Native, Hybrid or Web: What’s Perfect For You?

So you’re looking to develop a mobile app for your business?

You probably have some kind of idea on the type of app you want to build, your strategy to launch and your plan to monetise it. If you don’t, take a look at our Beginners Guide on How to Make and Start an App Business.

But do you know whether you want to build a native or a hybrid app? And have you heard of progressive web apps yet?

As you can see, there is so much to think about!

And if you’re new to app development, it may be cumbersome to figure out what is best for you.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for solutions.

In this article you will learn:

✅ The Difference between Native Web and Hybrid Apps

✅ React Native (and why it’s so popular)

✅ The Basic Attributes of Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

✅ Core Differences between Native, Hybrid, and Web Apps.

✅ User Experience and Design

✅ Overall Performance

✅ Speed to Market

Native Apps

A native app is a mobile application purposely built for Android or iPhone.

Native apps are developed the way Google and Apple intended you to develop apps for their platform.

For example, Android mobile apps are commonly developed using Java or Kotlin, with the latter now preferred by Google for Android development. Meanwhile, iOS apps for iPhones or iPad are developed with Swift, which replaced Objective C.

The large majority of the top 1000 apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play are developed natively (excluding games, but that’s a topic for another day).

Often these app become more popular on app stores due to the out of the box performance gains and intuitive user interface. Native apps will also always perform better than any hybrids in terms of speed and snappiness.

So when it comes to GPS, responsiveness, speed, loading times, and smooth transitions – native apps will usually be best. As a result, this gives your user a more enjoyable experience with your app without you needing to do endless optimisation.

When it comes to the user experience (UX), native apps often win. This is because they can use components created by Apple and Google for their platform, and your users will immediately recognise those. As we have shown in the past, user experience is the most important factor to creating a successful tech business.

So why doesn’t everyone develop natively then? There is one drawback with native apps: they are more expensive to build. This is because you need at least one Android and one iOS developer to write your code, which is twice as many as required for a hybrid app. So if you want an app that can be used on both platforms, you need to build two separate apps.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps are mobile applications built on a single code-base that then work across multiple platforms.

They can also be found in the app stores. Unless they are developed by companies with million dollar budgets, they often feel clunky, not intuitive and if we’re absolutely honest, rather frustrating at best.

Nonetheless, they are an option to consider if you want to build an app that works on both iOS and Android, without having to build two separate native apps.

So how do they work?

Here’s a super rough comparison:

Let’s say you drive a Hyundai.

Then you remove its hood, bumpers, door, tailgates, fenders — basically the whole body – you’re left with the car’s skeleton. Let’s say you decide to install Porsche body parts over your Hyundai’s skeleton. Now you can tell all your friends that you drive a Porsche. But it’s only really a Porsche on the outside. Inside, it’s still a Hyundai (but shhh… no one needs to know).

Hybrid apps are a bit like this car example: they aren’t actually native apps. They only seem native because the code is rendered in a third-party compiler that pushes the code within a native app container.

But this means that you are dependent on more third parties. For example, when Apple releases an update, you will need to wait for everything your app is dependent on to be updated.

More dependencies, more problems.

And if things go wrong, what’s going to happen to your users?

Yup, they’re going to have a poor experience with your app.

So while speed and cost are the biggest advantages of hybrid apps (as a single code base can be deployed to multiple platforms quickly), ask yourself: “Do I want to lose users simply because they find my app frustrating?”

While there are many different Hybrid frameworks, we will only focus on the most popular one, React Native (and don’t be fooled, it’s only native in its name, at its core it’s still a hybrid app).

React Native

React Native is the most popular way of writing hybrid apps.

Launched by Facebook in 2015, it allows developers to build hybrid apps for both iOS and Android using only one programming language: JavaScript.

Are they native?

Nope, they’re still hybrid.

But are they any good?

Yes and no. Some of the top apps like Facebook Messenger and Uber are written in React Native. If you pick a hybrid framework, React Native is definitely the way to go. But we often only see companies with million dollar development budgets succeed in developing strong React apps.

Why?

Because optimisation can be tedious and just as expensive.

And it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. You see, there are many reasons why AirBnb is spending millions of dollars to move from React Native to native.

Development is cheaper at first, but upkeep and continuous improvements are often more expensive.

 

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Enter the big wide wonderful world of web.

AKA web apps.

Well, progressive web apps, if you want to be technical.

