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Native Apps vs Hybrid App Comparison: 5 Top Key Differences

April 16, 2024Kiruthika Devaraj
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Native Apps vs Hybrid App Comparison 5 Top Key Differences
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Navigating the Mobile App Landscape: Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps

In this blog, we’re going to dive deep into the world of mobile apps, compare native vs hybrid apps, and touch on the comparisons of it.

Native apps

Native apps are built using the programming languages and tools specific to each mobile operating system, such as Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. This allows them to utilize the device’s hardware and software fully. It results in superior performance, responsiveness, and access to device-specific features. 

Native apps offer a more consistent and optimized user experience across different devices running the same operating system.

Web apps

Web apps are developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They reside on web servers and are accessed through mobile browsers, making them cross-platform compatible. This means they can be accessed on any device with a web browser, regardless of the operating system. 

Web apps are relatively easy to develop and maintain, and they can be updated quickly and without requiring users to download new versions.

Hybrid apps 

Hybrid apps combine elements of both native and web apps. They utilize a web view, a container for web content embedded within a native app shell. This allows them to leverage the cross-platform compatibility of web apps while still providing access to some native device features. 

Hybrid apps balance development costs, performance, and cross-platform compatibility.

What’s the Difference Between Web Apps, Native Apps, and Hybrid Apps?

Here is a table summarizing the differences:

FeatureNative AppsWeb AppsHybrid Apps
Development LanguagePlatform-specific (Swift, Java, Kotlin, etc.)HTML, CSS, JavaScriptWeb technologies + Native code for specific features
Platform CompatibilityLimited to specific platforms (iOS, Android)Cross-platform (works on any device with a web browser)Cross-platform with some platform-specific limitations
PerformanceHigh performance, optimized for specific platformsMay vary depending on device and network conditionsGenerally lower performance than native apps
Device AccessFull access to device features and hardwareLimited access to device featuresPartial access to device features through plugins or APIs
Development CostHigher development cost due to platform-specific codebasesLower development cost due to cross-platform compatibilityModerate development cost, balancing web and native components
MaintenanceRequires separate codebases for each platformEasier maintenance due to cross-platform natureIt may require more complex maintenance due to hybrid architecture
User ExperienceConsistent and optimized user experience for specific platformsUser experience may vary depending on the device and browserUser experience may not be as consistent as native apps

Key differences: native apps vs. hybrid apps

Let us check out some key differences here:

App development

Native Apps

Native apps are built using the programming languages and tools specific to each mobile operating system. For instance, Swift or Kotlin are for iOS, and Java or Kotlin are for Android. 

This approach ensures native apps take full advantage of the device’s hardware and software, resulting in superior performance, responsiveness, and access to device-specific features. 

However, native app development requires platform-specific expertise, leading to longer development times and higher costs.

Hybrid Apps

On the other hand, hybrid apps utilize a web view (a container for web content) embedded within a native app shell. This approach enables hybrid apps to leverage existing web development skills and code, potentially reducing development time and costs. 

Additionally, hybrid apps offer cross-platform compatibility, meaning they can run on different operating systems without requiring separate codebases. 

Regardless, hybrid apps may exhibit lower performance and responsiveness than native apps due to their reliance on web technologies.

Cost efficiency

Native Apps

Native apps typically have higher development costs due to the need for platform-specific development and specialized expertise. Each operating system requires a dedicated codebase, necessitating separate development efforts for iOS and Android. Moreover, native app development often involves more complex features and functionalities, increasing costs.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps generally offer lower development costs due to their cross-platform compatibility and the ability to reuse existing web code. 

Developers can utilize a single codebase to create an app that runs on iOS and Android, reducing the overall development effort. Also, hybrid apps often have simpler functionalities compared to native apps, further contributing to lower costs.

Key differences: web apps vs. native apps

📝Note down some essential key differences:

User experience

Web apps are accessed through a browser and may perform slightly slower than native apps due to their dependence on internet connectivity. Native apps, on the other hand, are specifically designed for a particular platform (iOS, Android) and tend to offer a smoother and more responsive user experience. 

Native apps can leverage the device’s features more efficiently, providing a seamless and optimized interface.

App development

Web apps are typically developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making them cross-platform-compatible. Native apps are built using platform-specific languages (Swift for iOS, Java/Kotlin for Android), requiring separate development for each platform. 

While web apps offer easier maintenance and updates, native apps often provide better access to device functionalities and performance optimization.

Customer reach

Web apps have broader accessibility as they can be accessed through any browser on various devices, regardless of the operating system. Native apps, however, need to be developed separately for different platforms, potentially limiting their reach. 

Key differences: hybrid apps vs. progressive web apps

🗝️Here are some essential key differences:       

Organic reach

Hybrid apps combine elements of both web and native apps, allowing developers to use web technologies while also accessing some native features. On the other hand, progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications that offer a native app-like experience but are accessed through a browser. 

