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Native, Web or Hybrid App: Choosing the Right One for Business

  • 17-18 min read
  • December 24, 2021
  • 👍 Rating — 4.7 (11 votes)

These days it is hard to imagine a successful business without a mobile application. People are used to do so many things with the help of mobile gadgets – order foods and goods, perform banking operations, play games, learn, communicate, and get all kinds of services. The market of mobile applications prospers because the number of new mobile solutions grows each year.

We have came across one interesting statistics that demonstrates how the revenue generated by mobile applications grows tremendously. Just take a look at the numbers that never drop but only keep increasing:

mobile market

Image source: Statista

We could not emphasize enough how important it is for businesses and startups to go mobile and reach out to way more potential customers. Custom mobile application can become a game changer able to boost your business, expand client base, and increase your overall income. So the main question is – What kind of application should you develop? Should you invest your time and money in building native, hybrid, or web application?

In case you still do not have answers to those questions, we are here to enlighten you and help you make the right choice. In this blog post we are going to discuss what differs native, web and hybrid applications, which kind is the best for business and how you can build a great mobile solution that will last you for years. And, without further ado, let’s get started!

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Good to know
Our experts have explored and analyzed mobile market to find out what mobile trends will be dominant, what solutions will win the market and what niches are still free and easy to enter. Check out that analysis here.

Native mobile application development

When it comes to mobile app development many business owners don’t understand what actually is a native app. The word “native” seems strange and not aligned with mobile technologies. Basically, native mobile app is an application developed to run on one particular platform – iOS or Android. The most popular examples of native apps would be Twitter, Facebook, Lyft. To build native applications software engineers use programming languages and tools specific for one of those platforms:

  • Java and Kotlin are used for Android apps;
  • Swift and Objective-C are used for iOS apps.

Most business owners choose to develop native applications for their business because they have a lot of advantages to the end users. Take a look at the picture below to understand what we mean:

native apps pros


Broad functionality
whatever option, API or third-party service you’d like to integrate it will be possible to do in a native application. There are no limitations on what you can add to your app. And on top of that, it is very easy to update your app anytime and add a remove any option.
High performance
native app has clear code that is interconnected with all services and resources which lets that app achieve high performance level. Native apps rarely have any lags or productivity issues.
Incredible user experience
it’s not a secret that the style of iOS and Android systems is different, and native app development helps to get a solutions that meets certain requirements perfectly. Native apps always follow the UI and UX guidelines provided by a specific OS.
Access to built-in services
native apps can access the main built-in device options such as camera, calendar, GPS, contacts list, address book, and many more. For a business app those services and synchronization with them can be crucial. Native apps can also access push notification services and interact with users in the most convenient way.
Great security level
all native applications are very secure, because the developers follow OWASP regulations, encrypt the data, take care of proper authentication and set up safe default configurations. If you are building an app for fintech, real estate, education or else, you will definitely appreciate this advantage of native solutions.

How to build a native mobile app?

In order to provide a seamless user experience on a particular device, native apps are written in a programming language of the OS platforms, it’s made for. For example, native Android apps are written in Java, while iOS native apps are preferably written in Swift.

Both Google and Apple have dedicated software development tools. These tools can give a notable speed up to development progress and are available to all programmers who are willing to build a native app. Thus, there is a huge community of native developers which supplies “native” programmers with numerous ready-made solutions and helpful libraries. You can develop an iOS app using XCode and Android app by using Android Studio.

But not only coding has its standards but also the design. For example, Google developed the material design guidelines for developers and Apple has its own human interface guidelines. As a result, you get a native app that perfectly matches the UI/UX conventions, making people feel “like home” when using it.

To develop a native mobile application you need a team of experienced technical specialists that includes designer, iOS or Android developers, front-end developers, QA engineers, Scrum Master and in some cases DevOps.

