There are certain mobile applications that reside on the device. These are downloaded via app distribution platforms like AppStore and Google Play, accessed through icons on the device home screen and can work offline. These are called Native apps. They are developed specifically for a target platform, using native app development SDKs which can exploit full advantages of all the device features such as GPS, compass, device notification system, camera, accelerometer, the compass, contact list and so on. Native apps can also incorporate gestures, which could be either the standard operating-system gestures or new, app-defined gestures.
Mobile Web Apps
Web apps are not really applications. They are
in fact websites typically written in HTML5 that look and behave like native
applications. They are accessed like any other web page through a web browser but navigate to a special URL that have the option of “installing” them on their home screen. The popularity of HTML5 has blurred the distinction between web apps and regular apps by offering native-like–functionality in the browser itself. Although web apps are very close to native apps in appearance, there are many features that remain inaccessible in the browser such as the notifications, accelerometer information and other
As the name itself suggests, hybrid apps are part native, part web apps. It is a common mistake to confuse them with “web apps” because they are rendered on a browser. Like native apps, they live in app distribution platforms and can use many device features. Hybrid apps rely on HTML as they are viewed on a browser but a browser that is embedded within the app. Many companies often build hybrid apps as wrappers for an existing web page. This gives them a presence in the app store without actually having to spend a lot of time and money. Tools like Sencha Touch and PhoneGap facilitate the creation of these cross platform compatible hybrid apps, meaning that the same HTML code can be reused on different mobile operating systems.
Native Apps, Web Apps or Hybrid Apps: Which Should You Choose?
The debate about which type of app is the best is an ongoing one, right from the very beginning. The truth is that each one has its own advantages and disadvantages and the right kind depends entirely on your business demands and budget.
Discoverability: Content is a lot more discoverable when available over the web rather than through an app. Native app enthusiasts may argue saying that fishing for apps in app stores is an easier task but the truth is people don’t go to app stores and install applications when they are looking for information. They go online and type in the query in a search engine.
Device features: Web apps do have access to some of the native device features but complete control over the device features can only be gained through native apps and the native components of the hybrid apps. So if you need to access device-specific features like GPS, camera, gestures, and notifications, native apps is the way to go.
Offline functioning: If you need your app to be available to users even in the absence of internet, a native app serves your purpose. In-browser caching is available in HTML5, but it’s still more limited than what you can get when you go native.
Speed: Native apps win the speed competition hand down. Native apps are built using operating system specific SDKs which means that they are optimized to perform par excellence when installed on that device.
Development cost: As already discussed, hybrid and web apps follow the WORA principle which entails that these apps are Written Once and can be Run Everywhere. So there is minimum expenditure in development which is reversed when native apps are separately development for each platform. It requires more specialized skill set as compared to the single power of HTML5.
Platform independence: This is
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something that web apps and hybrid apps are famous for. While different browsers may
support different versions of HTML5, true platform independence cannot be achieved native apps. In creating web or hybrid apps, parts of the code can be efficiently reused.
Installation: Installing a native or hybrid app could prove to be a cumbersome and time taking process.They need to be really motivated to justify the effort. Web app on the other hand have an arguably simpler process of accessing than downloading a new app from an app store.
Maintenance: Web app or a hybrid apps are much simpler to manage as compared to a native app. Native apps are difficult to manage not only for users but also for developers especially when it comes to updating new versions and fixing bugs. Web apps, like web pages can be updated and edited to reflect new changes as often or as frequently as needed.
Content restriction and approval process: since native and hybrid apps are accessible through app stores, it is essential that they pass an
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approval processes and content restriction stage imposed by app stores. The web on the other hand is free of such rules and regulations.
User Interface: Last but not least, if your priority is providing a great user experience, Native apps are the way to go. They are faster, use more of the device features, offer better graphics, appealing visuals and
are less susceptible to glitches. That doesn’t mean that you cannot provide a good user experience with a web app or a hybrid app, they
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are a better choice when your aim is to create a consistent user experience across different operating systems.