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  • Suhas Bhosale, Technical Architect

Native, Web and Hybrid Apps – Understanding the Fundamentals


You might be one of the countless individuals from the world over who is researching app development for your business. Maybe you had an idea that you think has immense potential, or you are just plain curious about what app development can do for you. Wherever you are, you need to begin at the beginning. One of the essentials in understanding app development is the type of apps that can be developed. These are split into three categories – native apps, web apps, and hybrid apps. Each category is unique, and all of them have some positives going for them, and some negatives that count against them. We have explained all three categories below, so you can find which kind of app will work best for your needs!

Exploring the basics — what are native, hybrid and web apps?

Native apps — Native apps are all the apps that you download from app stores that are coded in the programming language specific to each operating system. The coding is done using Software Development Kits or SDKs made available by the creators of the platform. A native app allows developers to leverage all the capabilities of the smartphone such as its camera, address book, motion sensor and gesture-capabilities among other things.

So, if a developer creates an app for Android, they would code it in Java, and incorporate every aspect of functionality that the device has to offer based on his or her needs. Native apps are the most dedicated kind of apps, and should be used when the developer needs to create complex, powerful apps. While a lot of native apps use the phone’s internet connection, one of their prominent features is also that they allow users to run the app offline.

Advantages:

  • Powerful

  • Full access to device features

  • Works offline

  • Appears on the app marketplace

  • Matches interface to device

  • Usually the quickest and most responsive

Disadvantages:

  • Cost of development is usually the highest

  • Typically takes the longest time to develop

  • Requires the app to be downloaded and installed by each user; takes up space on the device

  • Most complicated to maintain

  • Can only be developed for one platform at a time

  • Additional fee required to publish the app

  • Limited by the rules and regulations of the marketplace it is published on

Web Apps — Web apps are websites designed to run optimally on smartphones. They are based on HTML 5 and can only be accessed only through a web browser. Usually, they have a dedicated URL that you are redirected to when you try to access a specific website on your phone. This URL hosts the web app, and while its interface can be similar to that of a native app, a web app is not capable of harnessing all of the smart devices’ in-built functionalities. However, they are typically designed to orient themselves to smartphone screen sizes and content is reshuffled for optimized viewing on each device.

Advantages:

  • Relatively cheaper to develop

  • No need to download and install

  • Can be easily deployed across platforms

  • Cost of development is typically the lowest

  • Easier to maintain

  • Greater discoverability

Disadvantages:

  • Cannot leverage smartphone functionalities

  • Requires an internet connection, cannot be used offline

  • Limited user interface

  • Dependent on browser to run

Hybrid Apps — As the name suggests, this type of app is a cross between a web app and a native app. It is basically a web app, given an outer shell and appearance of a native app. It is developed on web-based platforms such as HTML 5 or Javascript, but gets a dedicated icon and does not need a separate web browser. They are also made available through app marketplaces and have access to a few of the phone’s in-built functionalities. It is basically a web-based app that has the same style of execution and access that a native app does. A compromise between the two approaches, hybrid apps allow companies to have a presence in the app marketplace without the expenses of developing a native app.

Advantages:

  • Cheaper to develop and maintain than a full-blown native app

  • Can harness smart device technologies

  • Easier cross-platform development than native app

  • Has limited offline functionalities

  • Does not need a browser to run

Disadvantages:

  • Not as powerful or versatile as a native app

  • More expensive and time consuming to develop than a web app

  • Is not fully capable of offline use

  • Performance limited to similar levels as a web app

  • Requires separate download and installation; takes up space on the device

  • Additional fee required to publish the app

  • Limited by the rules and regulations of the marketplace it is published on

Now that you have a good grasp of the pros and cons of native, web and hybrid apps, you might need expert advice to understand which app meets your individual project needs best. Extentia has solid proficiency in app development and our team of developers and experts have created successful apps for a wide range of businesses. Contact us for a consultation right away!

Read other Extentia Blog posts here.


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