The development of a native applications includes several key stages that end up with the software release and submission to mobile stores. The development stages are the following:
  • Discovery stage – when your app idea is shaped and all technical documentation is written;
  • Prototyping – when our designers provide you with the design concept, mockups and wireframes of your future mobile application;
  • Coding – when the developers write code, perform integration of all necessary services and add all required functionality;
  • Quality assurance – when the code is checked by testers who also pay special attention to app security and other aspects that should correspond to the OS guidelines;
  • Release – when your app is all set and ready to be published to mobile stores and used by your audience.

Perhaps by now you are wondering whether native app development has any cons. Well, in fact it can be quite costly and time consuming. In case with hybrid development you will get one solution that will work on both OS, in case with native development you need to build two separate apps for iOS and Android. And this can take you moths and thousands of dollars. And yet, native apps pay themselves off and can be called a great investment in the future of your business, as they will grow and improve together with your company or startup.

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Good to know
Native app development can be a bit challenging, so it is better to be aware of all possible pitfalls beforehand. Our experts share their experience and knowledge of mobile development in this blog post.

What are hybrid applications?

Hybrid apps have a single codebase, include a lightweight native app container, and can access the device hardware just like native apps. Nevertheless, they are built like web apps, using such programming languages as JavaScript, CSS and HTML5. Hybrid apps can be downloaded from app stores just like native apps. They can access hardware modules like camera, push-notifications, calendar, etc. So what’s the difference between hybrid and native apps? Check out this video first and then we’ll keep explaining: 

Though hybrid apps have very much in common with native apps, they are still not optimized for a particular platform and their performance is lower than native apps have. The main reasons why some developers choose to build hybrid apps are time and money. Building a hybrid app is faster than creating two native apps for iOS and Android and may be slightly cheaper. In addition, hybrid apps does not require from developer the proficiency in two programming languages.

Speaking about hybrid apps we couldn’t help mentioning that they are very dependent on frameworks and libraries, and cannot interact with other native applications. By building a hybrid app you get less functional, less performance and not UI/UX optimized solution. Plus, if something goes wrong (or you’ll need an upgrade) you won’t have a strong development community to support and advise you. The most well known examples of hybrid apps are Basecamp, Instagram, Yelp. We know them, we use them, and they are rather great. 

In case you are wondering when it is appropriate to develop hybrid application, we have collected several main cases when businesses resort to such kind of development:

  • They have wide audience that needs an app to use it on many platforms – web and mobile;
  • They want to test an app idea and see if it works for their business model;
  • There are strict deadlines and budget but the end product should be rather functional;
  • There is a need to introduce a basic app for users to perform certain easy operations;
  • They need to boost their time-to-market.
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Cross-platform app development

Apart from native and hybrid applications some startuppers and business owners prefer developing cross-platform solutions. Cross-platform solutions can be used on iOS and Android devices, their feature set can be updated quickly, and their UI performance matches with the native apps because they share a similar codebase.

To develop cross-platform application, software engineers usually choose Flutter or React native. Both these technologies let you get an app that works and feels like it is a native one. Cross-platform solutions have a certain level of flexibility as you can perform integration of third-party services, complete faster UI coding and easier testing. Here at GBKSOFT we mostly get requests to build a cross-platform app on Flutter, which shows that business owners trust this technology and consider it reliable. Here are some of the main advantages Flutter has:

advantages of flutter

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Additional info
Our experts have written a post in which they compared the performance of native and cross-platform applications. Check it out to dig a little deeper into that topic.

What is mobile web application?

Generally, people consider apps to be mobile, so they sometimes get confused by the “web app” term. Web application is actually a web program running in a browser. But how it differs from a dynamic website you ask? Well, there is only a terminological difference nowadays. Each website can be an app and each web app can look like a website. It may sound confusing, but the main point is web apps have a wider functionality than websites such as instant messaging, online sales, webmail, admin panel, etc.

The advantage of web apps is that you don’t need to install them on your device, instead, you can use them directly in browser anytime you need. This feature allows users to save storage space on their devices but requires the internet connection. Nevertheless, there are web apps that are able to work offline. Check out our page dedicated to custom web apps development if you want to discover more details about it. 

