Ina world driven by mobile technology, with thousands of software applications and millions of eager users, the value of a great application cannot be overstated. Mobile apps offer businesses the opportunity to present their products to the entire world from a small screen, right in the pocket of the users. There are thousands and thousands of concepts that have been translated to apps out there. As a matter of fact anything you can think of, there will be an app built already, probably not the same but similar. Sadly, not many of these apps are engaging enough to keep their users coming back.
Research has shown that only 16 % of users are known to give an app more than two chances if it fails to work the first time, while 79 % will retry it just once. I found out that the Performance of an app — how responsive it is and the User Experience — how easy it is for the user to explore the features of the app are two most essential factors that contribute to a return rate of a user coming back to your app. Great performance and user experience trump every other thing when it comes to app development. It is no doubt that the companies have to choose what approach they should take when developing an app. While some prefer performance, others consider the user numbers, the cost involved and the time to develop, but a choice has to be made. The tradeoffs should, however, be known prior to building the app, so take a ride with me as we explore the best of the two approaches — native and hybrid apps to building you an awesome app.
A native app is a smartphone application developed for a specific mobile operating system. Native apps are written in different programming languages for different platforms. We use Java or Kotlin for Android development and Swift or Objective C for iOS development. These apps are developed on a platform called an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which follows appropriate guidelines for the specific operating system (OS). Native apps give users the best in-app experience as it feels very consistent with other apps that come pre-installed on mobile phones. The advantage here is it’s ability to utilize the built-in capabilities of the device it runs on such as the camera, GPS, and other hardcore features. Native apps have more than one code base; that is why iOS apps will not run on Android and vice versa. The source code works on a targeted platform and needs their own unique project code. Native apps take a longer time to build which may cost more but in the long run perform efficiently.
So when you hear the word hybrid, what really comes to mind? Yep — a bit of both worlds. Hybrid apps are essentially web apps wrapped in native web view that looks and feels like native apps. Users can install it on their devices just like native apps, they run in the browsers but have access to a device’s capabilities only through external plugins like PhoneGap and Cordova. The advantage of hybrid apps is that you have one codebase that targets all platforms. Hybrid apps don’t just lack in performance but are also bug-prone due to their “over” reliance on external libraries. While some say it is time-saving, it is worth noting that you’ll spend countless hours tweaking it to meet the needs of each platform. If you didn’t get half of what i wrote above, all I’m saying is:
Native apps — Better user experience, access to device core functionalities easy to find on app stores and better overall performance.
Hybrid apps — One codebase for all platforms, this saves development time and money but only has access to device capabilities through plugins.
Make your Choice Now
The choice to develop a native or hybrid app rests solely in the hands of the client, however there are certain things to be taken into account:
- Development time is critical: Based on the clients time schedule to release the app, the choice of a native or hybrid app could be made easier. A longer time to release will give developers time to develop great native apps which has the best performance, user experience, and higher securities. A shorter time may require a hybrid app since the development time is shorter and it target a variety of platforms and saves money too.
- Another consideration to make is the user experience: My best bet is that every user longs to have great experiences with their apps. They don’t know and probably don’t care (except the technical ones) how the app was made, but if your app doesn’t get them hooked, you lose them forever. Remember you may have just one chance to wow them.
It is therefore not just enough to build a mobile app, but imperative to create an app that keeps users engaged, interested and excited. As cool as it may sound to have one codebase target for all platforms, the main purpose of developing an app is not to just have it on all platforms but to have daily active users. To have users excited and wanting more, the pros and cons have been discussed and you have the liberty to choose which way to go. Just be sure of your trade-offs.
Remember — your app may only have one chance to impress users!
Till the next blog post, much love from
This blog post was written by Diayan Siat on the 4th of October, 2018.