Mobile apps have recently grown into an integral part of a promotional strategy, but when it comes to app development, we are often overwhelmed with a dime a dozen of app types - iOS or Android, native or cross-platform. Undoubtedly developers understand what makes a native app - native or a hybrid app - hybrid one.
But what about those who don’t know anything about apps?
If you are an entrepreneur who wants to build a custom mobile app, you still need to make a landmark decision about which app type to built - native, hybrid or progressive.
However, there is no clear-cut answer. The choice of app type depends on a bunch of factors not to mention budget and deadlines.Our today’s entry aims to give you a clear view of various app types available on the market and to help you go down the line to what mobile app you should build.
Native Mobile Apps
Let’s start with the basics. Native apps are developed for one operating system be it iOS or Android. As a rule, developers use particular programming languages for each platform. We use Swift and Objective-C for iOS native mobile app development, and Java is used for Android native mobile app development. In other words, a native app can be native to only one operating system as well as a mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.).
Benefits of Native Apps
The flawless performance makes native apps a lucrative solution. They work faster than any other web or cross-platform software solution.
- Full Use of Hardware Features
Native apps get access to all the features offered by the device and operating system. You will not run up against something other apps can do that your app cannot. These apps can take advantage of basic features (push notifications, GPS, etc.) as well as more advanced such as access to the USB input, complex networking, memory management, etc.
There are no limitations regarding app performance and speed if native apps are built using the technologies recommended by the devices’ manufacturer. This is important while building a graphics intensive app, such as a game, or an app that will be used by billions of users.
- Better User Experience
Native apps automatically integrate into the operating system. Once installed, such apps look and feel like an integrated part of the device’s operating system following the logic of a particular device. Thus the users won’t have to spend long hours finding out how to use the app.
Drawbacks of Native Apps
- Cut-Throat Competition
There are about 2.2 million iOS apps and 3.5 million Android apps. A native app will compete for the users’ attention and appreciation. To add more, with a large number of apps available, the users have become more selective and exacting.
- Higher Costs
Native app development is by far the most expensive among other app types. It requires more development time compared to cross-platform or web apps. If the app supports a wide range of devices, the costs for development and maintenance will be increased proportionally to the number of devices.
- Integration Difficulties
Often the hardest part of building apps isn’t development itself but its integration with the existing company’s infrastructure. Native apps utilize APIs to shore up the content and infrastructure.
Who Should Go For Native Apps?
Native apps have no rivals when it comes to performance and integration. They are ideal for monetization since the users know where to find them. Native apps are an ideal way to test your app idea. Native apps provide a full integration with all devices’ features and services and use them in the most efficient way. For example, Instagram was built first for iOS devices, and when it reached 30 million active users, Instagram was added to the Google Play Store.
Moreover, while developing a native app, you should consider the mobile operating system for your target audience. Android and iOS are the biggest players among all mobile operating systems. If your target audience prefers Android, there is no need to develop an iOS app at one stoke. Thus, we decided to build Costless for Android and iOS devices since they are the most widespread operating systems in Ukraine according to Statista.
Costless is a mobile app that helps to find the lowest prices for goods and products in Kiev and as a result put off extra money. With the app, you won’t have to check the prices manually visiting the stores and burning up your time - Costless will do it for you.
Hybrid apps are a so-called bridge between native and web applications. They cover a wider range of mobile devices thanks to a particular framework. This framework (Cordova, Ionic, Onsen, Kendo, ReactNative, Xamarin, PhoneGap, etc.) enables native functions in hybrid apps via specific cross-platform APIs.
Benefits of Hybrid Apps
- Lower Development Costs
Such hybrid mobile app frameworks and languages provide you with a much larger pool of app developers to choose from. And it results in more competitive rates for both development as well as maintenance services.
- One Code for Multiple Platforms
Another advantage of hybrid apps is the possibility to use a single codebase for the dominant mobile operating system. This results in shorter development time and hence, lower development costs. With a cross-platform app, you will be able to reach out more users.
- Easier to Scale
Thanks to the “write once, run everywhere” mantra, you can scale to another mobile platform in a short time. It means that you don’t have to write the code for another from square one, but only make a few amendments. This approach will save you more time as well as money.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Apps
- Loss of Performance
Hybrid apps utilize particular frameworks such as Cordova, Onsen, Ionic, etc. Frameworks create a shell between the mobile platform and the code. This may results in the loss of performance.
- Productivity Decrease
Mobile devices are constantly improving at a blistering pace, and there is no sign of slowing down. More and more advanced features keep evolving. And adding new features to hybrid frameworks may take some time.
Although, some difficulties might occur with animations, clicks, and scrolling. And it may take months to polish an app. Despite all the performance improvements, hybrid apps are still trailing the native.
Who Should Go For Hybrid Apps?
Hybrid apps are right up your street if you have a limited timeframe and relatively low budget. These apps speed up the development and release. As a result, you can stay a step further than your competitors. Giants like Twitter, Uber, and Instagram have already adopted hybrid apps. Hybrid apps have their own pros and cons which you should consider before developing a mobile app.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
PWAs can level up the way how users interact with websites. It was not until 2015 when Google brought out the idea of progressive web apps. Putting it simply, a PWA is a mobile website with the “app-like” feel. It’s a website enriched with more advanced features providing the native feel and look. Not to mention, progressive web app development costs less than native or hybrid.
A progressive web app has lots in common with a native app. It has a custom loading screen, smooth navigation, push notifications, etc.
Benefits of PWAs
Unlike regular websites, PWAs can work regardless of the Internet connection. This allows users to use the app when there is no Internet leveling up the user engagement and availability. PWAs will save the information and any changes automatically when you are online again. For example, you can make your product catalogs accessible offline. This will increase your customer retention as well as engagement rates.
- Native-Like Performance
PWAs are designed to resemble native apps but with the full functionality of regular websites. The existing frameworks and tools can provide the PWA users with the flawless user experience when compared to websites.
PWAs work faster due to the way they cache and serve images, text, and other content. As a result, improved performance level up the user experience and retention rates as well.
- Quick loading
PWAs load instantly thanks to the service workers regardless of the internet connection. It means that the users with a poor connection may use the app without waiting too long.
- Less Intrusive
When compared to native apps, PWAs take and use less space on the device as well as resources. As a result, progressive apps don’t drain the device’s battery requiring less data usage.
Drawbacks of PWAs
- Limited Access to Hardware
PWAs can’t use all the features of devices as native apps can. While developing a progressive app, you can’t take advantage of such features as NFC, geofencing, proximity sensors, camera controls, ambient light, contacts, wake and sleep lock, etc. But it might be just the question of time since PWAs are quite new to the app development market.
- Not Supported by Some Browsers
PWAs are supported by most of the browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. But Safari cuts PWAs out of the loop.
Who Should Go For PWAs?
Let’s take a closer look at one of the progressive web app examples - Twitter Lite. As Nicolas Gallagher pointed out a PWA had optimized the work of a web solution and made it much faster. With the launch of a PWA, Twitter experienced:
- increased time spent per session;
- more sent messages;
- lower bounce rate.
PWAs is an ideal solution for you if you want to lift the performance of your web services. Google has published lots of case studies that show how PWAs improve the technical as well as the business side of web services including conversion and bounce rates, engagement, data usage as well as loading time.
There are many ways in which you can take your app development. And each way has its own pros and cons such as time, budget, features, functionality, etc.
Which is better: native or hybrid or progressive? In the end, the decision of which app type to develop is completely yours.
And at Sannacode our experts will gladly assist you and help find which app suits your business needs and requirements best.