Business owners wear many hats and have numerous responsibilities, with mobile app development being a primary consideration. There are several app types, and selecting the right one can be challenging. Progressive, native, or hybrid apps—which is best? To make the right choice, answer questions such as:
- Do I need the app right away?
- How much can I afford to spend?
- What kind of features should the app have?
- What will the app do to grow my business?
While asking and answering these questions is beneficial, it’s important to have some basic knowledge before getting started. Here, we’ll discuss the differences between—as well as the pros and cons of—native, hybrid, and progressive web applications.
What is a Native Application?
When most people think of apps, they envision icons on a phone or tablet screen. That’s just one type, though, and it’s called a native app. For instance, Java is used in the Android app development process, while iOS apps are typically coded in Swift. Native applications are faster and smoother than web or hybrid apps, which offers an improved UX (user experience). A native app allows for access to device features such as:
- Contact lists
- GPS location
Many of today’s companies have developed native apps to take advantage of their OS interactivity. However, these benefits come at a higher development cost—which puts them out of reach of many small businesses.
Native Apps: The Pros
Native apps are preferred for a few reasons. They usually run smoothly, even when processing heavy graphics. Creating an Android or iOS app grants companies access to each platform’s features, and because these apps must meet certain performance standards, they offer a better experience. Unlike hybrid and web apps, these applications are often featured on app marketplaces, which makes them easier to find.
Native Apps: The Cons
While there’s much to be said for the visibility and simplicity of native apps, there are a few disadvantages to consider. As mentioned before, it costs more to develop a native app than a web or hybrid app, especially when companies plan to cross platforms. To make a native app that runs on iOS and Android, you’ll need an experienced development team.
Web apps are, as implied by their name, websites that function and look like mobile applications. Unlike native apps, however, web apps may be run on most browsers. There’s a lower entry barrier because of these apps’ easier development and lower cost. Unfortunately, web applications are often slow and less intuitive. Web applications won’t show up in the app store, so users may have a hard time finding them—but almost every device these days has a browser, so they’re still accessible.
Web Apps: The Pros
Unlike native applications, web apps use the same codebase on every platform. Therefore, if there’s a problem, it only has to be fixed once. If users have the right web browser, they can use these apps without additional downloads. While native apps need periodic updates on the user’s end, web apps do not. And, because they’re not on the open marketplace, these apps don’t go through a lengthy approval process.
Web Apps: The Cons
Web applications are easier to make, but they don’t have as many features as native apps do. For example, a web app can’t use push notifications. Because they’re only available on web browsers, it can be labor-intensive to access them. Finally, web apps are usually slower, less interactive, and less responsive than native applications.
Hybrid and Progressive Apps
A hybrid mobile app combines the best elements of native and web applications. These apps can be installed on devices and run in browsers, and they consist of:
- Backend code
- The native shell, which allows for app store downloads.
Progressive apps are similar in that they also combine features of native and web apps, but there are some key differences. While progressive applications aren’t found on the app store, users can still create icons for them on a device. Progressive apps are relatively cheap to make, easy to customize, and easier to use in rural areas with little to no internet access.
Hybrid/Progressive Apps: The Pros
A hybrid app can be built with common technology, reducing development time. Therefore, hybrid and progressive apps come with a lower upfront cost, as well as app store access. Hybrid apps, unlike web applications, can use device features and be used across platforms.
Hybrid Apps: The Cons
Which Type of App is Best for Your Business?
Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of the differences between hybrid, native, and progressive apps, it’s time to get started. For companies with larger budgets, native apps offer a consistent UX and seamless performance. For small businesses and startups, however, web apps are a viable, affordable option. And, if your company is in the middle, a hybrid or progressive app may be ideal.
No matter which direction your project goes in, it’s important to deliver a seamless user experience. If users must struggle to use an app, all that time, money, and effort will be wasted. Maximize the value of your investment by working with a mobile app development expert.