Developing mobile apps has become a significant part of businesses to win customers’ hearts. You might have dozens of applications installed on your smartphones, and you spend your day and night too on these apps. The popularity of smartphones is growing tremendously and as a business owner, it becomes necessary for you to create apps that provide a rich user experience and enable customers to spend a long time on the app. Regarding Hybrid Vs. native Vs. cross-platform, this blog is going to answer all your important questions as to which one is best for you to choose in 2023.
Let’s play with numbers –
Research from Statista says,” There has been a significant increase in the number of mobile apps downloads from 275 billion in 2022 to 299 billion in 2023.
Nowadays, there are plenty of mobile applications your competitors are creating, so how would you choose the best mobile app that becomes a harvesting ground for your business?
As a developer, you could develop various apps, but what’s the take of creating multiple apps without knowing the use cases and identifying the relevant target audience?
Moreever, the number of smartphone subscriptions have crossed 6 billion in 2023, and this is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.
If you want to stand out from the crowd through developing mobile apps, then this guide is created for you.
In this article, you will learn about various types of apps that developers are building (Hybrid Vs. native Vs. cross-platform) and which app is best for your enterprise.
Table of Contents
What are Native Apps?
Native apps have been built for a specific platform /operating system (IOS/Android).
There are 2 types of native apps – Android and IOS. Developers can develop native Android apps using Java/Kotlin programming language. On the other hand, IOS apps are created using objective C/Swift programming language.
Developers, when developing native apps, can get access to native capabilities, APIs, and new native features such as GPS, cameras, sensors, etc.
It is costly to develop native apps because an organization needs to hire separate Android and iOS app development teams. Several companies have been using native app development frameworks such as Google Maps, Spotify, Pinterest, etc.
What are the advantages of Native apps?
1. Easy to launch in the market
Native apps are much easier to launch on the app store or play store as the native app development framework uses platform-specific guidelines. Sometimes, it becomes challenging for developers to launch an app-on-app marketplace.
Hence, native app developers are aligned with the policies and guidelines of the app store or play store.
2. Superior performance
Native app development delivers high performance compared to cross-platform or hybrid apps. The reason is pretty simple. Developers get access to full hardware support, APIs, and OS support,
3. Faster speed
There is no complex code involved in developing native apps. So, these apps offer high-speed performance as the app elements load quickly as and when the user lands on the mobile app. Therefore, startups prefer to choose native apps to provide maximum value to their customers.
4. Provides an offline support
The most significant advantage that native app development offers is its offline support to access the apps. Native apps can be operated by the users without internet connectivity, helping the users to access all in-app features in airplane mode.
What are hybrid apps?
Nowadays, developers are using more hybrid apps and shifting from native app development. Hybrid apps are those apps that comprise of capabilities of native and web apps. It is a subset of a cross-platform app development framework. This means that the app has some native features, while others that are well suited for cross-platform development are opened in mobile browsers. In this way, you get the best of both worlds in the Hybrid app.
Hybrid apps use a single codebase to develop apps for multiple platforms because it has a separate layer to get the device-specific capabilities like the device camera, push notifications, and calendar. Though hybrid apps are primarily web apps, users can download them on a native device.
These apps use their inbuilt web browser to function effectively. For example – Android apps use WebView elements, and IOS apps have an embedded browser called WKwebview.
Some examples of hybrid apps include Twitter, Uber, Instagram, etc.
What are the advantages of Hybrid apps?
1. Cross-platform framework
Hybrid apps use a single codebase for developing cross-platform apps. These apps give an edge to businesses to target a broad range of customers. Hence, it makes it easy for companies to create an online brand presence on multiple platforms.
2. No waiting time required
When developing native apps, developers need approval from the app store or play store. There is a waiting time associated with it. For example, the App Store approves launching an IOS app within 24-48 hrs. On the contrary, Google provides the approval to launch an Android app within 7 days.
But in hybrid apps, developers can quickly launch apps for the end users.
3. Faster development cycle
Developers can build hybrid apps using a single codebase, enabling them to market the apps quickly. Developers can save 50% of the development time while building hybrid apps. Therefore, it saves the hours of developers from targeting their end users quickly.
4. Saves the development cost
Developing native apps saves the dollars of business owners as an app can be developed using a single codebase. Here, the organization needs to hire 2 separate development teams to develop an Android and IOS app. Thus, a hybrid app development framework saves 60-80% of development costs.
What are cross-platform apps?
There is a misconception that hybrid app development and cross-platform app development are the same. However, it isn’t true. Both frameworks focus on creating a shareable code that works across multiple platforms.
Cross-platform development can be completed in a single stack such as React Native, Flutter, Ionic and so on, but Hybrid is a mix of native code with a few features in web technology (JS, HTM, CSS).
Native apps are developed using shareable code but cannot access native-like capabilities. It allows the developers to build various apps for IOS and Android.
Earlier, it was challenging for developers to build mobile apps for various platforms, but the arrival of a cross-platform framework makes the development process much easier.