Among the examples of great web apps there are Google Docs, Trello, Evernote, Sea Guide by GBKSOFT and many more. Web apps can become a powerful business tool that is why people keep investing in their development although there are other kinds of applications. 

Unlike mobile native apps, development of mobile web apps doesn’t require specific SDK (software development kit). You can choose it based on your technological preferences. Generally, web apps are built on JavaScript, PHP, CSS and HTML along with such frameworks as Node.JS and Angular.JS. But, you can build web app by using any Turing-complete programming language.

Useful Post
If you are still confusing web app development with web design, then it is time to read our post explaining the difference between them.

How to choose between native, web and hybrid app

The battle between native, web, cross-platform and hybrid apps is never going to end because each approach has its own benefits. Building a hybrid app might be very appealing due to the high speed of development, lower budget costs and single source code needed. Nevertheless, in the long run, this economy can turn into the constant fixing process in order to enhance the UI and the attempts of raising the app’s performance.

Looking at the discussion from the perspective of 10+ years of our experience in mobile app development, we at GBKSOFT are convinced that choosing native apps is the most reasonable approach. The reason lies in high-class security, performance, and native UI/UX elements providing users with a seamless experience.

Time shows that people feel more comfortable and “like home” when using native apps since all the elements are familiar and user-friendly. Plus, native apps require more investments and time to accomplish, in a long run these investments pay off by offering an industry standard app performance and incredible user experience. Before making a final decision concerning app development, we’d recommend you to take the following steps: 

Define your development budget

You should always embrace the long-term thinking for your company’s strategy. This is also true while choosing which app is better to build. It’s better to spend more time on making a decision than later waste it on developing the wrong type of app and rebuild it from scratch with an extra budget.

The cheapest apps are hybrid, since they are made by a team with fewer people involved. But the flip side is the lower performance of the app and higher maintenance costs. Choosing hybrid app for the reason of its cost always means sacrificing some features that would be impossible to add later due to the hardware access limits. If your goal is to invest in the future of your business, then always choose native app development since such apps have a high level of flexibility and scalability and they can easily be improved as your business grows and its goals change. 

Establish the deadlines you need to preserve

Mobile app development usually lasts several month and sometimes it can even take half a year depending on the app complexity and feature set. For example, building one native app would be faster than building one hybrid app. However, if you need both iOS and Android version of your app – the finish line surely will be at the same point in time. So keep this in mind, especially if you build your business strategy and mobile app development is its main part. 

Set your main business goal

Chances are, you want to develop a mobile app to support your business and expand its horizons. In this case you should clearly set your main business goal for that app. What expectations you put in the development? Would you like to attract more attention to your business, or maybe introduce some new services? What success metrics you expect to achieve?

Also it is crucial to pay special attention to the target users and the way they interact with the solution. Let’s say your business is related to resale, then it will be reasonable to ensure both web and mobile presence. And on top of that, it would be great to add convenient payment method not to loose your audience and to convert it into customers. For example, if you are selling goods in iOS app, then it should offer Apple Pay option.

The next aspect to take into account is app promotion. You will definitely need to raise awareness of your new solution using ads. CPM (cost per mille) for ads in mobile apps is usually higher than in web apps. Thus if you will count on ads for promotion, go for web solutions.

On the other hand, if you want to monetize through ads, go for the native mobile app. The reason is ad blockers that many people use in their browsers which leads to lower revenue from your monetization option. And you definitely do not want that to happen. 

Identify your targeted audience?

When betting on a native app, choosing a platform is a common dilemma. Hence, there is a statistics confirming that iOS users spend more on mobile apps, meaning, the revenue from such apps might be higher. Nevertheless, everything depends on the functionality of an app, and the needs and expectations of the targeted audience.

For example, if you are planning to develop an app that can be used anytime – the best solution is native since it can work in both modes online and offline. Speaking about web apps, they all require an Internet connection as they are working through the browser. So think about your business and who are your clients, this will let you understand what app they would appreciate the most. 

