Are you thinking about creating a mobile app but need help figuring out where to start? Don't worry. You're not alone. There are many different ways to develop a mobile app, and it can be overwhelming to figure out the best fit for your project.
Native app, hybrid app, and progressive web app (PWA) development are three main approaches, each with its unique set of pros and cons. Choosing the right type of development is crucial for the success of your app, as it can impact factors such as performance, user experience, and cost.
In this blog post, we will explore the differences between native, hybrid, and PWA development and guide you in deciding which approach is best for your project.
Table of Contents
First, users' preferences and needs should be targeted, considering some aspects like:
Operating system: make sure which one they use the most. Is it iOS or Android? Or both? Understanding what kind of app needs to be developed will prevent time and resources waist;
Time and budget: each technology has different period and budget requirements, so it is essential to estimate the projects' needs wisely;
Read more about how to manage technical debt here.
- Type of app: depending on the app to be developed, choosing the right technology is crucial since they will need different coding practices.
In short, several things need to be considered before start developing. So, what are the real differences between Native, Hybrid, and PWA apps? Let's check it.
It involves building a mobile app specifically for a particular platform, such as iOS or Android, using its native programming language and development tools. As software development accelerated over the past few decades, Java and Objective-C were replaced by Kotlin (Android) and Swift (iOS). This approach is the gold standard for mobile application development because it allows developers to create high-performing apps optimised for a particular platform and take full advantage of the device's features.
One of the main advantages of this kind of app development is that it typically results in faster app performance and a better overall user experience. Because the app is built specifically for a particular platform, it can be optimised for the device's hardware and software, leading to a more seamless and responsive app. Native apps also have full access to the device's features and capabilities, such as the camera, GPS, and push notifications, which can enhance the app's functionality.
However, these apps can be more expensive and time-consuming than other approaches, requiring a separate codebase for each platform. If you want to release your app on iOS and Android, you will need to build two separate versions of the app. This can increase the overall development cost and the duration it takes to bring the app to market.
Best to use when:
- Only need to code for one platform and use specific hardware features (GPS and camera, for example);
- Want to give the best user experience by removing complex and unnecessary features;
- For 3D games or apps with many animations.
One of the main advantages of hybrid app development is that it allows developers to build an app for multiple platforms more quickly and efficiently. Because you can use the same codebase for iOS and Android (and potentially other platforms), it reduces the amount of time and resources needed to build separate versions of the app. It's also generally more cost-effective than the development of native apps, as it requires fewer resources and a shorter development duration.
However, this kind of development can sometimes result in slower performance and a potentially poorer user experience. Because the app runs in a web view, it may not be optimised for a particular platform and may not have access to all of the device's features and capabilities. Additionally, the user experience may not be as smooth and seamless as a native app. It's important to carefully consider the trade-offs of hybrid app development before deciding if it's the right approach for your project.
Best to use when:
- Have a simple project based on content (no animations or complex features);
- Need to release on both iOS and Android and (not needing to use many native components);
- Want to test a project idea (Minimum Viable Product).
One of the main advantages of PWA development is that it allows for faster development time and a more cost-effective solution. Like hybrid app development, PWAs use a single codebase that can be used across multiple platforms, reducing the time and resources needed to build separate versions of the app. PWAs are also generally more lightweight and easier to maintain than native or hybrid apps. Additionally, PWAs have the added benefit of offline functionality, meaning that users can still access certain app features when they are not connected to the internet.
However, PWAs have some limitations compared to native and hybrid apps. They may have partial access to all the device's features and capabilities, and the user experience may vary depending on the platform and browser used. Additionally, some users may prefer the feel of an actual native app to a web-based app. It's essential to carefully consider the trade-offs of PWA development before deciding if it's the right approach for your project.
Best to use when:
- Want a robust e-commerce experience;
- Want higher traffic (available on all devices).
To wrap things up: we've talked about the three main approaches to mobile app development – native, hybrid, and PWA – and the pros and cons of each. Now it's time for you to choose the best fit for your project!
Native app development is top-notch and perfect for creating high-performing, feature-rich apps. But it takes more time and money to develop. Hybrid app development is excellent if you want to get your app out there fast and save some cash. Just keep in mind that it might not be as smooth and snappy as a native app. PWA development is super fast and cost-effective; you can even use it offline! Just be aware that it might not have access to all the fancy features of a native or hybrid app.