When considering Mobile Application development, it is important to be familiar with the three different options available. There are three types of Mobile Applications – Native Apps, Hybrid Apps, and Responsive Web Apps. Each of these application types has positive and negative aspects associated with their development processes and this blog will be going over each in detail.
A Native application means an application that is written for use on a specific device such as iPhone or Android. This means the application cannot be used across devices with different operating systems. Hybrid applications are those that were programmed with multiple operating systems in mind. Responsive Web Applications are those that will adapt what the users see based on the device they are using.
At the end of this blog, you should have a better understanding of each type of mobile application and which development process is best suited for your business. Additionally, you will find a helpful comparison chart summarizing all the information that was discussed in this blog.
Native applications refer to mobile applications that were build on the native coding environment, that is, the application is coded in the programming language associated with that device, for example, the iOS operating system uses the language Swift.
A Native App runs on a single mobile operating system such as iOS. This means you can completely customize your layout/interface, taking advantage of native features, and give the user the most fundamental experience for their device. You may also utilize features such as:
- Geo Location
- Metrics (speed, altitude, direction of travel)
Utilizing multiple attributes does not hinder the speed of the app because it’s designed to conform to that specific platform. This along with other factors such as the ability to work offline in most instances will give the user a great sense of compatibility with the app.
A Native app cannot run on a device that doesn’t employ the same operating system. That means apps built specifically for an iPhone run only on an iPhone/iPad. If you would like an app in the Google Play store as well, you need to build a separate app. Each app requires its own codebase.
Because of this, companies will devote more time and resources to updating multiple versions of one app. This may mean double or triple the cost to tend to a single application.
On the other side of the spectrum, a Hybrid Application is written in one code base which is capable of being deployed to multiple devices. One application will work seamlessly across all devices with Android and iOS operating systems.
Having one code base across multiple devices is a clear advantage. This means you will save time and resources and these benefits are felt by both developers and users. You no longer need to hire multiple development teams or programmers with specialized experience to deploy your mobile application to web, iOS, and Android devices.
The true beauty here is that if the application is written well, most users can’t distinguish the difference between Hybrid and Native apps…and most users don’t actually care.
While Hybrid Apps may seem like an obvious choice due to cost savings, the level of functionality required of your app should influence your decision. If your app is complex requiring advanced interface systems, building Native Applications is a better choice. Since Hybrid applications are run through the devices browsing system and not run in the devices native language, performance is reduced. Additionally, you will not have access to certain native functionality, depending on the device and its operating system.
Our last type of mobile application is not really an application, but a Responsive Web Application. A responsive website is a website built to visually respond to the size of the device it is presented on. The website adjusts its look-and-feel based on if it’s a tablet or phone.
A responsive website can be a better alternative for businesses looking to increase website traffic and views of their page. 52.6% of all web searches are mobile, so gearing up your site for today’s mobile capabilities could be the turning point that drives your business to its success.
While being accessible on all devices, a mobile version of your website will give users a simplified and polished version of your more intensive desktop version, while still offering the same capabilities.
If it’s important to your business to monetize access to your application, a mobile responsive site won’t suffice because it can’t be accessed via an app store. Additionally, a website requires access to an internet connection. While access to connectivity is becoming more available, any lack of internet access can cause problems for users and developers alike.
To deliver the right user experience, you need to choose the type of mobile app that is right for you. Learning about the basics prepares you for the next step of your journey, which is deciding the path of development that is best for your business.
SphereGen has more than 10 years of experience helping customers with their web and mobile apps. If you are considering building a Responsive Web or Mobile App, we would love to talk with you!
Learn about the differences between adaptive design and responsive design: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/adaptive-vs-responsive-design
Examining the case for native apps for smartwatches – http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/09/26/native-apps-for-watchos-2-arent-perfect-but-theyre-far-better-than-what-we-had/
A punchier comparison of native vs hybrid – http://www.netxtra.net/insights/web-apps-vs-native-apps-fight-fight-fight/
Blog Updated: 6/07/2021