Select the desired features

As we said before, the more features and integrations an app contains, the more difficult the development process is. Moreover, if you want your app to use the device’s hardware (camera, microphone, accelerometer, etc.) it’s better to choose native apps as they can access all the mentioned functions of a device. Hybrid applications can be feature-rich too, and yet that will have certain limitations and there can be some issues when you try to submit them to the mobile stores. 

In general you will need 3-6 month to develop and release a mobile application. Everything depends on the app type, complexity and operating system for which that app will be developed. For example, it may take a little longer to develop a native Android app than iOS one because of the wide variety of Android devices and OS versions still used on them.
It is hard to give a precise answer since everything depends on the nature of the project. We would recommend you to get in touch with our experts and request a rough estimation or a quote to get more or less relevant numbers for your project.
It is possible to perform code review, update or even rewrite your app and make it native in case you need this. We have experienced mobile developers in our team able to help you with that. The modernization procedure will take less time than the development of an app from scratch, and it will cost you less as well.

Mobile development services of GBKSOFT 

GBKSOFT is a highly experienced team of mobile developers who deliver solutions for different business industries and startups. We build native and cross-platform mobile apps for iOS and Android devices using Swift, Java, Kotlin and Flutter. And when it comes to design, we always follow the latest UI\UX trends and use the best practices to make app not only great looking but also very user-friendly. Together with our team you can build a mobile app for smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Here is the full list of technologies we use:

mobile technologies

Among the advanced technologies we can implement in your app there are Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, IoT, Voice and Image recognition, Big Data and many more. And the list of our services includes but not limited to:

  • Native and cross-platform mobile development;
  • Mobile app design;
  • Mobile app QA and maintenance;
  • Code review and mobile app modernization;
  • Holistic consulting on mobile app development;
  • Augmentation of your in-house mobile development team.

Whatever service you choose, you can be sure that you will get an access to wide talent pool and all specialists will be fully involved in your project. By choosing GBKSOFT you choose a reliable partner who will do all the technical job for you starting with the market research and coding, and ending with project management and app marketing.

We believe that examples speak louder than words, therefore we’d like to share a couple of mobile apps we are really proud of:

  • Zemp – holistic PoS SaaS application that already helps its owner to manage inventory and all reports;
  • CTRL golf – a native mobile app for Android devices that helps people learn to play golf and master their technique;
  • INCINQ – native iOS application for blind dating full of great custom features;
  • Bestyn – native apps for iOS and Android devices created to connect neighbors and promote local businesses;
  • Aquiline drones – native apps for iOS and Android devices that helps users order drone services to film their events or else.

To conclude 

It is hard to underestimate the true power of mobile app development for businesses. The times when mobile apps were used only for entertainment are gone, the era of productivity solutions has begun. These days businesses of all sizes, enterprise-level companies and even startups choose to invest in custom mobile app development because they know that those apps can streamline core operations, make work of employees easier, and even encourage customers’ loyalty.

Mobile app development is a costly venture, and yet it pays itself off. However, to make your mobile project a real success you need to choose the right kind of app with perfect feature set, take care of its security and usability, and of course keep investing in its improvements. And that’s exactly what we can help you with. Choose right development partner like GBKSOFT and go mobile in no time.

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Creator

I am mainly focused on enterprise mobility and digital business transformation, and highly curious about all emerging tech trends. Before writing about any topic I try to find answers to a lot of questions and perform serious fact checking.
Andrew

Expert

15 years of total experience in development, involving mobile, backend and frontend stack, including last 3 years as Head of mobile department.
Leave a comment

Comments (3)

kriti
Apr 06, 2018 at 8:02 AM

Great article :).Confused which platform to choose for your mobile app, native or hybrid? Check out pros and cons of native and hybrid platform for your mobile app.

reply
Fasda
Feb 26, 2018 at 1:02 PM

Wasn’t Facebook app made with react native?

reply
Elena
Feb 28, 2018 at 2:25 PM
Fasda,

Sure! And still, it’s a native app =)

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