Let me give you some context before diving straight on to the topic. Mobile phones are very personal devices. According to a research we human beings spend around 10 hours each day (maybe more), on our phones consuming content.
If for any reason, one would lose his mobile, the topmost priority becomes to either find it or get a replacement right away. Like it or not, mobiles have become a natural extension to human beings.
But what’s this gotta do with us Mobile Developers (Web and Apps both included)?
As our mobiles are stuck with us all the time, we as mobile developers have to focus on building great user experiences for our users. There’re just too many apps to compete with, and whoever provides the best UX/UI automatically wins.
Only 79 percent of users would retry a mobile app if it failed once, and only 16 percent would give it more than two attempts. Poor UX is a sure-shot way to get your mobile app to fail. And with so many alternatives to your apps, you don’t want to depend on getting that second chance.
One of the most difficult decisions a startup has to take before starting development is which route they want to take. Blowing away the minds of their audience by building an insanely great UX using native app with high cost, OR, rolling out a Hybrid version to minimize the cost and test their MVP.
While some people say that Hybrid apps already won, and that the decision can be make in just 5 minutes, it’s a much more subtle question and one that you want to spend a day or two on before making a decision.
So, having given you a wind of how important the User Experience is for a mobile app, let’s dive into the comparison of Hybrid Apps with Native ones.
What’s a Native Application
Native application is a piece of software developed using SDK for a certain framework, hardware, OS.
For example: Native Android apps are built using JAVA. Native iOS apps are built using iOS SDK, Swift and Objective C. .NET is required for windows platform.
What’s a Hybrid Application
Hybrid apps are those which can be run on multiple platforms and hardwares but built using single code base. It can have access to all the native platform features. Some of the points to focus on:
- They use some kind of a bridge to communicate with the native components.
- For Flutter which uses Dart, its code is compiled Ahead of Time (AOT) to native code.
Native apps are just that! Native to the platform. The engineers behind the Android Operating system or the iOS operating system must have given it a great bit of thought, backed by research as to which language to pick for their new Operating System.
And so, from the start, things were engineered so as to be highly optimized for that same platform.
To cite an analogy, if you’ve every used Virtual Box and installed an operating system on it, you must be aware of all the lag and stutter it produces. Its performance is not comparable to an OS running on a real machine.
Native apps are built according to the guidelines of the platform. They perform all the garbage collection automagically and make sure that the memory usage and cpu usage is minimal, thus consequently providing a great User Experience.
Hybrid applications, at core are just websites packaged into a native wrapper. Although they look and feel like the native app, but they are not scalable and are not optimal for apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
To give you deeper insight, I have compared the performance of React Native and Flutter, using real data, and the performance results are surprising.
Hence, native apps are the clear winners here.
But wait, don’t fire all your hybrid developers yet XD. There’s more to the story.
One of the main reasons why the new startups are choosing hybrid development over native is because of Development Time.
You get an iOS and an Android app with the same code base and you don’t have to worry about building them separately.
Even better, if you already have an existing website, then with some tweaks such as adding some CSS classes and HTML elements (I don’t know the exact CSS classes), you can get an app in no time.
I’ve literally seen a website converted to an app within one week.
So, if you are planning to build an MVP and not an actual production quality product, then hybrid development is certainly the way to go. It saves you a lot of time and also gives you performance as you would expect out of an MVP.
It provides satisfactory results for your investor pitch.
This is the biggest reasons why small startups with limited budgets opt for hybrid development.
No need to hire two specialized developers for iOS and Android apps. You get the benefit of both with the expenditure of a single developer. That’s straight off 50% cost cut. Who wouldn’t want that (funded startups and established companies maybe).
Until you have a stable revenue stream or raised some funding, you would prefer to have a hybrid app.
But it comes at the cost of user experience. If you are to roll out hybrid into production, be ready to hear some complaints about performance bottlenecks and bugs. There are a lot!!
If this is a viable tradeoff for you, then certainly go for it.
Now this one is for us developers.
React Native and Flutter are hot in the job market right now. Most of the job postings for mobile app developers on AngelList have React Native as a requirement.
But once again. If you research about those startups, you’d know that they are either on a tight budget or haven’t raised a funding round yet. They simply can’t afford to spend on two different developers.
Although if you look at the careers section of companies such as Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Quora etc. you’d come to know that they do not have openings for React Native or Flutter Developers!!
Even though Facebook developed React Native, it still has openings only for Native Developers and that’s a clear indicator that in well established companies and well funded startups, native development wins without a doubt. So much so that,
If you are ready to trade off user experience of the app with the development cost and time, then surely go for hybrid development.
But if you have the financial muscle and can spend money on hiring 2 developers, then I recommend you go with native development as it will play out to your benefit in the long run.
I hope I’ve touched all the points here and made your decision somewhat easier.
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