What Is The Difference Between A Hybrid And A Native App?

picture with the two types of app on it - native and hybrid

With the ever-changing technology landscape and the dominance of smart devices in the market place, this is a discussion that is very often had when it comes to mobile application development choices. There is always a trade-off to be made and the small intricacies are often what swings the debate in one way or another. This is by no means a definitive guide in motivating the decision to choose one over the other, as business cases may differ, but it will go a long way to getting closer to that decision. Let’s start with a simple definition of the two terms.

What is a Hybrid app?


If we strip down what these are, they are basically powerful (data driven) HTML5 applications supported by a robust Javascript framework. In my opinion the Ionic Framework is one of the best out there, but that’s a discussion for another day. The main draw-card for choosing this way of developing mobile apps is the ability to create a seamless, cross-platform User Interface that is compatible with a wide range of devices whether they are mobile or other smart / connected devices. If you would like to gauge the important of this one feature ask a Front-End Web Developer about browser compatibility (I.E. 6 / 7), but be ready to give him / her a hug as soon as you have. There will be tears…

What is a Native app?


It is an app built specifically for an operating system. A further distinction is that it can only be accessed from the respective app store, in the case of Apple and Android, from the iStore and Playstore respectively. The main languages used are for Android, Java and C++ and IOS, XCode/Objective-C, SwiftCode, etc.

There are a number of things to consider when making your choice:

  • Do you want to use native features in the app? – Go Native
  • Do you want to to / need to go to market quickly? – Go Hybrid
  • Do you have separate development budgets in respect to the platforms you wish to support? – Go Native
  • Do you need to have frequent updates to your app? – Go Hybrid
  • Is the User Experience of paramount importance?  – Go Native
  • Native app development is very expensive and very time consuming as complete development process happens for a specific app store at a time.
  • Hybrid app development less expensive app development method but cannot be used for every type of app.
  • Should you choose native you have can leverage the native features of the device and offer a better overall user experience for the users of your app.
  • Hybrid apps have a cross-platform UI that is compatible with a wide range of devices

Technologies to use, IDE’s and other tutorial materials 


Hybrid: Ionic Framework, ReactJS, Angular, Xamarin Studio

Native: IOS – XCode, Swift, Objective C, Android: Android Studio, WebStorm, NetBeans

Here are some of the best resources online:

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