Native vs Web vs Hybrid Apps

Understanding the landscape of app development platforms.

When it comes to app development, there are three main app types you can explore:

  1. Web
  2. Native (iOS/Android)
  3. Hybrid (React Native)

Depending on your business objectives and overall goals, this decision can make or break the success of your mobile strategy. It’s important to remember that just because you’re launching on one platform, doesn’t mean you can’t expand to others in the future. Let’s dive into the core functionality of each type.

Web App Development

Web apps are hosted on web browsers, and are essentially websites that look like native apps. However, instead of installing the application on the users device, users interact with the app through a webview (i.e safari or chrome). While this type of app is generally lower in cost and easier to maintain, they require a web browser, are much slower than native apps, and can’t leverage device utilities (i.e camera). Web apps are generally less interactive and intuitive than native apps, resulting in a weaker user experience.

Native App Development

Native apps are built for specific platforms and are written in the languages the platform accepts (for example, Swift and Objective-C are common languages for iOS apps and Java or Kotlin are common for Android apps). Native apps are fast and responsive, distributed in app stores, offer intuitive user input and output, and don’t require an internet connection. Native apps offer a better user experience but are more expensive to develop than other options.

Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps are essentially a combination of native and web apps. A hybrid app consists of two parts: the first is the back-end code, and the second is a native shell that is downloadable and loads the code using a webview. Hybrid apps are less expensive than native apps, don’t require a browser, and can leverage device APIs; however, they’re slower than native apps and are not customizable to individual platforms like native apps.

Web App Development

How are web apps different from a website? A website typically provides users with more information than is usually displayed on a mobile site, whereas a web app condenses this information to improve functionality. Web apps load in browsers like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, and don’t need to be downloaded from app stores like mobile apps. Web apps also don’t take up storage on the user’s device.

Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid: Which Approach is Best?

The decision to build either a web, native or hybrid app should be based on your business objectives. Before jumping into development, you should consider the following factors:

  • How fast you need the app
  • The quality of the user experience you want your app to have
  • The complexity of features you need for your app to work

Whichever approach you choose should, above all, be quick, responsive, and reliable. As users are demanding more from mobile experiences, it’s important to keep up with their changing demands.

The debate around which type of app is the best is still very relevant today as the lines between the three approaches are becoming increasingly blurred. While the discussion to differentiate the three mobile apps continues, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t choose an approach for the technology, but instead, choose based on what you want your app to do. If you choose an approach that doesn’t allow your app to utilize device features, for example, then you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money when you decide to add features.