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Native vs. Hybrid Apps: Key Differences and What to Choose in 2021

One question routinely surfaces in today’s evolving technology and modern development landscape — whether to build a mobile website vs native app vs hybrid app. As a developer, you need to take the time to think through a few considerations before running off to develop software. We compared native and hybrid ways of development to help you make the right decision. Let’s get proper information about Android and iOS native vs hybrid mobile app development!

Hybrid vs. Native Mobile Apps – A Quick Overview

What are the essential differences between native and hybrid apps? When should you choose to develop cross-platform solutions, and in which case would a native application be beneficial?

Native apps

Hybrid vs. Native Mobile Apps – A Quick Overview | TechMagic

Native apps are written in a programming language specific to the platform they’re being developed for. This would typically be Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android. One of the most relevant native and hybrid app differences lies in the increased performance with rendering and animations compared to hybrid apps.

Hybrid apps

Hybrid apps | TechMagic.co

A hybrid app is a mobile app that contains a web view (essentially an isolated browser instance) to run a web application inside a native app, using a native app wrapper that can communicate with the native device platform and the web view. This means web applications can run on a mobile device and access the device features, such as the camera or GPS.

Hybrid apps are possible because of tools that have been created to facilitate the communication between the web view and the native platform. Due to the lack of official tools for iOS or Android platforms, cross-platform developers execute the integration of third-party tools such as Apache Cordova. When a hybrid app is built, it will be compiled, transforming your web application into a native app.

Differences between Native and Hybrid

In this matter, let’s see the difference between a native app and hybrid app. Here is a convenient table of comparison of mobile native vs. hybrid apps:

Hybrid App

Native App

Developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Developed in platform-specific language, Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java for Android, etc.

Write once, run anywhere.

Separate code for each platform.

Medium performance if compared to native apps.

Fastest and most responsive experience for users.

Save time and money.

Higher investment of time, talent, and resources.

Faster development cycle.

Higher costs and development time.

E.g., Baskin Robbin, Sworkit, Untappd.

E.g., PayPal, Gmail.

Technologies Used For Mobile Application Development

Technologies Used For Mobile Application Development | TechMagic.co

There are many hybrid mobile frameworks, such as Ionic, NativeScript, React Native, Xamarin, PhoneGap, etc. Besides comparing native application vs hybrid application, we decided to describe the main characteristics of native apps with the top 2 hybrid frameworks — Ionic and React Native.

Ionic

Ionic is a framework that essentially allows developers to create hybrid mobile apps using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

A hybrid mobile app is built using technologies typically used for the web. Hybrid apps are hosted inside native applications that allow them to access the device’s camera, pedometer, and other functionalities, removing the need to develop for any specific device or operating system. This means that you are creating a website wrapped inside an app.

React Native

React Native is a framework developed by Facebook for creating native-style apps for iOS and Android under one common language, JavaScript.

Unlike hybrid apps, native apps are built for the platform they’re to be used on (iOS, Android, etc.). React Native allows a proportion of the script to be shared between platforms and empowers developers to create apps that feel less clunky and perform better than hybrid apps.

With both React Native and Native apps, gestures like pinching or double-tapping work in the way you’d expect them to work on your operating system.

Differences between Ionic and React Native

We have discussed the main native vs hybrid app differences and how they affect the development process. Now let’s focus on the characteristics of native app and hybrid app through the lens of the frameworks: Ionic and React Native. We made a table comparing each technology:

Ionic

React Native

Easy to learn with lots of rich pre-made and pre-styled components.

The learning curve with few pre-made native components.

First-class documentation, very clear and consistent.

Very basic documentation as compared to Ionic.

The same codebase can be used to develop applications for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web, Desktop, and PWA (Progressive Web Apps)

The same codebase (most of the time) can be used to develop Android, iOS, and Windows Phone applications.

Coded in Typescript (Typescript is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript).

Coded in JSX (JSX is a preprocessor step that adds XML syntax to JavaScript).

Write once, run anywhere.

Learn once, write anywhere.

Medium performance as it uses WebView.

Very good performance.

Apache Cordova is used in Ionic 2 to access the phone hardware functionality.

React Native app compiles to native code and can directly access the native smartphone features.

Very fast development-testing cycle. Testing can be done in the browser, with no need for heavy emulator loading.

Testing can be done in an emulator or a real device.

Ionic has more Stack Overflow questions with very good community support.

React Native has more GitHub stars with an equally strong community.

Based on Angular 2, backed by Google.

Based on React, backed by Facebook.

Conclusion

We’ve made a detailed overview of hybrid vs native app comparison. There are clear and distinct advantages and disadvantages for both hybrid and native approaches, and that is why this discussion is still relevant. Speed to market, one source code, cross-compatible web technologies, easy updates, availability of resources, and lower budget costs make hybrid applications very appealing. But in the long run, the biggest detraction of hybrid apps is that the company will likely spend more time fixing and tweaking the app because of user complaints about UI elements or performance-driven issues of a product.

Additionally, native apps have the advantage of functions that are specific to the OS on which the app is built (e.g., camera, GPS, address book, etcetera). Furthermore, when we talk about hybrid vs native app development, a native approach offers the best in class security for a mobile application, the best performance, a highly responsive user interface, and access to all native APIs. In other words, the original investment may be higher. Still, a company will save time and money in the long run while offering a great user experience and an industry-standard app performance.

Each approach has its pros and cons for business, but the native approach will bring the biggest benefits for a company’s bottom line at the end of the day. Much like with any other task, if you are still indecisive about which method you should go for, contact specialists. TechMagic is a software development company with years of experience. We will help you choose the suitable approach for your project and make the right choice. Our in-depth expertise about software development, both native and hybrid, guarantees you the best solution for your business goals, budget, and target audience. Get a free consultation with the TechMagic team and start building your application as soon as possible.

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TechMagic is a software and web development company from Lviv, Ukraine that builds dedicated teams skilled in JavaScript, Node.js, Angular, React, AWS, Serverless, and Salesforce.
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