Coined by Francis Berriman and Alex Russell, a progressive web app is a web-based app that can be accessed as a website. Slack is a good example. You open it as a website and yet, you get an app-like experience.

In other words, a progressive web app is a website that looks and feels like an app. It is available on your phone like any mobile app and it works offline just like a native app would.

Why would you want to build a progressive web application?

If you have a limited budget and tight time frame, a web app is a great alternative for you! You can then use this app to trial your market, tweak it and use the data gathered to build a native app.

If you have a clear picture on which of these suits your new app project, we would love to hear about it! Share your details here and one of our growth strategists will be in touch.

And if you want to learn more, let’s keep going.

Core Differences Between Native, Hybrid, and Progressive Web Apps

To ensure the optimal success of your app, let’s look at the main differences between each type.

You want to consider:

✅ Cost to develop the app
✅ User experience and design
✅ Overall performance
✅ Speed to market

1.COST TO BUILD

Here’s the cold hard truth: building an app is not cheap. Simple apps can cost upwards of $10,000 and highly complicated apps (like Uber) can cost millions of dollars.

How is this cost determined?

It really depends on the features you want for your app and how complex they are, the time required to develop them, and the number of people required to build and deploy your app.

📱 Native Apps

You expect to pay more for a Porsche than a Hyundai.

Why?

Because the build quality, performance and workmanship are of a higher quality.

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The same principle applies to apps.

Due to their superior performance, development complexity and time to build, native apps cost more than the others.

Furthermore, if you want to build an iOS and Android app, the code base and design need to be different.

Ultimately, this results in higher development costs.

📱 Hybrid Apps

As you only need to write one code which can be used on both iOS and Android, it takes less resources to build and this drastically reduces the cost. So when compared to native apps, hybrid apps are cheaper to develop (at first).

📱 Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are the cheapest of all to build. So if building a separate website and a mobile app is too costly for your current situation, a progressive web app will kill two birds with one stone – give you a website and an app (with potential drawbacks of course).

2. USER EXPERIENCE (UX) AND DESIGN(UI)

When determining what type of app to create, always ask yourself: “What are the apps I love using?” Are they beautifully designed, easy to navigate, simple to understand and intuitive?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you essentially covered the topic of user experience and design. And how well these are executed determines the success or failure of your app. This is why top developers give this their highest priority.

Before we continue, let’s have a look at some numbers.

According to a research study published by Dynatrace, 92% of mobile app users experience a negative reaction to an app with poor user experience and design. Half of those users will stop using the app and switch to a competitor’s app in the hope of having a better experience.

The same research revealed that if an app doesn’t provide a good experience the first time, 76% of the users said they would only use it once. Only 16% said they would give the app a second chance.

These statistics prove that a poor mobile app experience will discourage users to engage with the app again. And when no one is using your app, it’s difficult to justify its existence financially.

This is why you want to focus on flawless user experience and design when building your app.

So, how do the different type of apps compare when it comes to user experience?

📱 Native Apps

Imagine walking into a brand new house that has the exact same layout of your old home. You’ll easily find your way around because it feels familiar, right?

That’s how users feel when they navigate a native app.

Since native apps rely on Google and Apple’s native codes, if built using best practices, they generally have a better and longer lasting design quality. Also, as we mentioned above, a native app’s built-in software and hardware features are based on the platform itself. This makes it easier for your users to understand and navigate your app. Such functionalities include your fingerprint scanners, face ID, multi-point cameras, stylus, GPS, and more. So if 76% of users give an app one chance to make a good impression, you have a higher likelihood of hitting that mark with a well executed native app.

📱 Hybrid Apps

Remember how we said hybrid apps are like a Hyundai skeleton with a Porsche body that you can use to fool your friends?

How long would it be before they realise that the motor doesn’t purr like a Porsche? Or that the seats aren’t leather. Or that in general, it’s not really a Porsche?

A hybrid app is quite similar. Your user may download the app, it works well but then an update comes along that isn’t supported by the HTML code and the app crashes. Or, your app’s design and functionality work seamlessly on one device but terribly on another. Both experiences will affect your app’s overall rating and perception. And as a result, your app may start off doing well and then eventually flop.

Let’s be honest. If you’re going to invest in your app idea, you would want it to succeed – otherwise why start in the first place. Right?

Although building a hybrid app on the outset seems to give you the best of both the Android and iOS worlds, not even the most talented UX and UI specialists can create a tailored experience specific for multiple devices at the same time.