PWAs can be discovered through search engines, providing a broader organic reach, while hybrid apps may need to be distributed through app stores.

When should you use web apps vs. hybrid apps vs. native apps?

Know when you should use these:   

Time to market

If speed is of the essence, web apps are the ideal choice. They can be developed and deployed rapidly, as they are built using standard web technologies and are cross-platform compatible. This is particularly beneficial when you must quickly deliver your product to an overall audience. 

Hybrid apps, leveraging web technologies with some native features, strike a balance, allowing for a quicker development cycle than fully native apps. 

Yet, native apps may take longer due to the need for separate development for each platform, making them more suitable for projects with a longer timeline and higher budget.   

Customer requirements

Understanding your target audience’s preferences and requirements is crucial in deciding between web, hybrid, or native apps. 

Web apps offer a broad reach for a diverse audience using various devices and operating systems. 

Hybrid apps are a good compromise when you need native features but want cross-platform compatibility. 

Native apps, with their optimized performance and access to device functionalities, are preferable when catering to a specific platform’s user base, providing a tailored and immersive experience.

Marketing strategy

Your marketing strategy is pivotal in choosing between web, hybrid, or native apps. 

Web apps are easily discoverable through search engines, making them an excellent choice for businesses relying on organic traffic. 

Hybrid apps can be distributed through app stores, benefiting from their visibility while offering cross-platform flexibility. 

Native apps are often associated with app store prominence. It can be advantageous when your marketing strategy focuses on leveraging the credibility and trust of these platforms. This leads to increased downloads and user engagement. 

Consider aligning your app development approach with your overall marketing goals for optimal results.

🕯️Check here for mobile application testing: https://testsigma.com/blog/mobile-application-testing-vs-web-application-testing/ 

Summary of differences: web apps vs. hybrid apps vs. native apps

Navigating the diverse realm of mobile applications requires a clear understanding of the fundamental distinctions between web, hybrid, and native apps. 

Each type possesses 

  • unique characteristics, 
  • usage patterns, 
  • internal workings, 
  • native device feature accessibility, 
  • user experiences, 
  • access methods, 
  • performance capabilities, and 
  • development considerations.

Characteristics

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
Development PlatformWeb technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)Combination of native and web technologiesSpecific to each operating system (iOS, Android)
InstallationNo installation is required. It is accessed through a browserRequires installation on the user’s deviceRequires installation on the user’s device
Internal WorkingClient code in the browser communicates with remote server-side code and databases.Client code and browser code wrapped in a native shell or containerClient code written in technology and language specific to the device or platform

Native Device Features

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
Access to Native Device FeaturesLimited or no accessAccess through plugins or APIsFull access

User Experience

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
ConsistencyInconsistent, dependent on the browserConsistent and engagingConsistent and engaging
ResponsivenessMaybe less responsiveFaster and more responsiveOptimized for the device

Access

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
Access MethodRequires internet connection and browserOne-step access works offlineOne-step access works offline
Device LimitationsLimited by browser and network connectivityLimited by device capabilitiesFull access to device capabilities

Performance

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
PerformanceIt may be slower and less responsiveIt is faster but may consume more battery powerOptimized for the device

Development

FeatureWeb AppHybrid AppNative App
CostCost-efficientCost-efficientExpensive
Time to MarketFaster time to marketFaster time to marketSlower time to market

📒Note: Learn about the top 10 Mobile Test Automation Frameworks

Learn more about Automating your tests for mobile apps

Here

Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of web, hybrid, and native apps empowers businesses to make informed decisions that align with their project goals and target audience. By carefully evaluating each app type’s unique characteristics and capabilities, companies can select the most suitable solution to deliver an engaging and effective mobile application.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Whatsapp a native or hybrid app?

WhatsApp is a hybrid app. It uses a web view (a container for web content) embedded within a native app shell. This allows it to leverage existing web development skills and code, making it more cost-effective and faster to develop than a native app. 

Is Amazon a native app or a hybrid app?

Amazon has both native and web apps. The Amazon app for iOS and Android is native, while the Amazon website is a web app. The native app offers a more optimized and engaging user experience. 

Also, the web app provides access to a wider range of features and is accessible from any device with a web browser.

Is Uber a native or hybrid app?

Uber is a native app. It is built using the programming languages and tools specific to each mobile operating system (iOS, Android, etc.). This allows it to utilize the device’s hardware and software entirely. 

It also provides superior performance, responsiveness, and access to device-specific features like location services and push notifications.

Is Facebook a native or hybrid app?

Facebook has both native and web apps. The Facebook app for iOS and Android is a native app, while the Facebook website is a web app. The native app offers a more optimized and engaging user experience. In contrast, the web app provides access to a wider range of features from any device with a web browser.

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