Oh, How to Choose? Native Apps vs. Cross-Platform Hybrid Apps!
I attended a conference where my colleagues were arguing over the benefits of hybrid, cross-platform mobile applications vs. true native mobile applications. For my part, I stayed silent and just listened. In my mind, there is no one right answer. The choice really depends on what you want to do and PLAN to do in the future, and on your performance requirements. Like many technology topics, there are way too many factors to consider for a short blog post like this one but a few things do come to mind.
First, a good rule of thumb is consider whether your app is going to use native functions such as GPS, motion detection, address books or other lots of features and tasks that users will perform, in which case you will probably want to go with a native application. If, on the other hand, your app is primarily informational for things like news articles, published reviews, lists etc., or if it does not use any native functions, you can certainly consider cross-platform, hybrid development.
Native Mobile Apps provide a high performance environment that does a great job, especially if you want to use native functions in your OS and it will result in great user adoption and user satisfaction. You can navigate and perform tasks quickly and they are scalable and can function on tablets and smart phones and accommodate different OS environs, BUT you will have to rewrite the app to comply with the needs of each OS, so there is more work and time involved.
Cross-Platform, Hybrid Mobile Apps don’t take as long to develop and allow your developer team to re-use a large percentage of the code across different native platforms, so development costs are reasonable. These apps will accommodate varied OS environs, and allow for ease of update/upgrade and maintenance, but they do tend to score lower when it comes to access to native functions, performance and user experience. There are plug-ins to help expand the capabilities and add functionality but these must be carefully considered to determine whether they will achieve the goals you have.
So, again, the short answer to the question ‘native app vs. cross-platform/hybrid native app’ is…it depends! It depends on the features you need, the performance you need, the scope, the users, etc. If your app needs to interface with native OS systems and there are stable plug-ins not available or if you don’t know what feature you may need to incorporate in the future, choosing a cross platform option is likely to result in failure and you will probably have to start over.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to making this all-important decision, you should employ the services of an Mobile Application Expert, one who can help you sort through your requirements, the various tradeoffs, costs and timelines and reach the right conclusion. Make The Right Choice