What Mobile Strategy Is Best: Native or Hybrid?

The best strategy to use, whether hybrid or native would depend on what one wants to achieve. However, it would also depend on one’s plans for the future.

Mobile developers ask the common question, and that is “Which approach is best, native or hybrid?” As with most interesting queries, the answers turns out to be ‘it depends’.

THE BIG DECISION

native-hybrid-app

When deciding to invest in a mobile application, the next big decision is to choose how it would be developed. Should one go for native or hybrid? The same as a lot of technology solutions questions, the answer would depend on the goals and resources. Each path could lead to success and increase the odds of a big outcome by comprehending the costs and opportunities associated with every choice.

NATIVE APPLICATION, WHAT IS IT?

Native app development means building applications with the use of officially supported tools and languages for the particular platform. The two main platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, each need certain programming languages that vary. Apple enables Objective-C for iOS and encourages a shift to Swift, the new proprietary language. The official Android development language is Java.

Both Android and iOS platforms were designed to provide developers direct, full control over the capabilities of the device, thus, the only limitations are the skills and imagination of a coder. This allows a peak level of visual fidelity, access to device components and alert responsiveness to inputs that other approaches could not match. But, the very specific also is a downside of Native app development. Since both firmware and hardware of the device ecosystems vary at a fundamental level, the necessary frameworks to unlock their potential vary too. Meaning that Android and iOS apps could be similar from a wide architectural perspective. Yet, the actual code would be unique for every platform. Releasing the same application concept on both platforms would essentially mean coding twice, doubling costs effectively for a simultaneous initial release and all subsequent enhancement and maintenance as well.

WHERE NATIVE MIGHT NOT BE MOST APPROPRIATE

1. When the functionality of an app needs extensive control over devices, accessing things such as accelerometer, camera, GPS tracking, Bluetooth, NFC and more.

2. Applications wherein even short response lag for user input will be an issues, such as games.

3. Where the monetization path intended needs deep integration with application store functionality.

Examples of Native applications: Facebook, Netflix, Starbucks and Spotify.

HYBRID APPLICATION, WHAT IS IT?

Hybrid tools were developed, in part to address the downside to Native development wherein coding is necessary in two separate languages. Hybrid addresses this by sandwiching two technology layers together, thus the name Hybrid. One layer is the UI that’s coded using web technologies such as CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript. The other layer consists of a container for the web code called WebViews and a set of JavaScript hooks that enable web code to control device components. One of the key benefits of the Hybrid approach is the speed to market. The tools enable an application to be up and running in very little time. Moreover, web development technologies are long-established and well-known and the coding skills needed are considered less rare and less specialized compared to Native mobile developers. If hybrid application tools could do the heavy lifting and still get the benefit of leveraging advanced device capacities, it can be a big win when it comes to efficiency and cost as well as fast market time.

WHERE HYBRID MAY NOT BE MOST APPROPRIATE

1. When the experiences one wants consist of simple interactions and interfaces. Hybrid applications must avoid multi-touch input and complex gestures.

2. In contexts wherein sped to market is top priority, or where budgets are limited.

3. In organizations that have strong web developers.

4. With apps that need regular content updates. WebView content could be changed without requiring an application to be upgraded and reinstalled.

Examples of Hybrid applications: Basecamp, Evernote and Instagram.

A COMPETITIVE MOBILE APP SPACE

The mobile application environment is competitive. Customers have high expectations for mobile applications, which include usage ease, responsiveness and overall quality. Perceptions of users of the experience build lasting impressions of the company that provide the app. Moreover, unlike other technology forms, a lot of mobile app users don’t give second chances. Native applications could deliver the level of quality necessary more consistently and with lesser compromises. But, Hybrid frameworks continue to improve. In instances wherein the Hybrid option is strongly considered, make certain to consider the realities and risks very carefully before starting the development process to avoid surprises and to make sure that the outcome would meet the long-term goals. Choosing whether to go native or hybrid must depend not just on the present need, but also on the future plans too.

There are certainly instances when both hybrid and native applications can be a viable solution.

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