What is the Difference Between Mobile Web, Native, and Hybrid Apps?

More than 10 years ago, businesses were told that they need to have a website. And so they did. Now, businesses are told to have a mobile app. And now they’re listening. So why do you need one? As more and more people are using their smartphones to search information on the go, your company needs to be within reach. Mobile users are going to want the convenience of finding you, contact you, and connect with you, so having a presence is vital to your company’s success. With plenty of options out there, what type of application should you choose? Here, we will discuss the big three: mobile web, native, and hybrid apps.

Mobile Web App

Many companies will choose a mobile web app for its ease, simplicity, and affordability. The main purpose of this application is to display information. Think of it as a no muss, no fuss option. The top reasons for building this app are:
  • Maintenance is faster
  • Development is faster
  • No app store approval needed, so time is saved
  • Will run on all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc)
  • Access is through the device’s web browser so no downloading or installing is needed
  • More code reuse availability if you already have a web application

Native App

For better performance and higher ranking on UX, a native app is the best option. The main purpose of this application is to create an engaging and interactive user experience that is developed for each specific device. Reasons why companies build this app are:
  • Quick response time
  • High performance
  • Specific to each mobile device type
  • Users find apps easily through the app stores and marketplace
  • Content is cached to allow offline usage so wifi connection is not needed
  • Access to all hardware APIs (e.g. geolocation, accelerometer, cameras, sensors, touch id, etc.)

Hybrid App

For those who like the simplicity of a mobile web app but wants the power of a native app, a hybrid app will appeal to both demands. It does not rely on platform-specific APIs from iOS, Android, and Windows Phone so it will run on all smartphone devices. Reasons to build this app are:
  • It is a mobile web app that is compiled
  • Hardware APIs will be accessible
  • Offline support is available
  • Mobile web apps can convert into a hybrid app

Forward Thinking

So, who has the advantage? Native apps, mobile web apps or hybrids? That depends. Are we looking at today or the future? Hybrid apps are clearly inferior to both native and web apps. Slow load times and reliance on third party programs, such as PhoneGap are signs of a phase out, not of progress. Current technology makes native apps a superior experience for now, but if we're thinking with tomorrow's technology in mind, we know this is a temporary situation. A few advances here and there, and native apps may be on their way out. The way it stands, unless the app is Candy Crush or Evernote, it's difficult to get a consumer to download an app. Even a free app is a commitment. It takes up space. Unless there is special functionality only available with a native app to get them past the "app download phobia" native apps can fail miserably. On the other hand, a web app provides a rich experience while avoiding the download resistance.

If you're looking for someone to build an app for you or if you still have questions, contact our team.

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