Web Apps vs Native Mobile Apps vs Hybrid Apps

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Web Apps vs Native Mobile Apps vs Hybrid Apps

There are many different types of applications in the world today, and it’s important to understand the main differences between them – regardless of which specific different operating systems they happen to be for. For example, some apps are specific to Android devices; some are mobile-only; some are used in a combination of mobile and desktop applications.

Fortunately, Kobiton solutions are just around the corner. Our skilled professionals are always able to make the challenging world of tech solutions more manageable with expert guidance and top-notch tools to help any organization prosper in our new digital landscape.

In this post, we’ll be covering web apps vs. native mobile apps vs. hybrid apps, and how user experience might be impacted by the type of app they happen to be using.

What is a Web App?

First things first: let’s define what we mean by “web app.” Think of it as a website that happens to be just as helpful (and acting similar to) an app. Often, differences between the two are minimized — easing user experience in the process.

The best web apps bring users back to specific websites for services and information, rather than relying solely on traditional apps. It applies to both iOS and Android testing practices.

Examples of Web Apps 

So, what are a few examples? You’ll be happy to learn that some of the world’s biggest companies operate as web apps: like Gmail and Netflix. Users interact with these organizations in a website-based manner.

Advantages of Web Apps

One of the most beneficial advantages of web applications is that they’re cost-effective and easy to develop. Then, deployment is usually accelerated, compared to other types of apps. The products or services are accessible on desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. From a developer’s perspective, one of the coolest factors is that routine updates can be completed automatically.

Disadvantages of Web Apps

There are also disadvantages of web apps; chief among them, that they cannot be used offline. Security for web applications can also be problematic. The potential of compromised performance and user experience has also been noted.

What is a Native Mobile App?

So, what is a native app? Native mobile apps, on the other hand, are specifically designed for a single specific platform (like Android, or iOS). Simply put, it just won’t run on the wrong platform. Apple’s operating system, iOS, will have apps coded with Objective-C or Swift; Android apps use Java to develop native apps. What is a native app supposed to look like? Check out some popular examples next.

Examples of Native Mobile Apps

Examples of popular native mobile applications include Instagram, WhatsApp, Pokemon Go and Waze. These apps have different software for each platform, or might work differently based upon the user platform’s own navigation app.

Advantages of Native Mobile Apps

Native mobile apps often provide a more stunning user experience, and offer excellent performance. They can support complex functionality (a big bonus in the world of online gaming). They’re frequently considered to be the best solution for top-level animations, and they have a high degree of security. Are you into IoT devices around the home? Native mobile apps are great to connect with them.

Disadvantages of Native Mobile Apps  

Native mobile apps require a higher cost of development time and maintenance than web applications, however. They require more skill and time to develop, and users need to install updates and new features themselves. Users who prefer using desktop computers are out of luck, too — native mobile applications don’t provide a desktop option.

What is a Hybrid Mobile App?

What is a hybrid app? Hybrid mobile apps offer one great benefit: a combination of web technologies and native components. It can work on multiple platforms, and is written with a single code. Platform-specific plugins typically manage user interactions with the hybrid mobile app. It’s the best of both worlds: both web and native users can make the most of an app’s products or services. What is a great hybrid app example? We’ll share a couple, next.

Examples of Hybrid Mobile Apps

Airbnb is one great example of hybrid mobile apps, blending web and native elements. Other “household name” hybrid mobile apps include Amazon Shopping (think about how you can save a shopping cart, no matter the specific platform) and Evernote allows users to sync notes between different types of devices.

Advantages of Hybrid Mobile Apps

There are a number of benefits that hybrid applications offer both developers and end users; first, they’re easier to develop than native apps are, and retain some of their benefits. Second, they’re accessible on desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. They provide high levels of security, and can update automatically.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Mobile Apps? 

However, hybrid applications are slow to deploy, much like native apps. They also come with higher maintenance costs, compared to web applications.

Key Differences Between Web Apps, Native Apps, and Hybrid Apps

Type of App
How it’s usedAccessed via web browserApp has to be installedApp has to be installed
What’s happening insideClient code communicates with remote server codeClient and browser code in native containerClient code is written in specific programming languages for platform it will be used in
Native device features?NopeYesYes
What user experience is likeInconsistentConsistentConsistent
AccessLimited, depending on browser and network accessOne-step, and with offline accessOne-step, and with offline access
Rating performanceSlowerFasterOptimized for device
Considerations for developmentLower cost, but fast time to marketLower cost, but fast time to marketMore costly, and slower time to market

How to Choose an App for Your Business 

Like so many business decisions, choosing the right type of app for an organization starts with a closer look at the business itself, at your customers, and your resources.

Starting with the business, you may want to consider the complexity of the solution you want to provide. Games, for example, need highly sophisticated animation. Moving on to your users, you need to consider how and on which device they will use your app. If most users will access your solution from their laptops, a mobile-only app is not enough. Likewise, it is worth considering which type of app will deliver the best user experience both for functionality and performance.

Company resources are the next consideration. Ask yourself how much of your budget can be dedicated to the development of the app or apps you need. And what about the time it takes to bring the app to market? If you are developing something truly unique, you may have more time than a business whose competitors are already planning to release their own app.

Cybersecurity is another important concern, especially if the app is handling sensitive information like financial details. Lastly, if your company is thinking about building a mobile or a hybrid app, you need to decide which device resources are needed for the app to run smoothly.

Understanding Your Business Needs

As you can now understand, it takes a bit of consideration to learn how to properly align your development process for the type of application, with the specific business requirements you’re after. Consider the following factors:

  • Budget
  • Timeframe
  • Update frequency
  • User platform preferences
  • User behavior online/offline

Considering Your Target Audience

That last bullet point brings up a great topic that we haven’t covered yet — user behavior online or offline. That can make a big difference in the type of app you should be developing, and it’s (as always) important to invest in an understanding of customer behavior before any big decisions are made.

Strategies for customer and market research include direct surveys, field trials, competitive analysis, and social media observation. Depending on the resources at your disposal, a combination of research strategies will always yield the best results. 

Evaluating Your Budget and Timeline

It’s no secret that budget and timeframe are top-tier concerns for nearly every organization. After all, those two factors impact nearly every business decision that’s ever been made — and the world of tech development is no different. Financial constraints and time-to-market expectations will need to be considered first and foremost by major stakeholders who allot resources that can impact either factor.

Assessing Your Team’s Skills and Expertise

Finally, and last but not least, let’s take a moment to recognize the importance of in-house skills, and the expertise of your own development team. Which app development resources do they bring to the table? Perhaps their own experiences might guide the decisions you make toward application development. It’s important to identify strengths, and to make note of opportunities to improve or invest in your team.

Learn More About Kobiton Mobile Testing 

Ready to get started? Kobiton professionals are standing by to help make application development a snap, with the know-how you can rely on to go from ideation to app store. We’re able to show you how to performance test mobile apps, and get the most bang for your buck. Contact us today for a free demo, and to get the ball rolling.

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