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Choosing Among Native, Web and Hybrid Apps – What’s the Difference?

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2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the app ecosystem we recognize today. It is estimated that there are 12 million mobile app developers worldwide. As smartphones become more affordable, apps have also become ubiquitous. Android leads the pack with nearly 6 million developers creating apps for the Playstore while nearly 3 million focus on Apple’s App Store.

Many small businesses are still reluctant to embrace mobile. They have already invested in a website and are happy with the current traffic volume. But due to the tectonic shift in the digital space, failing to adapt to a mobile market can not only mean missed opportunities but can also mean the future demise of their business.

To stay competitive, you need to keep abreast of your customers’ online preferences and behavior. Applications can play a major role in improving customer engagement, facilitating payments, retention and improving results. When deciding to build an app for your business, there are three main approaches you should consider: native, web, or hybrid. Each has its own benefits depending on your business goals and resources. Here is an overview of these different types of applications:

Native apps

Native apps are faster and more responsive. They are said to be “native” because they were designed for a specific platform such as Apple iOS or Android. They are created using the Software Development Kits (SDKs) for a certain framework, hardware platform or operating system. Since they are optimized for the device’s operating system, they can have full access to the gadget’s capabilities, including camera, mic, GPS, and more. without having to deal with the complexity of native plugins. It can also store data accessible offline. Due to its better responsiveness, it is more suitable for graphics applications, HD games, and animation-intensive applications. Since native apps are more stable and reliable, users report a better user experience and spend more time using them with other types of apps.

A disadvantage is that each platform requires the development of applications using a specific coding language. This involves different skill sets from the application development team, which can increase the cost. Each app store also has its own approval and release process, which can cause delays in app release.

Web apps

Web apps are basically websites configured to look like real apps provided the device has a web browser. To “install” them, the user simply creates a shortcut to their home screen. They are executed by a browser and usually written in cross-platform technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which are common coding languages. Because they are cross-platform ready, you don’t need a team of developers familiar with Apple iOS or Android platforms. This makes their creation significantly less expensive. Compared to native apps, web apps are also easier to distribute. You have more freedom in their design and are not bound by the rules imposed by Google or Apple. They are more convenient to maintain and update, especially when you want to keep adding new features

However, they require internet access and the quality of their performance depends on wifi speed or cellular signal strength. They also have limited graphics capability and poor device integration. They cannot access certain phone features such as the microphone or the camera. Touch gestures are not always responsive and can have a noticeable “lag”, which can negatively affect the user experience.

Hybrid apps

Hybrid apps combine the beneficial features of native app and web app technologies. The goal of creating a hybrid app is to provide the experience of a native app while keeping the simplicity of a web app. Some developers choose hybrid apps to easily integrate device features such as GPS, camera, or push notifications. Since hybrid apps can be distributed through app stores, they have the added benefit of accessing customers from both Apple and Google platforms. Because they are still essentially web applications, their development is less expensive, but may require experts who have more specialized knowledge of the various interfaces and features of the phone. They also still fall short when it comes to the neat looks, graphics capabilities, and responsiveness of a native app.

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