This article has been updated on 4th Oct, 2016 to provide more information to help you decide even faster!
If you’re confused and wondering whether to build a hybrid mobile app or a native mobile app, this article will help you decide the mobile app strategy in less than 5 minutes! I’ve stumble upon a lot of curious and confused entrepreneurs who go crazy trying to decide on how to approach their Mobile App piece.
Quick one-liners on Hybrid Apps and Native Apps before we get started:
Hybrid App: Developer augments web code with native SDK. Can be easily deployed across multiple platform and is usually the cheaper and faster solution.
Native App: This is platform (iOS, Android etc.) specific and requires unique expertise. However the full potential of the platform can be leveraged which will drive great user experience and larger app capabilities (especially around phone hardware). Can be pricey based on requirement and may take longer to develop.
5 Questions to ask before you decide
The answers to most of the questions that I have pointed here might be interrelated. But, you’ll get the drift.
- Do you want to use native features in the Mobile App?
If your app is heavy on native phone capability and this is your primary USP, then native app development will work best. While building a Hybrid Mobile App, depending on the framework that you adopt (there are several in the market), you may or may not have access to native features. Some of these native features can be the Camera, Contacts, SMS, Hardware Device Buttons, Map, Push Notification,. However, it doesn’t mean that these features can be accessed only in a native app. Some of these features can be used in a hybrid app by pulling the native components separately.
- How quickly do you want to take it to the market?
The time to market is dependant on various factors like the number of features and number of resources you have. More resources typically mean that the budget will increase. If you want to launch the mobile app quickly to the market with limited resources, it would be wise to go with hybrid app approach, which will help to launch your app on multiple platforms in a short time.
If you already have a hybrid component that you have worked on, it is wise to continue the same platform. So a lot depends on your existing investment in resources and technology.
- Do you have separate budget for developers in iOS and Android (considering that they dominate the market share)?
If you can allocate separate budget for iOS and Android development resources, and you have liberty of time to take it to the market (we had earlier wrote about the importance of getting your mobile app quick to market), then you don’t have to worry much; go for native app!
The key piece here is, these days you will find android and iOS developers in abundance. So cost of resource has also significantly dropped than earlier days. In fact, we would recommend you to go for a native approach unless your vertical is in need of a hybrid approach because the number integrations you will need to fill the gaps will be higher.
- How often do you need to update your mobile app?
If you need to make frequent updates to your app, which means that the user will have to update from the App Store regularly (and not annoying them with that), then you should consider a hybrid app. The biggest advantage for hybrid app is that all the content will be updated from web directly, unless you have an integral change of the functionality in the app. This is one of the reasons that most Banks, News, Media and Content Delivery platforms go for a hybrid approach, and the number of native integrations will be less. Hybrid apps also let you work out of a single code-base thereby helping the teams work more efficiently.
- Do you want to have the best user experience?
If you want to create an insane user experience, the native app approach would do better. A hybrid app can never match the level of user experience that you get in a native app. However, this doesn’t mean that the user experience of a hybrid app is bad. A good front-end developer in hybrid app can get close to a native experience, but it’s a far stretch as the browser is what a hybrid app’s interface is. Browser has challenges with features, functionality, experience, scrollability. While scrolling in a hybrid app, you will not find the smoothness that you will get in a native app (check the scrollability in Instagram and Pinterest, it is insane. But when you check the scrollability for the Mashable and TechCrunch App, it may not be the best!)
Navigation functions differently depending on the OS, a single point navigation like a hamburger menu might get some getting used to for iOS users, while the Android users can manage that.
Micro experiences like the long press on instagram image in the explore section taking you directly to the small buttons for like/share/comment, similar experience in Pinterest for that matter cannot be created in a hybrid approach.
Native vs Hybrid Apps: A Quick Glance
There are several factors that you should consider when you step-up to make the best Mobile App for your target users. Should you chose native, you have the luxury of exploring native features and offer a better user experience for your users. However, opting for a hybrid app will ensure that your app is cross platform ready, in a short time with a limited budget.
Bottom line is to go for a native approach unless you have already invested in a lot of your tech, or the industry demands it – which is what is your core business? If it’s a media site/content delivery platform, a hybrid approach might help you on few factors, otherwise a native approach is suggestive in terms of experience, adaptability, support for integration and long term goals.
At July, we help customers with both approaches based on the their business goals. We use custom + platform based approach to build native and hybrid mobile apps based on the expectations set during the discovery and ideation phase of the project. Not only that; we manage, scale and monitor your app 24 x 7 to ensure 100% uptime.
Want to build a hybrid or a native mobile app?
About July Rapid: July Rapid is the award winning mobile app studio of July Systems, a company that has pioneered mobile experiences since 2001. July has developed over 1,000 apps over the course of 15 years — anywhere from rapid prototyping to building custom native & hybrid apps.
About the Author: Krishnan R Menon – MarCom Specialist at July Systems. He pretends to research on Mobile Apps while he actually plays the snake game on his old Nokia 1100 all day!