NATIVE vs. WEB vs. HYBRID Mobile Apps


A lot of people still confuses among these three types of apps. This might be of some help.

When you consider developing a new mobile app, you primarily have three choices. You could build a native app using the tools and SDKs provided by the platform vendor. You could build a mobile-optimized website using standards-based technology like HTML and JavaScript. You could build a hybrid app that wraps a native shell around a WebView enabling you to build the content of your app using HTML and JavaScript.


Native apps will always provide the best experience on the given platform. That is simply because if you build a native app using the SDKs for the platform you are able to optimize for the platform and take advantage of everything the platform has to offer. For apps where the device is the primary factor (i.e. you want the best iPhone experience possible) or milliseconds matter, such as in high-polygon count games like CSR Racing or Galaxy of Fire 2, native development is the only choice. For apps like this you need to take advantage of everything the platform has to offer, from the GPU to the screen pixel depth.


For the other 80% of the apps being built, building a mobile-optimized website could be a good, economical alternative to building a native app. By optimizing a website for mobile platforms you can reduce the development cost from the native alternative by using HTML and JavaScript. There are millions of developers with skills in these technologies, and your own web team can learn the small amount of additional skill required to tackle this type of project. This definitely has its advantages–you build and maintain a single codebase, updates don’t have to go through app store approval processes, and you can experiment with your app more quickly and easily. Of course there are drawbacks as well. With a mobile-optimized website, the app isn’t able to take advantage of the device capabilities, like the accelerometer, compass, camera and other sensors, and local storage is limited, making offline use more constrained. And if you are relying on app stores as a primary marketing channel, you’re out of luck.


The middle ground between these two extremes is the hybrid approach, where you wrap a native shell around a WebView, and build the content of your application in HTML and JavaScript. With this approach you get the advantages of native–access to device capabilities like the accelerometer, compass, camera and others, distribution through the app stores and offline support–along with the advantages of Web–lower development cost in HTML and JavaScript and a single codebase for the content of your application. While the app doesn’t have the highly optimized platform experience of a native app, for most non-gaming apps the performance is more than sufficient (and getting better as each vendor improves their browser engine’s processing and rendering capabilities).

Hybrid apps require a bridge between the JavaScript layer and the native layer in order to provide access to the device capabilities in JavaScript. One of the most popular bridge technologies is Apache Cordova (aka PhoneGap), which has been downloaded over one million times. Cordova provides and abstraction and bridge to the primary device capabilities enabling a hybrid app to access everything from the accelerometer to the camera to notifications APIs in all. The economics of hybrid app development simply make sense. There are millions of developers with skills in HTML and JavaScript, which means you don’t need to hire new developers or train your existing staff in Objective-C and Java. And for much less than it cost to target multiple platforms with native solutions, you can target the same platforms with a hybrid app.

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Ankit Kumar

Team Leader at Logiciel Solutions
This is my personal blog. I post about Laravel, Angular, SQL and Web Technologies here. I have been into web development for 7 years and learning new things always interest me. Looking forward to find a teacher in you all.