The mobile audience is rapidly growing. 95% of Facebook users use mobile devices to access the network; 90% of Twitter views also come from mobile. On average, people spend more than 5 hours daily on their smartphones. Likely, you also may read this article using your favorite mobile device.

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As of January 2023, more than 60% of all global web traffic came from mobile. Businesses can’t wait any longer. They quickly grasp the need to have a mobile-friendly solution or build a mobile app. Businesses get the choice: to opt for a hybrid vs native vs cross platform app development. If you are among the ones who feel confused about the difference, we’ll help you figure everything out.

What Is Native App Development?

Native apps are those created with the help of native technologies specifically for one platform. They can be downloaded from an app store such as App Store by Apple or Android’s Google Play. If a native app is created for the iOS system, it won’t work on Android and vice versa. That’s because to create native applications, developers use platform-specific tools and programming languages. During app development for Google, mobile app engineers will use Kotlin or Java. When coding for iOS, they may use Swift. As for the market share of top native platforms, Android takes the first position here and owns 72% of the market share. IOS takes the second place and 28% of the market share accordingly.

Well-known examples of native apps include Pinterest, SwiftKey, Spotify, WhatsApp, and Google Maps. There are several Android platforms and iOS platforms used for native app development, including:

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Native App Development Benefits

Maximum capability. When a mobile app development company builds an app for a particular platform, they can fully use the platform’s capabilities. They can integrate platform-specific next-gen features that will engage users and serve their needs in the best way. In native development, your engineering team will get the best tools to build an interactive and user-friendly product.

Complexity. If you have the task of building a complex mobile application with lots of native features, native app development will be a good option. It allows for the creation of complex and performant mobile applications that can be customized and personalized in accordance with the user’s requirements.

Performance. One of the strongest benefits of native components is supreme performance. Engineers can use numerous native app development tools, APIs, and kits that ease the process of building an intuitive and performant product. For instance, they can use a separate thread of a processor to run user interface code, which will dramatically reduce the upload time and prevent users from waiting for too long.

Hardware access. Native apps can ask for direct access to the smartphone’s hardware such as a microphone, camera, GPS, etc. Unlike native apps, hybrid and cross-platform apps should use APIs to get access to the hardware, which complicates the app’s performance.

Fewer chances of bugs. Sure, a competent software engineering team will be able to create a big-free product no matter the app development approach. But when they select a native method, the likability of bugs is reduced to a minimum. That’s because mobile app developers need to manage one codebase instead of several.

Native App Development Cons

Let’s briefly outline the cons that stem from the benefits:

  • Code cannot be reused (you build separate apps for different platforms and need to write separate pieces of code).
  • More time and effort are needed to build and maintain the product.
  • You need a highly competent team to build an app that will pass checks and will end up on the official app store).

Native Approach’s Business Viability

You have two approaches to the native app development process.

1. Developing two apps in parallel

In this case, you hit the market faster and have better chances of grabbing a bigger audience. However, the two apps developed in parallel will most likely have widely different logic and architecture, which will make them harder to support and maintain.

2. Building Android and iOS apps one after another

In this case, you can launch the first app, be it for Android or iOS, and then, gather user feedback, analyze data and the app’s performance. As a result, you can develop the second app with new insights in mind. In addition, you will already have the app’s architecture and a solid foundation to create apps much faster for other platforms.

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What Is Cross-Platform App Development?

Cross-platform mobile apps can run on different platforms. In cross-platform mobile development, software engineers write reusable code for an application, and this code is rendered across platforms. Flutter is the top 1 among cross platform frameworks for building mobile apps. It’s used by 42% of mobile app engineers followed by React Native (38%) and Cordova (16%).

What are the examples of a cross-platform app? Skype, Slack, Insightly, and many others. Below, you can check the main cross platform app frameworks and tools used to build such apps:

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Cross-Platform App Development Benefits

Efficiency. Cross platform application development allows for significant time and money savings. Instead of building 2 or 3 separate apps for multiple platforms, you invest in one cross-platform project built with the help of cross platform development tools.

No hassle. Cross platform application development allows the software team to reuse code written once for multiple platforms. There’s no need to write the code from scratch many times.

Easy maintenance. Multi platform app development allows for easy maintenance. Maintaining cross-platform applications is easier compared to native apps. Instead of supporting each app version separately, your team takes care of one app and a single codebase. Developing cross platform apps reduces the time and effort needed to maintain the product.

Cross-Platform App Development Cons

  • The software development lifecycle (SDLC) is longer because the development team needs to be 100% sure that an app will adapt to the various platforms. For this, they need to test it thoroughly.
  • A cross platform app is hard to integrate because of the complex code and callback approach to coding.

Cross-Platform Approach Viability for Your Business

Despite some drawbacks that cross platform application development has compared to native development, there are situations where its flexibility and cost-efficiency are invaluable. Native is great for edge cases of the most demanding apps. At the same time, cross platform mobile app development is more than enough for a wide range of apps that don’t rely heavily on hardware features or implement the newest tech, such as AR.

Unfortunately, there is no universal advice on when to go using a cross-platform app framework. If you want to know for sure, we suggest conducting a thorough business analysis phase or discovery phase.

What Is Hybrid App Development?

Hybrid apps combine the features of web and native applications. To run such an application, you will need to build a native-like shell and an embedded browser. Hybrid apps are built with web-based coding languages. These include CSS, JavaScript, HTML, etc. They are quick to build as software engineers can reuse the code for different mobile platforms. To access the platform’s unique features, app developers use plugins like Ionic’s Capacitor, Apache Cordova, etc. However, the use of an embedded browser can have an adverse impact on the app’s performance.

