click of an icon (app). Unlike mobile web browsing, there is no need to launch a web browser and then key in the entire URL to access the online platform. It is also very fast. There is almost no wait time for users which improves engagement. An account that you have with an online media platform, once synced with a device, can be accessed without having to type the login details every time. So, the convenience factor is also very high.

Not only this, the security of an in-device app is much higher than accessing a website by launching a browser because these are heavily encoded. You don’t have to go through unsecured gateways/ connections. Another advantage is that the user is given constant reminders and updates. He is also alerted if any new addition to the content has been made and keeps the user engaged. Apps have a huge advantage for many businesses since they are cost-effective and easy to create.

What is the fuss about?

Although there may be no confusion as to the effectiveness and benefits an app has for the develop as well as for the user but question still remains which type of app is the most comprehensive and user-friendly as well as profitable. There is no single answer to this question. Both native and hybrid apps have advantages and disadvantages and the choice should be objective and depend on contextual use. Budget, time allocated for creating the app, choice of your client and the kind of users you are targeting are some of the factors that should guide your decision.

Native app

According to SearchSoftwareQuality, a native app is program that has been created for use on a particular platform/device. The advantage of such a software is that the program can use all the features of the operating system and software that have been specifically installed or created for this platform. So, there is no need for installation of additional computing components for the app to interact with the OS. For example, Google uses Java and Apple uses Objective C to code its native apps.

Native apps can be easily downloaded from play stores of the specific OS developer that is being used on the device and can be launched with the click of a single button. Native apps are relatively easy to develop because they come with SDK (software developer’s kit) which is unique to that particular platform and also unique to the interface elements as well as development tools.

Advantages

  • A native app is extremely responsive, fast and highly reliable. The user experience is better in a native app than in other kinds of apps like web or hybrid. Since, a native app is created by considering all the facets of the ecosystem of a platform, the app is more intuitive and can take advantage of all the features of the OS and associated software. They can leverage greater functionality of the device like using the device camera, access the GPS settings of the device or continuously give updated notifications.
  • Native apps provide the highest possible security for your device. It is very difficult for hackers to steal critical data from your device.
  • Native apps have brilliant UI and UX features and make the user experience memorable and fascinating. 
  • One major advantage of native apps is that they can be used in an offline mode as well. 
  • Rejection of native apps is far less than hybrid apps due to consistent user experience. 
  • Usually native apps give the user access to many free tools developed by vendors of the platform developer.

Disadvantages

  • The cost and other resource involvements in a native app are usually far higher than in hybrid apps. The maintenance cost is also very high as the developer has to maintain multiple code bases in order to make them compatible with different types of devices and platforms.
  • Users often use different versions of an app which makes it difficult to provide updates and regular support as each version is often device specific.

Hybrid app

Technically speaking, hybrid apps are supposed to incorporate and provide features of both web apps and native apps. But, they are more akin to web apps. These apps offer cross-platform functionality and like web apps, they are also not made for a specific platform or device. These are generally available online and can be accessed with the help of a web browser. But they embed a website inside a native app wrapping. That means like native apps, they can also be accessed directly and used offline.

Advantages

  • Hybrid apps have a very quick turnaround time and can be launched in the market quickly. So, where time is a constraint, developers often prefer hybrid apps.
  • Hybrid apps have low initial cost of development and also low maintenance cost because a single code base is being used to access multiple platforms. Multiple code bases often have some similar features which mean loss of resources and efficiency. Hybrid apps are devoid of that problem.
  • Most banking and some popular social media apps are hybrid apps because they can directly copy or make the content available on a website on the device without having to launch a web browser.

Disadvantages

  • A hybrid app may not provide best user or native experience since the code base is uniform for all platforms. So, it is less intuitive and user experience is less consistent.
  • All native features may not exist and new features are not always available on a hybrid app. 
  • For a developer with basic or no knowledge about a native platform, debugging undocumented errors may become very difficult.

Conclusion

There are visible and distinct advantages for both. Hybrid apps provide cross-platform compatibility and are relatively easy to maintain. However, cross-platform experience is yet very smooth due to technological challenges which still remain. So, at the end of the day, it will all boil down to your specific needs. Be clear. Be focused.