📱 Progressive Web Apps

If compared directly with native apps, progressive web apps offer quite limited possibilities for user experience and design. Since a progressive web app is essentially just a web browser, your user will not be able to take advantage of advanced hardware features like fingerprint or face scanners, GPS and all the other software and hardware features specific to their device.

If your user expects an intuitive app experience, they might not get this here.

🔑 In Summary

All in all, if you want your user to get the best user experience and design, native is the way to go. However, we suggest you consider your app’s main functionality, target market and purpose. Maybe one of the other app types would suit your idea more.

And if you would like a hand with this, get in touch! We offer complimentary consultations (valued at $1,200) with our growth strategies who can help you out.

3.OVERALL PERFORMANCE

A successful app is one that performs well.

The speed with which your app responds, the intuitiveness of every function, and the overall app behaviour are all important metrics.

So, how do the different app types compare when it comes to superior performance?

📱 Native Apps

The mobile app development community agrees that native apps have a better overall performance. Even the most sceptical and loyal ambassadors of hybrids apps concede to this observation.


As native apps offer best-in-class security and highly responsive design, they simply provide a more seamless and reliable experience for users.

📱 Hybrid Apps

The most appealing feature of hybrid apps is its speed to develop. Write it once and you can run it anywhere.

But this is also its Achilles Heel.

In the long run, companies who built hybrid apps will likely spend more money and time on fixing and tweaking the app due to user complaints on minor design and performance related issues.

Hybrid apps also use third-party plug-ins to bridge the gap between the website and the native container. But developers don’t have complete control over these third-party tools. Once an operating system (like iOS or Android) releases new features, modifications are needed to continue running the hybrid app in its native container. This demands investment in time and resources to re-configure your app with each update.

Any negative performance of your app can result in unhappy users which leads to high uninstall rates.

And uninstall rates lead to loss of income.

And if you’re building an app business, loss of income is a bad metric.

📱 Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps attempt to combine the functions of native apps and the accessibility of a website. In other words: they’re designed to feel and behave like a native app.

A progressive web app can be downloaded to your phone’s home screen (but not from the app store, although Google is working on it), send you push notifications, and access different device’s functionalities.

Their performance can be classed as adequate. But the overall performance of native apps is far better. For example, since a progressive web app runs on a browser, it can drain your battery faster — which can be really annoying to some of your users.

🔑 In Summary

At the end of the day, if you want to build a technology business with an app, you want something that caters to your user’s needs. If they need an app to perform fast and it doesn’t, your business will lose a customer or more. So when considering the type of app to build, always keep your market in mind.

4. SPEED TO MARKET

Companies and business owners have different reasons why they want to build an app.

One of the most common reasons for building an app is to stand out from competitors or to capitalise potential new business and growth opportunities.

That’s why it’s essential to enter the market as fast as possible. So let’s check out how the app types help you do this:

📱 Native Apps

Building an app is costly. So you want to get it right the first time.

As you cannot use the same code base to run your app on Android and iOS, native apps generally take more time, a minimum of six months and more, to develop and launch.

📱 Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps take just as long as native apps, and they also require your back-end to be developed in parallel.

📱 Progressive Web Apps

Compared to the time it takes to develop native apps, launching a progressive web app is significantly faster. It’s like building a very responsive website.

Progressive Web Apps are the clear winner when it comes to speed to market!

🔑 In Summary

Speed to market is important but at what cost?

If you don’t want to compromise user experience, good quality design and performance for your app, then make sure you choose an app type that meets your criteria. If you need to launch something fast, so (ahem) that your competitor doesn’t do it first, then check out your alternatives and go with the best fit for you.

If you are not sure what’s best for you, contact us here.

So What’s Better: Native, Hybrid, or Web?

When it comes to building your project, there are many app development options to choose from.

Carefully analyse your options and find which best suits your business goals and available resources.
But remember, apps are built primarily for users. So always ask yourself:

✅ What is does my target user look like?
✅ What is he/she looking for?
✅ What are the problems they need to solve?
✅ How do they want to solve these problems?

Perhaps, you’re planning to invest significant time and money in building a native app, yet your market is only looking for a simple experience that can easily be solved by building a progressive web app. Or maybe you’re planning to launch an app as quickly as possible, but your target market expects high quality design and astounding performance, two options only possible with native or React Native apps.

And if you don’t know what is best, remember to do your research.

If you prefer to speak to a real person who’s been there and done that, we are currently offering in-depth strategy sessions with our growth specialists.

If you would like to claim your complimentary session (valued at $1,200), enter your details below and we will be in touch.

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