The fact that the world has transformed from desktop computing to mobile computing means one thing: current and future applications will be mobile-based. The proliferation of mobile devices in recent times, driven mainly by growing consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets has made organizations find ways of leveraging their businesses using mobile applications.

Amidst these developments, a raging debate has been ignited on whether companies should use native, or web-based or hybrid applications. Whether these organizations would like to use the mobile applications to market their products, or push the mobile apps as their products for sale, one fact remains elusive: it’s difficult to choose whether to adopt native, the web or hybrid applications.

 Nevertheless, remaining relevant in today’s highly competitive business environment demands that you understand factors that can help you not only to leverage a mobile application for your organization but one that suits the needs of your organization. So, which mobile application development should you opt for?

In “Mobile Application Development: Native, Web or Hybrid?” we review the differences between the three options of mobile application development. Your understanding of these differences will help your organization to not only know how to leverage mobile applications but also learn whether these applications befits the particular needs of your firm.

So, let’s dive in and learn these differences.

#1: Native apps

A native app is a mobile application that’s installed through an application store—a digital distribution platform such as the Google Play (for Android OS apps), Windows Phone Store (for Microsoft Windows OS apps or Apple’s AppStore (for iOS apps).  Ideally, a native app can only be developed for one platform. For instance, an Android app cannot run on an iOS platform and vice-versa.

Here are advantages of using native apps:

They can take the full benefits of the mobile device’s features such as the camera, contacts, or the GPS. They can easily communicate with the hardware devices on your smartphone such as Bluetooth, the camera or USB when compared to other apps.

They can be used while your mobile device is offline, unlike other apps that require you to be connected to the internet.

They provide higher chances of customer engagement with your firm’s brands throughout the day because these apps can easily be located on mobile user’s home screen.

They have a more responsive user design. This is because, they are more sensitive to user gestures such as the swipes and the pinches compared to buttons on websites.

They have better graphics management and API compared to other mobile apps.

The cons of native apps include:

They are not platform independent. Several apps and various versions have to be developed to support numerous mobile platforms that may be costly for your organization.

The development of these apps may take significant time for your firm.

The process of approving apps on some platforms can be tedious and lengthy.

Examples of native mobile apps are the Angry Birds, Call Blocker, Skype, and Shazam.

#2: Web-based mobile apps

Web-based mobile apps are those apps that are hosted on the web, and they can be accessed from a browser that’s installed on a mobile device. With HTML5, you can develop a web-based mobile app—that uses HTML5 technologies—to run across multiple mobile platforms. As a result of using HTLM5—which is akin to developing a mobile website—you’ll develop mobile apps that are platform independent.

Here are advantages of these apps:

They are platform independent. They can run across the multiple mobile platforms such as Android, iOS, or Windows Mobile OS.

They are not as costly and time-consuming as the native apps.

Here are the disadvantages of using the web-based mobile apps:

They can’t utilize the powerful hardware features of the mobile devices such as such as Bluetooth, the camera or the USB.

They can’t be used while in offline mode. You need an internet connection for you to use these apps.

The mobile website has to be optimized for responsiveness.

Examples of these apps include: Hire Kenny, the Dot Slash, Moire Marketing, Visit Tampa Bay, Get-Coupons.com and I Want That Flight.

#3: Hybrid mobile apps

Hybrid mobile apps are apps that are developed using JavaScript—an object oriented programming language that’s used to create interactive effects in web pages—and HTML5 technologies. But here is the rider: the JavaScript language has to be wrapped in a

In a nutshell, a hybrid mobile app runs from a web browser and can take the advantages of powerful hardware devices such as the GPS, the camera, and Bluetooth. Examples of these apps include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Comparison of Native, Web-based and Hybrid Mobile apps


 

Native Mobile Apps

Web-based Mobile Apps

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Features

·         Developed using the native language of the mobile platform (the objective C language for iOS, the Java language for Android and Visual C++ for Windows Mobile phone)

·         Installed through an application store (Google Play, Appstore and Windows Phone Store)

·         They can access the mobile device’s hardware features

 

·         Developed using HTML 5

·         They are run on a mobile browser

·         They can’t access the mobile device’s hardware features

 

·         Developed using a combination of HTML5 and JavaScript

·         They are run on a mobile browser

·         They can access the mobile device’s hardware features

 

 

Pros

·         They can communicate with hardware devices such as the camera

·         They can be used while in offline mode

·         They have a more responsive user design

·         They have better graphics management

·         They can’t communicate with the mobile device hardware.

·         They can’t be used while in offline mode.

·         The mobile website has to be optimized.

 

·         They can communicate with hardware devices such as the camera

·         They can be used while in offline mode

·         They have a more responsive user design

·         They have better graphics management

Cons

·         Not platform independent

·         They may take a lot of time to develop

·         They may be costly to an organization.

·         They are platform independent.

·         They take less time.

·         They are cheaper

·         They may take a lot of time to develop

·         They may be costly to an organization.

 

The Bottom Line

Which mobile application development among the three options—native, web-based or hybrid—should your firm opt for? Honestly speaking, there’s no perfect answer to this question that fits all. However, for you to make this decision, it’s important to weigh upon important considerations. Ideally, all the three options have their fair share of merits as well their demerits.  

Therefore, it’s imperative that you understand the factors that can help you not only to leverage your mobile application, but also one that suits the needs of your organization. For instance, you have to figure out whether your mobile application should use the mobile device hardware features, or is just an application that can be run on a web browser.

All in all, your business bottom line should always guide you whenever you want to select the best mobile application development for your organization. Which approach will take for your company?

 

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Natalia for highlighting a need for this blog and to Peter for helping me in the write-up.


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