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Native vs Hybrid Mobile App Development

The digital marketplace becomes more competitive every day.

A few years back, having a website was more than enough to keep a competitive edge, however, with smartphones becoming more accessible to the general public, companies must ‘up the game’ in terms of offering customers the ability to access their brand when and how the customers want it. 

In July, 2008, Apple launched the app store and the entire digital scene changed forever. Now, a website is no longer the shortest distance between you and your customer, and their phone has become the new landscape.

Since then, roughly 197 billion apps have been downloaded onto devices, this includes Itunes and Google Play. The average app user accesses roughly 26.7 apps per months, meaning that not only are users downloading apps, they are interacting with them. Leveraging built in smartphone technologies into your app will help to create an intimate brand experience with your customer that is sure to keep your organization top of mind and strengthen loyalty.


What does Native and Hybrid mean?

Inside of mobile application development, you can approach the the coding with either a native or hybrid approach. What native means is that you are writing code based on the operating system’s specific software language. This means that you will need to code your app for Android separately from IOS. What hybrid means is that you are writing code based on standard web development technology. That code only has to be written once and then is output to multiple operating systems.


Which is more Cost Efficient?

When we’re talking about cost efficiency, hybrid apps can be more cost effective. This is because hybrid app development technologies are web-based which includes:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Angular JS
  • Media Query

What makes this less expensive than Native apps is because hybrid apps are developed once using tools such as Cordova, Appcelerator, Xamarin, Mosync, Corona, or Rho. These tools will take your basic web development code and output 2 versions; one specific for Android and another for Apple. This technology works great when pages and services are optimized for this approach.

There are plenty of lessons learned from organizations where hybrid apps can be more expensive than native. For example, if your organization heavily relies on 3rd party services and and your app requires many integrations, you may end up adding native SDK’s into your hybrid app. If this happens, then you will end up having to manage separate code bases for these features, which will increase your cost. Not only will you need hybrid developers, but you will also need native developers. You also will run into performance issues when you mix hybrid and native features together. For these reasons it becomes extremely important to perform an upfront analysis of current and future state architecture in order to select the right approach.


Native App Development

When we’re talking about Native Apps, they implement the use of different technologies, tools, and development environments based on their particular operating system. Native coding allows you to ensure that your app will be able to leverage the latest features available from smartphone manufacturers. Often, hybrid apps can leverage native features from smartphones, but do require hybrid plugins to be created to use such features. In our experience, trying to create these plugins from scratch is very development intensive.

Most organizations choose to focus on the platform market leaders which are Android and IOS. Android currently dominates the market with 89% market share. Creating native apps for these platforms requires developers who are specialized in each framework.

  • iOS – This requires someone with the knowledge of Objective-C/Swift, xCode and a firm understanding of the Apple platform.
  • Android OS – When it comes to the Android Operating System, the developer needs to understand tools such as Java programming and should have experience with Android Libraries, Android Studio and more.

As you can see, native apps require distinct skillsets and require investing in different development infrastructure which includes hardware, software, and networking platforms.

This is why native app development can be more expensive. Their advantage is a slick, fast performing app that has been custom tailored to the OS that can leverage that platform to it’s fullest potential. We recommend the native approach for all apps that have heavy backend requirements and need high device processing performance.


Time to Get to the Market

As mentioned, Hybrid Apps require one set of code, meaning that the time to get the application live and to the market is much quicker. If you have a time-sensitive timeline and an app that is pretty light from a services perspective, then Hybrid apps are your best bet.

Native Apps, that require specific coding and depending on the nature of the app, the API integrations, features and so forth…the timeframe for completion usually takes longer.


Updating the App

Whether native or hybrid, app updates can be configured to be a part of a continuous integration process. This approach will allow your development teams to continue developing and updating code without needing to send hard updates to the respective app stores.



One of the biggest myths associated with hybrid apps is that they have performance issues. Certainly hybrid apps have limitations, and when you try to push the boundaries of those limitations, you can often wind up with performance problems. Some pointers in this space if you are building a hybrid app are to:

  • Write quality JS code
  • Use a JS framework
  • Limit and apply specific properties to css animations
  • Remove the 300ms tap delay
  • Use native offline storage
  • Keep the dom small

On the native side of things, your app is using code that was configured specifically for the OS. As such, native app development will give you the ability to:

  • Leverage full processing capacity
  • Render smooth 3D animations
  • Utilize all native device/ os functionality
  • Access platform specific tools


Bottom Line

There are a number of elements that need to be considered when choosing the right approach for your mobile application. Your organizational use case will be the determining factor in which approach to take. This is why process becomes extremely important. Before you decide on your approach, you will need to have current and future state architecture diagrams, personas, user flows, and requirements completed. AXO Digital can be your partner inside of this work and lead you to a successful outcome. Haste makes waste so it is important to spend the right amount of time upfront planning. Think of this like building a house. Would you build a house without a blueprint

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