According to Statista, 3.55 million mobile apps are on the play store, and around 1.6 million apps are on the app store. These numbers might shock you for a while. But companies strive to develop multiple apps through a cross-platform development framework.
In a nutshell, one codebase is used by one development team to create multiple apps. Isn’t it amazing? All thanks to the cross-platform framework.
What are the advantages of cross-platform apps?
1. Code reusability
Mobile app developers need not worry about writing different codes again and again. The cross-platform framework allows developers to write the code once and deploy it for multiple platforms. Hence, developers can save time incurred on doing repetitive tasks.
2. Saves the development time
The code reusability feature enables the developers to use the same code. The cross-platform framework focuses on writing less code. Hence, writing less code reduces the chances of bugs which in turn helps the development team spend less time on developing and testing the app.
3. Target multiple audiences
A single codebase feature allows developers to target a wide range of audiences. There is no need to write multiple codes to reach Android and IOS users. Hence, a cross-platform framework provides maximum exposure to businesses to reach various markets.
4. A quick way to market apps
Cross-platform apps can be launched quickly in the market as developers need not worry about building apps for multiple platforms. Additionally, it becomes easy for programmers to customize the app by making small changes in the codebase.
Let’s understand the difference between hybrid vs. native vs. cross-platform apps.
Basis of comparison
Developers use a single codebase to develop apps for multiple platforms
Developers create separate codebases for developing native apps
A single codebase is reused across multiple platforms
Cross-platform apps can be marketed quickly because it uses a shareable codebase
A hybrid app development framework provides limited access to platform APIs
Hybrid app development framework provides limited access to platform APIs
The performance is not superior as compared to native and hybrid apps
Time to market
Developing native apps is a time-consuming process as separate codebases are used
Hybrid apps are cost-effective as a single development team can create apps for multiple platforms
Cross platform apps can be marketed quickly because it uses a shareable codebase
Cost of developing apps
The performance of native apps is superior than hybrid and cross-platform apps. Native apps enable the developers to access platform APIs and capabilities
Native apps are costly because you need to write multiple codebases for developing Android and IOS apps.
Cross platform apps are cost effective. Therefore, startups prefer to develop apps using cross platform development framework.
-Developers use Java/Kotlin for developing Android apps -Objective C/swift is used for developing IOS apps
Hybrid apps use third-party libraries
Cross platform apps may depend on third party libraries https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7965410
Hybrid apps uses third-party libraries
Spotify, WhatsApp, Soundcloud, Tesla
Twitter, Gmail, Instagram, Evernote, Amazon
Instagram, skype, Airbnb, Walmart
Use cases of Hybrid Vs. Native Vs. Cross-platform apps.
When to choose native apps?
If you want to access platform integration capabilities such as cameras, sensors, GPS, etc.
If you want to provide superior performance to the users
If you want to develop gaming apps or add complex features to an app
If you want to build more secure apps
In what cases you can use Hybrid apps?
If you want to develop an app for multiple platforms
If you’re going to use the single codebase across all platforms
If you’re going to launch the app quickly
If you’re going to reduce the cost of development
If you’re going to reach multiple target audiences
When to choose cross-platform apps?
When you want to develop a single app for multiple platforms
When you want to reuse a single codebase across various platforms
When you want to create an app quickly
When you want to build an app that does not have complex features
When you have a limited budget
Q1. Is a hybrid app a cross-platform app?
Hybrid and cross-platform apps are made using similar technologies, but these apps are different. Hybrid apps, though, use a single codebase to develop apps for multiple platforms. Under cross-platform app development, developers write the code once and reuse it across multiple platforms. Regarding performance, hybrid apps provide native-like performance to the users. Cross-platform apps do not offer high-level performance to users.
Q2. Why is native app development often more costly than cross-platform or hybrid?
Native app development is expensive as you write code twice, test twice, and maintain it twice; hence every functionality or feature has 2X time effort. Time effort is directly proportional to cost. There is always an overhead of communication and other efforts while communicating with two developers, one for Android and another for Ios.
Q3. Which language is best for the native app?
Platform provider usually recommends the choice of Native app language. For instance, Android has the support of both Java and Kotlin, while Android maintains its stance on Kotlin’s first approach in Android projects. IOS supports both Swift and Objective-c, but they have Swift’s first approach in IOS projects.
Note: These recommendations change every year due to technological advancements, and platform providers work consistently to improve the performance and make highly abstracted languages for devs so that they can code faster and simpler.
Q4. Can we build a hybrid app using React Native?
Yes, we can use react native to create a hybrid app. It’s the most popular choice for a hybrid app as React Native is the answer to both speed and scale for your next hybrid app.
Q5. Are hybrid apps secure?
Yes, hybrid apps are secure, but it usually depends on how they are hosted and coded. They are secure by design if correctly coded. Security vulnerabilities can be easily identified using free tools such as JFrog, but such flaws can be found not only in hybrid apps but also in native apps.