So, you want to build an App? While there is considerable planning and lots of steps to take before you get to the development of the App, we’re going to jump right to deciding on the technology behind it. When you get to this step, you’re going to have a decision to make. Do you build a Native App or a Hybrid App? Before we go over the benefits of each, let’s first define what each is.
A Native App is built using the native programming language of the platform it was developed on. For example, Apple’s iOS platform uses Objective-C (and more recently, Swift) while Google’s Android platform uses Java. These two programming languages are quite different from each other. Apps are downloaded through the platform’s App Store.
A Web App is basically the same as a Hybrid App, but isn’t packaged into a container and is only accessible by going to a Website instead of downloading an App. Web and Hybrid Apps are essentially the same except for the way they are accessed.
As with most big decisions, there are plenty of pros and cons to each side. We’ll go over a few of those in the table below.
|Native App||Hybrid/Web App|
|Time & Cost||The App has to be programmed in each platform’s native language, thus doubling or tripling development time and cost.||The App only has to be programmed once since it can run in-browser, keeping development time and costs down.|
|User Interface||The App will look like it belongs on the platform (because it does) and can use all native UI components of the platform.||Since the App is universal across all platforms, there can only be one look and UI. There are various libraries that can emulate the look of a native app with some small differences.|
|Speed||The App will be faster and more responsive in the native platform.||Web Apps can run slower since it is at the mercy of the browser on the device, but for most non-processor intensive Apps, the speed is adequate.|
|Maintenance||Any changes will need to be packaged into a new version and uploaded to the App store for approval.||If the App can connect to the Internet (which most do), App changes can be made as easily as editing a Website.|
So which one should you choose? Well, there is no absolute winner, and it really depends on your needs and budget. If you are building a simple, data-driven App and need to keep your development costs low, a Hybrid App may be for you. If you are building a game or a very device-intensive App, you may want to go the Native route. Be sure to investigate both options before you decide!