Hybrid applications are deployed to multiple platforms like native apps. A good example of a hybrid application for mobile is Instagram, Gmail, as well as Airbus Helicopters.

Hybrid app development may be of particular interest to you if you own a retail or ecommerce business. As VentureBeat reports, nearly 74% of the top 50 retail mobile applications are hybrid.

By the way, if you need help with anything related to ecommerce development and maintenance, our expert teams are at your disposal. We have offered numerous services for ecommerce businesses for more than 10 years and know how to bring them closer to the KPIs they dream about.

Hybrid App Development Benefits

Affordability. Hybrid apps include the features of two other types of apps. This means that you can combine the most important features of these two types of products in one solution at an affordable price.

Code reusability. Hybrid applications consist of a native-like viewer and a backend code. Native-like shell will change depending on the mobile platform while backend code can be reused multiply.

Quick launch. Hybrid apps are often chosen by startup businesses that need to get a product ASAP to test their idea. As web technologies are leveraged in hybrid mobile development, it also allows for easy maintenance.

Minimized expenses. In hybrid app development, the software team builds a single product version and runs it on different platforms. This reduces development costs and increases project efficiency.

Intuitive UX. You can combine the strong sides of web apps and native apps in one solution — a hybrid app. The development team will implement the best UI/UX design practices of web and native apps to design a lightweight and fast-loading hybrid product.

Hybrid App Development Cons

Hybrid app development also comes with disadvantages. Here are a few:

  • Hybrid apps cannot work offline as native apps do; users need to have an Internet connection to open hybrid apps.
  • Bugs and limitations. In hybrid mobile app development, these may occur if your team integrates the features that work well on one platform but don’t work well on another.

Hybrid App Viability for Your Business

A semi web, semi cross-platform app may seem like a strange idea. However, there are plenty of big players who leverage hybrid apps to great success. For example, the Amazon app is known for using WebViews. Also, Chinese WeChat is a hybrid app. Overall, apps that are big on checking and exchanging information, such as chats, insurance apps, or online retail apps are great candidates for a hybrid development approach.

In the comparison of a native app vs hybrid app, we need to consider your goals. If your goal is to hit the iOS and Android markets ASAP as well as establish a strong web presence, hybrid app development is the way to go.

5 Things to Mind When Choosing a Mobile Development Approach

When choosing between hybrid vs native vs cross-platform application, you need to find a happy medium. To be precise — a happy medium between your business goals and limitations.

Source of traffic

The easiest way to decide if you need a cross-platform or native app is to study your audience. Explore the traffic source that comes to your site or ask your clients to complete a quick questionary on the preferred devices. If a big part of your clients are Android users, you’re welcome to build an Android app.

If you have a tiny percentage of mobile users, maybe you don’t need mobile app development at all. Probably, the better decision will be to optimize your website to mobile.

Time to market

The choice between native vs hybrid app vs cross-platform applications depends on how quickly you want to get the product and how long it will serve your needs. If you need an app for the pilot project and your audience will use it for a limited time, choose hybrid app development.

If you want to get a future-proof solution that will serve your needs for years, opt for native app development.

Lastly, if you want to get a quality product but have a limited budget and cannot afford to build separate app versions for different platforms — cross platform mobile development will be the best decision.

Your budget

If you can invest more money and time into mobile app development, native apps will be a more reliable option. What’s more, after developing a native app and deploying it to the app store, you will have to pay the standard commission fee. On Apple App Store, for example, this commission is 30%.

If your budget and your team’s capabilities are limited, refer to cross-platform or hybrid app development.

App security

More than 83% of 85 000 applications used by 2 300 businesses globally have at least one security flaw. Native app development is more secure. Software product engineers are provided with native libraries that contain tools for building security features.

For example, these include data encryption or fraud detection features. In this regard, cross-platform and hybrid apps are more prone to security threats and vulnerabilities.

Customization

Interestingly, 90% of retail customers use their mobile devices even when visiting offline stores. Offline and online experiences affect each other. You need to provide the shoppers with a great experience no matter the touchpoint. For this, a high level of customization may be needed.

If it’s your case, then choose native mobile app development. If you build an application with basic features and there is no need to dive into each platform’s specifics, choose a cross-platform or native approach.

In Conclusion

In this article, we explained everything you need to know about mobile development and described the main differences between mobile native vs cross-platform vs hybrid app development. Our team did our best to help you choose the best solution based on your requirements, business peculiarities, niche, and audience type.

If you still doubt what product to build, check out the services we provide to grasp the benefit of each option.

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Let’s sum up what we’ve learned from this blog post on hybrid vs cross-platform vs native mobile app development. If you plan to create mobile apps, keep in mind the following:

  • Native apps are designed for a particular platform. They are performant and feature-rich but require more development time and effort.
  • Cross-platform mobile apps run on web-based code that can be rendered on different platforms. Mobile cross platform development is usually chosen for simple applications with core functionality for a particular audience segment. For example, an onboarding application.
  • Hybrid mobile apps combine the features of native and web applications. They are quick to build and require less effort from the software engineering team. It’s a good choice for projects that need a mobile application asap for a limited period of time (for example, MVP) and look for an affordable option.

Forbytes is a mobile app development company with more than 12 years of experience in a range of industries. Contact us if you have any questions left or look for a helpful hand in the process of mobile app development.

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