Blog: Native or hybrid mobile app — what to choose

Making the choice between a hybrid and a native path might seem complicated, but the truth is that it’s not. Today, we’re going to examine the performance, UI/UX specifics, costs, development duration, and other parameters between each stack. When you know what separates the two, all you need to do is go back to your project and find the indications for either a native or hybrid mobile development.

Ready to explore the differences?

Tech stack you can pick from

DB Best has vast experience in application building. In our portfolio, we have solutions for the Healthcare and Fitness industry, Augmented and Virtual Reality-based applications, video, and image processing apps, chatbots, and other advanced products (e.g., https://apps.dbbest.com/#technology). Our clients have often asked for a mixture of native and cross-platform solutions. In this article, we’ll review the pool of widely used mobile technologies, define them, outline their pros and cons, and help you to make the right choice for your business.

Native applications for Mobile

Things are pretty simple here. In the context of mobile applications, we use “native” characteristics for those developed for specific device platforms. The main platforms are iOS by Apple and Android by Google. Objective-C and Swift are the languages we apply for iOS development, and Java or Kotlin will let us build native Android apps.

Cross-platform and Hybrid tech pool

Today there are three main mobile applications types: Native, Cross-platform, and Hybrid. We’ve already described Native briefly. As for Hybrid and Cross-platform, they are pretty close. The majority of modern cross-platform apps are created in Apache Cordova or Ionic. When Hybrid type combines native and cross-platform features, like React Native, we have a JS framework called React in conjunction with the native mobile code.

Let’s get down to detail about how we utilize Cross-platform and Hybrid applications!

Cross-platform and Hybrid applications

– Cordova and Ionic — WebView approach

Apache Cordova and Ionic are the popular frameworks developers use to build WebViews-based cross-platform mobile apps. The WebView approach allows the creation of mobile solutions with a web tech stack. You basically write the code that can be used for Web as well as Mobile (both, iOS and Android platforms). Thanks to tools like Cordova, the app will have a special bridge to run on mobile devices and a chance to rock both app marketplaces.

– React Native for Native JS code-based apps

React Native is a new native mobile development framework that allows for building apps with JavaScript. The technologies offer components that behave and feel almost the same as those written with native tools (Java or Kotlin, Swift or Objective-C ).

– Flutter by Google

Flutter is an open-source SDK (software development kit) that belongs to Google and allows to build high-fidelity apps for iOS and Android. Native look and feel opportunities, advanced navigational patterns, unique fonts, and many more features make Flutter amazingly appealing. The only issue regarding Flutter is that it’s written in Dart programming language and doesn’t have many practitioners available.

– Unity — cross-platform game engine

Unity supports languages like C# and Unityscript by JavaScript. It’s a cross-platform real-time engine that can be used to create both three-dimensional and two-dimensional games as well as simulations. In case your project requires 3D features, and is not even a game itself, Unity still might be the most effective solution here.

The 4 key parameters you have to consider

The first thing you need to know is that you need to understand your app inside and out. You need to clearly recognize the purpose of your mobile solution, how you envision it in a month, a year, or in a decade. If the app you’re building will be an independent product (that will obtain users and earn money for you), the cross-platform option might only make sense for a start. You get your POC (Proof of Concept) or a prototype quickly. After you launch your app, make sure it’s feasible and has potential. Eventually, you can switch to a more advanced tech stack to enable all the planned features, productivity, etc.

In case your app is an extension of your already existing business, like an informative application, basic entertaining app or an online store, you can go with a WebView approach. The reason for this is that the functionality of your solution allows you to compromise performance (launch speed, for example), scalability, super-advanced UI, and other things. Your app just doesn’t need all of those to be at the highest level. Because you don’t rely solely on the app you’re able to reassign resources to other areas of the business that may require them.

Let’s compare native and hybrid approach by the key parameters, and see what sacrifices you can afford!

Cross-platform and Hybrid applications matrix

1. Development duration. Are you in a rush?

Based on previous projects, our mobile development team figures you can save up to

25

percent of development time if you go with a cross-platform or a hybrid approach.

The resource-saving boils down to the fact that you’ll be able to apply the same code base for iOS and Android platforms. The deployment of the product will also be quicker and easier. Also, in case you need to make changes, you just make them in one and it is replicated in the same codebase, no need to repeat your work. As for programming skills, they can be pretty modest in terms of Mobile, but what you’ve got to be ready for is customization. You’ll have to do some native code writing to make your app look good on iOS and Android.

At the same time, you should remember that cross-platform solutions put restrictions in terms of the UI/UX, performance, and custom features that you can freely add to the native code. So, in case you’re planning a solution which is a product itself and you have time, native development (starting from one platform, as an option) might be the right choice for you. Or you can also consider React Native or Flutter as more advanced technologies.

2. Costs comparison. What do we lose when we save

As well as saving time when you write one code for both platforms, you save money. It’s too optimistic to think that you’ll spend half as much, but according to our DB Best mobile application development team you can save up to

40

percent of development costs, and maintenance/support costs, correspondingly. Those are figures proven by our team’s development experience of more than 10 years. Technically you manage one code base, and that makes your life easier and your solution more cost-effective.

3. UX/UI capabilities: Native vs. Cross-Platform

When you deal with a native app, you’re more likely to get smoother user experience. One reason is that the native code of the app integrates with the operating system perfectly. Another one is that the interface here doesn’t have any boundaries, no restrictions for a development team. It can be 100% custom, unique and at the same time familiar to Android or iOS users.

Also, there’s a risk that the App Store may reject your cross-platform app with a “native-like” look. The main reason for that is, thank God, not the technologies themselves, but rather what came out of it — a poor interface that will make users cry. To avoid that you should pay attention to creating a high-quality UI/UX especially when you go with cross-platform and hybrid development.

4. Complicated procedures — is there any chance for Cross-Platform to win the race?

Let’s start with the fact that mobile devices are not very strong in computing power. When your smartphone has to render advanced HTML/CSS components or multimedia content, it will be slow. You’ll have to stay calm and wait every time your app will be getting a server response. Thus, an app with a heavy dose of multimedia and lots of user interactions will perform much better on a native code base: fewer freezes, less waiting — happier users.

And, let me say that again here! If your solution is a business app that carries out basic functions and doesn’t have any extras on the front-end, you can consider a cross-platform and you’ll have a win on your hands.

The app features that matter

As you’ve already guessed from this post, there’s no unified answer to the question “what are the best technologies for a mobile app?” The key to the best possible choice lays in your app vision, the features you have in mind, your future plans, your budget, and your global business goals. The table below might be helpful in making the right choice as for the development platform according to your applications specifics.

Cross-platform and Hybrid technologies comparison

DB Best is here to build your mobile solution from scratch

Our core idea is to find the best solution for every client. We analyze your business domain, your growth plan, your target audience and all the corresponding factors that influence the decision. And only after that, will we come up with the best possible development options (with all the pros and cons described) for your solution.

And here’s your first step — share your idea with us right now by applying for a consultation or just get a free estimate of your project.