Being overwhelmed with the tools and technologies for mobile app development, it often becomes difficult for most entrepreneurs, CTOs, and CXOs, envisioning developing an app, to choose among the three most common approaches to mobile app development – Native, Hybrid & Progressive Web App Development.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the mobile app industry is thriving. With over 6.3 billion smartphone users worldwide, Mobile app development for business is not just a trend but a brilliant way of becoming a part of a lucrative market your customer base regularly engages with. 

However, being one of Dallas’s most trusted mobile app strategy partners, we are well versed in the intricacies of the various mobile app development approaches.

Therefore, to help you make a decision, we’ll discuss and compare the three mobile app development approaches – Native, Hybrid & PWAs in this blog. Ready to learn? Let’s begin!

Native, Hybrid, Or PWAs – Which is the Best Mobile App Development Approach?

Native vs. Hybrid vs. Progressive Web Apps: An Introduction

Native Apps are one of the most commonly developed mobile apps. Built with mobile OS-specific (i.e., iOS or Android) programming languages and tools, these apps can essentially be installed from the app stores directly on the user’s device (desktop or mobile) and used seamlessly on the device without browser intervention.

Simply put, native apps are built using different languages depending on which platform the app is made for. For instance, native Android apps are developed using Java, while native iOS apps are built using Swift or Objective-C, and C# for most Windows Phone apps.

Hybrid Apps are primarily an amalgam of native as well as web apps. Putting a web app in a native shell is what a native application means. Built with web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, hybrid apps are capable of functioning seamlessly on multiple mobile operating systems while leveraging the mobile device’s capabilities through the app’s embedded browser.

Progressive Web Apps are primarily websites that behave like apps that are only accessible on the Internet via a browser and thus cannot be installed on a device. These web apps load instantly on any connection, whether online or offline, are designed to be responsive, and work flawlessly on any device’s browser.

Further, let’s look into the details of the app development approaches to see what kind of app is best for your enterprise.

Also, Read – Outsourcing vs. In-house Mobile App Development: Everything You Need to Know

Native Mobile Apps – An Overview

Native apps account for the most number of mobile applications in the marketplace and are best known for their full functioning, fast performance, and user experience.

Native apps are primarily custom-made in specific programming languages aiming to run in a particular OS ecosystem adhering to the technical guidelines set by the OS. 

In a nutshell, if one develops a native android app, the app would only work on android devices. And if you want to have a native app on both iOS and Android, you will have to develop your app in two separate programming languages specific to the dedicated OSs.

As far as compiling is concerned, for Android, the app is assembled in the form of APK, and for iOS, it’s IPA. Further, once you get your hands on these compiled files, you can easily publish the native apps on platforms – Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Pros of Native App Development:

  • Quick to configure and easily prevent bugs and technical problems due to the single code base feature.
  • Better UX/UI, custom APIs, and components 
  • Excellent performance, seamless maintenance, and development stability
  • Top-level security, data protection, and robust functioning in an offline environment
  • Complete support from Google Play, the App Store, and the overall app marketplace
  • Spontaneous implementations & non-dependence on open-source libraries/third-party frameworks
  • Publishers can use push notifications, notifying users about a new piece of content being published or whenever their attention is required

Cons of Native App Development: 

  • Require a high level of expertise
  • OS-specific app development
  • Development and app store optimization take longer than hybrid and web apps.
  • The App Store approval process is time-consuming, increases costs, and delays updates.
  • Require frequent updates from the OS.

When to develop a Native Mobile Application?

  • When you need a platform-specific mobile app
  • When you want a robust app that uses device-specific functionalities like GPS, camera, etc
  • When you need a dynamic app with a variety of functionalities
  • Best-suited for 3D games or apps with animations
  • Budget and time are no issue

Native App Programming Language

Also, Read – Understanding Native App Development – What You Need To Know

Hybrid Mobile Apps: An Overview

Hybrid apps are web apps wrapped in a native app shell. In essence, hybrid apps are applications that possess elements from both native apps & web apps. 

Developing hybrid apps refers to creating a backend codebase with web-based technologies, like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, that can be deployed in a native container using a mobile WebView object to display content. 

The best part about developing a hybrid app is that you write code that targets a browser instead of a specific native OS when you build a hybrid app, which means less work since there’s no need to update multiple apps. And when an OS upgrade is released, it automatically starts reflecting all other versions.

Pros of Hybrid App Development:

  • Use of single codebase for all platforms.
  • Lower development costs 
  • Shorter time-to-market tenure
  • Greater cross-platform support 
  • Seamless maintenance, integration with web-based services, and addition of new features
  • Access to the device’s native functionality like Bluetooth, geofencing, sensors, push notifications, accelerometer, calendar, clock, etc.
  • Better control over app content & version upgrade

Cons of Hybrid App Development: 

  • A comparatively slower performance might cause problems with certain features provided explicitly by iOS or Android only.
  • Multiple customizations might increase the complexity of the codebase, thus increasing cost and development time.
  • Time-consuming App Store Optimisation (ASO) and App Store approval process 
  • Dependency on system browser security and updating the base app for system compatibility.

When to develop a Hybrid Mobile Application?

  • When you plan to build an app without any complex functionalities, extremely interactive UI, UX, or animations 
  • When you want to publish an app on both Android and Apple app stores
  • Want to test an idea by developing an MVP

best hybrid app examples

Progressive Web Apps: An Overview

PWAs are web applications – a faster and more reliable alternative to traditional mobile websites, written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, to work on any standards-compliant web browser for desktop or mobile devices. 

Supported by Google, the front-end technology aims to deliver a high-performance level regardless of device or network condition. These apps essentially work like native mobile apps and are equipped with an interactive interface, app navigation, and gestures. 

In addition, PWAs are equipped to leverage the device’s native functionalities like push notifications via Google Cloud Messaging, access to APIs like geolocation and camera, offline support, etc. 

Also, Read – How does a push notification work in mobile apps?

Pros of Progressive Web App Development:

  • It can function without being online and enable seamless access on different platforms and devices.
  • Different screen sizes, responsiveness & adaptability
  • Web apps are cost-effective and require low maintenance.
  • Web apps don’t follow standard OS protocols and thus don’t need the marketplace’s approval. 
  • PWAs do not need manual updating as updated versions are automatically rendered and displayed.

Cons of Progressive Web App Development:

  • Limited interaction & intuitiveness compared to native apps.
  • less support for Apple devices & weaker performance on iOS
  • It requires more battery power, is slow, and is less responsive than native apps.

When to develop a Progressive Web Application?

  • PWAs are best for building a robust e-commerce experience.
  • Best when the end goal is to attract traffic

Progressive web app development programming language

Final Words!

By now, you might have a fair understanding of the features and distinctions of the three app development approaches. In essence, Native apps are considered best for performance, user experience, and robustness; hybrid apps are well known for fast turnarounds and compatibility across different platforms, and PWAs are best suited for eCommerce businesses and when you wish to have an easy-to-build multi-platform app with native functionality.

However, what will be the best to opt for your enterprise will ultimately be your call, depending on numerous factors such as audience, marketing strategy, budget, timeline, and the end goal of your mobile app development project. 

Moreover, it’s best to partner with a top mobile app design and development company to analyze your business requirements and the critical elements of your app to pave the way for turning the envisioned mobile app into a reality.

Are you looking for the best mobile app development experts? Connect with us to explore business opportunities.