A few thoughts on Native vs. Hybrid

August 22, 2015

One of the major questions our clients have when we first start discussing their project is whether or not they should develop a native app or a hybrid mobile web app. The client typically understands the common trade-offs and will come to us with the following preconceived notions:

  • “Native offers a better user experience in terms of speed and UI quality”
  • “A hybrid mobile web app may allow for cross-platform development”
  • “Native may be more secure with the integrations”
  • “Facebook tried a mobile web app at first and then went completely native”

As app developers, we hear these ideas and concerns often. While we typically recommend native development for any consumer grade applications, there are a few times in which a mobile web app will work as well. These situations are often when the client needs something that is internal only or where they have to integrate with an existing backend or web portal.

Web apps are often called “hybrid apps” as well. Here is a common description:

“Hybrid applications are web applications (or web pages) in the native browser, such as UIWebView in iOS and WebView in Android (not Safari or Chrome). Hybrid apps are developed using HTML, CSS and Javascript, and then wrapped in a native application using platforms like Cordova, Xamarin, or phonegap.”

If you are interested in reading more, here are a few more helpful resources.

  • Choosing the Right Mobile Technology: An organization called Magenic wrote an excellent white paper where they do a comparison between four different development platforms: Native, Cordova, Xamarin forms, and Classic Xamarin. In this white paper they discuss the following points: user experience, performance, productivity, maturity, tools, code sharing, industry trends and future support.
  • Kevin Ford wrote a blog post earlier this year where he compared the differences in speed and size. In this study, the performance indexes were: load times, time to insert 1,000 records in a SQLite, time to read 1,000 records from a SQLite, time to insert 1,000 lines in a file, and the time to read 1,000 lines from a file.

In conclusion, each project may require a different set of technologies. It is often best to start with the business strategy first and let the technology follow the strategy. Technology without strategy is a recipe for missed expectations. By allowing the technology to follow after the business strategy, a project will be setup for success in the near and long term.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
Co-founder & Managing Partner

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