Native App vs Hybrid App vs Cross Mobile App: These are the Differences

Native App vs Hybrid App vs Cross Mobile App: These are the Differences

Native, hybrid, and cross-platform applications are the primary mobile app development approaches. Its choice significantly impacts a mobile application’s success, regardless of the industry you are dealing with. So online businesses usually encounter the dilemma of choosing the right approach to application development.

No matter what type of app you are planning to create, it is critical to understand the differences between each development approach, whether native, hybrid, or cross-platform. You can use it to choose the option that best supports the commercial goals of your application and maximises its value. Read on in the article to learn more about the topic in detail.

How Do They Differ?

All three approaches differ depending on performance, app complexity, budget limitations, audience, time to market, and many others. Along with these differences, every company will have a unique set of considerations. You can get clarity on the right approach to development from the explanations below about each approach. 

1. Native Apps

They are mobile apps built from scratch using platform-specific programming languages that operate on specific devices and operating systems, such as Android and iOS. Java or Kotlin are used when creating native Android apps, and Objective-C or Swift are used when creating iOS apps. Such apps can take advantage of all possible advantages of the device and the operating system’s features. 

It is because developers can get access to adding more capabilities and features to the apps as native app development can utilise primary smartphone hardware elements like GPS, Proximity sensors, cameras, microphones, and so on. So the apps made can offer you high performance and a better user experience.

  • This approach is mandatory for building highly complex mobile apps like product inventory or gaming apps with 3D animations. 
  • One of the disadvantages of such applications is that running them on multiple platforms requires developing and maintaining an app for each platform separately. But not all businesspeople or product owners can afford it. 
  • You can opt for native app development only if you are not in a rush to market your product and have no budget constraints. 
  • But the thing is, such applications are a future-proof investment and are secure, user-friendly, and lighter than other apps.
  • Examples are Google Maps, Artsy, Pinterest, and Spotify. 

2. Hybrid Apps

It is a blend of native and web solutions where web-based languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript are used to code, and the code is then embedded into a native application with plugins like Apache Cordova or Ionic’s Capacitor. The developers can therefore get access to native functionalities. This code is written only once and can be used on multiple platforms.

Even though backend code may be shared, developers can create apps quickly and affordably for various platforms. Still, apps that rely on embedded browsers suffer from poor performance and inconsistent user interfaces (UIs) across platforms. So the user experience and performance will somewhat resemble native apps. 

  • Using a hybrid development approach can be a trial solution for developing startup companies. 
  • This method is perfect for startups because of its quick development times and low cost.
  • Startups have a tendency to prioritise the delivery of MVPs. 
  • In that case, a hybrid development framework is the best option because it allows for quick development and an early launch of the app on the market.
  • Examples of hybrid apps include Instagram, Evernote, Gmail, JustWatch, NHS, and Airbus Helicopters.

3. Cross Apps

Many people confuse hybrid and cross-platform apps. But the only similarity between them is the code’s reusability or shareability. Developers and business owners will greatly benefit from reusable code with improved productivity and efficiency in the long run. This is where cross-platform development frameworks excel. 

It is the best approach for mobile app development because cross-apps are low-cost, customisable, secure, stable, and easy to maintain. Cross apps are more suitable for simple applications such as employee onboarding and return to work apps because they lag native apps in performance and UX.

  • Many cross-platform development frameworks are available to achieve a user experience similar to native apps. 
  • When it comes to performance, it depends on the framework you choose. But it will never be better than native development. 
  • As said earlier, it works on multiple platforms. 
  • If you target audiences on different platforms within a limited budget and cross-apps can offer satisfactory performance, then this will be an ideal approach.
  • Examples of cross-platform apps include Insightly, Bloomberg, Reflectly, Skype, and Slack.

So, you read about all three above to discover their differences. The best user experience and performance come from native development, but it takes more time, money, and skill to do so. 

By allowing developers to write code once and deploy it across various platforms, hybrid app development combines the best of both worlds. Still, there is a chance that performance issues will arise. 

Developing cross-platform apps is a cost-effective way for developers to build apps for different platforms with a single codebase, but the apps may have limited features and performance. It all depends on the goals and needs of your project, whether to develop native, hybrid, or cross-platform apps. However, choosing the right one that perfectly suits your use case is challenging, as your choice depends on the nature of the business and the type of app that needs to be built. 

Interesting Links:

The 2023 guide to native app development

Native vs Hybrid vs Cross Platform App Development: How to Choose?

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