Have you ever faced the question of whether a native app or a hybrid app is most appropriate for you. Native apps are those that are designed to work on only one mobile platform, while hybrid apps are those built for multiple platforms. There’s no one answer for every situation, so let’s look at various factors that are important to consider.
First of all, it’s really good to be considering this question at an early stage. If you make the right decision, you could save hours, even days of development time. However if you make the wrong decision you could end up with an application that’s not worth the time and effort you put into it.
Hybrid apps appear to offer the best of both worlds, by creating a native app that has web app within itself. By combining these methods, hybrid apps allow most of the functionality and user interaction a native app can offer, while also having web-rich content.
The table below outlines the pros and cons of the two possible approaches to building mobile apps.
|Native||High user functionality and use of device hardware such as GPS and camera,
Can take advantage of in-app purchasing,
Easy platforms for delivery i.e. Apple’s App Store
|Have to be platform specific i.e. iOS, Android and Blackberry OS,
Development time is separate for each platform
|Hybrid||Functionality of a native app with the updated content of a web app,
Cheaper and quicker to develop than native apps becase development time is shorter,
Delivery through traditional app channels (app stores and markets)
|Can still be reliant on internet connection,
Potential for app/device hacking when connected,
Performance time of the app can be slower than a native app
Over the last few years, the popularity of hybrid app publishing has increased and so have the numbers of hybrid application publishing tools. The table below describes some of the more popular publishing tools for hybrid apps.
|AppsBuilder||Native iOS, Native Android, WebApp||100% FREE – 15$/m ADV Free||Build native application and webapp in three steps for android , iphone, ipad and tablets. Submition in the stores are selft-service.|
|Corona||iPhone/iPad/Android||Free to create and test
$199/year to publish on one platform, $349/year for both
|Corona is a app publishing tool by Ansca mobile. Corona is mainly used to publish games across the ios and Android platforms. Apps developed using Corona, are promoted on their site, which is a smart marketing move. Corona is free to use until pubishing.|
|Magmito||Cross Platform: Symbian, Java, Blackberry, Droid, Windows, iPhone||FREE with advertising, $399 without||Web-based, with video, RSS, mobile coupon, tell-a-friend viral component, map, feedback forms. It has variable distribution, auto generated QR code for each app, GetJar app store integration, Facebook posting, built in SMS engine.|
|MoSync||iPhone, iPad, Andriod, WinMobile 5, 6, Symbian, j2me||Dual licensed open source GPL / commercial starts at €199 per year||MoSync transforms a single C/C+ source code into native binary executables, integrated w. Eclipse. Based on open standards.|
$99 one seat, personal license, $499 commercial license
|RunRev’s Live code gives you compile-free coding, English-like programming language, and cross-platform development. Use the same code to deploy to multiple mobile platforms, while taking advantage of the many OS-specific features on each device|
|Rhomobile||Phone, Windows Mobile, RIM, Symbian and Android)||Open Source under MIT License||Open source mobile app framework for publishing apps all smartphones|
From our experience the most successful hybrid apps are those that are quite simple, such as an RSS or news feed application, that do not use many native phone features such as the camera or the accelerometer. These apps are also limited to around five screens (or views or pages). We have found that larger or more complex hybrid applications perform significantly more slowly than the equivalent native apps. This is because hybrid tools aren’t able to optimise application performance for each platform.
Corona is an exception to this. It only publishes on iOS and Android but it produces good quality games. Corona uses a programming language called Lua, which is a scripting language. Lua is not difficult to learn, but is not a commonly used language either. Publishing for Corona costs the Corona licence and the individual app-store licence.
To sum up, when making the decision of whether to create a hybrid or native application you need to consider the following things: What is the purpose of the app? What features and functions will it includes? How large will it be?
The answers to these question can help you decide which type of app is right for you. To find out more about hybrid and native applications, leave a comment or send me a message.
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