The Great App Debate: Native vs. Hybrid

BBT Digital | 8 August 2021

Mobile applications have been hitting their stride over recent years with growing numbers of businesses and providers making them part of their digital strategy. From eCommerce to healthcare to finance, there doesn’t seem to be an industry where apps haven’t proved their worth in communicating with a target audience. According to Statista, 97% of mobile phone users in New Zealand are active on apps, so if a mobile app fits into your digital strategy, it’s definitely worth considering.  

In terms of app development, it comes down to two options: native and hybrid. If that just went straight over your head, no sweat, the team at BBT are here to clear things up and help you choose the right type of app to suit your business needs. 

You’re probably wondering, what exactly are native and hybrid apps, and what’s the difference? Well, sit tight while we break it down for you.

 

Native Apps 

A native app is an app which is specific to a certain device platform such as Apple iOS or Android and is installed directly onto the device. They cannot be used on any other device platform. For instance, the app for the Apple TV remote can only be downloaded and used on Apple devices, while the Google Play Store is only available for Android users. 

Native apps are developed using specific programming languages. For instance, common languages used in Android development include Java and Kotlin, while C# and Swift are popular for iOS development.

 

The pros of native apps… 

 

Fast and dependable

These apps are developed with the device’s processing capabilities and future updates in mind. This allows native apps to be quicker, more responsive, and more dependable than hybrid apps.

 

Top notch device experience

Given that native apps are built for a specific platform they can more effectively integrate themselves with the device’s features. This goes on to create a seamless app experience for users. An added bonus is that native apps can operate offline due to their platform integration.

 

Synchronicity with UI/UX

Native apps require developers to follow very specific UI and UX guidelines based on the platform’s UI/UX experience. Ultimately, the app needs to align to device aesthetics, features and functions which means that users aren’t required to learn how to use a new app from scratch.

 

…and the cons of native apps 

 

The cost and time factors

These apps are a costly undertaking because it requires a development team to build, release and create updates for specific platforms. This can be expensive which means native apps may not be the best choice for companies with a limited budget. 

 

Multiple apps for multiple customers

It’s no mean feat to reach your entire target audience using an app that’s only available to iOS or Android users. In order to achieve this, you will need to develop an app that can be used across all platforms and devices, which isn’t the purpose of native apps.

 

Hybrid Apps 

Hence the name, hybrid apps are a blend of both native and web solutions. They can operate across any platform and device. You definitely have a hybrid app installed on your phone and you don’t even know it! Popular hybrid apps include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Uber to name a few. Regardless of which device you download these apps onto, you know they’re going to work.

 

The pros of hybrid apps… 

 

One hit wonder

Given that hybrid apps can operate across all device platforms you don’t need to create multiple iterations. You can also release the app across multiple platforms simultaneously, making it a quick and straightforward process.

 

Quicker and lower cost development

As well as being able to reach the market faster, hybrid apps are also less costly as only one app needs to be developed. An added benefit is that it’s easy to maintain, scale, or update the app for all platforms at the same time.

 

…and the cons of hybrid apps 

 

Performance varies between platforms

The performance of an app doesn’t solely rely on it’s features, it is also impacted by the features of the device it’s operating on. If the device’s features are insufficient and unable to support the app, then this will lead to poor performance from the hybrid app.

 

One size doesn’t fit all

The caption kind of says it all, right? Due to hybrid apps not being created for a specific platform, their UX and UI will never be an exact match for each platform. This can be a point of contention for some users who may struggle to adapt to the app’s aesthetic and functionality.

 

Native vs. Hybrid: a score to settle? 

When it comes down to it, both native and hybrid apps have a role to play. The choice between them comes down to which factors are important to your company. But don’t worry, we can help you make that decision.

 

How BBT can be your partner in app planning, design, and development 

This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve designed and developed apps for a wide variety of businesses, partnering with them to scale up and create a fully realised digital experience. We will work with you to find a solution that corresponds with your business needs and develop an app that your audience will love to use. 

We don’t bite, so get in touch with us to see how we can help your business.