Native vs. Hybrid – Which Approach to Use?

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With the widespread use of mobile devices, mobile application development is on the rise and becoming more and more advanced. While developing a mobile application can be exciting, it can be a bit confusing if you’re trying to decide which type of application development approach – native or hybrid –  is better.

What are the differences between a native and hybrid app?

When we talk about developing native applications, it means developing an application using native platform languages like Java for Android,  Objective-C for Apple iOS, or Visual C++ for Microsoft Windows.

The main advantage of native applications is that they offer their own standardized SDK, development tools and interface elements which make them fast, reliable and user-friendly. These apps give the best performance when compiled into machine code (Dalvik Bytecode under Android –the basic language that mobile OS understands). Also, native applications offer a variety of functionalities that include multi-touch support, full access to phone hardware, fast and fluid animations, and the latest APIs.

In sum, the native applications approach helps develop an application that is customizable.

Hybrid applications can best be described as web applications (or web pages) that are hosted inside the native application browser, such as WebView in Android and UIWebView in iOS.

Hybrid apps are developed using cross-compatible web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, then wrapped in a native application using a framework like Apache Cordova.  Apache Cordova provides built-in plugins that allow you build an application for more than one platform by just adding a small native code. The native code lets you use the functionality of device hardware such as the camera, Bluetooth, GPS and more.

Hybrid application development is faster, simpler, and more rapid. These applications are easier to maintain and the platforms can be changed anytime.

Native and Hybrid App differentiators

So what is the answer?

Native and hybrid application frameworks fulfill developer and user needs and preferences, though none of them can be thought of as a perfect solution.

Native applications provide many options for each platform (Android or iOS) has their own unique classes and functions. While designing something as simple as a header you can go through hundreds of changes which increase user interaction with the application. The native application offers fast, reliable and responsive experience.

While developing a hybrid application is just like developing a web page. You only have to create HTML pages, design with CSS, script local files using JavaScript, wrap them in a native web view with Cordova and finally test them in your browser.  Now this simple, effective, user-friendly, and secure hybrid application is ready.

Choice generally depends on budget, timescale, and requirements.

At Sofbang, we prefer the hybrid application development approach because the native application development can be time-consuming. For each platform, the same code has to be rewritten and cannot be shared easily. This process can be relatively long for complex applications. On the other hand, you can customize and add functionality from time to time and all these changes will automatically reflect on every platform, hybrid applications are built on one single base.

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