Futured Blog
Native, hybrid, or web application? Which is best?
Lada Brůnová
18/10/2021
At Futured, we primarily develop native mobile applications, and we have our reasons. We have written the following guide to help you understand the differences between native, hybrid, and web mobile apps and find the best development method for your company.

They all have a purpose. It always depends on your project and goals.

Native apps

A native app is developed separately for each platform. This means that you are creating two duplicate versions – one for iOS, the other for Android.  

Benefits
  • Excellent performance. The native app is fast and fluid, even with demanding graphics. Also, Its operation uses less power and memory.

  • Less errors. The application is less dependent on open-source libraries and platforms, reducing the risk of errors.

  • Extensibility and stability. As Google and Apple develop Android and iOS, they have a long-term plan that the platform developers follow. In contrast, the hybrid framework developers have a difficult job. They have to make sure the framework will work on Android and iOS platforms, which are usually not compatible.

  • Awesome User Interface. Standard accessibility is free and generally simple, unlike a hybrid application. Adding new features (and optimizing them) takes a long time. The new features often don't look the same – and rarely act the same.

Drawbacks
  • Higher initial costs. The app is developed by two teams, so it's quite natural that its price is higher. But it would be a mistake to think it would be twice the price. But more on that later.  

  • Time. Development and maintenance take longer because you address them separately for each platform. But, of course, teams often work together, so the time does not double.

Summary
  • Native apps are suited to more complex projects that envision the app’s use in the future and want to continue developing it. The native app is suitable for companies for which the app is a substantial part of the business. If quality and sustainability are important to you, you should choose native development – that's what we at Futured do.

"There's nothing you can't do hybrid. But for more complex projects, the path is so thorny that the merits of hybrid development cease to make sense. You won't get an application faster or cheaper," says Lukáš Strnadel, Futured CEO.

Hybrid Application

As the name suggests, the hybrid application combines native and web concepts. For both iOS and Android, it's written in one language. Some multi-platform frameworks (Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, NativeScript, Ionic, and others) are built from scratch purely to develop mobile applications, independent of any web technology.

Benefits
  • Faster development. The application can be created using web technologies on both frontend and backend side, reducing development time.

  • Cheaper. A hybrid application has a smaller initial cost than a native one because you don't need two teams.

  • You don't need two teams. That's true, but it only applies to very simple, form-based apps. If you're planning more advanced features, you will need a mobile app developer experienced on both platforms -- even with a hybrid application, you simply have to develop the platform-specific parts separately.

Drawbacks
  • Delay of new features. Hybrid app developers have to wait for the development of new features that are released on native platforms.

  • Slower. For computation- and data-heavy apps, the speed may be lower compared to native applications.

  • Expensive maintenance. Hybrid frameworks such as React Native have the annoying feature that if they are not updated regularly, there can be a problem that entails expensive maintenance. Native apps are much less likely to have major changes made to them.

  • Reliance on third parties. You depend on the creators of the hybrid framework and their willingness to invest their resources in the continuous development of the entire ecosystem. In addition to the development of the framework itself, it must also ensure the creation of tools for developers, e.g. editors, integration plugins, or tools for debugging applications under development, to name a few.

Summary
  • The hybrid application is suitable for smaller/simple projects. At some point, though, you may find that hybrid development can no longer handle the features you expect from an application (for example, payments, AR, or logging in via third-party services are problematic). It simply cannot be thought that there is a one-size-fits-all solution working perfectly on both platforms because each has its own specifics. It is often necessary then to start developing natively, thus from the very beginning.

"Hybrid application is like instant soup. If you want to eat fast, a sachet of powdered soup will do. But you can't expect it to taste like your grandmother's," adds Lukaš with only slight hyperbole.

Web Application

A web application or PWA (Progressive Web App) is a form of web application adapted to the limitations of a mobile browser. It works across platforms in different web browsers such as Chrome or Safari.

Benefits
  • Easy to maintain. Because it uses a common code base for multiple platforms, you only need to correct the error once.

  • Easy to access. Users don't have to download anything. They open the app in any browser.

  • Lower costs. Web applications are simple to create.

  • No app store approvals. You don't need app store approval as you don't need to publish the app to any store. It can be published by anyone, in any format.

Drawbacks
  • Limited functionality. Web applications have limited offline features. At the same time, they cannot fully interact with the system’s features like the photo gallery or Bluetooth.

  • Complicated UX (User Experience). Applications are mostly only available in web browsers, worsening UX into something more or less general and undistinguished. 

  • Higher battery consumption.

Summary
  • The web application is particularly useful for simpler projects. For small companies with smaller budgets, it is the most affordable option.

Answers to the following questions can help you decide which approach to choose:

  • Is a mobile app an important part of your business?

  • Do you desire long-term functionality?

  • What functions do you expect from it?

  • How fast do you need it?

  • What's your budget?

  • How important is User Experience?

Let's make something great together!
Contact Lukas, Futured CEO: [email protected] & +420 605 312 459 

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