The pros and cons of Native, HTML5 and hybrid apps

January 5, 2016

When developing an app you have three coding options: Native, Html5 (web view) or a hybrid of the two. Choosing the right option for your app is a difficult but crucial decision.

In this article we delve a little deeper, exploring the pros and cons of each, in order to help you navigate through the options and decide on the best fit.

Native, the gist:

Native apps are specific to the platforms they are developed on e.g they use the development tools and language that the said platform supports (such as (e.g., Xcode and Objective-C with iOS)

The general rule is that native apps provide the best overall user experience and have the best features.

When developing an app the most important thing to remember is the people you are developing your app for, your target audience.  You need to bear in mind that the most popular apps tend to be native. Consumers are used to using Native apps, and as such have come to expect a certain flow and standard from the apps they use. When you open a Native app they fire up immediately. They are much faster and more responsive with a graphics API web apps couldn’t dream of having. Furthermore the app experience is consistent with the look and feel of the user’s platform.

Of course, these features vary in importance, depending on the app.

However, even if you are prepared to overlook these factors, it’s important to bear in mind some things can only be achieved with native apps:

· Multi touch - double taps, pinch-spread, and so on

· Built-in components - The camera, address book, geolocation, and other features native to the device can be seamlessly integrated into mobile apps.

· Fluid animation - This is particularly relevant in gaming apps, or if the app uses interactive reporting or transforms photos and sounds.

· Documentation - There are over 2500 books alone for iOS and Android development, with many more articles, blog posts, and detailed technical threads.

The main issue with Native apps is they are much harder to develop. Any developer will tell you, the multiple screens and languages of each platform are time consuming and complex. The tricky nature of Native means you need to be confident in your development team. To get it right they need to be highly skilled, professional and experienced.

Hiring experts ultimately incurs a cost. In fact a standard Native app can be up to twice the cost of its HTML5 counterpart. On top of that the process is likely to take longer. The complexity of native apps mean there are often technical setbacks and unexpected hurdles. This is often a deciding factor for those on a tight budget or deadline.

To sum up, Native gives you everything you’d expect from an app, but with an inevitably higher price tag and longer process.

HTML5

Given everything we have discussed for Native, you may be wondering why anyone other than those on a tight deadline/budget would think about using HTML5. But before you write it off you should know that HTML5 does have some serious pros worth discussing.

Yes, the technology used in HTML5 apps may be pretty ancient from a ‘techy’ perspective but that can actually be a good thing. HTML5 apps are basically web pages, which essentially means that they can be opened by any mobile browser. And because your content is web based, it is searchable, which for certain apps is hugely beneficial.

Secondly, HTML5 apps are far easier to develop. You can use developers that have experience with Web apps as they’ll find the technology pretty easy to get to grips with. As touched upon earlier, the fact they are much easier to develop means they are nearly always far cheaper and quicker to build.

A point worth noting about HTML5 is it employs a, “write-once-run-anywhere” methodology. This means code can be reused across mobile devices, which again contributes to the lower multiplatform development costs. Overall distribution and maintenance is much easier than for native apps. The same code means shorter testing cycles, quicker bug fixes and a faster platform roll out.

HTML5 apps have proved a very popular way of developing applications. With careful consideration of the user journey and experience and clever UX/UI framework getting around some of the major obstacles associated with web apps, is certainly achievable.

Hybrid

The best (and worst) of both worlds

A Hybrid is typically defined as a web app, largely built using HTML5 with access to some Native features. Hybrids can form a good alternative to the cons of both Native and HTML5. Talented developers can now create sophisticated apps compliant on multiple platforms, without scarifying too many of the Native capabilities. Of course, designing such an app is complex and requires a highly skilled design and development team working together to create a seamless user experience.

But when done well it can be hard to tell the difference between Hybrids and Natives.

Conclusion

Every app is unique which makes choosing the right coding technology a daunting task, you need to make sure you get it right first time. Red C are experts at Native, HTML5 and Hybrid apps. Over the years we have developed hundreds of apps and have the necessary experience to guide you through development with confidence. Contact us to find out more.

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